Monday, June 13, 2011

Travel Journal: Day 7

May 23, 2011

The Goodbye

Dear Lil' Miss,

Today has been a day I’ve been dreading for a long time…longer than I’ve even known your face.  Today is the day we said goodbye to you, my precious girl.

Daddy and I both took Motrin PM last night just to get to sleep, but we still woke up early with a gut-ache – nervous about saying goodbye.  I delayed getting going because I thought if I could prevent the day from getting here, maybe I could prevent the goodbye.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  Sooner or later I had to get ready…and I figured it should be sooner so that I could spend the most time with you as possible.

I had taken a shower the night before in order to expedite things.  I curled my hair with my extra time that morning…but when I was putting on my make-up, my waterproof mascara had disappeared!  Of course.  I had a backup, but this meant I would have raccoon eyes later today...

Daddy did a great job of packing as I was getting ready.  The plan was to bring all our luggage to the B Family’s room at 7:15am so that we could check out before breakfast and, after Hannah's Hope, just hang out in their room until we had to leave for the airport.  We all went down for breakfast at quarter to 8.  At this point we had all learned what we liked and what we didn’t at the buffet.  Daddy and I both sprung for the omelet, coffee with milk, and French toast (yes, again).  We were all relatively cheerful this morning – probably in hopes that we would be picked up before the 10:30am time that was on our itinerary.  Not long after we sat down to eat, The K Family came down to tell us that two from our travel group were really sick – the ice cream from yesterday was all we could conclude! Not only were we bummed for them, but we all lost our appetite as well, and began analyzing every little gurgle in our tummies.  

The rest of us all went up to the B’s room again and popped some pepto bismol tablets for precautionary measures and downed some water.  The girls sat updating their facebook status’ while the guys jumped to look out the window every time we heard a horn beeping.  At 9:30 we finally called Wass and he said that because of another travel group arriving, he wouldn’t be able to pick us up until the scheduled 10:30 time.  We were all a little disappointed, but we made the best of it.  It was actually a really great group-bonding time, crowded in one small (okay, relatively large actually) room!  =)

About 10:00am we all headed downstairs with our backpacks and cameras and extra snacks (planning to spend as much time at Hannah’s Hope as they would allow).  Just as we stepped foot in the lobby, two other families from AGCI were arriving!  We introduced ourselves and encouraged them to quickly bring their luggage to their rooms so they could catch a ride with us to Hannah’s Hope.  They were tired and nervous, but followed our advice.  I was pretty impressed how put-together they looked considering the hours of traveling they had just done….and thankful that we had arrived at night so that we had a couple hours of sleep under our belt before meeting you, sweet girl!

Wass arrived just on time, so we all loaded onto the van, a little more squished than usual (more families PLUS he had taken the smaller van today…figures =).  We had the new families pass up cameras and video recorders and promised to take pictures of the long-awaited moment of meeting their children.  In all honesty, it was a little hard to walk past your curious little eyes while I snapped pictures for the W family….but I knew how much it meant to me when Teresa had done the same for us.  I did send your daddy to your side right away though.  =)   It was a precious moment watching Ashley peek at her daughter for the first time though, and I was thankful I was there.

As soon as I was finished upstairs, I ran back down to you and smothered you in kisses again!  It had rained the night before in Addis so we had to play with you inside until the sun came out and dried up the courtyard enough.  The special mothers were in a very silly mood though and it was precious to witness them blowing on bellies and tickling all the little babies on the floor.  One special mother was helping daddy with his Amharic and I caught her on video teaching us how to say little phrases like “you are beautiful”, “you are wonderful”, and “giraffe”.  We were butchering it though, which kept making all the special mothers laugh!  =)

The sun came out in full force in no time, so daddy got out the damask mats again and we all sprawled out on them with blankets, savoring every moment with our sweet little ones.  It surprised us how warm it got considering the weather the night before!

