Being Home: The Trip

How was the trip home?

What is it like being home as a family of three?

How is Elliott adjusting?

How are you adjusting?

How is attachment going?

Is there anything you need?

These are questions we are asked on a daily basis, and questions I have been dying to answer here on our blog!  Today marks two full weeks since Elliott and I have been home from Poland, and so far, there just hasn’t been a good opportunity to sit down and write.  Our first week home was all about adjusting to the time difference and establishing a new schedule (or rather, transitioning our Poland schedule to being here at home).  Thanks partially to the advanced time adjusting Elliott and I did on our last week in Poland, and partially to some sort of jet lag magic that sometimes happens on long flights, Elliott was almost entirely adjusted to the time change be the time we landed in Chicago.

Lucky.

It took me the better part of these two weeks to feel normal, especially that first week. As soon as the first week was over and I was starting to feel like less of a zombie, Elliott and I both came down with a nasty cold that zapped us for the next week.  But today is a new, beautiful (freezing cold) day and we are ready to finally feel normal again!

As time allows this week, I will answer these questions and just post them as they are completed.  Thank you so much for your warm welcome home to our new life!

 

How was the trip home?

For starters, the trip home feels like it was about six months ago, so excuse me why I pull the two-week-old memory from the recesses of my brain.  To put it lightly, the trip home was a roller coaster.  The flight itself went wonderfully (considering the circumstances), and aside from an army of Polish grannies who spent the better part of the 10 hours trying to pry Elliott from my arms and squish his cheeks right off, it was a breeze.  Elliott has learned to be extremely adaptable and resilient in his twenty months of life, and was an absolute angel on the plane.  He devoured airplane food with enthusiasm that I guarantee rivaled every other passenger, slept for three hours stretched out across two empty seats, played happily with the toys I packed, and barely fussed at all on take-off and landing, all while charming everyone around him, as is his custom.

Getting on the flight was a whole other ball game.  We thankfully had only one direct flight from Warsaw to Chicago, and knew the most difficult part of the entire trip would be the process of getting from our apartment to our seats on the plane.  On top of having a squirmy toddler, we also had more pieces of luggage than we had available hands.  And although we were anticipating a bit of a struggle, the problems we encountered were so far above and beyond what we expected, it blows my mind that we actually made the flight.  The details would take up this whole blog, but to put it shortly … basically, a computer error caused our three reserved seats (Elliott, myself, and my sister) to somehow translate to only two printed tickets.  Fixing this problem at the check-in desk took over an hour, and many insanely ridiculous complications later, we were sprinting through the airport trying to catch our flight while the words “Last call …” blared at us over the speakers.  I have done a far amount of flying in my life, and NEVER have I come so close to missing a flight nor have ever experienced so many unbelievable challenges in getting on one.

I have never been so relieved to reach a destination.  As much as I truly loved Poland, stepping off that plane onto home soil after two incredibly stressful months away brings tears to my eyes even now.  We made it.  And I don’t just mean the flight.

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We made it through security, customs, and immigration faster than expected, and with a big stamp in his brand new passport, Elliott became an American citizen.  Coming through baggage claim and seeing Alex holding steaming coffee in one hand and ice water in the other, I thought I might pass out from joy.  We made it.

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Although I hadn’t slept in over a day, walking out of that airport into knee-deep snow and loading Elliott into his car seat, I felt like I could have run a marathon.  The last two months, the last year and a half … all of it had felt like falling uncontrollably, not knowing where or how or when I would land.  In that moment, and in many moments since, I felt warm all over, as if that long fall ended with a gentle landing in a mountain of fluffy pillows.  WE MADE IT.

The rest of the trip home flew by.  My parents and other sister, as well as Alex’s sister, brother-in-law and our niece, drove out to Chicago to meet Elliott, and we spent a wonderful day and half fawning over Elliott and spoiling him rotten.  It may have been February, but we opened presents like it was Christmas morning and did enough celebrating to equal it.

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10978614_10155179073830344_8512563425750322307_nWe introduced the family to the amazing Polish food we have come to love by having lunch in the Polish district of Chicago.  It felt like my worlds were merging as I watched my family tentatively sample beets and sauerkraut, pirogis and dumplings, cucumber onion salad and all kinds of pork.  I even got one last taste of the well-known Polish hospitality as the manager of the restaurant escorted me to her office to change Elliott’s diaper rather than use the bathroom.

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I blinked and the weekend was over, and suddenly we were loading up the car for our drive home to Iowa.  Before I knew it, the moment I have been imagining for years was right in front of me, as we pulled into our driveway and told Elliott he was home.  We showed Elliott around the house, laughed as he met the dogs (where he received his first less-than-thrilled welcome), and drank in every delicious moment.  I wanted to wrap my arms around everything I could see … Elliott rolling around with the dogs, Alex overjoyed at being with us again, the familiarity of home … and savor it as long as possible.  My life had changed so much since the last time I was here, and I could barely process all that we had gone through in those two thrilling, exhilarating, agonizing months, to say nothing of all the ones before them.  Yet, here I was.  I was home, and absolutely astonished that against all odds, we had finally come out the other side of the journey.  Despite my endless doubting, the finish line was real, and it was indescribably glorious.

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Before falling into bed (MY BED IS THE MOST COMFY BED IN THE WORLD.  Sorry, sometimes that still overexcites me.), we headed over for a welcome home gathering at Alex’s parents’ house, where we were greeted by local family and our small group.  Although our plan was to lay low over the next weeks and/or months, we decided to have this one weekend of communal celebration before going into hibernation.  Oh, was it needed!  I hadn’t seen a familiar face in months, which is a daunting task in itself for this extroverted people-person going through the biggest, most challenging life change of her existence.  It was a refreshment for my soul that I would need to help me through the coming weeks of adjustment.  Wow, how I missed these people!  Seeing Elliott with our family and closest friends was absolutely surreal.

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And just like that, our homecoming weekend was over, and I was finally, gloriously, curling up in my bed (MY BED!! MY BED!!!!).  Elliott was tucked into the crib next to me, the dogs were piled on top of me, and Alex was an arms-length away once again, which sure beats 4,000 miles.  I fell asleep thanking God for all that He had done, knowing I could never, never thank Him enough.

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“Taste and see that the LORD is good.” – Psalm 34:8

 

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