Read Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 of how we became "InstaParents")
So there we were, talking to our birthmother about adopting our son in April, and I was pregnant. It was a whirlwind of emotions. I had never imagined this would happen, and I should've been ecstatic--but I was too overwhelmed to feel much of anything.
Don't get me wrong-- we were excited, but there was anxiety as to how the pregnancy would go, how we would care for a newborn while dealing with morning sickness? How would I bring a newborn home with a six-month-old? It was a lot to take in. I had to learn to take it one day at a time and I knew that this pregnancy was of God because there simply was no other explanation.
We didn't tell anyone outside of our immediate families about the pregnancy because we wanted our son to have his moment in the sun. I continued texting with our birthmother and our contact. They were eight hours away, so we had to start planning our trip. She kept me updated on appointments, and at 32 weeks she went to the hospital thinking she was having contractions. It was a stressful time but luckily it was only a little dehydration. While she was in the hospital she sent me a text with the sound of his heartbeat-- it made it so real!
I started working on the nursery, but very 'loosely'. We looked into hotels and travel times. We found out that we had to work with an agency by their state law, so the lawyer suggested one that was close to the town, and we contacted them. They met with our birthmother and she loved them. Everything was being handled, but it was so far away that I couldn't micromanage it.
This was one of the biggest life lessons I learned through infertility--as much as I think I control everything-- I really don't. I had to give it to God, because I could not do it.
I was fighting morning sickness and fatigue. I began to wonder how I was going to care for a newborn feeling this way. The time came where our birthmother talked to her doctor about being induced, as she was tired of being pregnant. She and the doctor went back and forth on it, but we finally had a date of induction, if she didn't go into labor before then. So we could start setting plans in stone. We made reservations, necessary contacts, and off we went.
We drove to the hotel we found the day before the induction. She was not going in until 6pm the next day, but we wanted a little time to acclimate and get our bearings. We made the eight-hour trek in the middle of some pretty bad storms and flooding. Nick's parents followed us, as they were going to help with our daughter.
We knew we could be there up to two weeks, and possibly longer. We wouldn't be able to leave the state until all of the paperwork had been signed by her state, and by our state. We finally made it to the hotel, and were put in a standard room. Nick went down to talk to the manager to see if there was any way to get a larger room or a suite. He explained the situation to him, but there was nothing available.
But we pressed on. We met up with our contact and her family for dinner. We talked about where the hospital was, where the adoption agency was, and possible things to do while we were there. We found a Walmart, and bought a few things for the hotel room. As long as I know where a Walmart is, I'm usually good!
It was right about this time that my morning sickness started to subside. I know that God was taking care of me, because it seems that this happened right as we were about to make this trek. I was three-months pregnant at this point.
The next morning we went to visit the agency. We met the lady that we had emailed and talked to on the phone. She was going to go to the hospital to "hang out" with our birthmother that night. Our birthmother's parents both worked, so they couldn't be there with her. We asked the social worker to stay with her as long as she needed. We discussed all of the necessary things and also asked her if she felt that the birthmother was pretty firm in her decision, as she had met her and we still had not. She said that she did feel good about it, but the law in this state is that the birthmother doesn't sign her rights away until three days after birth... and there was always the chance that she might change her mind.
This is the thing about adoption--you have to step out in faith. And stepping out in faith means that you are probably going to have some disappointments, as we did. But the reward is always worth it!
We left the agency and set out to find the hospital. It was a 30-45 minute drive. We found the hospital, amidst uprooted trees. They had a heck of a storm the day before. We drove another 30 minutes or so to the town where our contact lived. We found the courthouse and had lunch at a little shop. We also found the attorneys office. Luckily Nick's mom and dad had our daughter for the day so that we could do all of this without her-- she would have been so incredibly bored. It was also good to have some time just the two of us to talk and relieve each others worries-- or more accurately, for Nick to relieve mine!
We found a florist and bought some beautiful lilies for our birthmother. I had already gotten her a tiny gift and a little something for her five-year-old daughter. We had gotten flowers for our daughter's birthmother, too, and she had been so thankful. It was absolutely the least that we could do. You do have to be careful with gifts, though, so we had gotten everything approved by the agency.
It was late in the afternoon and I was so anxious to get to the hospital. Nick finally conceded and we grabbed our small bags and headed back. We knew that there was no hurry, but really? Would I have gotten any sleep at the hotel? Our social worker had suggested bringing doughnuts or something to the hospital as that would break the ice with the nurses so we did! And it worked!
We had been expecting to stay in a little tiny room off of the nursery with only a chair in it, but we got there and they put us up in our own room!! Another real room... all to ourselves! Another little miracle! In the room we were supposed to have we would've only been able to see the baby to visit. But in the room we got, we could keep him with us! Not only did they put us in a room, but we were on the meal plan while we were there too, and the food wasn't typical hospital food! You could order pizza and other good stuff! We got phone calls three or four times a day asking for our order!
We got settled in. Our new little home was WAY away from home.
Our birthmother progressed very slowly, but we got updates from the social worker and from her-- she and I were texting as she could. At about 4am, the social worker was switching with another one whom we hadn't met. She came in to meet us that morning, and kept us updated. She would go from the birthmother's room to ours.
The day seemed to drag on and on. Texts were flying... also between my contact and I. She was stuck at work and wanted desperately to be there. She had befriended our birthmother, and had discussed being in the delivery room with her. We had the discussion of us being in the delivery room and the birthmother was back and forth. We were okay with whatever made her comfortable. She finally decided that she would rather us not be there and we were fine with that-- I was actually a little nervous about seeing what I would be going through in six months!