Outside, we took the opportunity to spend some time by the older children playing on the swings!  They had a blast pulling on daddy's arm and having him lift them in the air - there were lots of giggles and smiles!  During all the commotion, two of the sweetest girls kept coming up and playing with the flower on my shoe.  I wished they had had enough hair to put a flower clip in...I guess when we come back we should bring some headbands!

It was a wonderful last day there.  You spent a lot of time playing on a blanket with us, as well as a lot of snuggle time in the moby with mama.  While you slept, we focused on getting more pictures of the other kiddos at Hannah’s Hope.  The special mothers loved getting the kids laugh and smile for the camera.

One more opportunity for tutu weren't having it though =)

Me, Brittany, and Ashley with our littles =)

Normal day at HH

What's with the face daddy?

THAT'S better!

My girl with Tsige

Boy does she love you, princess!

Daddy's SOO proud of his strong girl!

Love these moments!

Soo sleepy!

Not even halfway through the bottle and OUT!  That's when I knew you loved me too! =)


When I was told it was time for your bath, I knew I was about ready to lose it.  The time to say goodbye was rapidly approaching and I wasn’t even close to being ready.  I didn’t know if I would EVER be.  I also knew the time was close because daddy was getting snap-happy with the camera (not that I would object).  We undressed you in preparation for your bath and took pictures of your little buns and thighs and feet….you have such a cute and curvy little body!  Even as tiny as you are, it amazes me how different little boys and little girls look!  This was mama’s first time to bathe you.  I knew this was a predictable routine for you, but you were so calm it just amazed me!  Maybe I’m just used to your big brother crying anytime water touches his face.  ;)  I felt kind of nervous to bathe you, simply because it had been a long time since I had bathed an infant…but taking care of a baby is a lot like riding a bike…you just never forget!  =)  Once out of the bath, I massaged your skin with lotion and oiled up your hair and face.  I put some Desitin on that diaper rash of yours and dressed you in your cozy pajamas.  Then we looked through your "Sassy" photo book together - I wanted to make sure you connected that it was US in those pictures before we left.

Mama's first time bathing you!
Lookin' at your big brother's picture!  Silly boy - you will LOVE him!

The special mothers had your bottle all mixed and ready, but I was putting it off as long as possible and enjoying the moments you were wide awake.  When I knew the time was getting close, I grabbed your bottle to feed you.  That’s when the tears started flowing freely.  You gazed up at me with those beautiful chocolate brown eyes, looking at me like I was crazy for crying the way I was.  I didn’t know if it was your way of telling me we’d be together again before I knew it, or just that you were completely clueless to what was about to happen.  I guessed the latter but I like to think the first.  Daddy was taking pictures of my ugly cry and Enat, your special mother, was gazing at me concerned and kept telling me, “no cry, its okay” in her broken English.  I was sitting in the rocking chair with you and Enat was next to me on the floor feeding M and keeping Y and A entertained (talk about multi-tasking).  I could feel her concerned eyes on me, but I couldn’t take my blurred vision off of your sweet face, like I would forget it somehow.  You finished your bottle in no time so I sat you up to burp you, constantly bending down to kiss your sweet face.

Singing...don't forget my voice sweet girl!

I personally don't like this picture...but daddy does.  He says it shows the love.

