February 12th, 2014. It started out as a normal day. Scott and I woke up early and drove to work together. On our way there I remembered a dream I had the night before. In the dream we brought home a little baby girl, but I didn't remember much else. I dropped Scott off at his work and then went to my office.
That morning we were going to have a fire drill so I arranged with my coworkers that we would go to the cafe down the street so we didn't have to file out of the building with everyone else. Sneaky, I know, but crutches, steep stairs and crowds of people don't mix so I always try to avoid it.
Twenty minutes or so to the fire drill I was sitting at my desk feeling very antsy and still trying to focus on work when my phone rang. I looked at it quickly and saw that it was our adoption specialist, Cassie. - Now let me take a second to explain what it is like when Cassie calls me. It is so nerve-wracking. My heart would skip a beat and then jump into my throat, taking my stomach along with it. She didn't call that often, but sometimes she had to give us an update or ask us a question so every once in a while she would call my phone. Same thing happened when I would get e-mails from her too. Adoption is not for the faint of heart! - Anyway, I looked at the phone and saw that it was Cassie. I answered quickly and said hello. She asked me if now was a good time to talk and I asked her to hold on for a second.
At this moment in time I don't think I really had any inkling of why she might be calling and I wasn't really thinking about it. She sounded so calm and normal, but my heart was still in my throat as I hurried past my hard-at-work colleagues to find an empty office so that I could continue my conversation in private. I found one a bit down the hallway and hoped the owner wouldn't mind me using her space for a few minutes.
I picked up the phone again and Cassie proceeded to tell me that we had been chosen! **WE HAD BEEN CHOSEN** The birth mom had interviewed two other families and she had decided that we were the couple she wanted to be the forever parents of her baby. Now there was no hope for my heart, it wasn't coming down out of my throat any time soon. Cassie went on to tell me that we had to decide if we wanted to move forward and then we could come see our daughter. **OUR DAUGHTER** I mumbled something about a fire drill and wanting to talk to Scott. Cassie told me to go ahead and handle all of that and to give her a call back.
I sat in that chair in the empty office for a minute or so, hundreds of thoughts running through my head. Then I remembered the fire drill and shakily went out to meet my coworkers to head to the cafe down the street. I didn't want to tell anyone the amazing news until I managed to tell Scott and I really wanted to tell Scott in person. That was probably the longest fire drill that has ever taken place. I don't remember a thing we talked about over coffee and cookies, I don't think I even ate a bite of my cookie. I was so incredibly shaky and excited and nervous and... so many other things. I wanted to share my news with the world, but it was so precious and I also wanted to just hold it to myself for a little while.
After the fire drill had ended, we emerged from the cafe and walked back to our office. I went into one of our "focus rooms" (a private room for making phone calls, etc.) and debated on what I was going to do. Then I received another phone call from Cassie. She told me more information about our little girl and said that the hospital was going to most likely release her tomorrow so we needed to make a decision, go stay at the hospital that night and take her home tomorrow. - But she was tiny, just two weeks ago she had been born at 3 lbs, 1 oz and they expected her to be in the hospital for at least a month and a half! - Cassie assured me that she was doing great and the hospital did not feel that she needed to stay. - But I haven't even told Scott yet! - Cassie told me to call her back once I had spoken with Scott.
Ok... now what do I do about work? Should I go meet Scott for lunch and then come back and finish the day? Yea, right, how am I supposed to focus? I paged my supervisor and texted Scott to ask him where he was having lunch. My supervisor called me and I told her the news and said that I was leaving. I don't remember a lot about that conversation either, except for the fact that she told me I didn't "have to" move forward with the adoption if I wasn't sure. It took me less than a half a second to say, "We will be moving forward, we can handle whatever comes." I talked a little more about work logistics and then got off the phone.
Scott was taking too long to respond so I called his phone instead. I told him that I needed to move my car and thought I'd meet him for lunch since I'd be out and about anyway. He told me where he'd be and I ran to my desk to grab my things, said a quick "I'm going to lunch with Scott!" as I ran out of the office.
I met Scott in the Safeway parking lot where he was eating his lunch. As he walked to the car I got out my phone, turned on the camera, hit the record button and put it in the cup holder between the front seats. I asked him what he had eaten for lunch and as he babbled on about bad chow mein and general tsu's chicken, I couldn't taken it any longer and I interrupted him, "[Birth mom] chose us." "Yea? What does that mean?" We sat and looked at each other, I smiled as tears came to my eyes. "She chose us and they want us to come to the hospital tonight to meet our baby." Tears are now forming in Scott's eyes as we both grin at each other. "We have to call Cassie to let her know our decision."
We called Cassie together in my car on speakerphone in that Safeway parking lot in downtown Seattle. Then we proceeded to call all of our family to tell them the amazing news! After many, very short, phone calls (we had to get to the hospital!), we decided that Scott would go back to his work and I would head back to my office so I could wrap some things up. He would meet me there and then we would run home, pick up some clothes and head to the hospital.
I got back to my office and told all of my coworkers that were there. A lot of hugs, crying, and congrats were shared. Everything was going by in a whirlwind! There was so much to do!
Wonderfully, my friend Joanna was coming to my work that day so her son could participate in one of our studies, making it possible for me to tell her the news in person. As she walked off the elevator I was standing there in the lobby (Scott had also arrived by then) and said, "We were chosen!"
