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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Birth Story

I've read birth stories all over the internet. But I've only read one that I really felt like I could relate to -- Mrs. Jack's post on Hellobee.com about Jack Jack's birth helped me to prepare a little for what was about to happen to us.

Our birth mom chose to deliver in a hospital that has been around for ages. Joshua and I were both born there, along with my brothers, and I'll say just about everyone we know. We live in an area where two brand new hospital campuses were built less than a mile from each other, with gleaming birth centers to make the family experience as beautiful as can be. But when our birth mom told me she was going to deliver at the old hospital, I was disappointed. Most people in our area have a poor view of that hospital, and a lot of people even think it shut down when the new ones opened.

Our birth mom was scheduled to go in to be induced at 11:00pm last Monday. Joshua and I were so excited that Monday was honestly the longest day of my life. We were also very much on edge. I was focusing very hard on not snapping at him (I won't cover for myself, I'm a snapper) and we made it through without a fight.

I asked our attorney at least three different ways if he could tell me what would happen at the hospital, and every time he told me that our birth mom would dictate how everything would go. We drove our birth mom to the hospital on Monday night, and dropped her off at the doors to the birthing center so we could go park. Since it was so late, by the time we got to the doors, they were locked and she was gone. We had to go in the hospital through a different entrance, and long story short, we were lost. After lots of walking around finding dead ends, we found the right third floor (seriously, there is more than one third floor). When we got off of the elevator, they immediately ushered us into our room and our birth mom into her room.

Nothing else to do, let's take a photo.

And there we sat. We were too anxious to do anything (at least I was, Josh was able to use the laptop), and no one came into our room (duh, no patients in there). The doula arrived at the same time we did, and she came in often to give us updates. Our  birth mom started on pitocin at 2:00 am and we all rested until around 9:00 am. At that point our birth mom's contractions started to get really hard (Please forgive me if I start to use the wrong terms. I've never been through child birth and I truly do not know how she was feeling. I'm only able to tell my side of the story, and I'll try to do my best without sounding like a complete idiot.).

The doula we used is actually a very good friend of mine who was in our wedding. We went to high school together and got along really well in cheerleading because neither one of us really fit in with the rest of the squad (because we were so much more awesome). When I first told Amber about our potential adoption, she was thrilled for us, and immediately offered her services. I love Amber to death, but never understood the necessity of a doula. I almost felt like it would make too many hands in the pot, so to speak. Also, I just figured Joshua was the only support person I'd need.

At 9:00 am the entire welcoming committee was assembled. My parents, my Nanny (grandmother, not my personal caretaker), Josh's mom, and my BFF were all crowded into our small room. Josh and I had agreed that we wanted our families there, but we wanted to take at least an hour immediately following birth to bond with our baby. We wanted to be able to get to know him without the pressure of a crowd (we both hate crowds). I was starting to get a little panicky because there were so many people in our small room, I didn't know if I would be able to be present in delivery, and, well I just didn't know anything.

Amber came to our room to check on us and said that she had talked to our birth mom and she was open to allowing both of us in the delivery room. This was a direct contradiction to what she told me a week ago, but at this point hearing that was some of the most amazing news thus far. Neither of us wanted to see his actual birth; being in the room and seeing him immediately following was enough for us. As soon as Amber told us this news we went down to our birth mom's room to confirm it with her. Our birth mom's personal space is very important to her, which is originally why she said no one in the room with her, and I knew this, so I definitely wanted to hear it from her and to tell her how much we appreciated her change of heart.

Our birth mom's reasoning for wanting to use a doula was because she wanted to have a natural birth. Amber was able to help her get through her contractions using many different techniques such as counter pressure (this is where my mind has gone blank because I can only remember one). We didn't spend much time in our birth mom's room as she was laboring to respect her privacy and give her some space. Amber had everything under control anyway.

At 11:30 am Tuesday, our birth mom requested an epidural. She was dilated 7 cm, and couldn't handle the pain anymore. I do not fault her at all for this. I respect her for making it that far. We could hear her struggling, and during one of her contractions I thought to myself that I could never go through that much pain and still place the child with someone else.

Once her epidural was kicking in, she decided to rest for a short time, and sure enough within an hour, she was 10 cm and ready to push.

Joshua and I were sitting in the family lobby (someone had the idea to move there so they would be out of our room, and I think it was a fantastic idea) talking with our family when the nurse came in looking for us. She said she wanted us to stand outside the delivery room until they were ready for us to come in. While we were standing there our birth mom's OB came in. I've met him a few times at her check ups, and had a good feeling about him. He's experienced and knowledgeable. At one point I thought that if he weren't her doctor, I may have switched to him.

While we were standing in the hallway, excited beyond belief, shaking with nerves, her doctor walked up to us and introduced himself to my husband. Then he looked at both of us and said "I really hope you get to take this baby home. I do not trust this lady, and I haven't through this entire process. It is crazy and extremely hard to give up your fifth child, so I hope this works out for you."

