God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

April 2nd: Our Little Old Man

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“Good Morning!”

Our nurse Sara walks into the room. If you’ve seen the show “Call the Midwife” on PBS, she looks like Chummy. Technically, she’s right, although one am sure feels like night to me.

I’m sitting in corner of the room with Steph across the table from me. We’re playing the “Wobbly Table” game where one person either puts their weight on or pulls off the table and jerks the other person awake. Hello!

I noted the day before that Steph was our birth mother’s support person. Here, her badge says exactly that, “Support Person”. While her dad, brother and I are in the room as well, we just can’t provide the support of someone that has taken her to nearly everyone of her OB appointments, answers hundreds of text messages, and constantly assured her that we would be there when she needed us.

Once she is situated, they start the interrogation What pregnancy is this? Do you want an epidural? What drugs have you used during pregnancy? How much coffee? Do you prefer DC or Marvel comics? Was Shawn Johnson robbed in Dancing With the Stars : All Stars Edition? Does this hairdo make my ears seem big?

After the 9,000 questions, they need to get answers…uh…under the hood. So they eject everyone from the room and we scout out the lobby for snacks.

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Snyder’s of Hanover, the official snack of 1 AM walking outside the delivery room.

This hospital is amazingly nice. This is the front desk area

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This is the button you get to push with a new baby.

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There are pictures of flowers everywhere

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We are let back in the room and find out things are progressing. Morning is likely. (not mourning) Her dad and brother stay until she is comfortable and then head out. There is a couch for sleeping one. Steph takes the couch, because I can sleep anywhere. Last time, it was laying my head on a table. This time, I take the floor. I fall asleep to the movie “The Spy Next Door” and now know why there hasn’t been a Jackie Chan movie in a while.

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Morning arrives quickly, and we have a new nurse (shift change at 7). Our nurse’s name is Audrey, and she is awesome too. In fact, everyone here is. I walked out of the room once, didn’t know for sure which way I needed to go and three people stopped to help me.

Things are progressing quickly, and I’m back out in the hallway as birthmom begins to push. There is not much left for me to do but pace.

Steph comes out. Labor has slowed, so best to go wait in the family waiting room. Our birthmother’s dad arrives at this point and we go hang out in the Waiting room. I’m not in the right mind for conversation, and I suppose he isn’t either, so we chit chit a little then settle into watching the TV, whatever is on will keep our minds busy.

It’s a Tuesday marathon of Law and Order : SVU. Not exactly the best watch for when you’re waiting for your child to be born. Then, just as they are about to break the case, the door swings open and Steph walks in. Our baby boy is here.

She was glowing. She was happy, she was in awe of this amazing moment that brings a child into this world, and she was scared too. The enormity of the moment was overwhelming, but despite that and the varied emotions running through her at that moment, she was calm and just happy. Happy to be a mom again. Happy to tell us the good news. Happy that everything went well, and happy that the waiting was over.

She had my phone so she could take pictures. She brought it in to us, so we could see him.

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We went into the room, and I met him for the first time. He was born at 10:36am on this day at 7 pounds, 2 ounces. He had hair on his head, but not as much as Eva. Kind of a bald spot up front. His hands and feet were blue, normal for a baby, but wrinkled and cracked. His face was not as full as Eva’s, which with everything else gave him this adorable old man look. Our little old man.

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We spent much of the afternoon in the room with him. His birthmother held him as much as she could, but we still got to hold him often. You forget just how small they are at that age. You also forget how your arms hurts after a while too.

We stare into his face, and his attempts to open his dear eyes. Who are you little man? Are you Elijah, or are you Eli? We all agree that after just a few moments with him that this is Eli. Someday he may grow into Elijah, but today he is Eli.

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One other thing that we all agree with is that he is not a she. However, our mouths and the hospital disagreed. The nurse accidently printed the tag for him that said “Girl”. That was easy to fix. However we all (but especially me) had the problem of accidently calling him a her, he a she. Probably for the same reason that I call every dog a he, it’s what I have a home. Babies are girls, and dogs are boys. Two weeks later I’ll still be making this mistake.

The hospital’s social worker and the agency’s social work come in to talk, so Steph and I head out of the room. The nurses lead us to our room for the night. It was way beyond what we needed, but it was awesome. They had open rooms, so they gave us one of the recovery rooms.

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Auto blinds

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More Flowers

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After we settled, the social workers came by to talk to us. The hospital’s social worker was nice, but was off tomorrow so we’d have a different worker tomorrow. I felt bad because our birthmother’s social worker was on vacation at this point, so she had a different social worker through this process (she was ours, and she is awesome, but still hard to have someone new) and two different hospital social workers.

The hospital’s social worker left, and we chatted with ours from the agency. One of the benefits of two adoptions close together is that the home study is still valid. With renewal costing a grand we didnt’ want to part with, this was a blessing.

“Our homestudy is still valid.”

“Actually, it needs to be valid through finalization, not just through placement”

Steph fires up the computer inside her head, loads the information and recalculates. We have a period of 4 days between the first day we can offically finalize, and when our home study expires.

In the past month, as Eli’s birth approached, it didn’t take much to trigger her stress level. There were a few things that peaked it the quickest: thinking about whether or not to work next year, the text message beep on her phone, and anything to do with money. Now with the possibility of having to pay out an unexpected grand, it jumped back up quickly.

“We don’t need to worry about it now” I should have said to a brick wall.

