Thursday, March 20, 2008

One Year Ago...

Today my son turns one!

As his birthday has been approaching, I've been thinking a lot about where I was this time last year.

On March 19th last year, my husband and I set out on our 10 hour drive to Boise, Idaho. Eryn was scheduled to be induced on March 23rd, which was about a week before her original due date (the baby was very big already, and Eryn was anxious, and, I think, wanting to get it over with.) We wanted to get to Boise a day or two ahead of the delivery, to spend some time with Eryn, doing whatever we could for her, and just being with her, before all of our lives changed in a major way. We had made a quick trip out to Boise a few weeks earlier for our original meeting, but we just felt like we wanted more time. So, we planned to drive out on the 21st, but an approaching storm made us move up our trip to the 19th--to avoid possibly hitting snow going over the Sierra Mountains.

Good thing we left early.

At about 9 p.m. (Boise time) on the 19th, after we had checked into our hotel room, stretched, brushed our teeth, and took a minute to breath, we decided to go forage for some food. We got back in the car we had just spent so much time in that day, to go find a restaurant. I decided to call Eryn to let her know we had arrived, and to see if we could take her out for breakfast the next morning. I got her voicemail, and left her a message. A few minutes later she called back. I excitedly announced, "We're here! And we can't wait to see you!" To which she replied that, well, she was having contractions, and that the next time we saw her would be at the hospital. OMG!!!! She was at her parents' house and her mother (a nurse) was monitoring her contractions. When it was time to go to the hospital, she would give us a call. We told her to call us, no matter what time it was--middle of the night, whatever--we wanted to be at the hospital to support her, if that was still what she wanted. And, of course, for our own selfish reasons--we didn't want to risk missing the birth if it came quickly. Oh, how naive we were.

The call came at about 4:00 a.m. Eryn was on her way to the hospital with her mom. Mister and I got out of bed (were we actually sleeping? Not sure if we were able to at that point, but were trying) showered (wanted to be all fresh and clean to meet our son!) and made our way over to St. Luke's Hospital.

When we walked into the room, there were a lot of people there. Eryn was in the bed, and she said in her characteristic joking way, "Hey! You guys missed the epidural!" We could tell she was in pain, but being brave. Her mother was at her side and we said quick hello's. Matt was there with one of his friends, Matt's mother and two sisters were also there. The room was very full, and Mister and I sort of felt like outsiders in a very intimate situation. But, this was going to be the birth of our son, and the person responsible for making us a family was lying right there in that bed, and SHE wanted us there, so we tried to remain calm (ha!) and quietly stand our ground. I was very nervous, and felt a little like everyone was looking at us as, "those people who are taking the baby away," until Eryn's mother came over to me and said, softly and sincerely, "Thank you, for adopting this baby." I almost lost it. I felt a surge of emotion and knew that I was in danger of bawling my eyes out. "Um, no--it's the other way around, here!" I said, or something like, that, and, probably something lame like, "This is the most amazing gift. We are so grateful." But what else do you say? It is an amazing gift, and we were grateful.

Well, little did we know but that was only the beginning of what would be a very long, long haul for Eryn. Our son was finally born by C-section at around 4:00 p.m. that day. To say we were wrecks by then was an understatement. When they wheeled her out to go into surgery, is when I finally lost it. After basically two days without sleep, and being in one of the most intense emotional situations of my life, I wept. I wept because I knew Eryn did not want to have a C-section (one of the reasons for inducing early) and I wept for me because I would not be present to witness my son coming into the world. I couldn't get him here through my own body--I at least wanted to be one of the very first people he met.

When the nurses finally brought him up from surgery to the nursery, we were allowed to ride in the elevator, but not to hold him. Matt got to be the first one to hold him, and he held him all the way up to the nursery. I know it is right that one of the birthparents should be the first to hold the baby, but Mister and I were dying for a look, a touch, and we could barely see the baby, swaddled in his receiving blanket. And Matt went into a weird place where he would not make eye contact with Mister or me. He stared at the baby, and didn't do us any favors by giving us a peek. I guess I also felt a little resentful because Matt had slept the ENTIRE time (yes 12 hours) that we were in the delivery room. Eryn was suffering for a good part of that time (after they could not give her any more epidural) and it was Eryn's mother and I who were holding her hand, getting her ice chips, whatever we could do. Mister made several attempts to wake Matt (who was sleeping on the bed next to the delivery bed that is there for 'Dads') but each time he sat up, looked around, saw that nothing much was happening and then went back to sleep. This was the guy who broke up with Eryn when she was like 6 months pregnant, and told everyone it wasn't his kid. Yes, they were back together now, but it pained me that he was reaping the 'rewards' of being a dad--proudly holding his son in his arms--while Mister and I choked back tears and emotion, just physically aching, pulsing with longing to hold. our. baby. finally, after so many years, so much anticipation, so much wanting, and so much work.

