The Five of Us, Spring 2014

The Five of Us, Spring 2014

Round Two--The Big Weekend

18 January 2011 (well, that's when I started writing this, anyway!)

Have you ever been on a mission trip, or had any big event in your life, and had someone ask you, "How was it?" There's just no easy way to answer that question because there's soooooooo very much to tell and most of it can't be expressed in words. There's a lot of "you had to be there" mixed in with a lot of "I just can't explain it." So, I'll try to give you a reasonable, readable account of the weekend. But, just know, it's falling far short of the reality.

I left on Friday (Jan 14) in a flurry of activity because I had to check into the hospital's guest house by 10 o'clock and Aa had a meeting until 3. With a 6.5 hour drive and possible icy roads and the need to satisfy basic bodily functions, there simply wasn't a moment to spare. I took off flying, after filling up with gas! The roads were mostly clear with only a few scary spots. But, I had prayed that God would send angels to keep the car on the road, and even though I drove on some ice, I never felt the car slip one centimeter.

I made it just in time. The hospital's guest house is very economical, which means it isn't luxurious. But being so close was worth the sacrifice of amenities. I do wish I'd brought my own pillow along, though. I took a couple of Tylenol PMs and prayed myself to sleep.

My plan for Saturday morning was to be at the hospital at 7 for breakfast. AB (our birth mom) was scheduled to be induced at 7 and she was going to call me in when she was all hooked up to all the gadgets and ready to go. So, I set my alarm before going to bed Friday night. I needn't have bothered! I was awake long before it sounded. Apparently, adrenaline is stronger than TPM! Anyway, although I am not a morning person, I was easily able to keep to the plan.

About 8 AM, Cynthia, AB's case worker, called to tell me she was on her way in. She also informed me that AB had gone into labor on her own and had been contracting since 3 AM!!! Not only that, she had progressed to 4 cm when she came in this morning! I was thrilled to know that, even though the induction was a week ahead of the due date, her body was ready to do its thing--and that we might have a baby sooner than later.

Cynthia had another surprise for me. AB wasn't alone in the room as we had thought she would be. Her aunt (J) and 13 yr old cousin (D) were already there. I continued to wait for Cynthia so that we could go in together.

Cynthia arrived about 8:30, so we headed in. I hadn't seen AB in a month and this was only our second meeting. I gave her a big hug and handed her the gifts I had brought--a fleecy warm robe, woolly slipper-booties, and the box Aaron had made with a few more recent photos in it. She was very pleased--and cold! So, I helped her slip on the booties and the robe. Then I got to meet J and D, who were sitting off to the side. While all this gift-giving and introductions were going on, AB was having contractions every 5-6 minutes. But, no one seemed to be coaching her through them. Since I was right there during the gift-giving, I stepped in to coach. I had tried to prepare as best I could in the week leading up to the big day since I thought I would be the only one there. Throughout the entire labor, I was the only one who ever attempted to help (besides the nurses). I was very glad I had done my little bit of boning up!
Not long after we arrived, maybe 10 or so, the nurse checked AB's progress. She had dilated another 2 cms! Cynthia encouraged her that this would be the time to get the epidural so that she didn't get too far along. Now, AB has another child--a 22 month old girl--and the epidural procedure didn't go so smoothly the first time. So, she was very fearful about it. Everyone had to clear the room except for me (I am so grateful and in awe that I was the chosen one) and the nurse anesthetist came in. Poor soul. He was trying to talk to AB when a contraction hit. I asked him to hang on until it was over. He went on after that, but it was sorta down hill from there on. AB told him that she'd had a bad experience in the past. I think it made him even more nervous. He got her into position and started trying to get the needle between the vertebrae, but hers are very tightly joined. He struggled for probably 45 minutes, in two different places and finally got so upset that he sorta threw his instruments on the bed and raised his hands and said, "I give up."

AB was in a lot of pain from the contractions by this point and she was very afraid of going through the hardest parts of labor without the epidural. The nurse called the anesthesiologist (dr.) to come. When he showed up a few minutes later, he tried to talk her out of having the procedure. She was very upset. Cynthia had said before she left, "I'm all for epidurals for adoptions. There is enough pain involved that whatever we can get rid of, I feel we should." I also felt that AB was not confident and neither one of us was truly prepared to get her through without the epidural. So, I asked the doctor if he would try just one time, just once. He capitulated.

