Already. I'm trying to figure out how to explain what we've witnessed, the miracles we've experienced, and the alternate reality in which we seem to be living at this moment. And I am searching for the words and they just aren't there.
We learned last Saturday morning that our birth mom was scheduled to be induced at 5:30 am on Tuesday, 12/16. As a result, I spent much of Saturday grabbing a couple of small last minute Christmas gifts for Jesse, cleaning the house, and making freezer meals. I made my to-do lists for both Saturday and Sunday as I knew I would be working on Monday and they were pretty extensive. I still didn't believe we were bringing home a baby but I wanted to be "ready" just in case.
I worked on my chores all day Saturday and on Sunday right after church, I came in the house ready to grab a bite to eat and get started on scrubbing a few more things down when I decided to shoot a quick text to *Sarah to find out how her 10 am ultrasound had gone. I was standing in my bedroom when I saw that she was calling and I figured she was just too tired to text about how the appointment had gone, so I picked up and asked if everything was okay.
"Welll..... They are going to keep me and induce me today. I probably won't have the baby until tomorrow, but I wanted to let you know. So I don't know if you guys want to wait a bit and then come or what you'd like to do."
You know that phrase, "run around like a chicken with its head cut off?" ............
As I began throwing clothes around, tripping over the dogs, and putting laundry in the dryer, I talked with her a bit more, assured her that we would be there in just a couple of hours and that we were praying and to keep me posted on her progress.
Jesse came home from work and we were out the door within an hour, car seat and baby bag in tow.
We arrived in Prescott around 3 and went back to check on our sweet Sarah and see how she was doing. She was doing well although the doctors' were concerned about her pre-eclampsia symptoms and so she was unable to get out of bed or have anything to eat. Soon after, her mom arrived along with a few of Sarah's friends and a friend of the birth dad's. The waiting room was pretty full for a while, and we talked with the friends that were present and I periodically went back to check on Sarah, sit with her, and try to get her anything I could to keep her comfortable. Things progressed slowly and we settled in with our laptops, tablets, and phones and made ourselves at home in the waiting room as we prepared for a long night ahead.
Suddenly at about 1:30 am, Sarah's mother came out and said, "emergency c-section. Becky, come with me." And so I rushed back to Sarah's room to give her a hug and a kiss and tell her everything would be fine and we would be praying in the waiting room. And as I headed back to the waiting room, I went straight for my husband's arms. For the first time I was worried that the baby wasn't going to be okay. It would be my story that ended in the death of a baby, afterall. And so he hugged me, and I began to pace the floor. After what seemed like an eternity but was only about 20 minutes later, I watched as Sarah was wheeled back to the OR. I sat back down, head in hands, praying that God would protect our Sarah and allow for the safe delivery of this baby. Still all the while, not knowing if things would change at the last minute, if I would get a chance to even see her, much less take her home. And then at 2:20 am on Monday, December 15th, we stared down the hallway to see a doctor and nurse emerge wheeling a small plastic basinnett accompanied by Sarah's mother. She pointed directly at Jesse and me and waved us toward her. We were instantly ushered in right behind the baby to the nursery where we watched in total disbelief as the nurse weighed the 6 pound 4 ounce bundle of wiggles laying before us. And for the first time we were referred to in our new roles as the nurse, without hesitation, with a giant smile on her face said, "mom and dad, come on over here and lets measure her!" Everything was blurred by my tears and yet at the same time I so clearly remember holding the tape measure and staring in total disbelief at the baby before me.
There was no way that any of this was real.
And so the next two hours flew by as we were encouraged to stay right next to the baby's warmer while the doctor's checked her out and monitored her vitals. And then for the first time, the baby was wrapped up and handed to me, and I held her for the first time.
And as the night went on, we sat quietly in our curtained cubicle in the nursery and took turns holding her, feeding her, and changing her.
A few hours later as we were going to make our best attempt to "settle down" with me in a recliner, the baby in her warmer, and Jesse in a desk chair the nurses had wheeled in for him, Sarah's mom texted and asked if she could come back for a minute. And so she did, and she let us know that Sarah was doing okay but desperately needed to try to settle down and get some rest, but as her mom told her that she was going to send her friends home from the waiting room and asked if there was anyone she wanted to see one more time before trying to get some sleep, she told her mom that she wanted to see me.
