Saturday, October 24, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Good news! Yesterday (Friday), we brought our darling son Dylan home.

He was discharged from the NICU on Thursday with orders to treat him like any other newborn. He's healthy!

We spent one last night with our new friends at the Ronald McDonald House who plied him with affection and us with more baby goodies.

The 2.5 hour drive home went well; the little guy slept most of the way and didn't complain at all. Since then, we've just been enjoying being home again and are adjusting to our new lives together here. Eating, sleeping, and pooping seem to be Dylan's favorite activities at the moment.

We are still waiting for his birth mother to sign relinquishments - which should happen in the coming week.

We continue to appreciate your interest and good wishes. It is wonderful that Dylan has received such a warm welcome.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Darling Dylan Update

Thanks so much for all of the congrutulations and good wishes!

Dylan has now spent his first week in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), continues to improve. He’s graduated from a feeding tube to drinking vigorously from his own bottle and surpassed his birth weight a few days ago. There are no further sign of jaundice (he had to be under “the lights” for about 18 hours), and the infection we initially worried about appears to be gone, though we must conclude a full course of antibiotics. Yesterday, we even held him for quite awhile without any oxygen supplementation. It was so wonderful to be able to kiss his little face without any tubes in the way!

We think he is eager to come home. (We know we are!) Unfortunately, at this point we are guesstimating we’ll be here through Thursday since our rather tight-lipped pediatrician has said “middle of next week” and adoption relinquishment papers may be signed by then. We continue to admire V., his birth mom, who we now feel is part of our family too.

Who would’ve guessed we’d get to know this small city so well? We are extremely grateful to be able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House here. Not only are we saving a lot, but the staff and volunteers here are so warm, supportive, and accommodating. It is definitely making our extended stay more manageable.

Your continued interest in and support of our little family means the world to us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

He's Here!

We are so happy to introduce you to

Born on Friday, October 9, 2009
at 12:51 p.m.
5 lbs. 14 oz.; 18.25 inches

He is adorable and we are in love!

Unfortunately, rather than being delivered at 39 weeks of gestation as anticipated, the doctors believe he is closer to 35 weeks. So, he’s been having some trouble breathing without help and will be in the NICU at Crummy Hospital for about a week. Fortunately, it seems that all will be well; it’s just a matter of time.

V. is also doing well. She’s been a trouper following her c-section and was discharged almost exactly 48 hours after delivering. We feel so lucky to be in an open adoption with her!

We appreciate your continued good wishes and I can't wait to tell the whole story. Though it’s pretty hectic here, I’ll provide updates as we can.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fire Drill (Part III)

So, was the moment for which we've been waiting for years, and then months, and now weeks finally here? Were we about to become parents? We were on our way to the hospital with the expectant mom with whom we are matched, all thinking she'd deliver via c-section very, very soon.

When we met up with V. and D. at Fancy Hospital, she was out of breath. She explained that in the parking lot, she'd spied a car that suggested someone else was in the maternity ward, someone she didn't want to see. She was trying not to freak!

Heading upstairs, we approached each turn in the twisting hallways cautiously, peaking around to make sure V. wouldn't run into a situation she was really hoping to avoid. The elevator doors opened on the maternity floor and we could see and hear a big group of people stuffed in a little waiting room. We walked by them quickly and through the big double doors. V. squeaked, "They're there." But they apparently didn't see her. I tried to reassure her that they weren't expecting to see her here, and they were involved in their own drama.

At the end of the hall, there were four other very large, pregnant women in labor as well as assorted groupies lining the walls. Nurses were bustling around and it took a little while for V. to check in and get a seat; they rolled an office chair out. She was feeling uncomfortable, not just about avoiding people, but physically too. And she was getting nervous about what the next few hours would have in store. We tried to calm her down by chatting (probably inanely). For the first hour, I was interested in all that was going on around us...

But time wore on. I strolled the floor nervously and overheard a nurse on her mobile phone complaining about how incredibly crowded it was and how there were no beds left. (I did NOT share this info with V.) While we waited, two more women in labor (and their own entourages) came in. A nurse joked that they must have all been at the county fair and eaten something. Meanwhile, V. hid behind D. every time someone new turned the corner.

