Last Sunday. We got up early, enjoyed a slow Sunday morning, and then sat down to watch the Bengals game. Laura took an unusually long nap until half time, and I was so glad she was resting…really resting. She woke up, and about ten minutes later her phone rang. She saw on her Apple Watch that it was a 614 number – that’s Columbus…that’s where our agency is. She ran for the phone, and I trotted behind her so that we could answer together. She’s answered every robo-call for a month now to be sure we don’t miss the call that will change our lives. And then the call came…
Are you and Jenn together? Yes we’re together! And we can hardly fucking breathe right now…say something, social worker hero! Our heartbeats are climbing. Say something that will make this the most significant Sunday of my life. Guess what? She did. WE. GOT. PICKED. A young lady in Toledo gave birth two days earlier and she chose us to adopt the little baby girl. A girl…a daughter. A girl? I never imagined it would be a girl. I knew it was a fifty-fifty chance, and just always thought it would be a boy – I have no idea why. It’s a girl – we’re going to have a daughter. It was a traffic jam of emotions – elation, relief, joy, and oh yeah – I was terrified too, but mostly elation, relief, and joy. My little grinch heart grew two sizes, which is to say I completely fucking melted. Laura and I looked at each other, we welled up, and I started shaking. And then we realized, “oh shit, we have to listen to what she says”. We tried so hard, and grabbed a pen and paper, because we knew we were flying and wouldn’t remember a word unless we wrote it down. Here’s what we knew – it’s a girl, 5 lbs. 13 oz. (our daughter is tiny!), 19 inches long (and tall…oh well, she’ll fit right in here…haha). We jotted down notes including the hospital name where we needed to drive on Tuesday to bring home our daughter. Holy shit! We’re going to have a daughter…(still sinking in)…
We made a few phone calls to family, and then grabbed my parents to go to the baby store, still shaking…still crying. We floated around the store, and bought all that thought we would need and probably a bunch of shit we’ll never use, and the most adorable tiny pink clothes we could find. I cried at the clothes – not because they were adorable, but because they were for our daughter. We had onesies at home, but it’s completely different when you’re buying for someone specific…it’s so personal, joyful…I was a mess. I cried throughout the store, overcome with the emotion of it all – this is really happening.
We got home, we did tiny laundry. We spun in circles knowing we should be doing things, and barely being able to breathe through the excitement. We planned the next morning – Laura would call the attorney, the pediatrician, and her primary client (whom she adores) to line up the changes for the week, and I would do some messaging the next morning to share this amazing, glorious news with my boss and a few key gals in my squad at work. Our adoption agency has marked us as “Matched” on their website, and we saved screenshots…THAT’S US! We’re matched…we’re having a baby! We barely slept – who could sleep?
On Monday morning I was at work by 7:30, rearranging the week and barely being able to focus on anything. I was floating. Laura was at home and was crushing her list – the attorney was lined up and they asked for our daughter’s name for the paperwork. Oh fuck. We needed a name. We texted, mostly, to agree we didn’t like any of the girl names we had on our list, and like we always do, we agreed without effort on the name…it was easy. And our daughter had a name. Shit had never been more real. And then the phone rang.
It’s our hero social worker, and it was the call no waiting family wants. The birthmother has decided to parent the baby…she changed her mind…it’s over. Just like that. We were flying through the day at mach three, and we slammed into a brick wall. Eight years of trying, eight years of excitement, and it turned into eight years of heartbreak in a cumulative way that makes your whole body and soul hurt. I could barely hold it together to get myself home. When I got home, Laura caught me, like she always does – showing strength from who-knows-where…my rock. It’s always a possibility that a birthmother decides to parent, but nothing could have prepared us for this. It was an enormous loss…and we grieved. It sneaked up on us all week long, just like grief does. We think of the little girl who was almost our daughter every single day, and we hope she is getting all the love she needs, and mostly…we hope her mom is joyful.
Our hearts ache less than they did on Tuesday, the day we were supposed to bring our daughter home. Instead we spent the day together, moving through the things that helped us go forward. We returned lots of tiny pink clothes to the store, and we had lunch together…with wine…because we’re only fucking human. Each day gets a little easier, but neither of us expected the recovery that would be needed from such an exciting, almost life-changing, and eventually-traumatic turn of events. We spent a few days terrified that if we get another call, the primary emotion we’ll feel is fear, instead of joy. G-d, I want to feel the joy. A week later, and we’re almost ready to feel joy again should we get another call. It’s been a week since the event we now call Apollo 13…because it was a successful failure. That is, we lived through it. We made it back to earth, but we never walked on the moon.