The nurse standing with him was as shocked as we were and when he walked away she came up to us to try to reassure us. I don't know if he was attempting to protect us, or what in the world it was, but I wasn't nervous at all until that point. The doctor and all of the other medical staff went into the room and the last nurse told us to stand outside the door. We were on deck.

When Joshua and I go to parks with roller coasters, he always makes us sit in the very first car. He made the comment while we were there that it felt like we were waiting in line for a roller coaster, and that is the best explanation for it. My stomach was so nervous and I just stood there and prayed. I asked God to please get us through the next few moments and that our baby please be healthy and whole. Once everyone was in position, the door opened and we were invited in and directed to stand near the window, close to our birth mom's head.

She gave three good pushes and within minutes our child was born.

Joshua cut the cord and we cried.

This event that we've thought was so gross for so long was suddenly the most beautiful thing that we'd ever seen. Our baby was covered in goop and we just wanted to touch him. The immediate and overwhelming love I felt for our son still stuns me.

Shortly after, we were whisked over to the crib where they were checking out our baby. He weighed 7lb 11oz (much smaller than the doctor predicted) and was 20 inches long.

I'm still amazed at the compassion we were showed by the entire hospital staff. Nearly everyone there told us that they hadn't had an adoption before, or if they had it was a long time ago, and was just once. They did an excellent job of including us in the birth and making us feel like parents. We were so shocked though that we were walking around like zombies.

It only entered my mind once or twice that maybe I shouldn't fall so hard in love with our son because his birth mom still had the opportunity to change her mind. All of our wrist bands and even his name on his crib was "Boy (Her-last-name)." I couldn't stop myself though. I was completely head over heels for this child.

My friend Kelly and I discussed adoption quite a bit over the past few months. Kelly is my age and was adopted by her parents at birth. Kelly told me that her mom said to her "My life didn't start until the moment I held you in my arms."

And that is exactly how I feel.  Tuesday afternoon, 12:45 pm to be exact, my life began. Everything we've been though, all of the pain of infertility, all of the years of longing to be a family, were suddenly worth it. We went through all of it so that we could have this child and be his parents.

After he was deemed healthy and all of his tests were done, we were allowed to take him to our room. The hospital has security measures in place to ensure mothers are always matched to the correct babies. My hospital band had our birth mother's name on it and our son had an identical bracelet that he wore. Every time a nurse would take him from our room she would match us before she left and when she brought him back. We were also given Hugs & Kisses bracelets. An alarm would sound if the baby or I were to leave the floor, or if either of our bracelets were cut off. When I would get close to the baby after not being near him for any amount of time, my bracelet would play music. To be honest, this helped me bond with him. It was a physical way of knowing that we belong together.

I had a fair amount of guilt while we were in the hospital. I had a hard time feeding the baby the first day or so. He wasn't interested in eating, and when he did it wasn't much. He also spit up a lot the first day, so the pediatrician switched him to soy formula. We had quite a bit more contact with the birth mom while we were in the hospital than we anticipated. When she would come to our room to see him, or when we would go to her room to see her, he would clearly want to feed. The fact that he recognized her, and wanted to eat, made me feel awful. I know that it's biology and nothing that anyone can help, but it did upset me.

She asked if she could feed him a bottle, and it seemed to bring her quite a bit of comfort. She held him a lot, and my heart would constrict. Knowing that she could still change her mind made me physically ill.

We had different opinions about medical treatment for the baby. Josh and I had made certain decisions that our birth mom did not agree with. Since she was the only one with parental rights to his care, I told her how we felt, but that we understood her position, and that if she wanted to make those decisions we respected that.

Early in the morning of the day she was to sign the consent to adoption, our son went to the nursery so the pediatrician could perform his first newborn check. Our nurse came into our room during the time our son was there, to tell me that our birth mom was in the nursery holding our son. This made me feel incredibly panicky and I rushed down to them. I sat and talked to her while she held him, and shortly after she went back to her room to rest. I'm not proud of the way I felt toward to her, but I also won't apologize for it. I've considered him my child since the day I learned of him.

We got back to our room and sat and held him in our arms for the six hours we waited for the attorney. I have never stared at one person so much. Looking at his beautiful face makes time fly.

At 3:00 pm the social worker came into our room and told us that our attorney was in our birth mom's room and she wanted all of us in the same room for the signing. Suddenly, we felt the exact same nerves that we did standing outside the delivery room. This was another moment that would change our lives forever. We took the baby to her room and our attorney began reading the consent paperwork to our birth mom. I was so nervous that I was shaking, and as suddenly as he came into this world, our birth mom signed the papers and he was ours.

