My husband made this little video of Q wearing illustrated dresses and tops from my shop. Hope you enjoy!


 Day 4 after surgery: 
Much less swelling in the face (though still some). 
Feeling much more like herself.
 Smelling (and eating) chocolate mint from our garden.
Aaaahhhhhhhh...life is good.
 This keroppi diorama was inspired by the new keroppi sent to Q by Di.
 Many thanks Di! As you can see, it was a big hit ;)
 I love this picture.
 These were taken just before the surgery, as you can see by the face.

 This was day two after surgery, her most difficult day. She was not feeling at all well, and was occupying herself with a little light cup stacking.
 Day three, and she's a whole new person. Opening birthday presents with Grandma.
 And cracking open geodes that were a part of my post-surgery gift arsenal for her.
 Let's just say the geodes were a big hit and I have a feeling there will be a lot more geodes in our future.
 Little geologist at work.
At the playground. Pretty much, after our last surgery, I realized that I was never going to keep her still, stop her from running, jumping and tumbling. So this time I didn't even try. It is a little hair-raising to watch her going full-tilt with the tubes and stitches still in her nose and in her throat, but...what can you do. This is who she is. 
And I have to say, her recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. These last photos are from yesterday afternoon, and today she looks even ten times better. Most of the swelling is gone and her episodes of pain are growing shorter by the day. She is such a trooper. 
As for her voice - we really didn't know what to expect. We have heard such varying stories about how soon children learn to start using the new configuration in their mouth to form sounds. But we have been absolutely amazed. Even now, before the surgery has healed, she is flexing her new voice and pronouncing new words every day. It's very exciting. This is one of those times when you just have to shake your head in wonder at medical science. Our surgeon is kind of a genius. 
Oh, and did I mention? No breathing problems. 
Oh, and I cannot say enough by way of THANKS to all the wonderful people who have sent cards, paintings, drawings, gifts and letters to our beloved Q. They have been pouring through the mail slot on a daily basis. We are just overwhelmed by the love, thought and creativity that has come our way. 
I have thanks to send to John L (whose box of treasures from the Oregon coast was just amazing!), Colleen G who sent pirate ships and butterfly stickers, Elsa who sent the most exquisite paintings of flower beds and paper boats from Lausane, Nicole and Emerson who sent those beautiful flowers, Michele B, whose clothes are as always just exquisite, and YanYan who has started our fall wardrobe off on a very chic note, Sarah in Northern CA who sent beautiful sea dragons, Lorraine and Piper, Poppy, Alex and Izzie  our cousins who sent many pictures of London, Jannie and Ava in San Francisco who sent pressed flowers, Michele, Chuck, Ben and Jenna, Diane, and so very many more that I can never hope to catch up on our thank-yous!!


 Recovery from this surgery has been up and down. On one hand, she is doing much better than I expected. On the other hand, when she has her "down" periods, they are pretty grueling.
 When she's feeling up, her highs are very high. But when she feels badly, she's in pretty awful shape, and it just rakes at my nerve endings to see her hurting so badly. Though she typically handles anesthesia and medications well, this morning the narcotics caught up with her and she had several hours of severe nausea and misery. I immediately cut out the narcotics and switched to over-the-counter painkillers. It's hard to know exactly how to handle pain with kiddos this age, since it's difficult for them to convey exactly what sort of pain they're in and, like animals, they tend to try to conceal just how much they hurt.
 Here she is reading a Petit Prince pop-up book that her Lao Lao got her as a recovery present.
 It is really quite spectacular - a work of art, and does the original great credit.
 This is my personal favorite part of the story, the part I loved most as a child, and still do as an adult.
Thank you, Lao Lao, for this well thought-out gift. 

Q is recovering bit by bit, and I am so very thankful for her resilient and indomitable spirit that gives her the strength to take in enough nutrition, and rally when she is able. 
Of course she looks beautiful, in spite of the swelling that keeps changing shape around her face, in spite of the faint bruising on the sides of her nose and the unnatural redness underneath the eyes. As for her speech (our main concern with this surgery) it is still hampered by the pain at the back of her throat and into her spinal column. But now and then, when her pain is managed, and she is feeling strong, an entire sentence pops out with the consonants sounding crisp and bold, and my heart flutters with hope. 

