Once again continuing my thoughts from my 9/11 adoption posts...
Just after leaving the restaurant and parting company with B and her mom, John gave me a quick update call on the cell phone. He mentioned that B was going to be going in for one of her regular checkups soon. I told him wouldn't it be great if she had an ultrasound so we could know what we were having? At that moment, B and her mom pulled up next to John's car at a red light. He yelled over to them to roll down their window and asked if B was going to be getting an ultrasound at her next appointment. She wasn't sure but would ask for one. Shortly after John got back from California, we called B just to chat. She mentioned that her insurance didn't cover ultrasounds. I was shocked! I thought every expecting woman had at least one sonogram. We agreed to pay the extra cost for the test.
John also told B that we would come back soon to spend some time with her to get to know her better. We quickly made plans for both of us to go visit with her at the beginning of November (at the time, we didn't think she was due until January). We wanted to go to one of her doctor's appointments with her and also get to know her better. In the mean time, we chatted with her frequently on the telephone. She knew nothing about being pregnant. It was actually a little frightening. Lucky for her, I was the world's foremost pregnancy expert (as much as you can be, having never carried a child to term and only having read about a TON of books on the experience). She relied on me heavily for knowledge and advice. I was feeling very motherly toward her. I often wondered if she ever spoke to her own mother about what she was going through. My guess is no.
We knew her doctor's appointment was on October 8th. I couldn't wait to hear the results of her checkup and ultrasound. When she called that night, we talked about her latest fight with her mother (they did that a LOT), her plans to return to school after the baby was born (she was on leave from school because of nasty comments from her classmates about her decision to give the baby up), and then out of the blue; "So, do you guys want to know what you are having?" What?! Yep. The little sneak knew the sex of the baby through the whole conversation and was playing with us! "It's a boy!" We were speechless. I started to cry. It was becoming more and more real. Mentally, I was sequestering a small part of my brain; protecting it from potential crushing disappointment. What if she changed her mind? What if she decided at the last minute to keep the baby? I had to keep a small amount of callous skepticism on tap, just in case. But it was getting harder and harder to keep that icy segment of brain from thawing out with the pure joy warming my soul.
Then she said, "I have a photo they gave me. Do you want it?" Oh my God, yes! She promptly mailed it to us. I opened that envelop so eagerly. It was so amazing to see that little face. I treasure that grainy photo printout. My baby's first picture.
The time came to leave for our planned visit. I was very nervous to meet her that first time. We drove from our hotel to the apartment she shared with her mother to pick them up. After the grand tour of all two rooms, we took them out to eat so that I could have a chance to get to know both of them (my husband had a major leg up on me there). I was determined that B would get to eat what ever and where ever she wanted to that week (as long as it was mostly healthy, of course). During the meal, the conversation was dominated by B's mother. She is one seriously domineering woman! She talked about B like B wasn't even there. Complained about her friends (particularly the baby's father), complained about her level of irresponsibility, how lucky she was to find us to "bail her out". I watched B during the meal. She grew more and more despondent and withdrawn. That is when I decided that we would spend as little time with B's mother in the mix as possible.
During that week we drove around B's "turf" and saw some of the places she hung out, where she went to school, and we took her shopping. She had outgrown almost all of her pants and her mother refused to buy her any new clothes. She was a very slim and athletic girl and was into all things Addidas. She looked so cute in her new Addidas sportswear!We took her to Build-a-Bear among other fun things. I planned to make a special friend for the baby. She made a special friend for herself and as I watched her picking out outfits for her bear, I was reminded just how young she really was. This petite teenager was carrying a child for us and she was really still a child herself.
I was a little jealous too. If you saw her from the back or straight on from the front, she didn't even look pregnant. You had to turn her sideways to see. She was ALL baby. Not an ounce of fat on her. She walked everywhere she went. She ran and planned to continue running until it became too uncomfortable. She was a little worried that exercise would be bad for the baby, but I reassured her that exercise would make her labor and delivery much easier and was good for her (and hence, good for the baby). We reminded her to eat well and regularly but I didn't want to come across as too "preachy". She confided in us that her mother had been complaining about how much she ate and how much the groceries were costing them. We told her not to worry. She would have funds to buy what ever foods she wanted. She also worried what her body would look like after she gave birth. I told her that with how fit she was, she would surely bounce back to normal very quickly. Such a simple statement seemed to reassure her immensely.
