I have put off writing this blog post because I have been struggling to find the words to really describe the meeting of the expectant mother that could also be the mother of our next child. It was surreal and emotional and incredibly blessed by God’s provision. There are not many times where I have felt God’s peace like I did that weekend in September.
We left NC on Saturday night to drive as far as we could. Noah, Eli and Emry Jane were going to spend Saturday night at Nana’s house, then Nana was going to bring them to our house for a sleepover on Sunday night. Tommy has his critical care board exam on October 14th (yep, the day after Baby’s due date,) so I did the driving while he studied and listened to his medical podcasts. We made it almost to Savannah, GA before stopping, around midnight, and staying in a motel with massive cockroaches in the parking lot. I was not a fan of the motel my husband picked or the cockroaches, especially after one charged at me and I had to take refuge in the truck of my Dad’s car. We got up around 8am on Sunday to make the rest of the drive. Mama J was bringing a friend to Starbucks with her to meet us for coffee at 11am Sunday morning. Mama J and I had been talking almost every day for about 2.5 weeks at this point, but we still didn’t really know each other so we were totally fine with her bringing a friend to meet us.
Our coffee date went really well. We were all emotional and nervous at first. I apparently talk a lot when I am nervous. I tried to fill all the awkwardness with my words, haha. Mama J told me later that I definitely do talk a lot when I am nervous, but at least I was funny. I’ll take that as a compliment! J’s friend had a meeting to get to around noon, so our first meeting was about 45 minutes long. We talked about the openness in our adoption plans and also just general things about each of us– trying to get to know one another better. We talked quite a bit about baseball and softball since T and J had both played for several years, even coached by their dads. We made plans to meet for dinner later that night and went our separate ways. Tommy and I walked over to Memorial Park across from the Starbucks and checked out some of the hurricane damage in the park.
I sat by the water and took it all in. The beauty of a town where thousands were still without power. Finding comfort in the fact that Mama J had evacuated her apartment and stayed with friends while they lost power and utilities like their laundry facility due to downed trees. We could not check into our hotel room for several hours, so Tom suggested we drive to the beach 25 minutes away. I’m sure most of you know how I feel about the beach. It’s my happy place and I was eager to go. About 10 minutes later, on our way to the beach, Mama J texted me and said that she had remembered that I had talked about wanting to go to the beach while we were in town and that she should have offered for us to do that together that afternoon. I told her that we were actually on our way to the beach and Tom suggested we invite her to go with us. I suspected that she might not want to go spend a few hours with us on the beach, but she quickly said yes. We turned the car around and went to pick Mama J up at her apartment. We also got a chance to meet her roommate at that time.
Taking Mama J with us to the beach will be a memory that I will cherish forever. We found a great beachfront Mexican restaurant that served massive burritos for lunch. Then, we walked along the beach, collecting shells that we thought were unique or interesting. T and Mama J were significantly better finders of awesome shells than me, but I loved the peace that I felt walking along that beach with the water rushing past our feet (and sometimes almost knocking us down!) and the sand between our toes and the constant, comfortable conversation we were having. The awkwardness that could have been present just faded away as we spent time together.
My favorite shell that we collected was one that looked like it was filled with tiny mountains (see above.) Mountains keep finding me on this journey, a reminder that God is still moving, still writing our story, even when I am anxious or nervous or walking by the sea. He is still moving MOUNTAINS.
After our walk, we headed to Dairy Queen (T’s favorite and he was so excited that Mama J loved it too because then he got to stop and devour some ice cream!) before heading back to her apartment. We spent probably 3 hours together that afternoon before taking her home to rest before dinner. We checked into our hotel around 4pm and I almost immediately fell asleep. I had not slept well the night before and was emotionally and physically exhausted. I took a great 2 hour nap before getting ready for dinner. We picked Mama J up at 7pm and went to BurgerFi for dinner. Fun Fact: I have had BurgerFi one other time. The day that the twins were born, T went there to get me a burger because that was what I was wanting after delivery. The one in Knoxville has since closed but there are a few BurgerFi locations near Mama J. We had more great conversation during dinner, spending another hour or more talking about why we wanted to adopt, our journey through the process and also her journey through adoption. Mama J was also adopted. Her story is hers to tell and we will respect her privacy and share only parts that are ours to tell. She has been extremely open and honest with us and I greatly value that part of our relationship.
