Eli ran into our bedroom at 6:45am on Wednesday, October 11th. The twins have an Ok to Wake! alarm clock in their bedroom and as soon as “Little Buddy” turns green, they sprint into our room to demand breakfast, chocolate milk and Peppa Pig. Tom was on a research study week so he was home from work, but on a conference call in the office/guest room. I glanced at my phone first thing and immediately felt panicky. I had THREE missed calls– two from Mama J and one from an unknown FL number– and all around 5:15am. I never sleep through phone calls and I had missed three calls an hour and a half ago.
I immediately called Mama J’s phone back and one of her good friends (of the two that would be with her during the delivery) answered the phone. J had been admitted to Labor and Delivery after walking the hospital halls for a couple hours with her roommate. She was 4 cm dilated. Baby was coming today. I walked into the office to share the news with Tom and called my mom, our planned caregiver for Noah, Eli and Emry Jane for this exact situation. She answered right away, but reminded me that she and my sister were in Virginia for the day for a college tour. *insert screaming face emoji. She would not be able to make it to our house to watch the kids until dinner time. At this point, I probably would have benefitted from a paper bag for hyperventilating purposes. Our whole plan for delivery day was unraveling at the seams and you know how I feel about plans.
We called our neighbor Kate and asked her to pick up Noah from school and to keep him in the afternoon until my mom could get to our house. Tom took Noah to school and told him of his new afternoon plans with our neighbors. (Noah cried before school multiple times because we were leaving. He knew that we would be gone for several days– something we had not mentioned to the twins because we did not want similar reactions from them.) We left the house unlocked so he could get in to collect his soccer gear for practice and to let Manning out that afternoon. Our neighbor coaches her daughter’s soccer team at the same time at the same soccer fields, so that part was just a matter of coordinating another soccer parent to help keep an eye on Noah during his practice and letting his coach know about the change in drop off/pick up. Eli and Emry Jane went to spend the day with their friend Maudie. It happened to be her birthday, so they brought over her birthday present as a consolation to crashing her special day. Her mom Emily is a super hero. She has 3 children of her own (1 year old boy/girl twins and 4 year old Maudie) and still took our 3 year olds for almost ELEVEN hours. She took them to the neighborhood park AND put them down for nap. All of it. Total rockstar.
We packed T’s truck (also not part of our original plan because I hate driving the F150) with all the essentials (things he needed for several days and the things I needed for potentially several weeks) and finally hit the road for Florida at 8:30 am on Wednesday morning. We made it to the interstate, just in time for me to realize that we had forgotten the baby’s carseat and had to turn around and go back for it. By 8:40 am, we were finally heading south and I was putting serious pressure on T to get us there as quickly as possible.
I had to be there. I had envisioned hugging Mama J and comforting her, telling her that everything would go smoothly. I knew that she was anxious about the pain and the unknowns that were in front of her with labor and delivery. I felt so awful that I had missed those calls from her. I assumed that she felt like we were abandoning her in her time of need by not answering when she had called. I apologized profusely when we got there and she was very nonchalant about it. She just said “things happens for a reason.” No big deal.
I spent the first hour of our road trip trying to organize all the things that needed to be in place now that I would be gone– handing over Fall Dance supplies to the other PTA board members, getting my mom set up to take Noah to/from his Nashville flights that weekend instead of me, letting all the kids’ teachers know that my mom would be picking up/dropping off at school indefinitely, etc.
Mama J face-timed us at 12:45pm to let us know that she had gotten her epidural and was 7 cm dilated. Just seeing her face made me feel so much better. At this point, she seemed comfortable (thank you, epidural!) and had been napping in preparation for delivery. We were still over 2 hours away and I continued to pray that we would make it in time to see her before the delivery. We had had a few conversations about this day with her already. We knew that she wanted us to be at the hospital for the birth, but to wanted us to stay in the waiting room while she delivered. I respected her decision for us to stay in the waiting room. As a young mom myself, I understood not wanting any extra people potentially seeing things you don’t want them to see! She had two friends that would be there in the room with her to support her while the baby was being born. We also knew that if we made it to the hospital after she was 10cm dilated that we would not be able to see her until after the birth.