When we got to the nursery, we were not allowed in. This was a huge slap in the face because the arrangements Eryn had made with the hospital (in writing!) stated that we were to be allowed access to the baby and access to the nursery immediately. Her only request was that she be the first one to hold the baby. Rightly so. We were supposed to have wristbands that allowed us to come and go from the nursery, just like bio parents, but they had not been given to us yet. When we walked behind Matt through the door to the nursery, the nurse turned around and basically slammed the door in our faces, telling us we were not permitted in, but we could look through the window. To say that we were not treated well by most of the hospital staff would be an understatement, except for the doctor who delivered Baby Boy, who was, herself, an adoptive parent of two children.

So there was Matt (reeking of cigarette smoke, by the way) in the nursery, on the other side of the glass, with our little man. Going through the APGAR testing with the nurse. This was the first time that Mister almost lost his cool. We both felt that since we were going to be this child's parents, and responsible for his care and well being, that WE should be appraised of his APGAR. And we started to get scared. Really scared--because Matt had this like 20-yard stare going. He would not make eye contact with us, and we knew he was having second thoughts.

I tried to prepare myself for the possibility that we might not be coming home with this baby.

Finally, we got our wristbands from Nurse Ratchet (that's what we called her). And we were (grudgingly) allowed in to the nursery at last. Eryn was still under anesthesia, and had not been brought up from surgery yet. And even though we were dying to hold this little guy, we decided to wait. To wait until Eryn was up in the maternity ward and could hold him, 'first'.

Our poor son was blue and purple all over from hours of banging up against Eryn's coccyx. He had a huge lump on his forehead above his eye, and he had a little bit of jaundice to boot. He looked pretty awful, but I couldn't get enough of looking at him. To me, he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my entire time on earth. And at that moment as we bent over his crib, tears falling in big glops from my face, my husband and I chose his name. We had been waffling between two, and picked the one that sounded the strongest. Because he was a fighter. It was obvious he deserved a strong name to go along with him through life.

And there he was. Our handsome man. The most beautiful creature alive. Bruises and all. It had taken us so much to get to that point. It almost didn't feel real. I felt like I was watching a movie, and this was all happening to someone else, at times.

We have come so far over this past year. It has been an amazing year. I have seen him grow from a tiny infant who needed us for everything, to a boy--a child, who tells us what he wants or needs (in his own, pre-verbal ways) who laughs, who giggles, who interacts with the world. We have an amazing son. He is so sweet and gentle, yet brave and fearless and strong. I know he is only one, but his personality is already fully asserted. He's not my little Baby Boy any more! He is our Handsome Man!

One whole year as a family. One whole year as (gulp!) a mom!

Today is a day to celebrate, and to remember, and to give thanks. Today I will call Eryn to see how she's doing, and to honor her, and words will fail me again, I'm sure.


JJ said...

Happy Birthday to your precious son!

Maria said...

What an amazing post. I'm choking back tears.

Happy Birthday to your Handsome Man!

Lori said...

What a great story! Happy birthday to your son and happy anniversary of your family.

Tiff said...

Happy Belated Birthday to your little guy!
What a lovely post!

Kami said...

Beautiful. I have tears in my eyes. I hope your chat with first mom went well.

Char said...

Dear Frenchie - I've come back to read this post of yours again... Frenchie, your story amazes me. We are in the process of adoption too... still a LONG ways from meeting our baby... and praying every step of the way... BUT we are FINALLY on the way to becoming parents, and I'm taking courage from your story, Frenchie. And I LOVED how you wrote this post. It made me want to cry along with you. I can't wait to share our story too!!!