The relief I felt was immediate, but the stress I had been holding onto didn't immediately go away. Joshua and I had our portion of the paperwork to sign, and we did so in the hallway. Since we were in our birth mom's room, our son was eager to eat, so I gave her a bottle and let her hold him in her room alone while we signed our papers. I felt that it was the least I could do. She enjoyed feeding him so much, and I wanted to bring her some comfort in the light of the huge act she had just agreed to.

We said goodbye to our attorney and I spent the next hour sitting with our birth mom and our son. Joshua went back to our room to tell our families that the papers were signed and he was officially our son. The next few hours we spent in shocked delight that we had rights to the decisions made for our child, and the fact that he was ours.

I had a very rough night that night. Our son didn't want to sleep, and I didn't know what to do. Josh was sleeping so amazingly well that he heard nothing. It crossed my mind several times to kick him. To wake him up, of course. I spoke with the nurse, figured out what was going wrong, and thankfully we made it through.
We were to be discharged following his 48hr newborn check, and the birth mom was to be discharged at the same time.

When the ladies from the lab came to our room to perform the 48 hr check, Josh and I were sitting with our son. They were both very friendly and congratulatory to the three of us. They commented on how beautiful he was, and got to work. One of them was going over the orders, looked at both of us, and looked at her orders again. She said "you'll have to forgive me, but this paperwork says the baby is black."

We both laughed and then explained our situation to her. She laughed and then congratulated us some more. She also commented on how well I've bounced back from child birth.

I said earlier that I wasn't convinced of the necessity of a doula, and now I'm extremely grateful that Amber was there for us. She was able to facilitate communication between our room and the birth mom, and she helped bring much comfort to the birth mom. Without a doubt, Amber helped make this the easiest process for all of us as possible. I don't even want to think of how it would have gone without her. Our birth mom said the same thing.

The comment I made at the beginning of this about the hospital not being the one I prefer deserves to be revisited. When we first got to the hospital, we were the only people in the birthing center. This being the case is what made it possible for us to have our own room for three days. The birthing center manager came into our room to talk with us about their policies. She told us that it is their policy that the adoptive parents only stay one night in the hospital, but since they had the room, they were going to allow us to stay as long as our son did. From what I've read about adoptions, this is extremely generous and uncommon.

The nurses we had were very quick to reassure us that our birth mom was doing well, and her state of mind was well. They were concerned for us, and kept their ears open to any indications that things were not going to go well for us. I was relieved when our nurses came back the next day, because it was so nice to have familiar faces around. They came in just to see how we were, and were always offering to get us anything we needed. I understand the baby was their patient, but we were not.

The hospital manager came into our room shortly before we left to ask us about our experience. I told her exactly what I told you. I told her I didn't want to come to her hospital, but that we were so pleasantly surprised, and so grateful of their care, that if I get pregnant we will take the extra time to make sure that I deliver at her hospital. I mean that too. It is ten minutes farther from our home than the newer hospitals, but I will, without a doubt. I trust them completely. When we finished talking, the manager asked if she could hug me, and hurried out of our room because she was tearing up.

When our nurses walked us out to our car they wished us so much luck, and asked us to bring the baby by to see them. They hugged us, and they also teared up. It was a very emotional hospital stay, and I still can't believe the quality of care we received during our stay.

And then we were on our way. Our little family of three, our on our own. I'm told, now the fun begins.

Isaiah's Birthday, February 26, 2013


  1. I'm in tears. So incredibly happy for you three!

  2. Make that two people that are in tears!! I am so happy for you that I don't think there is a word in the dictionary that can express my excitement for your new family of three. Now that you are a mommy, please remember to come back and update us! I want to hear how things are going! Congratulations again and best wishes to you, your husband and your son :)

    1. Thanks so much, Melanie! I appreciate your excitement so much! I'll definitely still be around updating. You can't get rid of me. :)

  3. More tearing up here. Beautiful story, Ang. You are such deserving parents. I know you & Josh will give Isaiah a wonderful life and he in turn will bring so much joy to yours. Congratulations, my friend.

    1. Thank, Shoe. One of these days you'll meet all of us. :)

  4. Thanks for sharing the whole story! Holy Moly! ONE MILLION CONGRATS! Hope you're getting some sleep (haha).

    1. Thanks, Jennie. Things are still blissful around here...I just might update Twitter at 3am more than I used to. :)

  5. This is by far the best thing I have read in a long time and I now have tears streaming down my face and am so so happy for you.

  6. I cried! Such a beautiful story, such a gorgeous little man. What a perfect family you three make. I'm so happy for you!! Praises that you have a son. :)

    Have you read Happiest Baby on the Block? It was a life saver with Malakhi. Definitely recommend it.

  7. First of all, you made me get all weepy!! Such a great story, and you did such a good job telling it!! Even though I am reading this later, I still was all nervous!! He is a so beautiful!!!!

    Also, I would have woken then hubs up. And you left out the constant tweets from your book club blog friends "Is he here yet?? Do we have a baby yet??"



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