Friday, February 17, 2006

We're Home!

And we'd love to see you! We are adjusting to some pretty extreme jet lag, exacerbated by a certain willful little someone who doesn't understand the importance of keeping "normal" hours to re-set circadian rhythms, but phone calls and stop-bys would be most welcome.

It's a glorious sunny day in San Diego and I'm hoping we can get some of that before the day is done since I think it will help us all. Jarrah hasn't seen much sun in her lifetime because Chongqing gets only about 100 non-rainy days a year, and even when the sun is out, it's very smoggy. So the nickname I've given her recently--Blinky--should be very fitting today.

Of course the trip home had to have some special extra hellish touches just for us. They began with a sudden diaper extravaganza as we checked in at the Guangzhou airport, resulting in David having to literally dunk the baby into the sink in the men's bathroom and call for backup via Paul in the form of an entirely new outfit right down to the socks. Ugh! All this was going on when the rest of our merry party had already gone to the gate and our rep, Jason, stood around wringing his hands for us to hurry up. The young one bore a certain distinct odor from that moment forth, and we hadn't even left the ground.

In Hong Kong, I had dreamed of a refreshing stroll and a fortifying lunch, but instead we spent the majority of our time standing in what appeared to be a rather short line at the Cathay Pacific "Transition Center" for international flights. How a line in which there were only six or seven people in front of us can take a hour is still a mystery. Joy was screaming so Mary and Paul were removed from the line and processed elsewhere, though how we were given boarding passes for LA-San Diego and they weren't is another mystery. When we finally reached Leon at the front of the line, we had to stand there another twenty minutes while he apparently reprogrammed the computer to take over the world or something that could not possibly have involved printing out our boarding passes for a flight booked nearly a month ago for which we already had seats. At the last moment I noticed that the ticket he'd printed for baby read "Yu, Mei Zhi" which is actually Joy's name and let's just call that another mystery since the Rupperts were not even standing in the same line as us.

We had time for a little relaxing running to the gate and the procurement of a coke and two tiny Danishes, and then we were off to LA. Although the flight wasn't very crowded, it wasn't the carefree days of two weeks ago when we each had our own row. David, Jarrah and I were seated directly in front of an elderly Chinese couple; the man had the seat right behind me. This was delightful as he spent the entire flight alternately engaged in two activities: forcing his appendages through any available orifice in my seat back as I shoved them back out again, or vomiting lustily, with many sound effects, into his sick bag. Each time he'd hurl, he thrust his body with great force, so that I was frequently awakened by the sensation that I, personally, had just been vomited forward in space.

Two rows ahead of us, a friendly blonde woman (Mary talked to her, but I resented her uterus too much to be civil) wrangled what looked like an ordinary blonde toddler but was apparently part devil spawn, part castrato in training, who emitted shrieks for at least six of the 12 hours that caused my brain to feel like fireworks. I have never heard a child cry this way, like a pig being slaughtered, or a teenage girl in a horror film. I will never forget that sound.

Meanwhile, back at Row 57, a very cute girl who screams loudly only when you leave her in her crib was having the time of her life jumping on her seat, pitching headfirst into the hole between seats, throwing her toys, flinging her body across David and me to grab fistfuls of hair, and systematically destroying the book I was trying to read. There was also the ritualistic pounding on the seatback video screen playing Disney's "Fantasia," accompanied by high-pitched noises of approval. And that, my friends, was my introduction to international flying with a toddler. If you think long flights are bad, try one with a 1-year-old (though I agree with Marlene that the white noise is great for sleeping--too bad the sleeping portion of our program only added up to about four hours.)

When we reached Los Angeles, we were all completely wrecked, and we had to be sequestered for a while so the girls' visa paperwork could be processed. After showing our passports to about 10 different people, we were allowed go through customs and then re-check our bags, and though we didn't closely investigate the matter, we now figured we had oodles and oodles of time in which to enjoy a leisurely lunch. We set ourselves up at the Daily Grill, and were savoring our Chinese Chicken Salads (seems ironic, but they really don't serve lettuce in China) when David remarked that our flight to San Diego was leaving in 20 minutes. Gack! We started running, but then discovered that Paul and Mary did not have boarding passes, and that we actually needed to catch some sort of bus to our next terminal, and well, that's when we missed the flight. Ladies and gentleman, after thirteen hours of flying and six hours of waiting in airports, after two and a half weeks away from home, on the cusp of welcoming our babies to our hometown, we missed a 30 minute flight because we were eating salad. I blame myself. I was the one who insisted we had enough time to eat anywhere we liked. Clearly I was wrong.

