By: John Jericiau
The weekend before Monday’s induction had arrived and time ticked by ever so slowly. We enjoyed the time we spent with the birthmother, and tried to learn more about her as we hopped from restaurant to restaurant and tourist trap to tourist trap. Do you like salty or sweet foods more? Salty. Do you have any hidden talents? I’d like to be on American Idol some day. You’re not going to change your mind, are you? Definitely not! I tried to picture the serenity of our son safely home with us, but thoughts of disasters like any one of the previous adoption attempts crept into my brain.
The plan was that when our son was born (in our presence) at Santa Monica Hospital we would immediately take him off the maternity ward, but that some time prior to discharge the birthmother would spend some time alone in her room with her/our son. Then upon discharge we would drive to the adoption agency (Vista del Mar) to sign the relinquishment papers, and then drive immediately to LAX for her flight (alone) back to her home. It seemed like there were so many possible glitches in the chain of events ahead of us. It was the day before the induction and the weather was glorious. We decided to get off of our feet (mine had even started to swell) and catch a movie at the 3rd Street Promenade. We suggested Shrek 2 – the first Shrek was so light and hilarious – but why didn’t Alen or I check the movie synopsis, which in part read: “Troubled to learn that not only will Shrek be compelled to rule Far Far Away, but that he and Fiona are also expecting a little ogre.”? As we watched Shrek go through the process of first coming to terms with being a parent and then by the end being head over heels about it, my peripheral vision was not keen enough to check the birthmother’s emotions, but one glance at Alen was enough for me to learn his: sheer horror. I tossed and turned all that night, and before I knew it Monday, May 21st had finally arrived and I found us bleary-eyed at the hospital for our 6am induction. Of course with all the procedures/paperwork the induction didn’t officially get underway until a couple of hours later, but we were there for the duration. Periodic visits by the ob-gyn let us know that progress was being made, and the birthmother was a trooper. I genuinely felt her pain, and wanted to minimize it, but she was adamant: no drugs! We assured her that the drugs were safe, but she didn’t want to take any chances of harming her/our son. I worried that she cared this much because she had changed her mind in the 11th hour, but then realized that 11 was our lucky number and the worry was gone. The day was followed by night, and the progress was good. Alen and I decided that we had to get some air and food while the birthmother slept due to an exhausting day of contracting, pushing, and screaming (for all of us). We ate at a nearby Thai restaurant, and all we could do was look at each other, shake our heads, and pray that all would go well. Would our son be healthy (since there was zero prenatal care), and would she relinquish her parental rights or choose to take him back on the plane ride home with her, leaving us empty-handed yet again? We returned to the hospital room and the ob-gyn was ready to start down the home stretch (literally). Minutes turned to a few hours of pushing and panting, and I felt like Cinderella checking her watch for the stroke of midnight. Wouldn’t it be amazing if our son held on until after midnight, thereby making his birth date the 22nd of the month just like mine (12/22) and Alen’s (6/22)? Since the induction had started early morning on the 21st, I gave up any hope of that happening. (Whereas Alen, my very smart doctor /husband had guesstimated that our son would probably be born just after midnight, and I had simply replied with a head shake/eye roll.) Midnight came and went, and at 12:06am on May 22nd our bundle of joy was born, healthy and with a smile on his face (after crying for air). We got to cut the cord and hold him, and then present him with pride to the angel who had just brought him into this world. She seemed fine as he was whisked away. We lingered so that she wouldn’t feel abandoned, but then finally left to spend the remaining time in the hospital with our/her son Devin. A few hours prior to Devin’s discharge, the social worker called to tell us that it was time for Devin’s hour of alone time with the birthmother, as we had previously agreed. I wanted this so much for her well-being, but at the same time was feeling raw and vulnerable. And as I peeked down the hall at her hospital room door and watched one hour turn into two and then as slowly into three, I had no idea what would happen next.