I was sleeping off an emotionally draining visit to my grandparent's assisted living home in California. And after weeks and months of spending the first few hours of every morning willing my phone to ring and hitting refresh on my email, I just felt like giving up and sleeping in.
For two weeks I lived in anticipation. Painful, tense, anticipation waiting for that call.
First delay involved some kind of problem with reading baby's labs. So they had to be redrawn. Then an Ethiopian holiday prevented the agency from getting the second set of labs. After 2 full weeks of this I confess I lost some hope.
Last Friday, in California, my cell rang at 7:30am. Unfamiliar number. I SHOT out of bed with my heart pounding. Cleared the sleep from my throat, grabbed my mom's arm and mouthed "this is it!" and answered very sweetly "helllooo?." And on the other end was a stranger (ok, I met him once at a conference) who had my cell number from my email signature (may be time to remove that) and was calling to ask a semi-work related question. From Costa Rica. Poor man didn't know what time zone I was in or that I was waiting for the referral. (Although shouldn't the entire world know we are waiting for a referral by now??) But I am sure I was rude. I cringe to think how quickly I got off the phone with him. And then I lay in bed cradling the phone and willing it to ring for another hour. It didn't. Irritable does not adequately describe my mood that day.
Fast forward to Monday. Sleeping off the trip. No alarm set. Cell phone woke me up. It was The Call. And I was half asleep! And confused. And running and stumbling to get to the office so I could write things down. I remember our coordinator asking if she should call back! All I kept thinking was "send me the information by email because I don't want to do this on the phone." It was too anticlimatic. I just didn't have the sobbing/wailing/shaking referral feeling I have read about on the blogs!!
And I felt so so guilty about that.
J was at work. So I sat in my office with the shades closed and opened the attachments by myself. Very C.I.A. Three attachments: 1 photo, 1 medical report, 1 coverletter.
I wanted my heart to leap... but it didn't. I looked at each piece and then called my dear adoption friend Cindy to talk about the referral for TWO hours to kill the time since I had a full day before J would come home. And he made me swear not to call my mom. (Downright torture.)
On Monday night we called J's uncle who is a doctor. And he flagged some concerns over baby D's bloodwork. We googled and we panicked. I went to bed on Monday night almost in tears. It just seemed like one thing was extremely "off" and we weren't sure what that would mean.
This was our Monday night conversation right before bed:
me: "This is more painful than I imagined it. The referral isn't supposed to be painful - seriously, I swear! I read the blogs. It's supposed to = champagne toasts and cake eating."
J: "Let's just wait for the CHIP clinic's thoughts before we get overly excited." (He forgot who I was for a second when he suggested not getting overly excited.)
me: "Sad. I am so sad. This isn't how it should be. I am worried about this baby. What if we bring her home and she DIES? OR what if she dies before we get to Ethiopia?"
J: "This is what it's going to be like. Worrying about her health. Worrying about her personality. Worrying about her future. Welcome to parenthood reality."
me: "Not like. Want to buy cute baby clothes and celebrate. Want to eat chocolate cake."
Ok, I didn't actually say that last line. But I thought it. Why can't reality just get it's nasty little claws off of me?
I spent Tuesday sending off baby D's labs to pediatricians and nurse friends. I spent many hours on the phone with all of you. I engaged all over the message boards and yahoo forums. I did everything I could think of. Including sending a pitiful email to a woman I knew to be in Ethiopia volunteering asking if BY ANY CHANCE she knew baby D...
And in the end, medical consensus was that she probably has an infection or at least had one recently. But we won't really know. I continued to look at her and continued to feel flat and scared. In her photo she looked hollow and lonely and very very thin. My heart stayed quiet. I remained guilty feeling.
Then two things happened that I would consider divine intervention. (AND YOU KNOW I am not all about divine intervention this and that on this blog.)
First, Michelle called and told me this: fear is not from God. She and many others shared their referral stories and I began to realize that every referral story is different. Many people take huge risks. Normal people are scared. There is no perfect baby and there is no one way to celebrate or appreciate that moment. Not every heart opens at the same time in the same way.
Second, I went to bed telling God that we would not make the decision with our eyes but that we needed a sign for our hearts. We needed our hearts to leap.
Prepare yourselves now....
When we woke up on Wednesday my inbox held two emails. From Morgan (the woman I wrote to) in Ethiopia. I think that Morgan's story is special enough for a different post. But briefly I will say that by incredible serendipity and divine intervention Morgan knew baby D very very well. And loved her. And Morgan also knew me. Even though I had thought she was a stranger.
Morgan wrote the words we were waiting to hear. Words that are so precious I will save them for that other post.
We were excited, and obviously we had received our sign. But as the weak humans we are we still were hoping for one more medical evaluation. It never came. On Wednesday night we stood in the kitchen doorway and had this conversation.
me: "So...fear is not from God I've heard." (Yeah, I'm all theologically deep you know.)
J: "That is very deep." (mmmhmmm.)
me: "Should we keep waiting?"
J: "What do we think the other evaluation would tell us? It's just opinions. So far no one has a final answer. We may just have to take a risk."
me: "We are sort of risk adverse. We like calculated risks."
J: "I am leaning towards yes. I like what Morgan said."
me: "Me too...You ARE? Ok, I think I am too." (Heart beginning to emerge and tap dance a little...)
J: "Ok, let's do this thing!"
me: "Ok! Ok! I will send the email. Oh. my. goodness." (Insert sort of leaping flying hug ala 1980s Dirty Dancing lift practice in the field only picture it more like I run and just plaster myself onto him and don't actually get lifted very high. Very awkward maneuver in small kitchen with man who has never seen Patrick's Swayze's signature move.)
I sent the email accepting D's referral.
Immediately after hitting send 5 messages popped up back to back. Photos of baby D, sent by Morgan, who (more miraculous than anything else) had found a way to upload on the slowest internect connection in the world. (No offense Ethiopia.)
And My. Heart. Leapt. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I asked for a sign. And I got it - the first email from Morgan. I asked for my heart to leap, but God asked us to take a leap of faith FIRST. When we obeyed My Heart Leapt. He filled us up with love for her after we accepted.
Now...don't you want to know what she looks like??? I wish I could post photos but I can't until we pass court. Ethiopian rules not mine.
But don't worry! I can describe her perfectly. In my next post. :)