V. hadn't even been assessed yet.

Eventually, a nurse came and told most of us that we had to go to the waiting area. V. froze. We assured her we'd keep her apart from the people she didn't want to deal with. We went to the elevator bay and hung out there for awhile, seating V. in a wheelchair. After about 20 minutes, the nurse came back and rather gruffly told us that we couldn't hang out there, we needed to go to the maternity waiting area. We encouraged V. to explain to her why that wouldn't work. With some cajoling, she did eventually explain the situation to the nurse, who immediately became very apologetic. She told us we could go down to the waiting room at the entrance to the building, gave V. her cell number, and told her to call in 20 minutes to see if a bed had opened up.

Twenty-minutes passed. And twenty more. And twenty more. V. was getting more and more agitated....and M., D. and I were getting hungrier and hungrier (but we certainly weren't about to complain, since V. thought she shouldn't eat). During that time, in addition to calling the nurse and being told there was still not a bed, V. called her doctor, hoping he might be able to get her some attention, only to receive his answering service.

Finally, more than three hours after we arrived at Fancy Hospital, V. reached her doctor, and though he was there, he explained that they were over-crowded and encouraged her to go over to Mediocre Hospital. We debated whether it made sense to trek over there, since it was increasingly obvious as time marched on that she wasn't actually in active labor. At last, I think hoping to just get it all over with, she determined to head over there and see what they could do.

The emergency room's waiting area of Mediocre Hospital was packed, crowded with sick looking people, some even wearing face masks. V. must've said the magic word ("labor"), because the four of us were whisked into the emergency area. It's the first time I've actually been to a place that resembled the show ER! (Fortunately, no one came in while we were there with a GSW.)

V. talked with someone, filled out a few forms, and then had an aide wheel her across the huge maze of buildings. She talked with someone else and filled out some more forms, and then got wheeled to the maternity area where BINGO! she was given a room. A nice nurse asked her to disrobe, lie down, and strap up to the monitors. She did so reluctantly, expressing reservations that all of this would actually lead to delivery this evening. The nurse reassured V. she'd be back in 20 minutes to let her know what the monitors were indicating.

So, we settled in. Would you believe that "Sons of Anarchy," which D. described as a biker soap opera and his favorite show, was on TV? We'd never seen it, so it was interesting. But I was more fascinated by the monitors. One line was intended to show contractions, and sure enough, every now and again, there were little peaks and valleys. But more incredible to me, it showed and sounded a fast little heartbeat, and even better, crazy whooshing sounds every time the baby moved around. It was really cool! As V. had suggested, he is an active kid!!

Twenty minutes came and, you guessed it, went. Twenty more, and the nurse checked in, telling us that she had a call into the doctor, but it looked to her like the labor was not active and that the baby was in very good shape. Twenty more minutes. V. was getting really frustrated (and so were we). She asked about whether we should just leave. No one would make the decision for her. She was just about to give up when the nurse returned and told her the doctor had called and said she could continue to wait and be monitored further, or go home. She was done! She opted to go home.

Well, not really home. We were all starving! We headed back to the all night diner. She was annoyed and frustrated and disappointed and I think a little embarrassed. We reassured her that though we were disappointed there wasn't a baby to welcome tonight, we knew there would be soon, and that were were grateful for the extra time we got to spend with her.

M. and I briefly debated heading for home to save money and time. But it was so late and we were emotionally wrought. After hugging V. tight and encouraging her to rest, we headed back to the hotel and checked in again. We were a little numb from everything, and reviewed for ourselves all that had happened. There was a lot of strangeness, a lot of drama. But we still felt really good about V. and our match.

After M. did a bit of work remotely in the morning, and sending a deflated update email to key family and friends (and our house and cat sitter), we got back on the road, onto a highway we've come to know very well. Once we were back home sweet home, I blew off the urge to go into work in the afternoon and instead took a long nap.

Going back the next day was odd. The people who knew the details of our situation were surprised to see me. And I didn't feel like interacting much and explaining to those who didn't know what was up. I was able to make more progress on wrapping things up and on Friday afternoon, left my office with a clean desk and fairly clear conscience.

On Friday we sent V. an email, just letting her know that we'd made it home safely and reiterating that though we were sorry she'd been through so much in the last several days, we were excited about all the future has to hold and that we are so grateful to be matched with her. The next day we got a message back that brought tears to my eyes. V. said that she too appreciated the time we'd spent together, that she knows we will be wonderful parents, and that for the first time, she is feeling part of strong family.

