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An Adoption Story: Part 3

Photograph by Getty Images

The first time I met my daughter's other mommy, she was due to give birth in a week. Less than, actually. As we sat at lunch that day, she told me she was experiencing contractions. “Any day now,” she promised, while I reeled beneath a pungent mix of excitement, shock and fear.

Just days before, I had been sure I would never have the opportunity to mother a child from birth. Now, I was talking about bringing a little one home from the hospital in less than a week. As much as this was a dream come true, it was all happening at a rate I hadn’t yet fully processed.

RELATED: An Adoption Story: Part 1

We laughed, cried and embraced over that meal, sharing our own stories and bonding as family. It was only after she reiterated, face-to-face, her desire for this child to be mine that I allowed myself to start believing it could be real. My friends believed much sooner than that, somehow sensing a magic I had been too afraid to trust. Immediately after that lunch, one of my closest friends presented me with a black and white flower headband, resting in a Nordstrom’s box. It would be my little girl's first present, purchased before I had even been willing to admit she could be mine.

The following days went by in a blur, as the due date came and went. Everyone I knew banded together to ensure I would be prepared to bring this baby home. It seemed as though my doorbell was ringing along to some sort of musical beat. Everything we could have possibly needed was given to us—clothes, a car seat, the bassinet—everything. My house looked like a bottle of Pepto Bismol pink had exploded within, as I worked around the clock attempting to get everything organized and put away. My nights were no longer for sleeping; they were for nesting. I continued to spend my days at work, but even there I was distracted beyond recognition. My every thought was baby centered, as I prepared for the miracle I had stopped hoping for long before.

Shortly after midnight, exactly one week after the first mention of my daughter, my phone began to ring. I had been up folding baby clothes and looking for a place to put the latest flood of hand-me-downs. When I picked up the phone, the voice on the other end said, “It’s time. I’m heading to the hospital now.” My little girl was on her way.

After ensuring her other mommy was OK, I hung up the phone still shaky. How was this real? How had I ever lucked upon this magic? I jumped into the shower, intent upon being clean when I first met my daughter. I then hastily threw a few items into a bag, trying to figure out what I would need over the course of her stay in the hospital. I knew only that I had no intention of walking out those doors until I was able to bring her home with me. I was not sure I would ever be willing to leave her side.

I was sure that any minute, I would simply stop breathing.

Finally, I climbed into my car and willed myself to drive safely. I called two close friends, both of whom answered groggily before quickly perking up when they heard where I was headed. They each agreed to meet me there as soon as possible.

As I walked through the hospital doors, a nervous excitement coursed through my veins. I found my way to the maternity ward, where my daughter’s other mother was stalking the halls as though she were feeling no pain at all. She smiled and laughed when she saw me, heading my way for a hug. The nurses were in the process of checking her in; this baby was definitely on her way.

Everyone assumed the labor would go quickly. My daughter’s other mommy had delivered three times before, and all had been quick and easy births. As the minutes turned into hours, however, a nurse pulled me aside and told me this was common with adoptions. She thought her body was holding on to the pregnancy a little longer, not willing to let go just yet. All we could do was wait.

My friends arrived, and the woman about to give birth to my baby asked for some time to rest. So at 4 in the morning, I sat in the lobby eating pizza and drinking coffee with the women who knew me best. We attempted to distract ourselves from the events currently taking place, even as it seemed to be the only thing any of us could think about.

My daughter’s other mommy had initially decided she wanted to labor alone. She was extremely modest, and also mourning a decision that had not been easy for her to make. I made no arguments when she informed me of her desire to have me waiting just outside the doors when our daughter was born, even though privately I yearned to be in the room. So when a nurse came out to the lobby several hours later and informed me that she had changed her mind, I immediately broke down in tears. “She just told me that if she was about to have her first baby,” the nurse explained, “she would want to be in the room. She wants you to be there when your daughter is born.” And just like that, I was going to be able to watch my little girl come into the world.

I said goodbye to my friends as I donned a paper gown and hat. Being escorted into the room, I could hear her struggling already. “It’s almost time,” the nurse whispered in my ear. I went to her side and immediately held her hand.

There is something incredibly difficult about watching another person struggle to bring your baby into the world. Never before have I ever felt so helpless. I knew in that moment that if I could have, I would have taken every ounce of pain she was experiencing upon myself. But, I couldn’t. All I could do was hold her hand. Rub her back. Tell this woman I had only just met how much I loved her, and avert my eyes when the moments came where I knew she would prefer I look away. Then, the moment came when there was simply nowhere else to look.

I had never witnessed a live birth before. I had no idea how ... graphic it would be. Even as I fought to remain by this amazing woman’s head, protecting her modesty as best I could, everything there was to see was eventually right in front of me. And she no longer seemed to care anymore anyway. So when a nurse pulled me forward and pointed to the crown of hair now appearing, I was transfixed by that tiny little head making its way toward me. I was sure that any minute, I would simply stop breathing. Or wake up, because everything about this had to be a dream.

RELATED: An Adoption Story: Part 2

But it wasn’t. And just a few minutes later, the doctor took my hands and placed them beneath my daughter’s body as she entered the world. I immediately brought her to my chest and sobbed. My little girl—the answer to all my prayers—was finally in my arms looking up at me.

Still corded to her other mommy, collapsing beside us in exhaustion.

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