Seven Rooms and a Sharpie

It’s going to be hard to put the last two weeks into words, but here goes.  

Wednesday, March 1:  We got in the car and drove 4 hours to a small city in Indiana where we were to await the arrival of the baby boy we hoped would be our son.  The drive was boring, long, but filled with anticipation.  Our hotel, chosen because it had a dishwasher in the suite (for bottles) was janky at best, and the bathroom smelled of marijuana from 2 PM to 2 AM every day – clearly coming from another room’s bathroom.  What an existence, by the way, sitting in a hotel bathroom sparking up at 2 PM.  I would feel badly for that poor soul if the smell didn’t permeate the room where I was hoping to bring home a brand new son in a few days.  So instead of pity, we were just pissed.  All. Evening. Long.

Thursday, March 2:  We got a call that we could and should head to the hospital around noon, as the induction had begun!  Lots of unknowns in how to navigate, communicate, and move through this time – getting messages from our birthmother and the agency that was facilitating our placement. All in, just humans trying to figure this situation out, and doing what we think is best for everyone involved.  And thank goodness, sharing the priority of the beautiful little soul who would soon enter the world.

It was clear things were moving slowly, so we decided to leave the hospital briefly to get something to eat, and found a highly rated restaurant in this tiny town – which was a bit like a Chipotle – and we  ate a decent meal.  We headed back to the hospital around 5, and shortly after we were visited by a nurse who told us we were “having a baby tonight”!  By 9 PM, another visit, saying it was almost time to start pushing.  The baby’s birthmother had tested positive for Covid earlier that day during intake, and we weren’t quite sure what that meant for us or the baby. The medical team reassured us that, for some reason, babies do not test positive when pregnant women deliver, so there wasn’t really risk to the baby. But, it did mean that once the baby was in our room we would be quarantined, and couldn’t go to our car, the cafeteria, or anywhere else. If one of us left, we would not be permitted to return. That sucked. We found solace in a small Bose speaker we brought and used to stream music, and at 10:30 PM a familiar song came through the portable speaker – one that Laura was sure was sent by her mom and dad, and she looked at me and said, “I know he’s here”.  She was right.  He was born at 10:12 PM. We waited for the birthmother to spend as much time with him as she wanted with the baby boy.  A lifetime, in minutes or hours – we didn’t know how long – and so we waited, nearly unable to sit down.  Talk about the red zone. 

Around midnight, a knock on the door, and in came a couple of nurses, pushing a bassinet with a baby boy inside.  Our baby boy.  Our son.  I can’t write words about that moment…there are no words…just feelings.  The nurses measured and weighed him, wrapped him, and placed him with us – literally.  These moments were defined by a very clear awareness that countless sequential miracles had to happen in order for this baby to be in our arms, in a room, in a Labor and Delivery wing, in a hospital, in a small city, in a state where we don’t live.  If you don’t believe in G-d…this shit makes you believe.  He stayed in our room, and we fed him, and we were with him when all of the firsts occured.  Hearing screening, Vitamin K, vitals…all of it.  This is real new mom shit – and we were here for it.  All without sleep. 🙂

Friday, March 3:  Another knock on the door.  It was our attorney.  We didn’t know he was in town, but he came to our room to tell us that the paperwork is completed and our son is, in fact, our son.  Of course we still have to go through six months of social worker visits and a court visit to finalize, but the period of time where fear could enter is expired.  This is our baby boy….our son…our Daxton Jack.  Or as Darby says, “Baby Dax”.   This particular day brought the mark that was 24 hours after his birth, and because he was doing well, we could have been discharged.  But this day also brought about a winter storm with ice and a predicted 8 inches of snow.  Yeah – not excited to drive 30 minutes back to our Grow Room hotel suite in the middle of a winter storm.  Naw – we’ll hang until morning, thanks. This day also brought a HEPA filter the size of a refrigerator into our hospital room – and it sounded like we were in a wind tunnel. This was due to covid and the fact that our un-renovated hospital room could not be set to negative pressure to contain particles from Covid. The noise of that fan nearly sent my wife over the edge. Please don’t tell anyone that she turned it off many times just to get a freakin’ breather from the noise.

Saturday, March 4:  Dax is doing well, and we’re ready to be discharged!  But nothing is fast, so this didn’t happen until about 2 PM.  We drove a half hour, and then set up what we needed in our hotel to get through the next 36 hours until his follow up pediatrician appointment.  We barely slept, keeping him out of the bedroom near the grow room bathroom, and took turns feeding and holding our little guy.  Literally, getting to know each other.  We loved this time with our boy and we hated being in this hotel.

