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.
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
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
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
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.
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