Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Free Moment!

I'm finally getting this last picture from Thailand posted. This is the second time I've been able to write in a few short days, so things must be getting better! Actually, Olivia is asleep so I just wanted to get this on here right quick. Soon, I'll add some pictures taken since we've been home.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Return Trip Nightmare Remembered!

Wow, the days fly by and I just can't seem to catch up! Things are going really well though. Olivia slept through the night in her queen size bed, in her room, and by herself for the first time the night before last. It was wonderful! Now, if we can just get Ian back on a good sleeping schedule!

I'm just going to pick up on the story of our return home. Tomorrow will be 5 weeks that we've been home. So, five weeks ago today at this exact time I was having a melt down on the plane in Dallas. I hate to even think about it! Anyway, our return trip had been going great until the lack of diapers and Brian's food poisoning. When we arrived in Dallas, we claimed our bags as quickly as we could and got Olivia out of her wet clothes and into a sundress, sweater, and white sandals. We didn't realize at that time how cold it was outside, but it didn't take us to long to realize it- seeing the majority of people in coats, hats, and scarves was a pretty good clue! We didn't have too long a layover there, so we got some coffee and settled in at the gate while we waited to board. It had also started to rain a little bit. Not too long before boarding time, the airlines informed us that they were doing some maintenance on the plane and it would be a little bit late. Then after a while, we received another update that it would be a little later. I'm not sure how long we were delayed at that time, but we were calling my parents in Shreveport to let them know we would not be on time. Also during this time the weather was starting to get worse. We might have been delayed an hour or so by now, but weren't too concerned about it. My parents would have to make some adjustments with picking us up and being home when the bus dropped Ian off, but that wasn't that big a deal. I'm not sure at what point the rain started turning to ice, but it did. We went ahead and boarded our plane, and when we weren't leaving the gate, the pilot came on and said we were going to be delayed because of the weather. Anyway, this goes on and on and on and. . . . He comes on every 30-45 minutes and gives us an update. The problem was that the storm came in quicker than they expected and they couldn't get the planes de-iced quickly enough. We were waiting in line for de-icing. I'm not keeping track of time too much for some reason, but after a few hours of sitting on the plane with no water or fresh air, I started to get a little nervous- panicky claustrophobic feelings. Thankfully, Olivia is doing great; she's asleep. Without telling Brian how I was feeling, I try to read my book, but I was getting so nervous, I couldn't concentrate. These feelings of panic seemed to come on pretty quickly. Somewhere in there, Brian suggested we do a Sudoku puzzle he had seen in the back of the flight magazine, so that helped quite a bit, but I still started getting very upset- crying, shaking, etc. We called the flight attendant back, and I asked for some water. She didn't act too thrilled to give me any, but came back with about a cup (measuring cup amount!). We also asked about the possibility of returning to the gate, but she said we could only do that if we declared a medical emergency. I will tell you though, I was very, very close to telling her that was what we needed to do, because I wasn't sure I could take it anymore. Anyway, the pilot continued coming on saying we're number such and such in line for de-icing, and then a little later he would come on again and say it might be another 45 minutes or so. This went on for 6 HOURS. The attendant did finally bring everyone some water after several hours, but that was it. Also, the gates were all jammed by other planes in the same situation as us, except that they had never left their gate. Anyway, it was a mess. Finally, we were told that all flights had been canceled, and the plan was to bring a bus out to the tarmac and drive us back up to the building. I felt a little better at that point because I knew we were finally going to get off that plane- a fully loaded prop plane I might add! I'm not going to give anymore details about that situation and how I felt, but I had never had a reaction like that before, and I hope to goodness I never do again! So, now everyone on the plane is trying to figure out what to do- rent a car and drive through the weather or try to find a hotel. We knew both cars and hotels would start getting booked as quickly as we could make a decision. We decided to get a hotel and try to rest, so Brian booked the hotel while we waited on the plane, and after the 6 hours, we finally made it back inside the airport. It was a madhouse and tensions were high. We claimed our bags again, and started trying to figure out how we were going to get to our hotel. We couldn't get through to the hotel by phone, so we started trying to figure out where to get a taxi. Of course it's late by now, and Brian is running around outside the airport in shorts looking for a taxi while it's icy and snowing. Olivia is in a sundress and sandals and the wind is blowing like crazy! We are exhausted, stressed, and very irritable! Plus, we're lugging all this luggage from a two week trip from the other side of the world! Eventually, we get a taxi and get to our hotel, where our room is the furthest away from the lobby and we have to walk (outside, if that tells you anything about our hotel!). Anyway, we are starving so we order a pizza, take showers, and try to sleep. I haven't mentioned Olivia much during this whole ordeal because she has pretty much slept through the whole thing! This means while we are miserably tired, she is ready to play- all night. We ended up getting very little to no sleep, and around 5:00 or 6:00 am Brian gave up and started to try to arrange a rental car. He got a taxi to pick him up an hour or so later, and not too much later came back to the hotel with the car and a huge breakfast from Denny's. By that time, we did feel better and definitely were seeing an end to this ordeal. We didn't know exactly what the weather and roads were going to be like, but it had to be better than going back to that airport and dealing with all the problems we were afraid would be waiting for us. The roads ended up being fine until we got a an hour or so out of Shreveport, and there the snow was falling hard and fast. It was beautiful, and everything was white. There were a few cars on the side of the road, but all of that was nothing compared to what we had experienced the previous 48 hours- or whatever it was! When we arrived in Shreveport, I had never been so happy to be home than I was then! My parents were anxiously awaiting our arrival with Olivia, and we were excited to introduce them to her and start our new lives as a family of four!

Little did we know at that time what was coming next- the worsening of Brian's dad's condition. It has been a very hectic, stressful, sad, happy, tiring 5 weeks. I am thankful to say that things are now going great. Olivia is adjusting beautifully- considering, and we are happily excited to be starting our new lives as a family of four!

It's now been 6 weeks and 4 days since we've been back in the US, and the time has flown by. I wrote this about a week ago, and have had it in draft form since then. I apologize for any errors or worse than usual writing, but I'm just happy I'm finally getting it posted. I'm not going back right now to make any changes it may need.

I do want to mention how much we appreciate those who have followed along on our journey to bring Olivia home. It has been quite an experience so far, and we look forward to many fun and happy years ahead! The next group of Holt families traveling to Thailand have been identified, and although I am so excited for them, I am a little sad our time for that has passed. Everyone is moving on. And, although our posts won't be nearly as exciting in the near future, I plan to continue writing as regularly as I can. Of course I'll include news on Olivia and Ian and any major family updates. For now, the adjustment period is still in full swing, things are running a little smoother all the time, and Olivia has her green card. We also have 3 post placement reports to complete with the social worker over the next 6 months and must make a trip to the Thai consulate in Chicago. The next time I write, I'll go into more detail about some of that. I was emailing one of the other families that traveled with us, and we both feel we were much better prepared for the initial challenges but not so much the challenges we have faced since returning home. I don't know what I expected, but it definitely has been a challenge, but fun too! I still have a picture taken as we were leaving the hotel for the last time that I want to add and some pictures we have taken since we've been home. With any luck, maybe I can do that tomorrow. I've got to close for now though. I never know how much sleep I'm going to get from night to night, and last night was a little rough. I'm hoping for more rest tonight. 6:15 will be here before I know it, and the bus isn't going to wait! I will write again soon and hopefully sooner than this last time.