This is my new writing arrangement:
I think she also enjoys listening to Alison Krauss.
As soon as I start to think that we are close to being unpacked, more boxes are moved from the garage to the front hall and it starts all over again. Sigh.
Okay, to pick up the story, later that afternoon, D. explained that he and S. had been talking about how Keith and I could visit baby- only those wearing a parent bracelet could go in, otherwise they had to be accompanied by someone wearing said bracelet.
He said that they wanted me to wear his bracelet so that we could go in anytime we wanted, to visit baby and what did we think of that idea?
Well! Naturally, we thought it a heart meltingly wonderful idea, so all four of us slowly walked out to the nurse's station and stood at the counter with expectant faces. We explained ourselves to the nurses and soon, a waterproof plastic bracelet was wrapped around my wrist.
The name on the bracelet was Baby P., though S. had given her full name on her birth certificate- she was Merissa Melody Lynn from the time she was born, unlike most adoptions, where the birthmother gives the child one name and the adoptive parents name her another, when the adoption is finalized.
I wore this bracelet for over a week. Every time I saw it, whether showering or driving or waking up in the morning, or getting a cup of coffee, I thought, "I am a mom. I'm marked by the bracelet." And not just any mom, but a mom whose child lived in the newborn nursery, while the "well babies," as the nurses called them, were wheeled out to rejoin their families in rooms and eventually, went home.
Mine did not. Sometimes the charge nurse would come into the nursery and ask how many babies were living in the nursery. Mine was one of that number, swaddled in a white flannel blanket with pink and blue stripes, a too large yellow hat on her head, always quiet, the monitors beeping steadily away.
But I'm getting ahead of my story. All four of us were ushered into the newborn nursery and stood adoringly over the heated bassinet. We all decided, very warmly, that S. should be the first to hold her. Then she was passed to D., who passed her, very carefully, to Keith, who had to sit down.
Then she was passed to me. As I held her, the realization slowly sank into me- that the daughter I'd longed for all those years was now in my arms. She had arrived. I was struck, even then, by the force of her personality- I could see she was a fighter, already knowing who she was and ready and eager to begin to learn about the world around her.
It was only later that I realized only two visitors per baby were usually allowed in and that the nurses had bent this rule for us. When I remembered this, I also remembered their faces, in the background- the looks of amazement and tenderness at this little grouping, full of good will and tender regard for one another. Everyone in the place knew us and our situation.
I didn't sleep well that night. It seemed wrong that I should be sleeping miles down the road from her. Keith and I were both up at six and at the hospital early. It was Sunday, a full day of living minute by minute, being there for S. and D, and being there for baby and knowing that tomorrow, the final paperwork would be signed- or not signed.
We stopped into visit with S. and D. I chatted for a while and then said that I was going to visit baby and did she want to come along? She gently declined, but I told her to stop in anytime and if she needed me, she knew where I was. She smiled.
I went down the hall, lifted the pink phone by the door to the newborn nursery, announced myself and the door swung open. After dutifully washing my hands, I tiptoed over to the row of medical bassinets.
My daughter lay still in the nest of towels, touched only by flannel and wires, enclosed by the clear plastic sides of the bassinet.
"I feel like it's wrong that she should be all along in there," I said to the nurse- the same kind nurse as the day before. Her name was Meagan. "I feel like she needs to be held, that it would be good for her," I admitted, worried.
She told me to go over to the rocking chair in the corner and she would bring the baby over after she'd run some labs. I sat in the rocking chair, content just to be in the room. I held her all day long. S. and D. and Keith came and went; we took turns holding her and feeding her, but I always stayed.
The neonatologist came in- a small, frail man in green scrubs named Dr. Wu. He had a good sense of humor and a quiet, precise voice. He stood by the rocking chair and explained Merissa's condition more completely to me.
It was amazing to him and to the nurses that she did not need oxygen, and that she had not needed any time in the NICU- everyone had fully expected this.
They had a sugar solution running into her by I.V. line to help with low blood sugar and antibiotics until they could be certain that she was not fighting an illness- which is sometimes the reason for premature birth. She was on a pulse/oxygen machine to monitor her pulse and oxygen saturation levels.
I stayed and rocked and hummed. Apparently, I had been fluent in the language of baby all along, without knowing it, because as soon as I talked to her, it came bubbling up. The entire day passed by in a haze of contentment.
Late in the afternoon, S. and D. both came in to visit. The nurses pulled up seats for them and I handed Merissa to her birthmother for some quality time with her. We sat quietly talking.
As they were talking, they revealed more of their journey toward choosing adoption, which I will not write about, due it its personal natural, but their journey dovetailed perfectly with a very old request I'd made of God, when I was still a girl.
They were still talking when I was realizing this- that this adoption was fulfilling one of my most passionate and oldest prayer requests and as this realization was expanding into my spirit, I heard His voice confirming it.
It took me a few moments before I could actually focus on the conversation again.
"I'll tell you something," I confided in them. "Back before we were even active at the adoption agency, we had picked out a name for a girl, but not for a boy. We just couldn't find the right name for a boy. Keith's mother asked us what names we had and when we told her the name we had for a girl, she said, "You're going to have a girl, I know it. You're going to have a little Merissa." And from that point on, she started buying baby girl clothing. A few months later, we went active and were matched with you. By that time, Keith's mother already had lots of baby girl clothing, most of which we have with us now and it's the only clothing small enough to fit her."
Their eyes went wide and a sense of peace appeared in their faces.They looked at each other and then at me. "It was meant to be," D. said, again. "There's no doubt. We're so glad you were in that packet."