"You were...? YOU WERE CHOSEN?!?!" She shrieked, as it echoed through the busy lobby, and we proceeded to hug and laugh and smile and squeal, not caring at all that many people were looking at us. Elijah, her oldest son, asked if he could come with us to meet the baby but I told him he'd have to wait a bit, we needed to meet our daughter first.
Scott and I took off shortly after that, driving to our house while I made one more phone call to my oldest (as in, longest amount of time) friend, Sherri. I made some small talk with her, but when she asked me if she could call me back later... "No!" I said, "I need to tell you something important. We were chosen for a baby."
Words can't express the squealing and excitement that came through that phone, followed by tears, and then quickly by "what do you need?". We needed everything! Sherri promised to go shopping for clothes, bottles, etc. that night and we soon were off the phone.
We got to the house, grabbed clothes (Scott made sure to grab his Adoption Rocks shirt we had just gotten in the mail that day), cleaned up a few things, told the dogs we were coming back with their sister, and headed back up to Seattle.
We met Cassie in the same lobby we had met her two weeks earlier when we were there to meet the birth mom. This time was very different. We were excited! There were no qualms this time, but there were still nerves! I kept thinking, Is this how I should be feeling? Shouldn't I be crying or something? Shouldn't there be more ceremony to this? It was the most surreal moment. We walked down the hallway, took the elevator to the maternity floor and walked up to the front desk. Cassie told them why we were there and a nurse led us to a small room. The door opened and I could see a few nurses and a few babies. I hesitated for the slightest moment, then I walked in, feeling a little out of place and awkward, but excited and nervous too.
I looked quickly around at the babies, then the nurses pointed us to the bassinet that was the farthest from us. Inside it was the tiniest baby I have ever seen. She was swaddled in the white hospital blankets and had a tiny little blue hat on her head. One of the nurses asked us for our IDs (had to verify we were all who we said we were) as another nurse brought up a chair for each of us to sit in. I couldn't take my eyes off the little, tiny baby in the bassinet. I sat down and they told me to go ahead and hold her. I picked her up, held her close and talked to her with Scott directly beside me. We posed for a couple pictures, then I gave her to Scott to hold.
Very quickly after that another nurse came in and told us that we could now move to our room for the night. We put her back in her bassinet and they began to wheel it out of the small room. I remember looking at the other babies and smiling. (I look back on it now and I hope that they all had parents coming for them too.)
As we walked out of the room, one nurse asked us what her name would be. I said, "Serenity Marilyn" and they all smiled and said it was a beautiful name. We followed our nurse and our baby to the room we would be staying in for the night, got a brief introduction to making her bottles, and then the nurse hurried away reminding us that we needed to keep track of diaper changes and bottle feedings. Cassie was still there and took our first family photo:
And helped Scott complete his first diaper change (Serenity peed on him).
After that, we signed paperwork that said Serenity was being placed into our care. Cassie left and we were all alone to figure out this parenting thing on our own. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit freaked out! Suddenly all of the emotions, adrenaline, stress, everything just hit me. I didn't know what to do with myself, but luckily I had Scott by my side. He handled it all quite well and fell quickly and easily into his new role as daddy.
Neither one of us slept much that night, but Serenity did well. We got some much needed bonding time in and even got to have some skin-to-skin cuddling that is so important for little preemies.
We were exhausted in the morning and Serenity's birth mom was coming to meet us there one more time. I was nervous, but as that time got closer I started to feel at ease. I sat on the hospital bed as she walked in the room. We smiled at each other and exchanged hellos. We talked about the night before and how everything was going. I asked her if she'd like to hold Serenity and she declined. We talked about her hiccups and she told me how Serenity would also hiccup while inside of her. We were two moms of this one child, already proud of who this tiny, strong girl would become. The pregnancy counselor came and asked us all some questions and then Serenity's birth mom said goodbye. She looked at Serenity hesitantly as she walked by the bed. I would have loved to hug her, but instead I looked her in the eye and thanked her. She was not in a place to accept affection from any of us, but I pray that one day she will be. She walked out of the hospital room door and that was the last we have seen of her (so far).
We handled more paperwork with the pregnancy counselor, Serenity passed her car seat test and we were ready to go. I called my sister, Minda, and asked her to bring us some clothes! We didn't have any tiny enough to fit this itty bitty baby. Minda brought us a bunch of preemie clothing (still huge on our little 3 lbs, 11 oz girl) and we soon left the hospital. Serenity was so tiny that we had to use a NICU car seat and she was still too little for it!
The days following were such a blur. We had many visitors (my sister, Amy, and her family were even here from S. Carolina!), everything we could have needed was provided to us by family members or friends. We didn't have to buy diapers for months (except for a small pack here and there) because people kept bringing them to us. My dad and step-mom brought us dinner and a co-sleeper right after they got off a plane that first night. Sherri brought us the most adorable preemie outfits and all sorts of other necessary items. We had people stopping by (some even every day!), calling, texting, Facebooking us and we had presents arriving through the mail almost daily. The outpouring of love and support was awesome! Serenity Marilyn was (and continues to be) a part of our community of friends/family without hesitation!
I could go on, but I'll leave you with one final showing of God's greatness: When we brought Serenity home from the hospital, she had one set of clothing with her. We packed it up along with extra diapers and formula that the hospital let us take home. Later, when I was folding up the tiny clothing at home, I noticed that there was something written on the inside of the little shirt. I looked and there, in black ink, was "Serenity". When that nurse had asked us our baby's name as we took her from that small room, God already knew and it was already written on her tiny little clothing below that bassinet; her name that had been written on our hearts over a decade before - Serenity!