As quickly as my contractions pierce across my belly, they end. The moan-wrenching pain of childbirth is over, and my beautiful son takes his first breath in the world.
The nurses cheer. My husband cries.
I squint at the bright lights above me while my son is hoisted over my stirrupped feet and between my bent knees. He is carefully placed onto my chest.
Tears roll down my cheeks.
After years of infertility, adopting two daughters and giving birth to another, experiencing the pregnancy and birth of our final baby is undoubtedly one of the most healing moments for my soul.
I gently unwrap the hospital blanket and peek at his long toes. Boy, he has his momma’s toes. His fingers are long and skinny, and it’s only taken minutes to wrap them around my own, literally. I admire his squishy nose and run the back of my finger softly across his cheek.
He is perfect. I am in awe.
Before I know it, it’s time to leave. My husband reaches for our son; there is nothing like seeing a father hold his son for the first time. A nurse stands on each side of me. Their hands are firm around my shoulders and cupped under my armpits. They help steady my labored body enough to plop into a wheelchair.
With a blanket draped over my lap, I am whisked through the cold hospital hallway and down an elevator to Room 2004. This is the room we’ll spend the next two days.
My husband unpacks our bags, and we settle in. I am exhausted yet wide awake. We excitedly send out the text message everyone is waiting for.
One after another, the congratulatory messages beep in.
It’s hard to keep up with the excitement of sharing our news, but one message in particular sticks out.
It’s from my daughter’s birth mom who lives hundreds of miles away, and it is simple; four words to be exact.
“Welcome to our family!” she wrote.
I stare at those four powerful words on my iPhone screen. And it is in this moment–with my tightly swaddled newborn cradled in one arm and my iPhone in the other–that I feel an indescribable sense of gratitude wash over me.
This woman who selflessly made me a mother four years ago by lovingly placing her daughter into my arms forever, welcomes my son to our family.
We are one.
Not only am I a mother through pregnancy and childbirth, I am also a mother through adoption. The breadth of these gifts is not lost on me.
At only a few hours old, my son is too young to understand the extent of those who love him; he has three big (but still little) sisters who adore him, four doting grandparents, two aunts, two uncles and a handful of cousins around his same age . . . but he also has my daughters’ birth families. And they love him just the same.