T and I finally arrived at the hospital at 3 pm. We had called Mama J’s phone when we were 30 min and 10 min away and she hadn’t answered, so we assumed that this must mean that we had missed our window of opportunity to visit her. We knew which hospital she was staying in, but had no idea which room to go to or even where the L&D floor was! We made it into the hospital lobby when my phone rang. Mama J’s friend was calling me back. Mama J was 9 cm dilated and baby boy was still pretty high in the birth canal, so the nurse said that we were allowed to come visit while they were waiting for him to descend! Praise the Lord, we had made it in time!
When T and I got to the room, Mama J was definitely already 10 cm dilated and was having noticeable contractions every few minutes. It was definitely hard seeing her in pain. Nurses followed us in shortly after we arrived to drain her bladder, so we waited near the door behind the partition while her friends stayed with Mama J. While we were waiting beside the door, another nurse came in to let her know that she had another visitor in the waiting room but that it was time to get all non-essential people out of the room. I was SHOCKED when Mama J asked the nurse if I could stay! Mama J wanted me to stay for the delivery. I was going to witness the birth of our fourth child.
Mama J worked so hard bringing our boy into the world. She pushed for well over an hour with her L&D nurse. Her two friends and I took turned fanning her, offering her ice chips and attempting to comfort her during that time. At 5:11pm, our baby was born. When I say “our,” I mean hers and mine and Tom’s, but at this point in our story, he is completely hers and I know that. I cried all the happy tears hearing his first cries. She had requested that he get checked out by his nurse and receive his bath before she held him (vs. bringing him to her chest right away) so I stood by her side during that process. He was perfect in every way, of course. 6 pounds and 20 inches long. Mama J was given an ID bracelet that matched Nathan’s. The nurse asked her “who gets the second bracelet” and she said that I did. It was the first moment of us sharing this little boy. Both connected to him through hospital ID bracelets, which might seem silly to you, but it meant so much to me.
I took several photos of Mama J and Nathan together. I will not share those here, but I did send them to Mama J. I want them both to have these photos of their first moments together.
A little side story so that I can use his name throughout the rest of our story 🙂
The three of us chose Nathan Andrew together, during our phone interview on August 28th. She had picked out a name and wanted to know what names we were considering for a boy and if we would consider allowing her to help name our son. We had not spent a lot of time discussing names at that point but we did both like Nathan. Tom had a very good friend growing up named Nathan. They had met in elementary school, played basketball together for many years and were friends, even in college. Unfortunately, Tom’s friend Nathan passed away from an unknown heart condition during T’s first year of med school. It was a loss that shook him. We liked the idea of honoring his friend’s memory through our son. Andrew is the middle name that Mama J had picked, named after her father. We told her that we would definitely consider Andrew as his middle name. We liked that it was a family name since each of our children are named after a family member. Before talking with Mama J on the phone that first time, we knew some information about her from when we had presented, including that she was Romanian. The day of our interview, I had been looking at Romanian boy names and I came across the name Andrei, which meant “brave warrior” and loved it. I realized the following night when I was looking up the meaning for Andrew, that Andrew is the English version of Andrei. Andrew also means “brave warrior.” Mama J and I had picked the same name before even speaking to each other. Just another little push from God that this was our family– this mama and this baby were meant for us.
Back to Nathan’s birth story–
We left the hospital around 6 pm on Wednesday to go get dinner for Mama J. She said that she wanted potato soup from Panera as her post-delivery meal, so we found the nearest one and headed that way to give her and her friends some space and time with Nathan alone. She was still in L&D when we returned with dinner, but they came in to move her to Mother & Baby shortly after. As discussed with our agency and the case manager at the hospital, Mama J wanted Nathan to room-in with us part-time, if possible. They were able to give us a room across the hall from Mama J, but Nathan was not allowed to move back and forth between rooms. Mama J agreed that he should room-in with us, staying in our room full-time, and that she would come visit often.