We made it back to our hotel around 8:30 pm and I think I was in bed probably by 9 pm. We planned to meet for breakfast and photos the next day, before her sonogram appointment at 11 am. We went to Einstein Bagels for breakfast and coffee, then back to Memorial Park to take some photos of the three of us. I am still kicking myself for not bringing my real camera with me that weekend because my iPhone photos are just not cutting it for me. I already have it packed for the delivery. I will not make that mistake again!
My favorite photo from the weekend is definitely this one of my hand on Mama J’s belly. When I was pregnant (either time,) I think I swatted people away that tried to touch my belly. Sorry, if I hit you but I am not a “touch the belly” person, but I greatly appreciated Mama J’s willingness to let me feel our little one moving around while we were there. Whenever the baby was particularly active, she would let me know and invite me to feel the baby kicking. I do not think I can adequately express just how it felt to feel those precious kicks against my hand. It was the most surreal and perfect part of all.
We took some photos of the three of us together as well, but in respect of Mama J’s privacy, I will not share those photos on our blog or social media. She had the idea of framing a photo of the three of us from this trip and gluing the shells we found while we were at the beach together around the frame. I intend to do that soon. After taking photos together, we headed to the hospital, where she will be delivering, for her sonogram appointment.
We got to spend about an hour on Monday, September 18th seeing this adorable little face through an ultrasound. The sonogram tech spent lots of time measuring the heart, brain, breathing levels, blood pressure, etc. and everything looked great. We got to confirm the gender (gender reveal post coming next!) and weight/growth percentile. Baby weighed in at approximately 5 pounds 3 ounces and about 36 weeks gestational age via head measurement (though arms, legs and other body parts measured about 35 weeks.) The weight measurement was about 13th percentile. The sonogram tech told us that the OB is not typically concerned about growth with percentiles over the 10th, but that they may order another ultrasound at the next appointment. As of now, the due date is still estimated for October 13th.
We grabbed some lunch before dropping Mama J off at her apartment and hitting the road back to NC. Leaving was hard. I felt like I was leaving part of my heart in FL with her. It’s uncharted territory for us to be attached to this little life, to this woman we barely know that can change our family so profoundly. Mama J is our family now. We miss her in the days that have passed. We still talk every day. I look forward to spending more time with her when Baby is born.
I drove the first 6 hours back home so that Tom could nap before he had to go to work that evening. My neighbors, Nana ad Papa were rock stars in helping us keep all the moving parts in motion while we went down to meet Mama J. My mom took the twins to their first big-kid (non-Mommy and me room) dentist appointment. Our neighbors kept the kids for three hours Monday afternoon, including dinner time, so my mom could teach her girls’ bible study. My dad came and did the bedtime routine for our 3 rowdy kiddos until we got home. It took a village… and this time we were only gone 48 hours. Next time, it will be more like 14 days!
We are still in the process of fundraising for our adoption. We have paid the adoption agency in full, through a large personal loan, but we are hoping to continue to fundraise in an effort to pay the loan back as quickly as possible. If you have a heart for adoption and would like to “write your name” in our adoption story, please consider donating $20 or more to our puzzle piece fundraiser. For each donation, we will write your name on a puzzle piece and this puzzle will be displayed in our child’s nursery. We hope that through this our little one will know just how loved he or she is by so many people near and far, not just friends and family but also strangers that have heard our story and it touched their hearts. If you have not heard our adoption story or would like to donate, please check out our fundraising page at https://www.adoptalovestory.com/family/christianson/.
Thank you so much!