We stopped by the room to see Eli. Birthmom needed some alone time with him, which worked out well because we needed to head home to see Eva before she went to bed and wondered why she hadn’t seen us all day. We jump in the car and head home.

It had been a non-stop busy day. We had the incredible blessing of adding Eli to our family, a huge and monumental event. Big things don’t happen in a vacuum, and big things don’t happen without affecting those involved.

On my wedding day, there was a moment right before I walked down that aisle. Everything had been go go go, but there was this quiet moment with no responsibility. Everything rushed to my brain at that moment, how big things were, how nothing would be the same again, and how much this would change me.

These moments bring out all sorts of emotions. Even if you want what is going to happen next, your reaction doesn’t always match that feeling. On my wedding day, I walked down that aisle, and was zoned into the only other person in that church that was important that moment.

When Eva was born, the reaction was joyous. If you read my blog when Eva was born, you would have read about my gushing emotions when Eva was born. At this point, I’ve kind of avoided writing about it for Eli. Today, as I write this, I love him with all my heart, and feel a connection to him. On that day, I was emotionally drained.

I didn’t know what I felt. I wasn’t bonded to him. We were his caretakers, but not yet his parents. Two weeks of death, snow, late nights and false alarms had left me in survival mode, and there is no use for emotion in survival mode. I buried it all inside. Steph had the opposite reaction.

As we are driving home, Steph breaks down. What were we doing?! We just spent the day with this new child while our child is at home without us. How can we do this? What if we don’t connect with him? What if he hates us? Will we ever sleep again? She is now sobbing in the car, needing to get home to see that her baby is safe and doing well.

We arrive home and give love to Eva. She is eating dinner, and is happy. She’s probably thinking “Oh yeah, you’ve been gone. I’m excited to see you, but I’m also excited to be eating this hot dog.” We settle down and talk with the sitter, and I wonder what we looked like at that point. We’re exhausted from lack of sleep, one is emotional, one is emotionless. Did we look like we were just tired, or did we look like we didn’t know what we were doing? Why can’t I be overjoyed right now?

We get Eva ready for bed and tuck her in. She is oblivious to it all, and is just exactly the same girl that she ever was. Today wasn’t the day that was going to change everything forever, just a day where she got to play with a friend all day long. We kiss her good night and head back to the hospital.

We check on Eli and his birthmother and they are doing well. It’s past dinner, and we need fuel to make it through the night. I head back out and drive to Fazoli’s. I turn the radio off as no song really fits the moment.

I walk in and wait in line. The manager takes the order in front of me and starts to fill it. A new employee is back there, and he asks her to take my order. She’s never taken an order before, and has that new parent “I don’t know what I’m doing!” look.

Strangly enough, this calms me. It brings me back to when we first had Eva, and that moment where the hospital lets these amateur parents loose with this fragile infant child without the instruction guide. What if we screw up? we don’t know what we are doing! Only now, we have an idea of what we are doing. We know we’re going to make mistakes, and its okay. God provided this child to us, and also gave us the means to provide for him.

God also provided this Fazoli’s employee a void button. If she screws up my order, just hit void. She won’t need it though. I walk up, tell her that my order isn’t that difficult, and I’m in no rush. I place my order, and she scans the keypad to find each item. Slowly, just like the days when you first started hen pecking the keyboard, but didn’t mess anything up. Some relief shown through when she was finished, and I went to sit and wait for my breadsticks (the best part).

I start to feel a bit better. In our darkest most stress moments, there probably was a part of us that wish that we have that void button. For fear of providing sub-par love for Eva, fear of not handling the late nights, fear that we pour so much of ourselves into Eva that we couldn’t possibly have enough for a second. Now that we are in this moment, I’m starting to think that maybe we can actually do this.

For the first time, I’m hoping some random stranger comes by to ask me a random question, and that I can tell them that I’m a parent again. No one does. When I told my mother the news, she was in a gas station in South Dakota, and she told the first random stranger that walked inside (and by the end of the day the entire town knew!) I was still too tired to be that outgoing.

I bring the food back and we eat in the room. The Iowa Hawkeyes are playing on ESPN2 tonight and we don’t have cable, but the hospital does! The game was scheduled to start at 9:30, it started at 9:50, and by 10:30 I’m asleep and have to check my phone in the morning to see who had won (Iowa did).

While I am preoccupied finding the game I begin to hear sobbing again. Steph had another quiet moment, just like earlier in the car ride home. While I was still burying emotions, hers were right on the surface.

She was unsure she could do this. She was unsure we made the right decision. She was unsure she could comfort him. She was unsure that Eva was home and mommy was away. She was unsure of everything.

She was texting with a friend who had similar issues with her newborn. Steph was a helpful ear then unknowing that someday she would need the favor returned. She was glad for the ear this night.

Eli starts to fuss and her sobs get even louder. I get up and change him and rock him back to sleep. I tell Steph that it will be alright, but she needs time. She needs to see that I’ll be there to help. I tell her I love her, because I always say that when I don’t know what else to say.

Before the game started, we have to figure out when his next bottle is. He ate at 7:00, and his bottles are currently four hours apart, so his next bottle is at 12:00. at 11:00 the nurse comes in to make sure we wake Eli for his feeding, and we realize that only in new parent math does 7 + 4 = 12. Now that Steph has had a bit of sleep she instantly feeds and comforts Eli. The bonding has begun. With bottle fed and Steph lovingly rocking him back to sleep, I close my eyes for that brief chance of sleep hoping tomorrow goes well.

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