So...we've been thinking that we'd be trekking back to her hometown for the c-section the doctor had previously suggested would be on Tuesday...assuming she didn't go into labor sooner. And she made it all the way to today, Monday, which means tomorrow is Tuesday. But what time is the surgery scheduled for? Should we head out this afternoon in time to have dinner with her this evening? We didn't hear from her in the morning.

I had kind of thought I'd leave work at noon, but without further word, I hung out and went to lunch with friends. Tick-tock, time wore on with no word. By the end of the afternoon, we were imagining all kinds of scenarios about why we hadn't heard whether there would be a birth - and whether we'd be at it - tomorrow.

When I got home, M. and I squeezed each other. Our nerves were fraying, and we were unsure how to handle it.

Finally, our need to know outweighing our desire not to harass her, we gave V. a call. D. answered, and sounded friendly and casual. Then he passed the phone to V. She said that they were just about to call us. She is so OVER the drama, and she again apologized for sucking us into the situation. She explained that she'd talked with the doctor's office today and they scheduled her for an appointment tomorrow about 10:30 a.m. At that point, the doctor will schedule a c-section; it could be for later in the day, or later in the week, or who knows?!

Things seem to be complicated by MediCal, and by his schedule and the desire to deliver at Fancy Hospital, rather than Crummy (not even Mediocre) Hospital. We still get the sense that he is really trying to help her out, and is trying to work the system within the system. Of course, it's not soon or easy enough for us and V.

Bottom line: there is no baby yet...but there
may be tomorrow. So please stay tuned!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fire Drill (Part II)

As I shared in my last post, though confused and anxious about whether the birth mom we're matched with was in labor, M. and I were exhausted and quickly fell into deep sleeps in our hotel room. We were startled awake about 2 a.m. by a phone call.

It was D.! He handed the phone to V. and she talked to M., but I could hear most of what she was saying. She was clearly agitated. They had tried to call us dozens of time over the last couple of hours. Where were we? Were we in a wreck? Did we know that we wouldn't become parents tonight?

Obviously, there was some problem with our toll-free number's call forwarding system. (Indeed, the next day when we checked the on-line call log, there were about 60 calls from D.'s phone.) AND we discovered the next day that I'd been trying to reach them on a number that was one digit off! So terrible. It's a wonder V. wanted to stay matched with us technodummies!

It turned out that V. and D. were calling from an all-night diner...about 30 yards from where we were in bed. We encouraged them to come on over.

Through a tired and sleepy fog, we listened to V.'s story of the evening. She was in pain and frustrated that her contractions hadn't shown on the monitor. She reassured us that all signs indicate the baby is doing well. After sympathizing for a bit, and apologizing profusely for the phone problems, we agreed to meet V. and D. at the same nearby diner for breakfast in just a few hours, before going to her OB as he'd instructed by phone earlier in the night's odyssey .

After a round of warm hugs, they left and we went back to sleep quickly.

D. called us the next morning when they were leaving the house, headed for breakfast and we met them at the diner a few minutes later. They both seemed better rested and V. was calmer. She was a bit sheepish about causing us to trek out there, but we assured her we were glad to do it. Then we followed them to the OB's office.

Unfortunately, her doctor wasn't there, but his partner and assistants were. After her exam, V. came out and told us that they thought she should return for her regularly scheduled appointment late the next afternoon and that it was likely that her doctor would send her then to the hospital to deliver (especially since he was headed out of town for the next four days.) Wow!

M. and I debated briefly whether we'd drive the 2.5 hours home that morning and return the next afternoon. Reasoning that 1. she might really go into labor before then and it would suck to have to drive so much in an even shorter period of time, and 2. if she didn't deliver the next day, we'd rather have only made the round trip drive and return home without a baby once than twice. So we decided to stay.

V. was eager to get home to sleep, as she'd been having trouble getting any rest during the last several nights. But before separating, we followed up an a something she'd mentioned earlier. She said she'd watched one of the recent "Adoption Diaries" on TV and liked how the birth and adoptive families had gotten together to have a nice dinner. She said it wistfully, believing there wouldn't be a an opportunity for us to do something similar.

With this new time frame, M. and I asked whether she'd like to invite a few friends to join us for dinner at a restaurant of her choice that evening. She seemed to like the idea, and we agreed to talk again after she woke up from a nap, but that we'd likely rendezvous at the Italian restaurant where she'd originally hoped we'd have our match meeting a few weeks ago. Then M. and I were on our own for several hours.

