The sun glared in our faces as we stepped out of the car and onto the black pavement of that Florida hospital’s packed parking lot.
It was almost noon… closer to 11:30 actually as our meeting time had been set for just before twelve. Our little boy had been born just 15 hours earlier as Ian and I were passing through Georgia on our way to the Sunshine State.
Hand in hand, Ian and I hesitantly approached the hospital’s main entrance in anticipation of meeting our son. I remember feeling incredibly anxious and curious at the same to as to what these next hours would hold for us.
In the past year, we had been through what seemed like a nightmare.
We had lost 7 pregnancies. One of our losses resulting in the delivery of our stillborn daughter. The trauma of holding her lifeless body in my hands has been etched into my brain so deeply that the cavern of anguish will likely remain forever.
Then add to that the rocky terrain of the next 9 months. I fell into a monthly ritual of staring at those annoying white sticks clad with pink positive signs. Later, I would listlessly watch those plus signs become fainter and fainter until alas, I would bleed. With that release of blood would come the mixture of shame, pain and anger all at once.
As we passed through the threshold of the hospital and into the sterile foyer, my emotional state began to tilt towards the side of anxiety and dread as I prepared myself for the next shoe to drop. Ian and I took a seat on the cool leather couches of the waiting area. We rested our weary bodies for just a few minutes before a lovely lady exited a nearby elevator. Our nervous eyes met her cheerful and calming glance, and she eagerly approached us.
That sweet lady introduced herself as our social worker and proceeded to go over the details of our son’s delivery and his current state of health.
Soon after his birth, he began struggling to breathe, she informed us, and therefore was admitted to the NICU overnight. She gave me a brief overview of our birth mother’s state of health and mind and then asked us if we were ready to meet our son. We nodded our agreement and began to follow her throughout the hospital.
The sound of our shoes on the cold, hard, lifeless linoleum floor echoed through the hospital corridors. The journey to the NICU seemed to take forever and with every step I could feel my heart pounding that much harder. I remember taking a quick peek at Ian thinking, “Praise God that I have him.” That man is my rock here on earth. He always seems so chill. If he were like me, we would be in big trouble!! Ha!
As we turned a corner, we came upon two massive white double doors. The social worker scanned her badge at the door and the door unlocked allowing us to pass through. After washing our hands thoroughly and dressing in sterile robes, we were escorted into the NICU. We were welcomed into the pediatric safety haven by the sound of various beeping noises and the sight of several small incubators encasing the most precious and vulnerable babes of this world.
Our social worker led us through a maze of vulnerable dependent little bodies to our little man’s incubator.
I remember staring at him for the first time as if I was watching myself on film. Thinking, “Oh my word! This is him,” I cautiously examined his fragile body. He was crinkled up with his legs and arms pulled into his torso. I remember contemplating the fact that I was “supposed” to feel a certain way… that I was “supposed” to instantly fall in love with him like they do in the movies. However, that was not my reality. I held his little body in my arms and thought to myself, ‘I am holding a stranger’s baby.’
“I am holding another woman’s baby.”
He was still her child. He was not my child yet. He could be ripped away from me just as quickly as all seven of those pregnancies. I was emotionally guarded. I did not want to be… I remember wishing away the emotional distance and fear. However, I am simply a human being. I had to “love” this baby as best I could under the circumstances. He was precious… no doubt about that. He was hers though. I needed to respect that. I needed to respect her.
Adoption is beautiful, but it is at the same time so tragic.
In order for my family to grow here on earth, a precious and broken woman would have to say goodbye to a baby boy whom she had carried in her womb for 9 months. That contradiction was not lost on me.
Soon after our initial meeting with that precious baby boy came our first introduction with his birth mother. Nothing could have prepared me for what we were about to experience those next 36 hours.
Sweet Friend, do you have a story of infertility or adoption? Do either of those topics have a place in your special needs parenting story? I would love to know more of your story. Comment below or feel free to email me.
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My Top Books for Parents Raising Kiddos with Special Needs (Each book chosen for this list was LIFE-GIVING to me during one of the darkest seasons of parenting my son).