Monday, April 30, 2012
I often wondered what it was like to witness Alex's birth from Kayla's perspective. I asked her to write about the birth story from the perspective of the Adoptive Mother. Here is her powerful and personally touching story:
"I laid in bed in a dark hotel room waiting for the alarm clock to signal it was time- time to go to the hospital, time to meet my daughter. The thought made me giddy and anxious at the same time. Was this really happening??
The events of the previous four years played in my mind, and I was reminded of the hope, pain, disappointment, joy, depression, and longing that had kept me on an emotional roller-coaster with no end in sight. But there I was at the end, and it was only the beginning.
Before I knew it, I was in a pre-op room dressed from head-to-toe in blue scrubs and holding the hand of the most beautiful pregnant woman I had ever seen. Just two months before, I met her for the first time feeling so blessed that she chose life for the baby girl growing inside her and chose us to be the parents. That day she told us that she knew she was “the vessel that God was using to carry the answer to someone else’s prayers.”
I will never forget those words. Ever.
The nurses wheeled her into the operating room and told me they would come get me when it was time. My husband and I held hands and prayed for a safe delivery, a healthy baby, and peace for our daughter’s birth mother.
A few minutes later, a young nurse with an excited grin appeared in the doorway and led me toward the operating room. We walked down the long, sterile hallway and tears welled up my eyes. Surreal.
Not all adoptive mothers are in the delivery room. Since Brittany was having a c-section, she was only allowed to have one person in the operating room with her. Her mother? Her best friend? No, she selflessly invited me to witness the birth of my daughter. Words cannot describe how grateful I will always be for that gift.
When we entered the brightly lit room, Brittany was on the operating table and all I could see was her beautiful belly. I quickly moved to the other side of the curtain where I found her face – calm and reassuring. I felt so guilty that her demeanor was reassuring me when I wanted nothing more than to make sure she was okay. I did the only thing I could possibly do to help bring her peace- I placed my head next to hers and whispered a prayer in her ear. I knew our Heavenly Father orchestrated every step of this journey, and I knew He was there with us now.
In keeping with the laid back vibe of the Florida Keys, the doctor and anesthesiologist made small talk and dished out clever jabs at each other, making the rest of us chuckle and wonder if they were focused enough on the task at hand.
After a few minutes, the nurse told me I could move to the foot of the bed to have a clear view of the first moment of my baby girl’s life. An intern had my camera, and I was armed with my cell phone camera – ready to capture the beauty and perfection of life. Briefly, the mood in the room changed, the small talk and jabs subsided, and my heart sank. The doctor asked for a vacuum and I prayed again.
Then she was here. There in front of me was a perfect, crying, pink, beautiful baby girl. Tears flowed and the love that I already had for her multiplied infinitely in my heart.
I wanted so badly to hold her, to kiss her nose, to snuggle her into the curve of my neck. But the nurses took over and began cleaning, suctioning, and checking every inch of her little body. I stuck my pointer finger out and let her wrap her tiny hand around it. I was smitten.
I turned around and saw Brittany with a tear rolling down her cheek. Was it joy? Was is sorrow? Was it fear? I went to her, held her head in my hands and repeated the same words I had said to her many times before: “thank you.” Those two words do not even come close to expressing the feeling in my heart. You say “thank you” to the cashier at the grocery store, you say “thank you” to your hair dresser when you leave the salon, you say “thank you” to a stranger who holds the door open. There should be something more significant to say to the woman who gave you the gift of motherhood- who, through the will of God, blessed you with a child. But all I could say was, “Thank you!”
The nurses finished cleaning and examining the baby, wrapped her up like a burrito, and took her to Brittany’s face. She said how beautiful she was and we exchanged smiles. Then the nurse put the baby into an incubator and got ready to head out of the OR.
I wanted to hold her. My heart was aching, I wanted to hold her so badly.
I followed as the nurse pushed the rolling incubator towards the door. My heart was overjoyed at what was before me, but breaking with what was behind. Brittany had cared for, talked to, and bonded with the child that grew in her womb. How did she feel laying on the operating table, cord cut, and physically separated from her baby for the first time in nine months? Lord, give her peace. Please Lord, please fill her heart with peace.
I put my hand on the incubator and headed toward the waiting room where a new father was waiting to meet his baby girl. After years or prayerful faith, we were finally a family of three."