Without hesitation, I left the baby with Jesse and headed back to Sarah's room. She looked exhausted but beautiful and as I walked in to her room, she grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the bed. She said she was feeling better than before and wanted to know if we were doing okay.
I'll let that sink in for a moment.
I kneeled down next to her bed, assured her that everyone was doing great and that we were just worried about her and wanted her to get some sleep. She was still having blood pressure issues at the time. I stayed for a few minutes until she nodded off, told her mother that we were praying for all of them and that if they needed us for anything just to call.
When I got back to the nursery, the baby was in her warmer and Jesse was trying to get a few moments of sleep. I settled in as best I could and may have nodded off for a few moments, but mostly sat and marveled in awe of what I felt like was happening around me.
It was all so. surreal. holy. divine. sacred. miraculous. The kind of thing where you know that for the rest of your life, you will treasure and carry moments so near and dear to your heart. And you will try your very best to describe them to others so that they too could marvel at what could only come from God's divine hand, but knowing that words would fail every time.
The next morning, we "got up" and I poked my head out to the nurses's station to ask if we were allowed to grab a bite for breakfast and bring it into the nursery with us. The nurse smiled and said, "how about you leave her here with us, go get some food, and we will take care of her while you're gone. It's good for you to get out." And so as the thought had never occurred to me, we gladly accepted the offer and left the nursery hand in hand to head down to the cafeteria. We mostly sat in silence and stared at our food, but continually grasped the other's hand and smiled. No one else knew or shared what we were sharing. What we were experiencing.
And after a quick clothing change and facewash, I began to feel like a new person.
We sat contentedly in our nursery cubicle, but politely asked the charge nurse again if they thought they might be able to get us any sort of room to try to get just a little sleep. she said they would absolutely try and so we hung out with the baby, taking pictures and waiting to hear from the birth mom or her mom.
As the morning went on, we did finally hear from Sarah's mom who said that Sarah was again asking for me. I went to see her and gave her a hug. I sat with her for a bit while her mom went to get some breakfast and she tried to stay awake and chat a little, but she fell asleep mid sentence. I wheeled a stool closer to her bed and sat with my hand on her leg and began to pray. I prayed for healing. For comfort. For peace. And I prayed that some day, she would be okay. I knew it wouldn't be for a long while, but begged God to mend the heart that was most assuredly broken and to watch over her because I knew that I couldn't.
A short while later as I sat back in the nursery with Jesse, praying that the staff could find us a small room so that we could get just a little sleep, I began to receive some alarming messages from Sarah's mom. To make a long story short and to be respectful of the hearts of others, the bottom line was that some of the birth father's family members were having a difficult time dealing with the situation and the placement of this baby in another family's home and as a result, began making some alarming statements about wanting to see her, hold her, and that maybe she should come home with them instead.
By this time, it was early afternoon on Monday, we had been up for two straight days, were on major emotional overload, and began to feel the rug being pulled out from under us. All we could do was wait and pray. We knew our social worker would be there soon and would help us navigate this most scary and difficult situation, but in the meantime, we were afraid. I felt delirious. I felt scared. I felt kind of alone. And I really just wanted my mom. And so as our social worker arrived and we met with her to discuss what we knew, we headed back to the nursery to give her a chance to sit down with the birth father and his family before all of us sat down together.
And as I sat with the baby in my arms, the tears began to fall. I never could see us bringing her home. I never saw it in my mind. And I had felt in my heart for several weeks that we most likely wouldn't. And so why should I be surprised that now in the 11th hour, after all we had experienced and witnessed, that God would allow a change in plans? I shouldn't be. I knew it would go this way. And so I sat, baby in arms. Weeping. Begging God to let us keep her but to help my heart if she wasn't ours. It wasn't a pretty prayer. And it was likely nonsensical. But I have no doubt that my God heard it.
And so an hour later, we walked hand in hand back to the waiting room, completely at the end of our emotional and brain capacity ropes, and faced the birth father and 3 of his family members face to face. The tension in the room was palpable. And so I took a deep breath and asked them how they were feeling about everything. They opened up about their grief at losing this little girl, expressed their desires that maybe things could have gone differently, and their fears of never being able to see her again. We listened and offered Kleenex, and once they'd had a chance to express their feelings, we did the one thing that had not yet been done. We validated how they felt. We acknowledged that we knew grief firsthand as well, that albeit the situation wasn't the same exactly, we knew the pain of losing a child. We told them that their grief was real, made perfect sense, and that we were sorry they were hurting. We tried as best we could to explain what an open adoption agreement was and let them know that the baby's birth parents would be able to decide what kind of relationship they wanted to have with her. And that we fully supported whatever they chose and would work very very hard to make sure that this child knew how loved she was by them.