About that time, Wass came in and told us it was time to go.  I felt like crying out, begging for more time.  But I knew it wouldn’t make a difference.  It didn’t matter how much time we shared together, it would never be enough.  It would never make it okay that you had to stay while we went home.  Daddy peeled you out of my arms for his last goodbye, and watching the pained look on his face and the tears trickling down his cheek made it worse.  I always knew that I would be a mess, but it is not often I see your daddy cry!  He took his time saying goodbye, but made sure to give you back.  I held you tight, sobbing, until all the other traveling families had disappeared and it was just us, Enat, and your roommates left in the small upstairs bedroom.  Enat hugged me sweetly, and even though she spoke very few words in English, I knew she was promising me that she would take care of you in my absence.  Daddy told me that we really did have to go, so I lovingly placed you in Enat’s arms.  She then asked for a picture, and wrapped her free arm around me.  We embraced as daddy snapped pictures, and then I knew it was goodbye.  I gave you one last kiss, and as I did, Enat kissed my cheek and wiped away the tears that just continued to stream down my face.  I barely held my composure as we walked away, and about halfway down the stairs I fell into daddy’s arms.  He was the only thing holding me up…I was about ready to collapse.  He helped me walk down the marble staircase and out into the courtyard.  Our travel group was all packed and walking out of the gates to the van.  Daddy quickly packed up our stuff while I reached for sunglasses to cover my blotchy, tear-streaked face and we slowly walked out together.  I gazed back up through your window, but saw nothing.  I hugged Tsige and thanked her for everything.  She promised we would be back soon, and she would do everything in her power to make sure of that. 
Last kisses

Daddy saying his goodbye

NOT ready for this.

"I'll be back soon.  I love you!"

REALLY don't like this one...but this woman is precious to me and I had to show her sweet face!

We were the last ones on the van, and the mood was somber.  I’m sure there wasn’t a dry eye there, but I didn’t bother to look.  Daddy said I was hyperventilating and kept trying to give me water…but I could barely breathe let alone try to swallow.  My eyes were wet, I was gasping for air, my shoulder’s shook, and my head was throbbing. 

As Wass dropped us off at the hotel, we each gave him a hug as we said our goodbyes.  Before we separated, he told me, “Whenever you think of your daughter, know there is someone right there with her.”  I saw the love in the special mothers’ eyes when they smiled at those babies and I know you are loved.  I don’t know if I could have left if I wasn’t confident of that.

We had several hours yet before we had to leave for the airport.  If we hadn’t already checked out I probably would have gone to our room to cry myself to sleep.  Instead, all five of our families cooped up in the B’s room, uploaded our pictures, updated facebook, and skyped family.  It was a long and emotional day.

Dinner that evening was mellow too.  None of us were ready to leave this country that we had grown to love.  We were fortunate enough to have two more families to get to know.  Had it had just been the ten of us, there probably would have been a lot more tears. 

When it was time to head to the airport, four of us brought our luggage to the lobby and waited the hotel shuttle to take us on over.  The rest of the families met us downstairs to say goodbye.  There were a lot of tears and a lot of hugs. 

It was a long shuttle ride to the airport, but I was thankful to have enough light to see it this time (when we had arrived in Ethiopia, it was so dark we couldn’t see anything but the rain on the road on the way to the hotel).  It is such a beautiful country – I can’t believe how much we have grown to love it in such a short time!  Sometimes it makes me really sad that we are taking you away from this beautiful place.  The USA really isn’t all that great! =)

When we got to the airport there were swarms of people in the parking lot and we could see a line leading UP to the doors.  WHAT was going ON?!?  We quickly got out, organized our stuff, and us four families made our way to the end of the line.  You had to go through security to get into the airport – so that was what the line was for!  We got through without any hiccups and made our way to the ticket counter…only we couldn’t find KLM.  We asked an employee (who THANKFULLY spoke English) and she pointed us to the far end.  We headed over there to a line of mostly-Americans, but we still didn’t see a sign.  When daddy started asking around, another American spoke up “KLM?  Oh…the flight’s been cancelled.”  Umm…WHAT?!?  The boys rushed up to the ticket counter while we girls guarded our bags.  We were already exhausted from this long, emotional day…and now THIS?!? 

I had such mixed emotions at this point.  I had been dreading leaving for so long, but now that I had said my goodbyes, packed our stuff, and checked out…I did not want to face doing it all over again. 

Taking turns guarding the luggage
The boys found out that the pilot got food poisoning (along with some crew members) and they had to fly in a pilot from Amsterdam.  They had scheduled a new flight for us at 10am the next morning, so we would need to spend one more night in Addis.  The only PROBLEM was, we would be missing our connecting flights, and because of volcanic ash, they didn’t have any flights going from Amsterdam to the US until the FOLLOWING day so we would have to spend a night THERE as well!