On Wednesday night, Nathan was struggling with low blood sugar, so he had to get his poor heel pricked every hour. His blood sugar needed to be above 40, but his past two hourly readings had been 33 and 39. We were told that they would check again in one hour and if it was low again, they would put him on an IV in the NICU. We fed him and spent that hour working on our skin-to-skin time in an effort to bond, but also to keep him warm and snuggly! When they came back at midnight, we had great news! His blood sugar was in the 60s. It stayed in the high 50s for the rest of our time in the hospital. Second, we had an issue with his urine output. They had put a little baggy into his diaper to trap his pee for some tests that they needed to run. He had no urine output at all on Wednesday night. The nurse came in at 5:15 am on Thursday (for yet another heel prick,) she changed his diaper but did not have another baggy in the room. When she went to get a new bag, he peed in the diaper– yay for some urine, but he still had to go IN the bag. That process delayed his circumcision by several hours, but by Thursday afternoon, he finally went in the bag. The only other item on the checklist before his discharge was a second hearing test. He did not pass the first one, but we were not concerned about that. Eli also failed his first hearing test. He passed the second one on Friday morning with no problem.
Mama J came in every few hours to hold Nathan or to feed him his bottles. I was pumping during our time in the hospital and storing my milk (the nurses were so helpful in filling a large cup of ice for us every few hours to use as our mini-milk-refrigerator,) but Nathan had to be fed formula bottles while we were at the hospital since Mama J had decided that she did not want to nurse him. Side note: He still gets 1 ounce of Pro-Advance formula in each of his bottles now, along with 2+ ounces of breastmilk.
On Thursday, Nathan wore this little premie sleeper (above) that I bought it as a keepsake for Mama J. I wanted her to be able to keep his first outfit, so I washed and packed this little sleeper and hat for him to wear in the hospital on the night before they would be discharged from the hospital. I also look several photos of the two of them together while he was wearing this outfit. She had bought a few keepsakes for him to keep from her and I hoped that she would enjoy these small things as keepsakes from him.
The looks of completely exhausted and completely in-love parents of such a precious little boy. He was so calm in the hospital. He barely cried at all, even when the nurses and doctors were continually poking him. You can see that T was also studying for his board exam while we were in the hospital with Nathan. He had his board exam on Saturday the 14th, just 3 days after Nathan was born.
We took some photos in his going-home outfit as a way to announce his name and birth info on social media. Out of respect for Mama J, we wanted to wait the 48 hours before signing before we posted photos of Nathan on Facebook or Instagram. Only immediate family had seen his face up until that point. His going-home outfit is the same brand of sleeper that Eli and Emry Jane wore home from the hospital 3 years ago; however, Nathan peed on his so he ended up wearing a totally different outfit home!
Our adoption attorney came to the hospital on Friday at 10:30 in the morning for signing. We knew that he would go to Mama J’s room for all the necessary paperwork then he would come see us to sign our portion. I was nervous. I did not doubt Mama J’s decision to make us Nathan’s parents, but it will still such a big, scary moment in our lives. It hung in the air. Everything was signed without a hitch; we were Nathan’s legal guardians. We have about 5 months before the adoption will be finalized. Mama J came to our room a little while later to say goodbye before she was discharged from the hospital.
We had all the discharge paperwork in hand by noon, but we would have to stay with Nathan in the hospital until 5pm since he had to be in the hospital a full 48 hours to observe him for Group B Strep. The adoption agency rep arrived at 5:30pm to walk us out of the hospital. Nathan and I got to ride out of the hospital in a wheelchair, after a snafu with the cutting of Nathan’s security tag that set off the alarms. The nurse at the desk had “turned off his bracelet” before our nurse cut off his ankle ID bracelet/security tag, but apparently hadn’t turned it off correctly because the alarms went off, all the doors closed and the security guard came over to see what was going on. The nurse fixed the issue, turned off the alarms, and assured everyone that I was the one that was supposed to be leaving with this baby, but talk about a dramatic exit!
Our two-weeks in FL will be another post, but we made it to Ms. Rita’s house around 6pm on Friday night the 13th. As soon as we got there, Tom had to leave for the airport to take the red-eye flight back to NC for his board exam. He wouldn’t be back in FL with us for 8 days. I was nervous about those first few nights alone together (more about nursing/ever sleeping than anything else,) just me and Nathan, but God continued to provide for us…