Now, almost the whole time the nurse anesthetist was trying, I was praying silently that God would open up the space in her vertebrae. And, most of that time, I felt an urge to pray out loud. But, I was embarrassed. I barely know the girl, although she does have faith, and I certainly didn't know the nurse or the anesthetist. But, with only one more try, I sucked it up, leaned into AB's ear and prayed, "Lord God, you can do this. Open up AB's vertebrae so that the needle can go in and she can get the help she needs to get through this." Then I helped her breathe through the contraction.

In no time at all, the dr. had the epidural in place. He said it was difficult, but compared with the nurse anesthetist, he made it look easy! And, as soon as it was in, AB said, "Oh, praise Jesus!" And we had a little moment of worship and thanks before the next contraction came on.

J and D came back into the room and then D's phone rang. It was "Granny." D rolled her eyes a lot while talking to her and J and AB seemed very surprised she had called. Then there was a tap on my shoulder. D held the phone out to me with a quizzical/worried look on her face, and said "She wants to talk to you." So, I got to talk to Granny a bit. Not knowing what to expect, but not getting good vibes from the ones who did, I took a positive stance. I told her she would be so proud of her girl who was doing such a great job. Granny said, "Well, she comes from good stock!" Hee hee! She was kind to me and said she was grateful for me and my family. Then she asked for D again. A few minutes later, she talked to AB. At one point in the conversation, I heard AB tell Granny, "You would love her if you met her. I know I made the right choice and that this is the right family." I was overwhelmed with gratitude to hear AB speak about me and my family that way.

After she got off the phone, she told me that Granny hadn't spoken to her since she found out "about all this." I asked if they had been close before, and she said, "Yeah. I think so." Then J said "Granny's just Granny." And that was the end of that.

Then, AB's best friend--a friend she's had for 14 years--came. She was very sweet and supportive. She brought a lightness and a happy atmosphere to the room. I wasn't sure how happy I should be around AB. Plus, I was pretty focused on making sure AB was comfortable and doing well. We'll call this friend K. I liked having K there. She made an effort to get to know me and also to make sure AB was doing well.

At about noon, I think, the epidural wasn't doing its job very well any more. So, the nurse came in and checked AB. She was now 8 cm! The contractions were monstrous on the monitor--tall, wide, and right on top of one another. AB was crying through the contractions and not handling them very well. So, the nurse called for the anesthetist to come back and give a boost (I forgot the technical term). After he left, she sort of giggled and said, "That's the biggest boost I've ever seen!" I think we sorta scared him the first time he saw us!

The nurse glanced back at the screen and said, "I'm just gonna check you again." Her face registered surprise and she said she could feel the baby's head! She said he had dropped about 5 cm since the last check about 20 minutes back! She called the OB and told AB that if she sat her up and AB started pushing, we'd have the baby before the dr. could arrive!

We all started buzzing, and the everyone pulled out their cell phones! The nurse was busy getting everything in place and minutes later, just after I'd asked how long the dr would take to arrive, he came in! He explained a few things, AB shifted positions, and everything began happening so fast! She was afraid she wouldn't be able to push because the giant boost had made her numb from her ribs to her toes. She couldn't feel a thing. And, she had pushed for 2 1/2 hours in her first delivery, so she was afraid because of that too. I was able to help calm her down and she did so wonderfully! Even without being able to feel, I think it was only five contractions later that his head was out! And then his body.

I began to sob with emotions I can't name even now. There is nothing like that moment in all the world. Nothing to compare it to. Nothing. I've never participated in any birth besides Punk's and it was very different being an observer. And, yet, not just an observer. The mother of the child too! My heart swelled and I lost my breath and I just heaved tears all over the place.

