I have some time to dedicate to writing, but this blog might read more like a stream of consciousness than my usual style.
We were forty five minutes out from our hotel and so exhausted that we were considering actually taking a nap in the truck for an hour before meeting the birth parents, as we were an hour early and we had gotten up at five that morning, on top of getting no sleep.
Suddenly, a phone in my purse vibrated and when I pulled it out, I saw a text that said S. was having contractions two minutes apart, lasting one minute long and D. was taking her to the hospital right then.
"This is really happening," I said out loud, slowly. It was the first thing I said. It was as if I had to tell myself that, in order to believe it.
Then I told Keith and then I called a boat load of people while Keith re-programed the GPS. We were only forty five minutes away, due to our being early.
I had been nervous before, of course, about meeting the birth parents, but that was nothing compared to the anxiety I felt at that point. It was as if I coasted into town on a river of fear- the kind that leaves you numb. I remember the light glowing on all the run down shops, restaurants, gas stations- it was all a light hazed blur.
If you've ever gone through something that you knew you could never manage or never do, but simply had to do it anyway, there is no choice- it was like that. It was so intense it was as if I were being shaped by it into a different person, emerging through the fear into a new version of myself.
Of course, I was praying. I was praying that He would be there, and He kept insisting that He would be there, because I would be there, in the same way that sometimes people say, we are the hands and feet of Christ.
He meant I myself would somehow be making manifest His love and presence- that it wouldn't necessarily be just an inner spiritual experience for my own comfort, but a practical and public one, simply by my being fully present.
Naturally, I want this to be happening all the time, but I thought, if He's emphasizing this, it must be important. This was kind of nerve wracking, but I knew that if He wanted it to be that way, He would make it happen, I just had to be present and willing.
By the time we reached the hospital, I'd found some inexplicable place of serene calm. Even when Keith missed the entrance, and then slowly circled around the parking lot, I was serene. Which was good, because he was beginning to show the stress, at that point.
We got lost in the hospital- we went up the wrong elevators and then forgot to stop and check in with security when we finally found Labor and Delivery. A nurse came out and explained to us that S. was in labor right then, and asked if we expected to be in the room.
I told her that she had asked that I be there, but maybe she could make sure, since I felt reluctant to barge in on the poor girl. I mean, that is not really the most comfortable time to meet someone. She want away to check.
Ten minutes later, a young man vaguely familiar appeared through the doors and opened his arms, a bewildered, tender and expectant expression on his face. It took us a moment, and then we realized this was the birth father.
We converged on him with joy; my anxiety was completely gone, replaced with some buoyant combination of affection and delight. I gave him a hug, Keith shook his hand. It took us a few moments to actually hear what he was saying; S. had already given birth.
It had happened that quickly, while we were pacing around the waiting room, picking up magazines and putting them down again.
We were given visitor badges and taken down to the room. I followed D. into the room and met the bright, curious eyes of S. for the first time. Her face was gentle and kind; she was as quiet as I was.
Our hearts broke, immediately. We'd been telling these two that they were family for some time now, and at that time, we knew they were.
Here began a rather surreal time. Each time the door opened, I sat up, expecting the nurse entering to be bringing the baby. This never happened. Eventually, the doctor returned, clutching a large drink with a straw and rapidly mumbled something in some unintelligible accent and then left.
The only thing we caught out of this monologue was that the baby was doing fine and was not on oxygen. So I continued to expect the baby to be wheeled into the room and this continued not to happen.
What was surreal was that, in some way, I already felt bonded to this baby- this baby that was real, was present- and yet, still I had not seen her or touched her, even though she was somewhere not far away- just down the hall, in another room.
This felt jarringly wrong, that she should be somewhere other than where I was. I kept stifling the urge to stand up and go running down the hall, opening doors until I found her, or to demand that one of the nurses bring her immediately. It was kind of like a dream- a frustrating dream that is not quite a nightmare, but where things are just out of reach, or where you are running and running and getting nowhere.
Instead of giving into these crazy impulses, I sat still and composed, talking with S. and D. We found out that we had so many things in common and that it was these very things that made them choose us as adoptive parents. It was if we'd known them a long time and it was not hard to make conversation with them.
"It was meant to be," D. told us, confidently.
Eventually, D. got restless himself and we decided, he and I, to go in search of Baby while Keith stayed to keep S. company.
D. and I were let into the newborn nursery, which was bright with overhead light and full of beeping, confusing equipment. I kept looking around in an unfocused haze of something I can't describe, knowing that at any moment, I would see her.
I remember a nurse with a kind face taking hold of me and directing me over to one of the heated bassinets. On it was a tiny infant with thin arms and thin bowed legs, eyes screwed shut, wires attached to her feet and hands, wearing a diaper too big and propped up with a rolled up towel, like a tiny nest.
The nurse was saying something, but I wasn't taking it in. This feeling was rolling over and through me, a feeling without words. It was as if all my love lifted out of me and settled around this tiny infant, this little person.
I didn't even touch her- the nurse explained we had to wash our hands and we hadn't yet. I just stood looking at her in awe, caught up in this feeling.
"She's beautiful," I told D.
"We know she's in good hands," he said.
Now I have to stop writing, but I'll continue with this maybe tomorrow, if I have time again.