As each day passed, I grew more and more attached to B. She was interesting, artistic, smart and sassy. She had a good head on her shoulders, but the constant criticism from her mother had taken a serious toll on her self-confidence. She thought she was ugly, stupid, and a burden. In reality, she was none of those things! I wanted to strangle her mom for breaking her spirit so badly. John and I did our best to reassure her that we liked her and that she was an exceptional person. I think we succeeded a little by the time we parted company with her.
But before we left, we got to go to one of her regularly scheduled checkups. I was so excited to hear the baby, I felt faint! When I heard the heartbeat, it was like a massive weight lifted off my body. There was really a baby in there! Not that I had any doubt...but you know. I just had to hear it for myself. It was nice to meet her doctor (he was going to be bringing our son into the world,a very important job!) The doctor had also revised the baby's due date. It was now December 21st. My husband's birthday. That little coincidence just tickled John to no end.
After the doctor's appointment, we took a ride over to the hospital where B would be giving birth. I knew that most hospitals gave tours to expectant mothers of the labor and delivery areas. B had no idea they did stuff like that. She was really grateful that we set the tour up for her. She had been feeling really nervous, having never been in a hospital before. It helped her to know what the procedure was. Where she would check in, what would happen, what the rooms looked like...she seemed really interested in the process. It was at this point that she suddenly said "You guys are going to be there WITH me, right?"
We had all our travel arrangements done. We planned to be in California two weeks prior to the due date. We figured that gave us a nice buffer. We were so excited that B wanted us with her in the delivery room (heck, now she was counting on us for a ride to the hospital since she didn't trust her mom to drive at a time like that). I was really looking forward to seeing our baby born. We also had the baby's room just about done. Except for the wallpapering (pain!), I loved doing that room. My friend Deb planned a nice baby shower for us on December 1st. What a great time! My face hurt from smiling so much at all the adorable things we got as gifts. That night, after the shower, John said to me, "You better start packing soon...we may have to leave at any time now." I laughed. We had plenty of time!
No we didn't. B called us the evening of the 3rd.
"What, hun? What do you mean, leaking?"
"Well...I was walking around Savon and I thought I pee'd myself. But I don't think it's pee..."
I could feel my pulse racing and panic starting to set in. It's too soon! "OK, B. I think your water is breaking. Probably a slow leak."
"Is that bad?" She sounded so nervous.
"No, no! Not at all. But I think you should call your doctor and let him know. Be prepared. He will probably want you to come to the hospital to be checked."
"My back has really been hurting today too."
"Ok. Call your doctor and then call us back."
"Can you guys call him? I don't know what to say..."
John suggested we conference him in, but all we got was his service. "OK B. He will call you back in a few minutes. Let us know what happens. And don't worry. Everything is fine."
We paced the floor and I finally came to the realization that I better pack. NOW. Luckily I had done one load of wash and had some of the new baby things cleaned. But only a few. I scrambled like a lunatic to get everything together. The phone rang.
"I am on my way to the hospital to be checked. Our neighbor is driving us."
"OK, hun. Keep us posted. And good luck!"
As you have probably guessed by now, she was indeed in labor. FAR into labor. She barely made it to the hospital on time. I was still holding out hope that her labor would be long and we could still make it there before the baby came. It was not to be. The baby came in 3 pushes. There was no time for medications. She really didn't need them. She'd been having contractions all day and had written them off as her over-doing it by walking to the drug store. Can you believe that? She was IGNORING labor pains. Her neighbor got to be there for the birth instead of us. I was really disappointed. B's mother called a few hours later to tell us yes, it's still a boy and that he and B were just fine. We weren't able to fly out that night, but we got the earliest possible flight out at the crack of dawn the next morning. (It was on the plane thatwe finally decided to name him Tyler John. Funny story there.) We were at the hospital by lunch time.