This all just seemed like one big giant nightmare.  I questioned whether we should just go back to the Riviera and hang out at Hannah’s Hope until this all blows over and maybe.  Just MAYBE all our paperwork would get done in the meantime and we could just take you home next week.  Daddy rolled his eyes and moved on to the next idea. 

Skyping with headphones so he can here.
Next to daddy is a family from Wide Horizons who
we shared a flight with.
At this point, KLM had no real answers for us because they had to inform (one by one) each person on the flight of the delay before they started arranging hotels (which was going to be a CHALLENGE because they had some huge meeting in Addis that people from all over Africa were flying in for).  We started to panic and I decided to pop out our little netbook to see if we had any WIFI in the airport.  Much to our surprise, we had 5 bars!  We logged on Skype, talked to my mom, had her call our travel agent, who got on Skype to talk to us.  AMAZING current day technology – YES! 

The L Family
Smiling so we don't cry, right?!? =)
While waiting for her to call us back, a random employee told us to all go out on this bus to the hotel they were taking us too.  Since WIFI is not a common occurrence in Ethiopia… daddy and I and the L family feared that if we left we wouldn’t be able to connect with our travel agent again if we left.  Not to mention we were still hoping she would be able to get us out on another flight yet that night.  Once again, we called mom to call our travel agent to call us.  It worked – and she told us to GO to the hotel and she would keep working.  We ran out to the bus (again, the last ones on) and prayed we would have internet connection at this hotel.

They took us to a beautifully landscaped hotel not far from the airport.  We were told by other travelers that this was a wedding destination (even for the locals) and that the hotel itself was pretty classy.  Although the towering acacia trees and hibiscus bushes were beautiful, the hotel was not our cup of tea.  Every room had an ash tray and smelled like smoke.  The twin beds were separated by a bulky night stand.  The bathroom stunk to high heaven and the floor was soggy in the morning (getting my pants all wet with sewer, yum).  The walls were paper thin, and WIFI cost us an arm and a leg!  Regardless…it was a place to sleep other than the airport floor (there are probably only 3 sets of chairs in the entire airport…okay slight exaggeration) and at least we could talk to someone back home.  Only, the video on Skype was blocked so we could only instant message.  Whatever.

We went down for a…interesting dinner (at close to midnight).  Back up to our room to talk to our travel agent, and then we shared a twin size bed (which we didn’t dare get under the sheets) and slept an entire four hours.

Headache.  Backache.  Heartache.  And us girls agreed – “I want my mommy!!!”



Lauren said...

Megan thank you for sharing this! I could identify with everything you wrote. I have tears streaming down my face right now as I hurt for you and remember the absolute devastation of my own goodbye. Truly the hardest thing in the world. I am sick just thinking about it. I am praying for you and for your phone to RING today!!

Alison said...

Girl, I am in TEARS reading this! I truly cannot even imagine the heartache of leaving your baby girl! I seriously don't know if I'll be able to do it! You are so strong! Cannot wait to hear that ya'll get to go back and get her!!!

Mindy said...

There are no words...TEARS, but no words. Thanks for sharing Megan. Praying you hear something soon about an embassy date.

"Are These Kids All Yours?" said...

Awww....PRAYING you hear quickly!!!!!

That part soo rips my heart out. (we were fortunate to be way before the change to 2 trips). I know your mommy heart is aching!

Karee said...

You have recorded every detail so beautifully, Megan. And as I have tears streaming down my face, I had to chuckle at the end...yes, I think I might have been the first to say "I want my mommy." :) So glad that we were all in that together.

JonesEthiopia said...

As I read this, I just think about what it would have been like to leave my R or my E (also a "T"!) in Ethiopia and return home without them. I think it would have broken my heart in half. I loved reading about your journey, and I'm looking forward to reading about your return trip to ET to bring T home forever!

Two Little Birds said...

She is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing your story. Here's hoping you get back to her super fast!