"O-KAY Mommy!" she said to me in the bath this morning, with a big, strong, hard "K" that she could never before manage. I could hardly believe my ears, and after high-fiving with me several times, she went on to repeat the phrase until her throat got too sore to manage it.

As for me, I'm on the brink. It is unspeakably hard to see your beloved in so much physical distress. And when she asks me "Why, Mommy? Why?" I just want to strike out at the heavens for doing this to my child. Every cry, every pallid glance, every moan eats away at my nervous system and I am exhausted from worry.

I know it will get better. I know it will. And I know she is already ahead of the curve. But it doesn't make it any easier to bear.


This part of the story isn't pretty, but it is real, and it is part of what it means to be the parent of a child adopted with medical needs.
I was so overwrought over this surgery (we had some problems during the last big surgery that frightened me pretty badly) that I didn't intend to take, or post, pictures during this one. But others in the room had other ideas, and in the end it feels good to have survived this as a family. Here she is goofing around with her hat on the way into the surgery room.
This is the worst part, as she is waking up from anesthesia, still in the recovery room.
It's a temporary relief to be allowed downstairs to a hospital room, where you can spread out and have some space, and when you know the recovery room is behind you.
 True to form, Q was ready to drink juice from a straw right away. This is unusual for this kind of surgery - many children have a great deal of difficulty figuring out how to swallow afterward, and some spend days in the hospital before they are even able to take liquid nourishment on their own.
But this is just the very beginning of a very long, scary and sleepless 24 hours.
Here she is resting in daddy's arms in the hospital room, still under the influence of the anesthesia. As day wears into night in the hospital, things get a lot worse. The night is very difficult, and filled with repeated and escalating screaming fits, night terrors and drug-induced hysteria on various levels. When she does sleep, it is very nearly as harrowing, because we are left staring at the oxygen monitors and her breathing becomes depressed and her oxygen goes steadily lower. Occasionally we have to wake her and force her to take a deep breath, which inevitably leads to another harrowing screaming fit.
 Eventually, however many years it seems to take, it is morning, and in the morning she was eating smoked salmon and pats of butter, drinking juice and milk, and feeling like a new person. We were released by 8 and on our way home. Here she is, thrilled to be back on her own couch, opening presents that came for her in the mail...
 ...this one all the way from France.
 Many thanks, Violette!
One thing that we have frequently forgotten ourselves during this process (being as we were so worried about the internal part of the surgery and its aftermath) is that she was also scheduled for a tip rhinoplasty. It was kind of an afterthought on the part of our surgeon, since it was not urgent, but she felt like it could be done along with the p-flap surgery in order to save us an extra trip to the OR. So it was that we were all a little surprised to recall that she was coming out of surgery with a "new nose". She herself finds this part kind of funny, except that she hates being called pretty, and all the nurses kept doing exactly that in the recovery room. It is, I must say, a lovely nose - even if it was not our main concern. We have a superb plastic surgeon, one of the best, and for this we feel extremely fortunate.

Today, Q is feeling thrilled to be sprung from the hospital and back in her own environs. According to the nurses, she will feel worse before she feels better (swelling near the spinal column will make her feel pretty rotten over the next couple of days). But she's home and so are we, and all of us feel so very relieved to have come through this surgery to see the light of day.

(Thanks to Susan and Mike for the in-hospital photos)


 Well, Q's surgery is at the crack of dawn tomorrow, so yesterday we decided to soak up as much sun and fresh air and wilderness as we could in preparation for a few weeks of lockdown.
 We headed up to St. Mary's glacier on an unusually hot August day to escape the Denver heat.

 Mike decided to toss poor Frank in the chilly glacial runoff.

 There's  nothing quite as delicious as being high in the mountains on a hot summer's day.

 Snowboarders descending from the glacier.
 Q collecting wildflowers.

 Topping out at the glacial lake.

 It takes a strong man to drink from a pink canteen.

 Tossing balls for Mathilda, who doesn't mind braving the icy water.

 Q doing a little meditation in the shade ;)