At one point, the social worker texted to meet her in the hall and I panicked. She was very careful to ask us if we knew that this baby was biracial. We said, "Yes!" She let out a sigh of relief. She and the other social worker had not discussed that, and she found out as she and our birthmother were talking. She was afraid that we didn't know. We laughed!!! Whew! She had me scared for a minute.
It was getting into early evening and she was beginning to progress. The day had been so slow, only interrupted by texts with my family at home and Nick's family back at home, his parents at the hotel, and the birthmother.
I tried to nap on the labor and delivery bed as much as possible, but it was a lost cause. One of the funniest things that happened was my discovery of my incredible pregnancy olfactory powers. I was sitting on the bed when all of a sudden it smelled like someone was baking brownies. I asked Nick repeatedly, "Are you sure that they are not baking brownies down the hall?" I know that sounds dumb, but it smelled like I was in a test kitchen! He finally pointed to the tray table right next to me. On a tiny plate sat a tiny chocolate cookie. Unbelievable.
Nick called his parents to come out to the hospital with our daughter. Our contact was on her way, hoping to make it in time for the delivery. We had the television on trying to pass the time, when we started seeing all of these weather warnings on the news. Not for there, but for our home state of Alabama. They were talking about serious storms and tornadoes going right through our hometown. We stood there in awe watching the live feeds of our home state. Then the social worker popped in wearing a blue gown and said, "Are you ready to meet your baby boy?"
"He's here?!?!?" I asked.
"Yes, come on."
She led us down the hallway.
We had on our gowns and were looking for him when we finally saw him. A nurse was wiping him off inside the nursery. We could see him squirming and crying, but had to wait until they would allow us in. Another nurse came out and said, "They won't have a problem circumcising him!"
They finally let us in and there he was! Our son. He hadn't had a bath, but I didn't care-- I only wanted to hold him. We had to let them get his apgar scores, but finally, we held him. We were the only ones in the nursery. It was so incredible. I didn't think that it could compare to the feelings that I had when I saw my daughter for the first time-- but it did.
Then we saw Nick's parents and our daughter walk by. We knocked on the window and they all smiled. I have a picture of my daughter seeing him for the first time.
The nurse gave him a bath and we were finally allowed to take him to our room. Our contact had, in fact, made it for the delivery. She was in the room waiting for us. Everyone held and loved on this sweet little man. It was amazing.
I tried to send pictures to all of our families at home, but no one got them. We had no idea of the devastation that was going on there. Everyone's cell service and home phone service was down. It was mass chaos. It was April 27th, 2011--a day now known as the day of devastation.
We finally did hear that our families were all okay, but the storms had wreaked havoc on the state. We tried to put that out of our minds, although it stung a little not to be able to share the joy with them.
The social worker then came to us to ask if our birthmother's mother and daughter could come see the baby. We were fine with that as long as the birthmother was-- it was another awkward, yet comfortable moment. We sent the gifts back to our birthmother, although they could never express the gratitude that we felt.
How do you thank someone for giving you a child?
The social worker did tell us that our birthmother commented that no one had ever given her flowers...
The next few days were a blur. Little man had a rough start, as he had trouble keeping formula down. We finally moved to soy milk, which he kept down a little better, but he pooed with every diaper. We stayed in the hospital an extra day to make sure that he was okay. The pediatrician was nice, but I felt like he wasn't listening to me. It was like being in an alternate universe for a few days... nothing comfortable.
We were finally discharged and we headed "home"-- to the hotel. We had gotten moved to a suite, thank you Jesus, so living there with a newborn would be more bearable. The first few nights were exhausting. The soy milk didn't keep him full, so he was up every hour. Nick's mom and dad went back home to check on their house, and took our daughter with them. She was really tired of being cooped up in a hotel room! We were hoping that we wouldn't be there much longer.
Let's just say that we became quite familiar with everything in those three towns! The towns formed a triangle, each being about 30 minutes apart. Our hotel was in the same town as the agency and the Walmart. The hospital was in a town that we dubbed "Mayberry" to the north. The third little town housed the office of our attorney, the courthouse, and our contact's home.
By this point, we had been away from home for a little over a week, which equals 21+ meals eaten out. My little pregnancy tummy was not feeling too great.
We had to take our son back to "Mayberry" for his check up a few days after his birth. We walked into a teeny tiny doctors office in a small strip mall. We talked to the doctor, who didn't seem concerned about his tummy issues, and to get his heel pricked again to check his bili levels. They hadn't been good when we left the hospital. But the doctor didn't have a lab, so we had to go back to the hospital. As we were leaving, we were paying our copay, and we had to pay by cash or check. They didn't have a credit card machine. We thought that was odd, but when we got our statement, we realized then that the total bill had only been $5 more than our copay!
We got to the hospital and had to sign in and wait in order of the people that came. It was a tiny little nightmare. But it was the first time that we heard the comment that our son had hair just like my husband's. We thought that was so funny since my husband is white and our son is biracial-- we had no clue that it would become a common theme.
We FINALLY got to go back to a little room where they pricked Little Man's heel, I was comforting him and the nurse kept squeezing and squeezing...she couldn't get it to bleed. I suddenly felt light headed. I had to sit down and get a sprite. I believe that it was attributed to my pregnancy, but of course we hadn't broad casted the fact that I was pregnant, so I looked like a wimp. But we finally got that done and his levels were closer to normal, so we hoped that we were done with everything in 'Mayberry'.
The next task was the courthouse...