The hourly flights were booked solid for the rest of the day, so it was a sad day in Babyville as we sulked in the American Eagle terminal awaiting our fate. At the last possible moment, the announcement came that all six of us had made it onto the next flight, and we cheered and cheered. I cringe to admit that our place in line might just have been enhanced by inadvertently leading the gate agent to believe that we missed the previous flight due to our wondrous act of adopting babies--we were so busy adopting them that we couldn't get to the plane.

Mary's family and Jen and Craig were waiting for us in San Diego with bells on (well, I didn't actually see bells, but they had brought some really lovely balloons, which delighted Jarrah no end) and though we had to rush Joy to the bathroom for Part Two of "Airport Poopapalooza," all was well. And our newest member of the family didn't make a peep about her first ride in the car seat, either!

Since then, we've been snacking, sleeping, and exploring the new options on the toy front, and maybe one of these days we'll start feeling like human beings again. Thanks for all your wonderful readerly and writerly support during our journey. I'll continue to update the blog on a regular basis, though I can't promise to keep it as exciting as it's been. Love and smooches to all!


Anonymous said...

Hi Sam and David!

How does it feel to finally be able to call yourself PARENTS? :-) I remember being very proud to be in the other group: the group with children. I was finally somebody's MOTHER! I hope it feels good. :-)

Ah, the flight. A wise friend who also adopted from Russia said that it is not true that adoption saves you the pain of childbirth, it just happens at 35,000 feet. ;-wink! Overall, it sounds like Jarrah did very well. We were definitely the "shrieker" on the plane (10 hours of shrieking---ugggh!) Also, I don't know what it is about planes and airports that provoke the "Largest Poo Ever, " but your story sounds really familiar. I remember getting off the plane at LAX and looking at James and saying: "We smell like poo!" A lovely scent for our relatives to greet us with.

Jarrah looks right at home in your house! Give me a call if you need anything, but you guys did (and are doing) great. Hopefully we can set up a time to stop by soon. If Jarrah needs to see another child (who happens to possess an enormous amount of toys), give me a call and you can bring her on by. Our house is like a giant playpen.

Congratulations and Welcome Home!

Love, Lisa :-)

Anonymous said...

You're home! You're home! Hooray!

I'll be in touch soon and can't wait to see you!

Welcome home!


Anonymous said...

Forgive me for breaking out in loud laughter over several aspects of your hellish plane trip(just what you needed after two weeks of travel, and one of no sleep)!!
May you now have some slow, leisurely days...okay, not gonna happen...well, may you just have SOME rest. :)
Let your UCSD retirement writing group know in a month or so if you'd like to try & regroup.
Give that incredibly cute Jarrah a hug for me.
Best, Gail

Anonymous said...

Dear Sam and David,

I've gotten so used to commenting on your blog, that I don't know if I'm even capable of emailing you.

I'm sorry the trip was such a crazed experience, but don't you feel that you've done an absolutely amazing thing? And you both have. Congratulations.

I cried when I saw the pictures of Jarrah in your house--at last, at last. I'm so glad you're all home. Bless your family.


Anonymous said...

Sam and David,
Welcome home!!! It really is so cool to see Jarrah on the floor in your house!! She is so cute I can't stand it. I'd love to stop by sometime soon, and please let me know if you need anything.

Anonymous said...


I can always count on you to make me smile with some wild description of a night-marish event. I loved your description of "being vomitted into the front seat"!!!

See you Thursday night (I'll be the hostess for your evening meal).

Love Lynne.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam,

Welcome Home and congratulations! Jarrah is beautiful! And you're a mommy! I hope to meet the new member of your family someday soon. We miss you in the group and look forward to having you back when you're ready.