I was so proud of B. Our boneheaded NJ-based attorney hadn't sent the custody paperwork to the hospital yet, so we had NO legal standing as far as the baby was concerned. We couldn't even be in the room unless B gave permission. She hadn't seen the baby yet and through a miscommunication, the hospital was unaware that this was an adoption case and had been trying to get her to hold the baby, asked if she wanted the baby to spend the night in the room with her, and asked if she wanted a lactation consultant. Yikes! She should not have had to go through that. Turns out Tyler was the only baby in the hospital not spending his first night on earth with his mommy (I wasn't there yet). Maternity had turned their old nursery into a supply closet because it was never used anymore. So Ty spent the night being wheeled from room to room as the nurses made their rounds and hanging out at the nurses station. All the night nurses had fallen in love with him. He was such a good baby. We arrived just in time to see B put in yet another awkward position when some hospital paper pusher showed up with a form to fill out for Tyler's birth certificate and handed it to B. She waited until the woman left and just handed the form to us. In that moment, Tyler's official legal name became Tyler John Yanagi. That stroke of luck really came in handy later when we were able to get an original copy of his birth certificate and it helped in court too.
The hospital staff was being really anal and now that they knew this was an adoption scenario, they wouldn't let anyone hold the baby until they had that custody paperwork in hand. It was really tense for a while there. We had a nurse or other hospital staff in the room with us constantly watching like hawks. Then B's attorney finally arrived with the documents we needed. At long last, I got to hold Tyler. I sat in one of the visitor's chairs in B's spacious private birthing suite (what a NICE hospital, let me tell ya!) and didn't let him go for the next 6 hours! I stared at that sweet baby face and my heart hurt, I was so much in love. I got to feed him a couple times, change him a couple times, I finally realized I was hogging the baby and handed him over to his daddy.
I really didn't want to leave him there at the hospital again for another night...but he wasn't going to be released to us until the next day. When visiting hours ended, I hugged B and cried happy tears as I thanked her and told her she was the most special person on the planet. I knew she was feeling a little left out. Then we went baby shopping! Thank goodness we found a Babies R Us near by! We needed so many things! We were going to be spending several weeks in a long term living hotel while all the legal junk was sorted out. We couldn't leave the state of California until we had all the proper paperwork done.
The days and nights in the hotel are all a sweet blur. We were on deck 24/7. We took turns sleeping. Ty was never alone for a moment. We couldn't bear to be away from him for long. I remember eating a lot of chili cheese fries from Jack in the Box. Good stuff. I also remember changing Ty on the sofa and him turning into a little wiz fountain the moment cool air hit his naked little boy parts. The sofa was soaked in an instant. Yikes! We blotted it good. You couldn't tell, once it was dry. *wink* I just wish I had taken more pictures. I had forgotten the digital camera at home, so all we had was one of those el cheapo disposable cameras. We were just too busy and distracted to think about it. Now remember, we had to change our plans at the last moment. The hotel was no problem. The flights were another story. John was making phone calls on and off for days trying to find us available flights home. It didn't help that we just weren't sure when the paperwork would be completed. It also didn't help that we were now looking at flights close to Christmas. Are you kidding me? It seemed like half the state of California was looking to fly to the east coast for the holidays.
When we finally got the call that we could now come home, the first return flight we could get was January 26th. No WAY was I spending Tyler's first Christmas in a hotel room. John started getting creative. He started checking all the airports anywhere within reasonable drive of where we were. We finally found a flight out of Las Vegas that got us home on John's birthday (Tyler's actual due date). We rented a car and headed for Vegas! We stayed over one night in a non-casino hotel to recover from the long drive (interesting driving with an infant...we had to make LOTS of stops) and then finally flew home. I got to play a couple of the airport slot machines and won around $60. I love Las Vegas. ;-)
It was COLD back at home with snow on the ground. The wind felt like it was cutting right through you. Tyler didn't like it one bit! He was a California boy, after all. I was so so so happy to be home. We had a few hurdles left in the legal process, but I had reached a state of Mommy Nirvana. I just knew everything would work out ok in the end. John was not so confident. He sweated the small stuff (and the big stuff). He did all the worrying for both of us. A process that should have taken 6-8 months to complete, took almost 2 years to finalize. No, we had no problems with B. It was our idiot NJ-based attorney. He didn't have all the i's dotted and t's crossed so the judge threw our petition for adoption OUT of court. Good think John was there at that initial court hearing and he really listened to what the judge wanted from us. Our lawyer got busy filing some crap appeal to save his own ego and John got busy making friends with our lawyer's legal aide and getting what the Judge ASKED for from California. We'd still be fighting in court over stupid paperwork, if it weren't for John taking the initiative himself.
I knew it would all work out in the end. Never doubted it for a moment. There are no more icy reserves of cold detachment left in this brain. Just the calm confidence of a happy Mommy.