As an adoptive mom, it’s always a bit awkward for me when I’m chatting with some girlfriends and the talk turns to labor and delivery stories.
Most moms talk of the long hours spent pushing, or the timing — or mistiming — of the epidural. Or, they talk about the trip to the hospital or they describe those first moments after birth seeing their child for the first time.
As an adoptive mom, I have delivery stories as well, just different than most.
A few weeks ago when the conversation turned to labor stories, my dear friend asked me to share my story this time. Like most moms, I can vividly recall the day our son was born.
It was 15 years ago this month when our dream of becoming parents finally became a reality.
We were painting the last coat of canary yellow in the nursery when we got the call. The labor had begun. Our son’s birthmom had planned to give us the special gift of allowing us to be present in the delivery room. While I didn’t feel the pain, I felt the excitement. I felt the anxiousness and the worry. Would the labor go as planned? Would we even be bringing home a baby? So many thoughts were going through my head.
My husband and I grabbed our bags and a quick lunch and headed out of town, beginning 200-mile journey to witness our son’s birth.
We cruised down the interstate in our new four-door Buick. Just a few months before, we had traded off our sweet two-door Monte Carlo for this more slightly-used practical family car. We stopped for a rest stop about half way there and then stepped back in the car to finish our journey. But, to our great disappointment, the car wouldn’t start.
Now, in all of our years of driving east to Lincoln or Omaha on the interstate, this has never happened. But, now, on this most important day or our life – the birth of our first child, the motor wouldn’t start.
I was afraid I would miss the delivery and his first moments. I was too stunned to even cry. After repeated attempts to start the Buick (which, by the way, ruined our chances of ever purchasing a Buick again), we called a tow truck.
We told them our story, but we didn’t get much sympathy, just a quick tow to the nearest town and the chance to rent a luxurious Ford Focus. With a husband the size of a college lineman, it was comical to see him navigating this tiny, red rental. It reminded me of a line from the movie “Tommy Boy.” Big guy in a little car.
After wasting the entire afternoon on the car fiasco, we sped off to our destination and arrived at the hospital at 7 p.m. We had made it! We had not missed the delivery. Our son was born at 7:28 p.m.
Now, while most parents had attended Lamaze class and read “What to Expect When You are Expecting,” we attended the “waiting adoptive parents” support group with the Nebraska Children’s Home, and I memorized “What to Expect the First Year.”
So, when our son’s head came out looking like a cone, I figured something was drastically wrong with him. I was worried, but I knew I would love him anyway.
The next moments were a blur. They asked what we would name him, and I said Samuel. Although I’ve always been a good speller, for the life of me, I just couldn’t seem to spell Samuel. Seeing the birth was such a miracle!
The nurses performed the various newborn tests, and he was given a clean bill of health. His cone-shaped head slowly went away to reveal a sweet baby boy with lots of dark hair.
Immediately, the worries of motherhood began. Would he eat well? Is he healthy? How much does he weigh? Would he connect with us? And, how would his birth mother cope with the loss?
The next few days, we hung out in the hospital and learned about our son. We fed him and cuddled him and learned from the nurses how to swaddle him with blankets and care for his belly button.
Before we left the hospital, we had an emotional ceremony with the birthmother involving some special prayers for her, for Samuel and for us. While moms who give birth leave the hospital with much joy and the wounds of a physical delivery, I also left the hospital with joy and much pain, but in a different way. My joy was that our long-awaited family was finally beginning, and my pain was the emotional pain of knowing the sorrow his birth mother was experiencing.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and her most generous gift to us!