The cord was around his neck and there was meconium in the water, so I didn't get to cut the cord as planned. They whisked the baby to the side of the room and began working on him. Everyone else followed the baby, but I stayed with AB. After the placenta was out and she was a little more calm and comfortable, I left her side for just a moment to snap one quick photo of him.They were able to stabilize BB (Baby Boy, until I can gift him a blog name) and brought him over. AB held him first for a few minutes, then me. Someone else asked to hold him and he got passed around like a communion tray for a little while. Finally, the nurses said he needed to go to the nursery and I could come along. So I did. I really hope SOMEONE took care of AB while I was gone.

After they messed with my little boy for a while, and gave him his first bath, I was able to take him to a little room and give him his first feeding. It was a precious time. He is so very tiny. So, so, so tiny. After he ate, I took a few pictures of him. And then we went to AB's room and hung out with her for a while.I went to get some dinner and when I came back up the elevator, J was standing there waiting. There was another woman waiting also. I didn't want to make them miss the elevator, but I asked J, "How's she doing?"

She said, "She's fine. Just resting."

"Oh, okay, I'll see you later." And, we went our separate ways. When I got to AB's room, I mentioned having seen J.

She said, "Yeah, and that was my mother with her." I was shocked that J hadn't introduced us!

I said, "Oh, will she be coming back?"

"Yeah, they just went to get something to eat."

"Are you glad your mother is here?"

"Yeah, but she doesn't like this."

"Did she try to talk you out of it?" I realize looking back that this sounded to AB like I was concerned she might change her mind. I'm sorry for that because I was really asking a question more akin to "How's your heart? Do you need ministry?"

"No one can talk me out of this," she said defensively. "I know this is the right thing. I know all the facts. I know God has put all this together and no one can say any differently."

We talked a little about her relationship with her mom, but she wasn't very forthcoming. When J and L (AB's mom) came back, AB introduced us. She asked me to tell her mom about the baby's name and it's meaning. His middle name is Immanuel, which means "God with us." We chose it because we feel it is very clear that God has been with us--with this family, with AB, and with BB--through all of this. And, that He will continue to our constant companion.

We all three chatted a bit more, and took turns holding BB. I think it was good for L and even J and AB to see me with BB. I also think it was really good for L and J to see me continuing to care for AB and build relationship.

When I finally pulled away that night, I felt like I was suspended between two worlds--one of total and complete exhaustion and one of extreme emotion. Even though I took some more TPM, I slept restlessly. I woke up early Sunday morning trying to scheme ways to stay during the interim until the rest of the family could come and we could bring BB home. I phoned Aa at 6:30 AM begging to stay. In the end, we decided I should stay one more night. It seemed like a better transition for me to leave when the others were discharged from the hospital and I just wasn't ready to leave either AB or BB just yet. But, I really missed the rest of my family, and I knew they needed me too.

After breakfast Sunday morning, I was right on time for BB's first feeding of the morning. AB wasn't up yet, so I just held him and looked at him and loved him some more.L had spent the night with AB and was still there when I brought BB to her room. We all just hung out for a while. They were both really glad that I was able to stay another day, as was Cynthia. Cynthia had set an appointment with AB to sign the relinquishment papers at 4 PM Sunday. So, as the hours passed, AB started to draw into herself. I stuck around, but the focus changed from she and I spending time together to watching tv. I understand this natural defense mechanism, but I hadn't thought ahead to expect it, and I admit, it did hurt me a little bit.

L left mid-day, so AB and I were alone for a while leading up to the meeting. She never turned off the tv, but did decide to try to nap. I stayed nearby, with BB, and read a book. Around 3, I needed to change BB's diaper. He doesn't like that! So, he began to cry, and disturbed AB. When I had him all fixed up, she asked to hold him. At 3:45 Cynthia brought the interim care parents to meet us. The plan was to spend a few minutes together and then I would go with the baby and the ICPs to another room for awhile while Cynthia did the paperwork with AB. The ICPs were not what either AB nor I were expecting and they didn't go over well with AB, so Cynthia sent us on our way. But, before I left the room, I asked AB if I could hug her. She said yes, so I did. I said a few words to her and we cried a little bit, and then I left as Cynthia stepped back in.

