Later, after I've laid my sleeping daughter back in her co-sleeper and I'm settling myself back to sleep next to her, it hits me that I am really a mom. This is the first time in these crazy first weeks of parenting that I scoop her teeny-tiny-not-quite-6-pounds-body out her co-sleeper without worrying about dropping her. Or worrying if I'm doing it "right." Or jostling her too much. Or thinking about how to cradle her head just right against my arm. I do it with absolutely no worries. Automatically. Effortlessly. It's like I've been doing this all of my life...scooping, holding, feeding, rocking, putting her back to bed - all just one continuous series of fluid, practiced, confident motions.
I am a mom.
And now here we are and she's almost 6 months old. She is no longer the tiny, fragile newborn who came to be part of our family right on the heels of Hurricane Irene. Instead, she is a sturdy little person who loves to stand up (still with assistance), bounce like crazy, blow exceedingly spitty raspberries, meet new people (our little girl is a social butterfly), look at everything, gnaw on my face, chew on her dad's fingers, smile, show off the one beautiful dimple she has on her right cheek, and laugh. Oh, how our little Munchie loves to laugh.
"Enjoy every minute. It goes SO fast," is what I heard from every mom I every met when we started the adoption process.
I didn't believe it.
But it's true.
So many times during these six months I think about writing this post. Telling the story of how Chris and I finally came to be parents to our remarkable, beautiful little girl, but somehow never get around to it...not wanting to miss any of my daughter's life.
And in just 5 days she'll be 6 months-old. Where did the time go?
* * *
We have no electricity. No phones. No hot water. And even our cell phones don't work well enough to place or receive calls because of damage to our town's lone cell tower. Occasional text messages make it through, but even this isn't reliable. Our neighbor has a big honkin' generator, use of which he kindly offers us because he has one extra line available. At least the stuff of the fridge and freezer might make it.
Despite the lack of electricity, phones, hot water and the like, Chris and I feel truly lucky that we did not experience any flooding (been there and done that...don't need to ever go through that again) nor did our house or neighborhood suffer much by way of physical damage. It is hard to get around the first day after the storm because of downed branches, but otherwise we are all safe and unharmed.
So life is inconvenient, but good.
August 30, 2011...Day 3 of no electricity/phones/hot water. Chris texts me with the brilliant suggestion of dinner at a favorite restaurant in the next town over, which has had power restored. I am overjoyed to be getting out of the house.
I arrive early at the restaurant and decide to take advantage of cell availability to check Facebook on my phone. When I turn on the phone I am startled to see multiple voice mail notifications on the screen. No one ever calls me on my phone (I'm a text junkie, but can't stand actually talking on my cell phone. Makes no sense, I know...) Checking my messages I am shocked to hear T from our adoption agency.
My brain goes into overdrive. The words wash over me..."been trying to reach you all day"...."need to speak with you"..."urgent"..."right away"
For a moment I am frozen.
I haven't thought much about the adoption in close to two months. My last blog post was in early July. In truth, I had just put thoughts of adoption away in the far recesses of my brain. After everything that happened in the spring and all of the sadness and doubt I just shut down that part of me...figuring that it was probably never going to happen.
I had given up.
And now T is leaving me desperate messages.
And I'm sitting in my car not calling her because I am stunned.
But finally I pull myself together enough to search the car for pen and paper. Then with shaking hands and a stomach that's doing uncomfortable flip flops I dial T's number. She answers right away.
These are the bits of the conversation I am able to grasp..."have a situation"...."young woman"..."far along in her pregnancy"..."due date September 10"..."no drugs or alcohol"..."she gave birth today"..."healthy baby girl"..."you need to be in Florida tomorrow."
My brain-in-overdrive stops momentarily.
"Omigod," I finally say with an hysterical laugh, "we just got hit by Hurricane Irene. Our house has no power, Internet or phones. We don't even have cell service! The only reason I'm talking to you is because I'm in the next town over and there's cell service here. I'm meeting Chris for dinner. He'll be here in a few minutes. Can we call you back?"
"Of course, but we do need to make a decision about this ASAP because we've showed the mother your profile and two others. If you guys want this then I really want to let her know more about you and everything that you went through this year and how gracefully you handled it."
"Yes, yes. Of course, thank you. Omigod. Ummm...we'll call you back in like twenty minutes."
Chris arrives and I can see by the look on his face that he has also talked to T.
"I couldn't reach you," he says with a slightly wild look in his eyes. I'm sure that I must look much the same.
We both stand outside the restaurant looking stunned.
"Should we talk about this over dinner?"
And so we sit down in our favorite Mexican restaurant trying to grasp the reality of the situation.
The timing just couldn't be worse. Aside from the fact that we currently have no power, phones, Internet or hot water, Chris is also just beginning the final two weeks at his long-time job. He's accepted a new position at a different company. There's no way he can go to Florida. Not tomorrow anyway.
We laugh a little hysterically about how awful the timing is.
And then we look at each other.
And we know that we have to do this.
"We'd be crazy not to do this, right?" I ask Chris.
He nods. "Yeah. We'd be crazy...wouldn't we?"
A few seconds or maybe it's a few minutes pass by. Finally, Chris gets up to go outside to make the call to T. When he returns we somehow manage to get through dinner, although neither of us eats very much as we wait to hear back from T to learn our fate and the fate of the baby born this day.
Will we be chosen?
We don't have to wait long before T calls with the news that one or both of us need to get on a plane to Orlando tomorrow.
Neither of us cry. We hug. We sit down again in stunned, happy silence. We laugh again at the awful, awful timing and keep saying things like, "This is exactly the way we DIDN'T want this to happen" and "Omigod" and "we don't even have any power at home!"
Then dinner is over and we're outside heading to our cars so we can race to my mother-in-law's house to utilize their Internet (although we haven't told her why) to get me plane tickets and a hotel room in Orlando. But as we make our way to our cars it all gets to be too much and my knees start to buckle.
"I need to sit down," I say to Chris who helps me to the curb. I lean into him and finally sob. The tears that I have been holding inside me for months. "I don't think I can go through it again if this falls through," I say through my sobs. "I can't do it again."
"I can't either."
After a few minutes we manage to pull ourselves together. The rest of the evening is a blur of making arrangements to get me to Florida. (Chris will fly down a few days later for the weekend assuming that everything goes through.) Chris is on his computer dealing with plane and hotel reservations. I'm on the phone with my bank notifying them of potential large charges on my credit cards because I'll be traveling and potentially adopting a baby. Then I call my immediate family to share our news. Needless to say, my family is surprised and delighted (and although they don't say it, I'm sure scared for us knowing what we went through earlier in the year.)
My dad says, "Anything you need. You just call us. Anything and anytime. OK? We love you."
Chris' mom and step-dad arrive home from doing work on their boat to find us ensconced in their kitchen. After a "what's going on?" from his mom Chris explains what's happening.
"What?" says my mother-in-law looking completely stunned, "say that again."
"Jenn is going down to Florida to meet our daughter."
"What?" is all my mother-in-law can say.
At this point...that's kind of how we feel.