We went back to the hotel and napped ourselves. M. did a little work, we watched some TV. Then after a fruitless search for someplace still serving a good lunch after 2:30 p.m., we picked up a little picnic at the supermarket and ate at a nice park before heading into the near by hills. D. had told us that a beautiful river canyon was close by. He was right.

We drove about 20 minutes along the narrow road that became more twisted as we gradually ascended. On a Monday afternoon, there weren't many others on the road. The sun was beginning to get low in the sky and the light was beautiful. M. found a nice turnoff and we scrambled a bit (I wish I'd worn better shoes!) down the rocks to get to the river, which was surprisingly swift for this late, dry time of year. Of course, my photographer husband was in his element. And of course, I was getting anxious about being out of cell service range.

In the end, I think we spent long enough in the quiet canyon to feel we'd gotten away to a beautiful, natural place without risking a repeat of the previous night's phone contact crisis.

Shortly after we returned to the hotel, V. called. She said to M., "I hope you're not too mad..." which he reported caused him to catch his breath, "but I'm craving Mexican now." Of course we weren't mad...especially since that's one of our favorite cuisines!

We found the place without problem and saw that V. and D. were waiting for us as we pulled in. As we crossed the parking lot, we saw another couple, with the guy sporting a leather jacket with the name of D.'s motorcycle club on the back. So we introduced ourselves and were already chatting amicably when we approached smiling V. and D.

It was a nice meal. Mostly it was casual conversation, though occasionally V. would confess to being a little freaked out about what she was facing the next day. We had the friendly server take a few photos of us all, which I hope will make it into our son's baby book someday.

Since the evening was still young, V. asked us if we'd like to see her friend's tattoo shop. Since we know that this friend (I'll call him Doc Johnny), is an important person in her life, and that she spends a lot of time in the shop, we told her we'd love it.

I suppose now is a good time to say that M. and I always kinda assumed we'd become a trans-racial family through adoption. As it turns out, we won't (most likely, assuming this situation goes through). But, it is definitely a trans-cultural adoption!! One of the things we really appreciate about this situation - and I think V. does too - is that we have very different backgrounds. Despite that, we've found a lot of common ground. In fact, I think we are all enjoying learning about people who live very different lives - for whatever reason - than we do.

Doc Johnny and his tattoo shop were fascinating. It's packed (neatly) with totems he's collected from working all over the world. He is a true artist. He says that it's been a tough way to make a living and he wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but it's allowed him to support his family, travel to interesting places, and do something he enjoys. We looked through his big book of photos of his work, and I must say there were beautiful pieces...and I just can't grasp how some people can do some of those things to their bodies.

We explored the shop and learned more about tattooing for awhile, and then we received a high honor: an invitation to the "club house." Doc Johnny roared off on his big bike with D. and V. in hot pursuit in his big truck and us putting along behind in our little Subaru, listening to the local NPR station's classical music.

The motorcycle group's "club house" is a storefront in an old - though not extremely derelict - part of town. As I told D. later, it is what I suspect many boys (and girls!) fantasize about as kids...except it's not in a tree. It's a big open space with several comfy couches, card tables and chair, a big jukebox blasting tunes, an area to pull up their bikes, a trophy case, and a big bar with stools. Behind the bar, holding the bottles of booze, is a coffin.

There were about a half-dozen club members there, and I was delighted to see the ease with which V. introduced us. They all seemed to understand who we are and why she was bringing us around. They were polite and friendly. They offered us beer. V. told us there were plans for a meeting later in the evening. I asked her what they meet about, and she said that she'd been curious about that too. Then she found out it was usually just about coordinating an upcoming ride or something, and the last time these big, tough looking guys had an official meeting, it was to decide whether to get club hoodies or regular sweatshirts. Hee!

M. played a round of pool, and I chatted more, mostly with V. but also with some of the others. Since she said they'd wait for us to leave before meeting, and I could tell she was getting tired and couldn't leave until D. had met with his buddies, we wrapped things up.

D. and V. walked us to our car and we encouraged them to call us if they needed to be in touch before we'd planned to meet again at the OB's office the next day.

