It was a Monday and Audrey had a doctor’s appointment. We got the call that the docs decided it was time to induce her. She was scared, really, really scared. Balancing emotions of joy and sorrow became a tall and difficult task for all of us. I was protective of Audrey, guarding my own heart, and listening to my head scream, Yes, YES, YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! We were all scared, but we were ready.
We arrived at the hospital late in the evening. Audrey had created a hospital plan in the previous weeks, but we quickly saw that things were not going to flow according to any sort of “plan”. Audrey had asked that we come to her room when we arrived at the hospital. She said she wanted us to meet more of her family. Heart pounding, I knocked gently on the door. Her aunt answered and we were immediately embraced by a sea of Audrey’s family. There were 7 relatives in the room…we made introductions, exchanged hugs, gifts were shared…they accepted us, welcomed us but most importantly, supported Audrey and her decision to choose adoption.
The medical process began. First step…heart monitor. Heart beats are significant to me, as it has been twice for me that a deafening silence took their place. Time froze and everyone in the room became blurry to me. Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom. My eyes locked with Audrey’s. This would be the first time my raw emotion was released. I choked on sobs. Audrey said to her mom, “I told you she would cry”.
The nursing staff encouraged all of Audrey’s family to leave the hospital…we were told that it would be a while before labor truly kicked in. Are you kidding me? We were not going anywhere! Some of Audrey’s relatives left and a two of her aunts stayed. We rotated between Audrey’s room and the waiting room. Audrey was comfortable with us being by her side during labor. We gave her space when she needed it but were thrilled to be given the opportunity to spend those laboring hours with her. My eyes were glued to the monitors and my favorite place was sitting next to Audrey’s bedside talking her though her contractions. We shared a lot in those hours and days; it was intense and beautiful, peaceful and loving, emotional and exhausting.
Labor was not easy for Audrey…long and hard, painful and scary. Once again we sat in awe of her bravery, of her determination, of the love she showed for her son. It was difficult to wait and it was difficult to watch her go through all of this…we were humbled by her strength.
Chris and I were waiting in the hallway while the nurses checked in with Audrey one more time. We knew it was getting close…it was almost time. The nurses emerged and gave us the thumbs up…it was indeed time. “And”, the nurse said to me, “Audrey is thinking that she would like to have you in the room during the delivery”. WHAT???? My heart just about jumped out of my chest…I could not believe it. I talked with Audrey and reminded her that this was her time and wanted her to be sure she really thought about having me in the room. I did not want her to have any regrets about her experience, and although being there would be amazing for me, I wanted her to be sure. She was sure. I was ecstatic.
Pushing began and when our son entered the world I was there…next to Audrey…counting, encouraging…taking it all in, memorizing as much detail as possible, silently praying.
Cheeks ( the name I will use for our sweet boy, in order to maintain privacy) entered the world with a head full of crazy dark hair, his first cries made my heart feel things it had not felt before. I tried to take it all in, every last detail…so much was happening and so very fast. Audrey was still in pain and now new emotions began to flood her. Audrey’s aunt and I cut Cheeks umbilical cord together…”cord sisters” we call ourselves. The nurses then moved Cheeks over to the warmer where they would begin to look him over. I went to his side…and softly whispered, “welcome to the world sweetheart”.
There was a flurry of activity. I was still just trying to take in everything the nurses were saying and doing to Cheeks while still being supportive to Audrey. This was difficult and Audrey could already sense that everything had just changed. Everything had just changed.
Audrey wanted her mom to be the first to hold Cheeks. She took him from the warmers and snuggled him. He was alert, wide awake, taking in all of these first moments himself. Then it was time…Cheeks was placed in my arms. I can’t even write this without crying. This moment was so powerful, so overwhelming…I knew this was different. I sat on the couch in the hospital room, looking into the eyes of a perfect baby boy, and all I could do was sob. I was holding my son.
On the other side of that hospital room door was Christopher…pacing back and forth. So much had happened inside that room that I did not realize how much time he had been waiting out there. A doctor came in to tell me that he would love to know what was going on. Of course he would!! This part of the experience was very, very hard for Chris. Although he completely respected Audrey and her need for privacy, it was hard for him to have missed Cheeks’ birth and to not share those first moments with me. When I opened the door, he was there. I sunk into his arms and cried that Cheeks was perfect. Chris needed to know that he was healthy. He was.
Cheeks birth day was one heck of a crazy day. Audrey wanted to be surrounded by family and friends and she encouraged us to have our family come and visit too. So we did. We also went to pick up Addison from school and brought her to the hospital too. She took everything in, cautiously, she thought he was cute but our little girl needed more time to figure out how much of her heart she was willing to give.
That night it was decided that Audrey’s mom would go home and I would stay with Audrey and Cheeks, and Chris would stay in the waiting room down the hall. It seems like me staying with Audrey might be awkward, but it wasn’t. It was natural and almost like a transition for Cheeks. To be loved and cared for on your first night of life by the woman, your birth mom, who you have been with for the past nine months along with the woman who would be your mom, is something I hope he sees as truly beautiful one day.
The next morning we all woke early. Audrey was feeling better but was tired, overwhelmed and ready to go home. She and Cheeks were supposed to stay one more day, but per her request, the hospital gave the ok to try to release them both that night. WHOA!
It was a crazy day, tests, pictures, family, nurses, doctors…in and out…and of course Cheeks!
It was time. Everyone was cleared to go. Leaving the hospital is such a huge emotional piece of the adoption process, for everyone, but most especially and significantly for the birth mom/family. It is the first goodbye that Audrey would need to get through. We knew this would not be easy.
The counselor from the adoption agency was there. Paper work needed to be filled out, discussions needed to be had…they had to be sure that this was still what Audrey wanted, that adoption was still her plan.