November 29, 2015
After “The Call,” Tyler and I embarked on the 2.5 hour drive to the other side of the state to meet this newborn stranger. It felt like a movie… We had gone to bed the night before with plans to bring home a Christmas tree the following day. We awoke to plans to bring home a baby.
When we finally arrived at the hospital, our hearts were beating wildly. Over the course of our trip we had decided on his name: Isaiah Levi. “Levi” meaning “joined or attached.”
The social worker from the adoption agency met us in the hospital lobby. We (ok, I) tried to play it cool, as if we (I) were any regular-ol’ hospital visitor. We went up the elevator and took a handful of turns before walking the hall that would soon become very familiar to me. A nurse buzzed open the automatic doors and we made what felt like a very grand entrance to the birthing center.
We approached the room where our birth-mom was recovering with the baby. As much as I knew it was “our” baby, I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how I’d earned the right to use that possessive pronoun quite yet. Not now that it was all so real. Not in the presence of the mother that carried him for 9 months and felt his kicks in her tummy and went through the excruciating pain of giving birth.
The social worker knocked on the door before ushering us into the room.
You’ve seen pictures of those moms who look stunning just after birth, right? That was not at all me when I gave birth to Elise. I think somewhere in the mix of people that bug you during labor/deliver/post-delivery there must be a makeup artist, and I was asleep unconscious when she popped in for my makeover after 23 hours of labor.
Anyway, when I saw her there, sitting up in bed, cradling a tiny swaddled bundle with a yellow-knit hat, I was in awe. No greeting seemed worthy for interrupting this sacred moment between mother and son. She adjusted his hat, pulling it down over his ears and then offered us a shy smile and “hello.”
It was obvious this was not a woman eager to pass off her baby for someone else to take care of it. This was a woman who had fallen in love, despite her attempts not to do so. I watched her touch her nose to his nose and then give it a sweet kiss before gingerly placing him in my arms for the very first time.
This… this was beauty — staggering and heart-shattering beauty. No makeup artist, no camera could have enhanced the beauty of this scene.
I tucked his body against mine and studied his sweet sleeping face: his flat baby-nose and his teeny little chin framed by round, chubby cheeks. Was he okay about having us for parents? Would we be all that he needed? Would he resent us for taking him from her? How could we take him from her? The questions kept racing.
My mind felt like a pinball machine – flipping and spinning and bumping with worries and thoughts until suddenly the ball was lost, because the baby in my arms opened his eyes and looked at me —
–and every towering doubt instantly evaporated into a still and gentle mist. Tears trailed down my face, and I knew it was my turn to kiss him. Somehow in this foreign version of “family,” there was room for more than just one or two parents. I didn’t know what any of that would look like over the next hours or months or years,
but I knew that