Monday, March 6:  Our early morning pediatrician appointment tested our ability to mobilize with a newborn – it’s been 4 years since we did this whole diaper bag/pumpkin seat thing, and we’ve forgotten a lot.  But we got there and she said “he looks perfect”.  AMEN.  We’re out.

We decided to head south to a city in Indiana closer to home, where we could benefit from nearby family visits and finally seeing our daughter, who was with her aunt and cousin the whole time, until the courts cleared us to bring Dax to Ohio and finally come home.  This is a good time to take a minute to talk about Becki’s sacrifice.  My sister put down her own life, stepped out of her house, and into ours, and stayed to take care of Darby, full stop, without a predicted end date.  We literally had no idea when we would be cleared, and she used PTO from work to come and stay with Darby, day and night.  My parents came to visit regularly to help keep Darby entertained, and Becki did all the aunt things.  Shopping, presents, activities, trips to and from school, and kept Darby super busy.  We literally could not have completed this adoption without Becki, and we will always be grateful.

Darby came to the hotel and met her brother, Baby Dax, and did a great job being gentle and beginning to understand she is now sharing her parents.  For a kid who has been the singular sheriff in town for four years, it’s not a small ask, and she’s doing well. These short term adjustments are worth it – and we are so glad Darby and Dax have each other, even if they don’t yet understand what that will mean later in life.

Through the course of the week, we moved hotel rooms 3 times, because without predictable dates we couldn’t book rooms in advance, so we were at the mercy of room availability.  We had so much stuff, so each move was significant, and an unkind reminder that we had our newborn baby in a (hopefully clean enough) foreign environment that we never stopped disinfecting.  The most unpredictably prized possession of the trip was a Sharpie that Laura brought – I had no idea why but she thought we might need it.  Turns out, writing room numbers on identical hotel keys became important when we were carting massive amounts of belongings from one room to another, over and over again.  Our hands were raw from washing baby bottles in the sink and then running them through a countertop bottle sterilizer. Our eyes were raw from the tears of joy and the tears of exhaustion.  My anxiety was admittedly getting the best of me, as I sat, stir crazy, in a room I didn’t want to be in, without much sunlight, exercise, or decent food.  Not that I don’t appreciate Jimmy John’s, Subway, and Penn Station, but if I never have a sandwich again it’ll be too soon.  This was a grind – one we knew we signed up for, but it was really hard to see the toll it was taking on Darby.  On the upside, the bathroom smelled great.

Friday, March 10:  Please, oh please, let the courts clear us today.  If we don’t get the call by 4 or so, we’re here for the weekend, and nearing the end of our proverbial ropes.  My wife is dealing better than I am, so thank goodness for her and her ability to put up with my highs and lows through all of this.  I say it often – I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I married well.  I have no idea how I snowed her into being with me, but I am so thankful she is my ride or die on this thing called life.  5 PM came and went – no call – so we’re here for the weekend, dammit.  I hated having to tell my family this news – that meant they weren’t returning to their lives just yet either.  

Monday, March 13:  9 AM – the phone rings – we’re clear.  THANK G-D.  We. Are. Outta. Here.  We packed as quickly as we could – no small task given all that we needed to care for a newborn without a washer, dryer, or dishwasher, and we were home by noon.  I’ve never been so glad to sit on comfortable furniture with soft arms for propping up a newborn.  

Since we got home, we have been settling in, continuing to get to know Dax, and helping Darby adjust to life as a big sister. We’re getting closer to a routine of surviving the newborn feeding schedule, and we’re eating fresh food from our kitchen. We’re all resting a bit better than we did in our hotel rooms, and every now and then Laura will say to me “I’m going to go downstairs with the kids”. It’s been four years of waiting to bring this precious little boy home, and I know she’s saying those words so that I can hear her say “kids” as a plural noun. It’s a gift when she does that.

As I say to Darby every night during her bedtime prayers, when the doctors called and said “we have the most perfect baby in the world for you”, we scooped them up, gave them kisses, and said “we’re a family”. 

And we are. 

A family of four. 


3 thoughts on “Seven Rooms and a Sharpie

  1. Rebecca Madariaga says:

    It’s been such a gift to be part of this journey with you, my wonderful sisters. I am so blessed to have been able to stay with Darby through your seven different rooms and the first meetings with your sweet new bundle.
    I’ve watched you both love my children as your own for nearly 2 decades and seeing you become mothers has given me so much joy. We’re SO BLESSED that G~d chose those two babies to be our family.
    Being Titi has been beyond my wildest dreams and I LOVE that I get to spoil my loving and courageous niece and nephew with every opportunity.
    Love you all SO very much.
    We’re. A. Family.



  2. Lori Melton says:

    I’m so happy for the four of you! What a beautiful story of love in so many forms.

    I really get that magic moment when you met your beautiful boy. Wishing you all the best. ❤


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