By – Trey Darnell
It is now past midnight, and we have crossed into Arkansas. My excitement, or lack thereof, for The Help has not changed. I find myself constantly checking the CD info display. Disc 5 Track 13. Sigh! We can barely hold our eyes open and decide to stop in Little Rock for a brief nap and a refreshing shower. The plan was to hit the road with an early start to Abilene, Texas. As my dad would say, “bright-eyed and bushy tailed.”
Matthew falls asleep before his head even comes close to hitting the pillow. I find myself watching the multiple LED lights flashing on the two smoke detectors in the hotel room. Why do they need two smoke detectors in a hotel room? I try covering my head to block out the light. As I lay there trying to breathe with my head covered, I catch myself wondering if I can still see the obnoxious flashes. I can.
6am. After what seemed like an eternity, the alarm sounds, and it is time to start the day. Excitement and nerves were overpowering as we were anxious to meet the new baby girl. We started the day with 500 miles to go, and I immediately wonder if Matthew has forgotten about The Help. No luck! Disc 6.
Arkadelphia…Texarkana…Dallas…Abilene. 8 hours later we can see Abilene Regional Medical Center. So close but the wait continues. We had just missed a four-car accident. The road is blocked, and all traffic has stopped.
Room 3107. How hard can it be to find room 3107? We press “3” and the elevator doors close. The doors open and we enter what feels like a ghost town. It almost felt like a scene from The Walking Dead. Where are the walkers? Is this a dream? We press “1”and the elevator doors close.
We violate the guy code and ask for directions. Down the hall, after the cafeteria turn right and continue forward to the two sets of elevators with the baby picture on them. Since we are gay, we say forward rather than straight. We press “3” and the doors close. The elevator makes the worst sound, and we can see where someone scribbled, “Help Me” in the film on the elevator door. Oh my!
The dreaded hospital experience has started. For those of you that have adopted or are in the process of adopting, are well aware of this unpredictable part of the journey. I have to admit that we were very worried about what we would encounter during the hospital stay. A same-sex couple adopting in Texas doesn’t sound positive.
Walking down the hall to Mercy’s room, we were anxiously greeted by many of the nursing staff. They were eager to give us our armband that would allow us unrestricted access to the baby. They tried to contain their excitement while asking us about our drive from Tennessee. I refrained from mentioning The Help. One of the nurses finally apologized and stated that we probably wanted to meet the little girl. We did! As we walk quickly down the hall, in my mind it was the slow animated run to Chariots of Fire playing in the background, Dylan’s mom appeared in the hallway. Her smile immediately put us at ease.
We walked into the room and see Mercy sitting on the bed with Skeeter. Wait a second. Skeeter is from The Help. Mercy is holding the smallest little human I have ever seen, sweet little Harper. We immediately hugged Mercy and everyone in the room before we laid our eyes on the new baby for the first time. It is hard to explain the emotion or the feeling of that moment. I can only think of one word to describe it. Lovely!
As the next several hours passed. We were able to feed, diaper, cuddle and kiss everyone in the room. Mercy had been cleared for discharge that afternoon, but Harper was going to stay the night so the staff could monitor her temperature. The hospital gave Matthew and I our very own room so we could have our first night together with Harper as a new family. They even asked if we were going to snuggle in the bed. Reminder we are in Texas.
It didn’t take long for our protective instincts to kick in. You might be thinking for the baby, but it was actually for Harper’s mom. Mercy was ready to be discharged, and she requested some time alone with the baby. With the constant visitors, she had not had the chance to have any mother and daughter time. Everything was moving in a positive direction until the nurse shift change. Within fewer than ten minutes, everything quickly turned to chaos.
The night shift nurse entered the room and asked who had the car seat. She then said she needed it at that moment. A few minutes later, the baby was being wheeled out of the hospital room for a two-hour car seat test. We pleaded with the nurse asking for her to delay doing the check until later that night. Matthew chases the nurse down the hall to explain the circumstances. No luck. Emotions had reached the breaking point. The lack of sleep accompanied by the magnitude of the adoption plan were not the best combination. Mercy was discharged without having what she really needed, alone time with her baby.
Just a few minutes past midnight, the nurse brought Harper into our room following her successful car seat test. Matthew sat straight up in the bed and said, “About what happened earlier tonight” and I said ” Oh #%*@!” The nurse was apologetic and explained the circumstances. Matthew quickly let her know that she was telling the wrong person.
Mercy decided to get a good night sleep and visit the next day. We offered her our room for a chance for her to spend some alone time with the baby. It was our goal to make sure that she had everything that she wanted or needed while in the hospital. She was our main concern at this moment.
Matthew and I decided to get some fresh air and something good to eat that hopefully did not require ordering from the vehicle. You can never go wrong with Panda Express. I think the nerves made my appetite a little less than stellar. There had been a constant knot in my stomach since receiving the text message a day earlier saying Mercy was headed to the hospital. Less than two hours later, we received a text message saying we could come back. Disc 8 Track 7. Ugh. This book is never going to end.
After arriving back at the hospital, we get the good news that Miss Harper was being discharged. We decided to let Mercy pick the outfit that she was going to wear out of the hospital. Mercy carefully evaluated all of the options and made her selection. What a relief. She chose the outfit we wanted her to wear. Another indication that we were a good match.
We, as Harper’s posse, made our way out of the hospital with bags, blankets, pillows, diapers, formula and a car seat. The nurse made sure Harper was buckled into her car seat and secured into the vehicle. We hug everyone and quickly make plans for dinner later that evening. As we begin driving toward the hotel, we get a Facebook message from my mom asking which one of us sat in the backseat. Wait. What? We both were in the front. I can’t believe we missed this monumental right of passage. Disc 9 Track 4. Ugh!
To be continued…