I truly have never been in such a desperate situation that I have ever had to consider making such a choice as AB had made. I couldn't come close to comprehending what she must be feeling as she faced the moment of finalizing the adoption plan by relinquishing her rights to her son. As I walked out of that room, my heart was so heavy. I was pushing the rolling bassinet with BB in it, but not one of my thoughts was on him. My heart felt as heavy as lead but as fragile as the thinnest glass, and about 10 steps down the hall, I collapsed (emotionally) under the weight of it. I began to sob loudly and the ICPs turned around. The IC mother held me for a few moments while I collected myself (and the people in the room whose door I was in front of peeked out to see what was the matter). I continued to weep as we walked the corridor to the little room.

I wish this was an ideal world where adoption was unnecessary--on both sides of the coin. I wish babies were only born into situations where they would flourish and that every mother had all the myriad resources and support it takes to parent successfully. I wish that every mother who has those resources and support and who desires to parent could give birth to the children she longs for. But, that's not this world. And, adoption is necessary. And, I believe that this instance, this child, this birth mother, this adoptive family were all created for each other and that this is one of the cases where adoption is truly the best option for everyone. But, the fact of the matter remains, there is much grief woven into the picture--for AB, for BB, and for me.

When we sat down in the little room, I scooped up BB and kissed his precious face with sloppy, teary-wet kisses. And as I held him, I grieved for my son, for this moment in his one-day old life was not a happy one. Then I dried my tears and turned my attention to the ICPs and we chatted about the rest of my family and the rest of theirs. They took pictures of me and BB on their IPhones and we sent them home to Aa and the kiddinkidinks, along with a video of me and BB.

For my part, I liked the ICPs. They are a retired couple and she is quiet and sweet and nurturing and her presence is a soothing, peaceful one. He is a mountain of a man and his presence would overwhelm even a large room. But, he is obviously very loving also--even with his quirks.

After some time, Cynthia came in and said that J was with AB and that she was handling it well. She dismissed the ICPs and I took BB to the nursery. Then, Cynthia and I went out to dinner--the first time I had been off the hospital grounds since arriving Friday night. We talked about what happens from here on out, and made the 18-year plan of letters, photos, and visits. I told her about God's promise to exceed my expectations with this adoption and the many ways I saw Him fulfilling the promise. I told her that we will be pursuing foster-parenting as soon as we feel up to it (I'm thinking this will be a mostly-up-to-it feeling--100% may never come!). And, she enlightened me on a few things from her 16 years' experience working with birth mothers.

I relaxed back at the guest house for a little while, calling my husband, my mom, and my sister in turn to update them. Then, I went back up to the hospital to say goodnight. It was a very short visit, and slightly awkward. J was there, but she was very removed (emotionally). AB didn't seem to know what to say to me, nor I to her. So I just said good night to them both and to BB.

Monday morning came and I didn't know if it was too soon or too late. I hadn't slept well again but I was anxious to see BB and AB again. I was planning to leave at 11 AM and the hours til then seemed too short. The pediatrician had decided BB needed a bili-bed for his jaundice on Sunday, so we weren't supposed to be holding him on Monday, except to feed and change him. Well, how can a mother--either one of us--say good-bye to her baby while he's lying in a blue-lighted bassinet. It simply wasn't possible.The nurse came in to AB's room where we were both preparing to depart and told us that she understood the situation but that he really needed to be in the bed. In fact, he was being transferred to Pediatrics and would have to stay another night because he wasn't improving. She asked who would be staying with him. I said I needed to get home to the rest of my family, but that the agency had provided for an interim family to care for him, and that the IC mother would the one to stay the night. As the nurse was asking how to contact her, AB said, "I want to stay with him." I said, "Well, we need to talk with the social worker about that." So, AB called Cynthia and explained. She said she would come on over.

When she arrived, I took BB to the other little room to say good-bye. Cynthia said a few words to AB and then came to see me. I bawled, "Cynthia, I have some really ugly feelings about AB staying with BB tonight." She held me and said, "I know you do." I said, "I'm jealous and angry and fearful." So, she began to pray. When she finished, I thanked her and said, "I know there's no reason to be afraid. I know in my head that AB is solid in her decision and that she is not going to change her mind, but heart just can't seem to grasp it."

Cynthia said, "I can't convince your heart, but I can tell you that AB has never wavered, never so much as swayed since I first met her. And, I do not see this as movement on her part. She really hasn't had much time alone with BB and perhaps she needs that; perhaps this is God's way of meeting that need for her."