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
My underlying panic over having abdominal surgery started to rise as my hospital bed was backed up into the elevator. In a reaction, I struggled not to put my arms out and yell “NO!” Couldn’t this baby be born any other way? The thought of the pain and slow healing process made me want to stop everything but there was no way around it, I was going to go through this today. My C-section with my first daughter, Carli was a nightmare of nightmares. A failed epidural and no way to fix what they had started, I spent my fearful moments on the OR table in a daze of morphine as they tried to keep me as comfortable as possible in order to get through what they needed to for the delivery of my daughter. The shaking from the drugs distracted me from the miserable pain. It seemed cruel to anticipate that I might have to go through that all over again and I was afraid that maybe this time, in such a tiny little local hospital, it could be even worse.
Kayla was right by my side the entire time. Her pleasant, anticipating smile were a reminder that we were doing something monumental today. I tried to shift my mind back to the baby being born for such a remarkable couple to welcome. The agony they’d faced in years of infertility trials and heartbreak would make all of it worth it to her, this day was finally here for Kayla to take in. This is the day she would hold a precious little baby in her arms and call her “mine”. I settled on those feelings of helping God accomplish that for her until the waves of anxiety would sweep me out again.
Like a tide I washed back and forth as nurses and workers asked me questions and stuck this needle in here and prepped that area for the procedure. Everyone in the little pre-op bays stood a little while longer than they should have to find out what the nature of my relationship was to Kayla. I offered no explanation; I wanted this to be her day with her new daughter and not a morning of interviews about my decision. Kayla’s nervous excitement seemed to grow with the minutes closing in on my operation time. Both of us had the same thought for once, “please let’s get on with it!” was all we could think of.
My anesthesiologist was an answer to my jittery prayers. My expectations were a barely-passed doctor from some medical school in Guatemala but instead I got an Ivy-Leaguer trained in one the best hospital institutions in Boston. We quickly settled into talking while he worked about “home” for both of us and what we liked about Boston, where we lived and their proximities to each other. He went on drizzling information to see if we had any personal connections, I couldn’t think of any but then in my circumstance, I didn’t necessarily want to divulge any either. I rattled on about my hesitation and previous experiences with epidurals and he half-heartedly laughed as he sighed out “Well, Beth Israel is a teaching hospital. You probably got a newbie.” In no time I was completely numb and comfortable. I was fascinated by the lack of feeling I had from the waist down. He greeted my doctor as he arrived and everyone exchanged “Good Mornings”. My doctor asked me a few questions and patted my arm in reassurance that it would be over soon. Sadness always haloed his voice when he spoke to me. I am sure I was one of the few, if not the only, birthmother he ever attended to. The whole situation seemed to ring of loss for him. I suppose a man who mainly makes a living helping parents through one of the most joyous times of their lives was not used to having to keep my relationship to the baby so matter-of-fact instead of sharing in the wonders of expecting mothers and fathers. He did his best to try and comfort me and keep off of the subject of parenthood. “Okay, Lady”, he said in his subtle Cuban accent, “Let’s get this baby out!” That was music to my ears.
My new best friend was the anesthesiologist. I lay there in a dazed, numb-limbed haze as he spoke kind and reassuring words to me about the progress of the surgery. Kayla was with me, holding my head and comforting me as they progressed behind the screen. Feeling her hands on the sides of my face was such a tender comfort to me. I focused on the whisper of her voice as she spoke words of thanksgiving and peace. “Please just let me live to see my Carli”, was all that I could plead with God silently in my mind. I didn’t want to leave her. Not like this.
The moment came when they were ready to bring Alex out in the world. Attendants in the room called out to Kayla to take her position with the camera for Alex’s debut. My lips trembled for her joy, an emotional tear escaped from the corner of my eye. This was the big moment, the showstopper. Kayla would greet her little girl into the world and I wished I was able to take a picture of her face when she saw her.
A newborn cry let out and I heard Kayla breakdown as the OR erupted into joyous comments from the staff. I saw the nurses rush by me with the baby to the table where they would examine her and give her the initial APGAR. Kayla was close behind them. She returned to my head, crying from the amazing event that had just occurred before her eyes. She became a mother and it wouldn’t have been possible if not for my willingness to submit to giving Alex life.
Kayla and I formed an unbreakable bond in those moments. There is an altruistic relationship that forms between Adoptive mother and Birth mother. Both depend on each other so much to stay true to their covenant. I have never felt such an unretractable love for someone and yet feel as though it was so completely vulnerable all at the same time. She depended on me to fulfill the plan. I depend on her to fulfill the needs that Alex has and will have as she grows. You would wonder why or how you could put a trust in someone like that, wouldn’t you? Yet, it is true. It can be done so beautifully if it is done well.