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6:26 p.m. - June 12, 2005
Kristin Comes Alive
I was thinking that this essay would consist of recounting tales of madcap hijinx suitable for a lost episode of I Love Lucy or Friends.

But Kristin Leah, while late and stubborn, did not desire any mayhem during her birth.

A quick intro – Katie’s birth mother was pregnant again and she wanted us to adopt the new baby. We have communicated with her constantly, sending updates about Katie. Now she wanted to open up a bit more and wanted Liz in the delivery room with her. Emails and phone calls were exchanged, so while it’s not like we’re close friends, there is some comfort there between Birth Mother and Liz.

After being told that Kristin was going to be early (the due date was June 5, allegedly, but we’ve been ready since early May because of she was supposed to be early), it turned out that she was going to have to be induced after all. We didn’t know the sex of the baby either – any ultrasound was inconclusive.

For six weeks, we’ve been on high cell phone alert – and had multiple plans for Katie if the phone rang at 3:09 AM on a Sunday morning, etc. Stress? Oh, there was stress. But now all that was seemingly for naught since this was going to be orderly.

Thursday, June 9, was very orderly. It seemed like a Dragnet birth. Just the facts, ma’am – no zaniness allowed.

Liz went to the hospital at about 6:00 in the morning to be there when the Birth Mother was admitted to the hospital to start the drugs for induction. I soon followed, arriving at about 8:30.

All of her other labors have been quick – she was only in labor two hours with Katie – so I was anticipating calling everyone during work hours with the great news.

There were four of us in her room – Liz and I, Birth Mother, and a dear friend of hers that was with her when she gave birth to Katie. So we chatted and waited for the drug to kick in and labor to start. It seemed funny – just aimlessly bantering away about her other kids, Katie, work, while all the time a new life was going to be coming into the world.

I soon learned the rule – “NO CRYING!” Birth Mother and Liz bawled like babies when Katie was born, and we were not going to have that happen again – or so proclaimed Birth Mother.

As time went on, there was little progress. Each time the nurse came in to check her – I left. I did not want to be in there while there was tinkering going on under the hood, so to speak.

During these excursions I went and got decaf coffee, or checked Liz and I into the hotel they have at the hospital, finishing “Collapse” by Jared Diamond, or walked around aimlessly listening to the iPod. Once I checked in I also checked email in the room. It was dialup service so I couldn’t do much, but at least I got my email fix in for a while.

But others came and went into the room. I asked the one dumb question I was allowed – and that was where the actual delivery room was. Idiot – this WAS the delivery room. Instead of crashing carts and operating-room like birth theatres all of the machinery was wheeled in from a closed and other stuff dropped from the ceiling.

But time went on – the conversations took interesting turns. By mid-afternoon we were reaching for the “D” material – and gossiping about family members on both sides that the other parties will probably never meet – so of COURSE you want to give everyone a great impression about your family, right?

And I left the room another four times in the next five hours. I did get some nice exercise. I also called some dear friends to explain that NO; nothing had happened yet, doggone it.

Finally, it seemed all conversations were exhausted, so on went the TV for the first time. Law & Order was the choice – it’s always nice to bring a new life into this world while Jerry Orbach is snarking away.

Progress was finally being made on the important front. People in blue scrubs started appearing – and Birth Mother said it was coming soon. The baby had dropped visibly and another check that needed to be done. Out I went. I was going to go get dinner, but Liz called and asked me if I had some songs on the iPod for her to listen to. I went back up and tried to please, but my eclecticism had failed me – I had no real coherent playlist that Birth Mother could really enjoy, and I didn’t want to choose this exact moment to turn her onto Captain Beefheart.

One last check – so out the door I went.

When I came back – I couldn’t get back into the room. It was time. I hightailed it back to the hotel room – waiting for the birth of my adopted child while watching a SVU episode on the TV. That’s probably not the most apropos thing to listen to, but hey, it was on.

Finally, the call came – Liz had said it was a baby girl. Everyone, and I mean everyone, said it was going to be a boy! Not me – I said girl all the way! So I win! (if there was a contest about it – I suppose.) So Kristin Leah was born at 7:50 PM on the 9th.

Of course, everyone had said it would be early, and heavy, and labor would be just two hours. The experts had been confounded again.

I asked if I could come back – I was told I should wait – there was some oogy stuff going on in there. I agreed – no need to oogify myself.

Without knowing the stats – I made my calls. I called Niece Nurse who was watching Katie – and she told Katie that she was a big sister! Katie was elated! But the next four calls were all voice mails! My messages may not have been that coherent, I’m afraid. “It’sagirlnamedKristinLeahandIdon’tknowthestatsanditjusthappenedandmorelater.”

Then I got a call that it was safe to come back into the room – and I rushed down there. I swung the door open, and there she was – Kristin Leah. Liz was holding here. She looked so tiny, she weighed 6lbs. 8oz., but had a big ol’ head of hair. I got to hold her soon after – but I didn’t want to hog her. Birth Mother needed to spend some time with her, to bond and for closure, so Liz and I bid our farewell for the night. We grabbed dinner and fell into a deep, sound sleep – the first one we had in what seemed like forever.

The next day we were waiting for the attorney to come by with the paperwork. The same crew of four was in Birth Mother’s recovery room, along with Kristin. Some things didn’t change, though – I had to leave the room at least twice during the day.

The attorney and social worker came in after lunch, and all the paperwork was signed so the attorney could petition the judge for us to have temporary custody. The only time Birth Mother was broken up about it was after she signed the last of the paperwork. I was not going to tell her that she broke her own rule – so we all left her alone for about an hour. We had some paperwork of our own to deal with – one involving billing with the hospital that will no doubt be a nightmare.

I thought how brave a choice Birth Mother made – carrying this life inside of her for nine months just to let it go to two others – even though she knew and trusted us it still had to be hard on her to just let Kristin go. She had the solace that we were going to raise Kristin just like we raised Katie – but emotionally there’s a bond between mother and child that is hard to let go even if you know you are doing what’s right for everyone involved.

When we returned to the room, it was time for the Birth Mother to leave the hospital. We hugged, and said our goodbyes, and she said her goodbye to Kristin. Then we got to go into the special room where the adoptive parents bond with their baby. Actually, it’s kind of a small room that they show tapes to people regarding the ‘discharge’ process and how to breast feed.

So we spent most of Friday and Saturday with her in that room. It’s small, and cramped, but we got to spend some quality time in there. Kristin stayed until her 48-hour screening was done. I left early, after lunch on Saturday, to go pick up Katie and to be sure our cats had not trashed the house. They hadn’t…much…but still I felt I had to perform toxic containment duties.

Finally, Kristin came home. Katie just adored her from the start. She was being very gentle and polite and nice to Kristin. I, of course, drew the first late night duty for Kristin, and she was up wanting food at midnight, 1:15 and 2:30, but after 2:30 she settled down for a long sleep. And so did I.

There’s a new baby in town and her name is Kristin. And while she took her sweet time getting here she was special just the same!

And because I need to be equal opportunity Dad:

 

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