I said, "Okay, I can see that, but... All this time, I have been here with them, but when I leave, there is no one left to protect my interests and I can't convince my heart to be okay with that."

She squeezed me and said, "Oh, but there is. And He will never let you down. He knows better than us what is needed in this situation and He will take care of you and BB and AB."

"You're right," I said. "You're right. My heart can't grasp that now, but I think I can get there while I drive home."

I went on to explain that I thought that part of AB's wish to stay was born out of her dislike of the ICPs because her first impression had been askew. Cynthia said she would work on that.

I said good-bye to my tiny boy-o, checked out of the guest house, and started on my way. About an hour later, Cynthia called to say that she had talked with J and they felt AB should go home and rest. Would I pray that AB would do what was best for her? I said of course I would. Later I found out that AB had gone home and that the IC mother would be staying the night. And, that they redoubled the lights on BB so that he could recover quickly. I was glad the IC mother would be staying with him because I knew that she could bear to leave him in that funny contraption!As I drove home, I sensed my thoughts and emotions detaching a little from AB and BB and turning toward Aa, Punk, and Pea. For the last two hours of my drive, I just prayed and prayed (not solidly) that God would refill my completely drained cup so that I would have something to give my precious family when I arrived home. The kiddinkies were getting ready for bed and I had the sweet privilege of snuggling them while reading their books and then tucking them in. Once they were settled in bed, I practically sat on Aa's lap on the couch. I wanted as much of me to touch as much of him as possible. I felt like I had to soak him in, love and be loved by osmosis! We talked a little as we snuggled. I told him I felt as though I had spent every emotion and every emotional reserve I ever had. It was so good to just be, just be, together.

So, now we wait. All the paperwork has to be processed by both the state of GA where he was born and the state of NC where he will live. It was all sent to GA on Wednesday (overnight) and we have not yet heard whether they have passed it on to NC. Please keep praying for a smooth process and that our family will be together again soon.


Kristi said...

Oh Rachel. I think my heart felt many of those emotions as I read through your story. What an amazing and touching story. God's timing is perfect and He knows you are faithful. Congratulations my friend. May God touch all who weave in and out of this story with his goodness.

My Man and Me

My Man and Me
married 7/7/2001


ours through biology, born 7/25/2004, home 8/1/2004


ours through adoption from Liberia, West Africa, born 7/15/2005, home 10/25/2007


ours through domestic adoption, born 1/15/2011, home 2/10/2011, final 8/3/2011

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Round Two Timeline

  • 9/24/08 Home study update home visit for Ghana adoption
  • 10/15/08 Dossier sent to AOHG
  • 10/15/08 I600A application sent to USCIS
  • 10/30/08 First heard about possible domestic private adoption
  • 11/18/08 Last spoke with contact about possible domestic adoption; expected to hear back about meeting with birthmother
  • 12/3/08 Withdrew application from AOHG
  • 1/6/09 Found out another family had been chosen for possible domestic adoption
  • 1/21/09 USCIS fingerprinting appointment
  • 1/8/09 Received USCIS fingerprinting appointment notice
  • 4/11/09 Sent Pre-Application to Covenant Care Adoptions for Domestic Infant Adoption program
  • 6/8/09 Social worker visit to update home study from International to Domestic
  • 7/24/09 Received completed home study update
  • 8/25/09 Went "on the list" for birthfamilies to choose from
  • 4/28/10 Found out a birth mom had chosen us
  • 5/8/10 Met the birth mom
  • 5/11/10 Got the call that birth mom changed her mind
  • 5/19/10 Birth mom's scheduled c-section
  • 11/30/10 Visit from DSS sw about foster parenting
  • 11/30/10 Got the call that another birth mom had chosen us
  • 12/21/10 Met with the birth mom
  • 1/15/11 @1:42 PM BB was born!
  • 1/19/11 ICPC (interstate) paperwork sent to GA for approval
  • 1/31/11 ICPC Clearance Approved
  • 2/10/11 Placement Ceremony and Pup comes home!!!!
  • 8/3/11 It's Official! Pup's Adoption Decree was issued