After marveling together for awhile about all we were experiencing, M. and I turned in and were able to sleep surprisingly well. In the morning (now Tuesday), we had the pretty decent breakfast at the hotel and decided to check out since we didn't want to pay for another night we might not need since 1. we'd heard that its not uncommon for hospitals to offer empty rooms to adoptive parents while birth moms are there, or 2. she might not deliver that evening after all.

We loaded the car back up ad headed to the County Museum, which is a large park with a collection of historic buildings from around the area. It was a great way to spend several hours. The weather had gotten a lot cooler and there weren't many people around. We could just wander. In fact, we left and got a good lunch (at someplace we'd researched in advance) and came back.

As the time for V.'s 5 p.m. appointment approached, we were staying pretty calm. We even spent about 45 minutes just lounging on a picnic bench, speculating on how things would go, talking about the oddity of the situation, and just holding each other close.

We got to the office a little early and M. posted a photo we'd taken several days before to Face*book. It's of us sitting on the back bumper of the car, with the car seat next to us and the hatch full of other baby-related items. It shows that we were ready to hit the road to meet our child!

He finished up just as V. and D. arrived. She and I confessed to feeling really nervous. The guys just kind of nodded in agreement. We waited together for a bit in the glitzy waiting room. A few other pregnant people came and went. I speculated that the doctor wanted to see V. last, so then he could send her to the hospital and meet her over there.

Finally, he called her in personally, greeting us as well. The exam didn't take long, and then V. re-emerged saying,

"Well, it looks like we're on our way to the hospital".....

Fire Drill (Part I)


Last Sunday evening, we were enjoying a delivery pizza and some good red wine with our friends Anne and Andy when the phone rang. It was V., who explained that she'd been experiencing painful contractions and thought we should stand by because "tonight might be the night." We told her, "no problem, we are ready to go!" She told us she'd call back if things seemed to be progressing.

We hung up and....squealed!!! And jumped around a bit!! The Raggedies were a good audience.

We tried to settle down to watch the big show: the season premier of The Amazing Race, our favorite. During commercial breaks, we scurried around, making sure we truly were ready to go at a moment's notice. M. watered plants and washed dishes. I can't quite remember what I did, other than run around, but I'm sure it was productive!

The first contestants had just made their way to Phil and the mat when V. called again. She said she couldn't take it anymore and was headed to the hospital.

Oh, boy!

We both jumped in the shower, checked and double checked our various lists, and we set off. Once on the road we did a few things:

- M. drove carefully but faster than usual, with intense concentration.

- I called my mom and told her we'd keep in touch when there was more news.

- I called M. sister and told her the same.

- I called the agency as instructed. The operator patched us through to the on-call social worker, who happened to be S., our adoption counselor. She sounded excited for us. I asked what we were supposed to do when we arrived, and she encouraged us to go on up to labor and delivery.

- I recalled some good advice I received on my wedding day: take some "mental snapshots" of special moments. This will make it easier to recall a few things in the blur.

We were a little more than half-way and just out of a mountain pass when we decided to run into a service station for a bathroom break and something to drink. Alas, we left the cell phone in the car. Fortunately, we thought to look at it when we returned two minutes later, and sure enough, there was a message from D. He indicated that he thought they'd be sending V. home, and asked us to call him. We tried to call him back but couldn't reach him. So begins a very sad part of the story.

Pulling into the parking lot at the hospital, we tried to call again. No response. Were they still there? We debated what to do. Ultimately, we decided to go in. Because it was about 11:30 p.m., we had to enter through the emergency room, which was crammed with sick and uncomfortable looking people. After inquiring, we were sent on up to Labor and Delivery.

The elevator doors opened on a calm, quiet floor. Behind closed doors, we could hear the occasional cry of a tiny baby. Some further exploration finally yielded a nurses' station where we inquired about her. They directed us to her room. So she WAS still there.

I knocked softly. No response. I opened the door slowly and whispered. No response. I went on in. No V! She wasn't even in the bathroom. Finally, a more in-the-know nurse clued us in that they had indeed released her about 45 minutes earlier.

So back to the parking lot in a quandary we went. We tried calling again.

Briefly we debated heading home. Then we decided better and headed to a hotel that M. had scouted out online. I called and found they had availability, in fact at a good rate better than advertised on the net. We headed over there, concerned about V. and not sure what to do.

We checked in and headed to bed. I'd just drifted off when the phone rang. But no one was there.

We were both sound asleep about 2 a.m. when the phone rang again....