6:30 on a Thursday morning: I have a nasty cold and decide to stay in bed for a while longer. I work for myself, so my commute was 11 stairs up to the office. My husband just left for work 10 minutes earlier, and I am settling back into sleep. The phone rings and I thought it’s either Eric or Sheila* (name is changed).
Oh, my gosh! It’s Sheila! She’s in labor! Two weeks early, but her water broke at 4:00 AM and her grandmother is now driving her to the hospital. She wants us there for the birth of our son! I call Eric frantically, and luckily he’s just made it to the espresso stand and not all the way into his office in Seattle.
We’d met Sheila five months before when she chose us to be the parents of her child. We’d grown close. We love her not only for the gift she is giving us, but for the person she is. She’s 19 years old. She’s had a very hard life. She doesn’t want the same life for her son. She wants her child to have two parents who are stable and ready to give him everything he needs. She’s a miracle herself to us.
9:00 AM: We’re across the pass and on our way to Spokane, but can we make it in time? Most births last quite a bit longer – but I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been in labor! We have a 4 1/2 hour drive and we have to make it!
11:15 AM: We’re approaching Spokane. We place a call to the agency to let them know that our son is on his way. Very casually, the head of the agency says not to hurry…she’s sure that Sheila will be in labor all day!
11:45 AM: At the hospital! We’re admitted to Sheila’s room – but only because she insists on our presence. “This is their child being born, and they need to be here,” she says. Aidan is already crowning! Thank goodness we sped all the way. We made a 4 1/2 hour drive into a little over 3 hours! Don’t ask how, but we made it.
12:14 PM: Aidan is born. He’s beautiful. I’m crying, his father is crying, his birthmother looks dazed, and her grandmother is crying. Eric gets to cut the cord and they hand my beautiful son to me. I cry some more. He’s cleaned up, weighed, and measured, all the while he screams. We swaddle the miracle baby, and I get to hold him some more. We ask Sheila if she wants to hold him. “No.” That’s it. Just “No.” I get to give him his first bottle. We talk to the nurses about our rights as his parents in a hospital that is not usually “adoption” friendly. We have to provide ID and Sheila has to sign papers giving us our rights to visit our son in the nursery.
Some of the nurses are very cold to us. We’re not the “real” parents, so we shouldn’t have any rights. One incredible, wonderful nurse overrules everyone and lets us be his parents, even when we’re not officially yet. Aidan is brought to the nursery. Sheila does not want him to room in. It’s her choice. We want her to be comfortable with everything that happens. This incredible miracle is a gift to us, and it’s only hers to give.
We spend hours in the nursery. After two days of rocking and feeding our son, we can finally check out with him! The papers are signed, the court order gives us temporary custody. We choose to stay in town and bring him back to the hospital the next day to visit Sheila. She needs to say goodbye. She doesn’t want time alone, but we force it. You can’t say goodbye without first saying hello. This miracle child will always be a part of her and will always know her. She asks for his baby blanket. I love this blanket, but Eric says, “Do you want the baby or the blanket?” Point taken – I give her the blanket.
After seven years of marriage and three grueling years of infertility, we’re finally parents! It doesn’t matter how we became parents, just that we try to be the best parents we can be. Aidan is a miracle. He’s sitting beside me right now in his little Johnny-Jump-Up, making beautiful cooing noises and smiling. He’s nearly seven months old. Where did the time go! He makes me smile and laugh and cry. Every little baby thing he does grabs at my heart. I’m a mommy. I’m not a mommy by accident like many women, or even a mommy through the act of birth. But I am a mommy. I resent the words “real parents” and any comment that can be construed as anti-adoption – and I am told that I am overly sensitive about these things. But when your mother-in-law says, “Wow, I didn’t realize I’d actually love him this much,” or some other inane comment referencing his birth family, you tend to get sensitive. I am his REAL mother. Eric is his REAL father. Sheila is his BIRTH mother. The mother and the father are the ones who do the jobs. No one else gets the title; it must be earned. At times, I never thought I’d be a mommy. When my husband was giving me shots in the thigh with a three-inch needle, or when I had vaginal ultrasounds a week, or after the IVF where 0 out of 27 eggs made it to fertilization. Nothing was private and nothing was sacred. But I know how very much I appreciate my little miracle. Many women never get the chance to truly appreciate the miracle of having a baby. I know that Aidan is a little wonder and he will always be beautiful to me. He’s my son.
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