M had stated that she was willing to have us at the hospital the day Brayden was born, and we were more and more excited as that day drew closer. As a side note, M managed to keep the sex of the baby secret, like we asked, throughout the entire pregnancy, but just a few days before delivery, her aunt slipped with a comment that let us know, or at least suspect, that it was a girl, indeed. We had been guessing boy, so had to reverse our way of thinking, but we were still so excited, boy or girl, that we bordered on obnoxious, I'm sure. But M didn’t want us in the room while she was delivering. I can hardly blame her. Not only is there an awful lot of nekkid-ness that goes on, it was bound to be an emotional time for her as well. I can’t speak for her, and what she was thinking or feeling, but we certainly respected her need for privacy.
We drove to the hospital that morning, and being the dorks that we are, realized we didn’t really know where to go. I hung back, and was more hesitant, than Blaine. M’s family was in the labor & delivery waiting areas, but this was bound to be an emotional time for them as well. And it’s hard to explain …. As excited as Blaine and I were, and as thrilled as we were that this day was finally here, part of me felt like a vulture, swooping in to take what I wanted. It felt selfish and insensitive to sit in the same waiting area, brimming with happiness and joy and anticipation, when their experience, although waiting on the same delivery, was bound to be completely different.
So we waited in the downstairs lobby for a while, until I began to get paranoid that we might miss something, or they would think we didn’t care, or that worse, they would think we weren’t coming at all. And just like the night before, you would think every single detail of this day would be etched in my mind, but it’s really not.
I remember around 2pm, we got the exciting news that Brayden had been born. I remember going into M’s room with Blaine, and seeing her sitting on the bed holding the baby. I remember not knowing where to go or what to do. It seemed insensitive to rush over and start oohing and aahing over the baby straightaway; I was concerned with M and how she was doing, and yet the other half of me, insensitive or not, wanted to rush right over to Brayden and do exactly that.
I remember it was a day filled with emotion, and most of it was happy. I’m sure for M’s family it was bittersweet. We took tons of photos, and my favorite photo, and one that Brayden still has framed in her room, is a picture of M sitting in bed, holding her, and Blaine and me flanking either side of the bed, all of us looking at the camera and smiling. Brayden will never have to wonder about the circumstances of that day, and that picture is proof that everyone involved loves her so very, very much.
We did have one glitch at the hospital, and I only share it with you as further proof of M’s giving nature, in case it wasn’t already evident. The hospital where she delivered has its own adoption program, and the only way I can describe what happened to us, is that quite frankly, they were cranky we hadn’t gone through *their* program. My personal opinion is that they were annoyed we were using an independent agency, so they decided they didn’t need to do anything to facilitate our time there.
They informed Blaine and me that since we were not legally the parents, (remember, for the first ten days we would be Brayden’s foster parents, due to tribal law) that we were not allowed to check the baby out of the nursery, nor were we allowed to BE with the baby unless we had a chaperone. Sort of like “supervised visits only” in a divorce situation. And since we hadn’t used *their* adoption program, none of *their* social workers could/would serve as our chaperones. We would need our own social worker to be there if we wanted to see Brayden, or spend time with her.
“But that’s impossible,” I protested, “She works full-time in another hospital an hour away … she can’t possibly be here until 6 or 7 at night! What are we supposed to do all day? Just sit and look at her through the nursery window? That’s ridiculous!”
And the response we got in return was the grown up version of “Too bad, so sad.”
They even took Polaroid photos of Blaine and me to put in the nursery, as a visual reminder to the other nurses that we were NOT ALLOWED to have the baby. Seriously. Polaroid pictures of us, like mug shots. I’ve always wondered if they drew a big circle with a line through our faces. Bastards.
And this is when, if I had any doubt at all that M and I were cut from the same cloth, that doubt ended. She heard what was happening, and that Blaine and I wouldn’t be allowed to see Brayden all day, and her comment (exact comment, I believe) was “That’s bullshit.” So each day, until our social worker could get there in the evening, M would check the baby out of the nursery herself, then let Blaine and me hang out in her room with her so we could do the things like feed her (unskilled though we were) and change her diapers (even more unskilled … did we not listen to ANYTHING in our parenting classes?) and count her fingers and toes and rock her and talk to her and all those other things you do the first two days in the hospital.
Can you imagine how difficult that must have been, and how selfless her actions were? We tried very hard to be sensitive, and leave our flashing, neon “New Mommy!” and “New Daddy!” signs at home ….. and I am forever indebted to her for giving us that time with Brayden. But still, I couldn’t wait for those 48 hours to pass so we could go home and begin our time as a family, and so M could go home and begin her healing, as well.
We asked M to give her a middle name, and even though, for legal purposes, another name went on her birth certificate, at long last, six YEARS after we started trying to have a baby, we went home as parents, with Brayden Christine Grace. Well, not home-home. To my parents’ house. But still, finally, we were parents. Ok, technically, foster parents on paper, but parents in our minds and in our hearts. And we were thrilled. And she was beautiful and brilliant and bound to change the world. And it was even better than we hoped it would be. (Well, until that first bath, when she pooped all over my favorite sweatshirt. But I guess I can overlook that part.)
Aunt Kelly and Uncle Cliff meeting Brayden for the first time, the day we loaded up and left the hospital. And drove our little rental car like terrified 16 year olds who had just gotten their licenses and were transporting plutonium and a dead body in a stolen car. I'm surprised we didn't get a ticket for delaying traffic but we HAD to round the corners so slowly because otherwise her little bobble head might just fall off, FALL OFF I tell you and we suddenly realized that whoa, this whole parenting gig is a lot scarier than it looks on TV, and we are RESPONSIBLE for this little person and even though we only had a few miles to go I rode in the back seat the entire time to make sure she was still breathing and that her car seat didn't spontaneously come undone and continued to yell at Blaine to slow down because he was going to cause her permanent spinal cord injury or brain damage if he exceeded ten miles per hour and jostled her about in such a careless manner!!!!