And instantly. It was like someone took a pin and just popped the balloon. The tension left the room, the fear dissipated, everyone began to breathe.
After some more time with the family, and the opportunity for them to meet the baby and get some pictures of her, we learned that the nurses had set up a make-shift room for us with a bed, recliner, rocking chair, space for the baby, and an actual door that closed. And so as we shut off the lights, Jesse sank down into the recliner, and I layed my head on the bed, I once again closed my eyes and marveled at what God had just done. Again. And again. I knew. It was nothing short of a miracle. With the lack of sleep and emotional pressure we were under, combined with the fact that none of our "people" were there with us, I knew that what had just transpired was of the Lord. period.
We finally got a little rest and some food and began to feel like we could face another night in the hospital. Before we settled in for good, I paid another visit to Sarah. She looked happy to see me and I sat on the edge of her bed asking her how her day had been and how she was feeling. We had been discussing names for the baby for weeks and as she and her boyfriend had chosen a middle name that they loved, I asked her what she thought of Isobel for a first name. I told her it was derived from the name Elizabeth which means "God's promise" as she was the woman in the Bible who waited many many years to see God's promise to her to have a child fulfilled. I told her we liked Izzie for short and asked her what her thoughts were. She began to beam and as she looked at her boyfriend who nodded, she replied "I love it. Isobel. Isobel Grace. Izzie. It's perfect." We talked a bit more, I hugged her goodnight, and assured her that no one would be going anywhere the next morning without the opportunity for her farewell time with the baby. She nodded and said that she would be ready tomorrow.
And so Jesse and I settled in for our night, took turns taking care of our newly named Isobel, and I drifted off to sleep in between feedings with the sounds of Taylor Swift's 1989 album in my headphones as it was the only music I had on my new phone and I needed something to drown out the beeps and loud sounds of the nursery outside our door.
We got up the next morning and anxiously awaited the arrival of our social worker yet again. She would be arriving at any moment with the paperwork for the birth parents to sign that would sign legal guardianship over to the agency and allow us to go home with Isobel. As we had become accustomed, we had a time of prayer and a short while later were summoned to the waiting room where our social worker was waiting with the signed and notarized affidavit of fost/adopt placement. We were taking this little girl home.
We signed paperwork, made sure we knew what our to-do list was when we returned home, visited with the doctor in the nursery who gave Izzie a clean bill of health and discharged her care to us and began to pack our bags. It wasn't quite time to leave yet and so we took deep breaths, said another prayer, and began to wheel Izzie's bassinet back to Sarah's room so that they could meet for the first time and have some time together.
There is no way that I will ever be able to accurately describe what took place in that hospital room over the next hour. I took Isobel from her basinnett and placed her in her other mother's arms, knelt next to the bed, and placed my hand on her knee as she wept. After some time had passed, Jesse and I layed hands on these young parents and asked God to bless them, watch over them, protect them, and guide them as they navigated life from here. We thanked God for their monumental life-changing sacrifice and asked that He would help us to know the best way to support them as we moved forward. Together.
And so we sat for about an hour, Izzie in Sarah's arms, as she periodically wept, sat in silence, and giggled as she talked about all of Isobel's sweet features. After an hour had passed, Sarah caught my eye and said, "okay."
"are you sure?" I asked.
"Yes, I'm sure." she replied.
And so, I lifted Izzie up to her mother's lips so that she could kiss her face and then gently took her and handed her to Jesse.
And as Sarah and I embraced for the last time during this experience, we fell apart in each other's arms. I reminded her what a good mother she was and told her that we would do everything we could to watch over Izzie for the time that she was in our care. I kissed Sarah's forehead and told her that we would not stop praying for her and that I loved her.
And as we left the hospital with our social worker, escorted by a nurse, I remember thinking one thing.
Only God does this. I didn't even know this child existed until about 9 weeks ago and here she is. Dressed in the same outfit that my parent's dressed me in when they took me home from the hospital 31 years ago, covered by the matching blanket that her birth mother was no doubt now cuddling, alone in her hospital room, and she was coming home with us.
She was coming home with us.
Our God? He moves mountains. And. He fulfills all of His promises.
"Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God."