Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Hospital Experience

I’ll pick up right where we left off last time: So there we were, waiting to hear that Mama J had gone into labor. We were about 3 weeks past when everyone (Mama J included) thought she would have delivered. We stayed pretty close to home those 3 weeks, only daring to venture about an hour away just in case we had to run to the hospital at a moment’s notice. Other than that, we tried to live our lives normally. Work, dogs, friends, dinners out, etc. We got snippets of news from our caseworker: a photograph here or there, reassurance that the delay was not because she had second thoughts, that sort of thing. We ran to Target at least once a week to pick up some baby item or another that we decided we needed. We organized daycare.

And then the call came. I was driving home from a work event on Sunday, March 26. It was about 9:30pm. “Mama J is in labor,” our caseworker said, followed by details about which hospital she was at and what to expect with the staff there. “Pack an overnight bag; I’ll call you when the baby is here and she’s ready for you guys.”

I raced home, calling Brian on the way. We packed a change of clothes in a bag and sat in the living room staring at one another. 10:00 became 11:00, which became midnight. Midnight became 1am, at which point the dogs lost interest in our late-night rush of activity and curled up to sleep. By 1:30, we decided to go to bed, that the call would come whether we waited up for it or not.

I’ve always laughed about Murphy's Law, but never put much stock in it. Wouldn’t you know, though, that as soon as we laid down, the phone rang. “She’s ready to see you guys.” So we jumped out of bed and rushed out the door. A quick stop at WalMart to pick up a small bouquet of flowers, then we were on our way.

We got to the hospital at 2:30am. After a brief discussion with the security officer at the front desk (we knew Mama J’s name, but were waiting on the security code to come from our agency), we were allowed into Mama J’s room. We knocked softly, and she told us to come in. She was holding Aiden, and whispered to him, just loud enough for us to hear, “There’s your mom and dad. They’ve been waiting to meet you!” before she handed him over to Brian, then me, to hold.

Most of he hospital staff was wonderfully accommodating. They gave us the room next to Mama J’s in the maternity ward. Aiden stayed in a bassinet in our room, with open visits in Mama J’s room too. We got to feed him, give him his first bath, and do lots of skin-to-skin time with him. The doctors and nurses were great. The hospital chaplain loved hearing our story. Even the cleaning crew was sweet and kind. To protect everyone’s privacy, on the board listing patients by the nurses’ station, we were listed as the BUFA Family (fairly common adoption lingo, BUFA stands for Baby Up For Adoption). The cafeteria staff was often confused about being asked to bring food up to a room that didn’t have “registered” patients in it (Aiden was formally tied to Mama J’s room), but they figured it out eventually.

There was only one staff member who didn’t seem to support the situation. Luckily, we had been trained by the agency to not only be Aiden’s advocates in the hospital, but Mama J’s as well.

The second day in the hospital, there was a knock at our door. “Can you tell me your first names?” a nurse asked through the opening. We told her. “Sorry, wrong room,” she apologized.

“No, that’s them,” we heard Mama J’s voice insist from the hallway.

“No, it’s not, you don’t need to go in there,” the nurse’s voice responded.

I jumped up and went to open the door. “She’s welcome in here,” I told the nurse, who scowled and huffed away.

We enjoyed several visits with Mama J and one of her friends in the hospital, got to video chat with some of our family members, and sent many happy texts and photos to others. Aiden was pronounced small but healthy by every doctor and nurse we encountered.

The morning of the third day in the hospital, the attorney showed up to sign the paperwork. He went to Mama J’s room first so she could do her part. The book the agency gave us said this could take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, that no one would rush her, that they would take all the time needed to ensure that she understood the papers. Having made adoption plans for previous children, Mama J didn’t have a lot of questions. About 5 minutes after the lawyers arrived, I got a text: “I’m all done, he’s on his way to you now.”

The attorney read through the custody paperwork, noting that nothing was final until we went to court, and outlining all of our rights and responsibilities as guardians. We signed the adoption agreement and the petition to adopt, he gave us the papers that allow us to carry Aiden on our insurance, and told us that cooperating with the social worker’s post-placement visits would ensure a quick turnaround time on the court date.

Once he left, Mama J came to our room to say goodbye. We took a photo of all of us together, and loosely planned a visit for late July. She left, having been discharged, and we waited for our discharge paperwork to process.

After birthmoms sign the adoption paperwork, we enter a weird legal limbo. We have physical custody of Aiden, but our agency has legal custody. As such, the discharge paperwork had to be signed by our caseworker, so that Aiden could be discharged to her care. While the papers were being signed, I got Aiden dressed to go home. Our friends had given us an adorable onesie that I thought would be perfect for his “coming home from the hospital” outfit: a white onesie, with a turtle on it, and the words “worth the wait.” The only problem was Aiden was far too tiny to fit into it! Brian ended up at the hospital gift shop, buying the only preemie outfit not adorned with pink bows. (Or so he says. It was a Purdue onesie. I'm still not convinced there weren't other options.) Even that was too big, as we ended up cuffing the arms and legs a few times.

We got him strapped into his car seat (another moment of realizing just how tiny he was: he almost came in under the weight our car seat is certified for), and the nurse walked us out the door. We drove home (the longest 20 minute car ride of my life), where adoring grandparents were waiting with flowers and balloons.

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading this! So many wonderful and poignant moments. It brought back a lot of memories from our adoption (right around the same time :)) Mama J sounds like a brave, strong woman. Hugs to you all!