Last month our lives were forever changed as sweet Juniper took her first breath and at the same time, took ours away. It was beautiful and surreal all at the same time. The hours and moments leading up to the birth will forever be etched into my heart. Details about the birth are Shannell’s story to share and when the time is right I bet she will share them. If you aren’t following her blog (http://msreclaim.weebly.com/blog/why-i-chose-adoption) you should! She is an inspiration as she shares her faith finding experience through these uncharted waters. My blog is a little all over the place but this post is for sure from an adoptive parents’ perspective with feelings that came and went throughout the process. I realize every adoption is different and sweet in its own way. I don’t speak for all adoptive parents but this was our sweet and emotional experience, which we cherish and get teary about often. Oh what love we have for Shannell and our sweet angle baby, Juniper!
October 5th- Induction day! This date was highlighted and starred on our calendars and hearts for weeks. Summer was crazy busy for us but somehow October 5th seemed to still be light years away. Summer is one of my favorite seasons, but this year all I wanted was for summer to be over because that meant our long awaited baby would be here.
Christian and I had been hoping to adopt for over three years, yet this 21-week stretch (Shannell chose us when she was 18 weeks along and she delivered at 39 weeks) seemed to be an eternity! Why did it feel so long? Maybe because in a way we (mostly me) were holding our breath waiting for something to go wrong. After all we had quite the turn of events happen rapidly this year…within 12 days we had been matched with an adoption AND we found out that our last round of IVF had worked! As ecstatic as we were we just knew it was too good to be true and at some point the adoption or the pregnancy would fail. The best way I can describe our feelings during the 21 weeks was reserved excitement.
The ‘reserved excitement’ came from doubts and fears which came up at different points through the process. I’ve listed a few below just to give you a sense of the roller coaster of feelings.
Back to October 5th or actually the 4th. We had a pre-birth party at the mall with some yummy Asian cuisine. Shannell looked beautiful as always but we could both tell she was exhausted. She had been working full time, taking care of her very cute and full of energy daughter, was pregnant, AND processing what would be happening in the next couple days- no wonder she looked a little tired! We had fun visiting with her at the mall and as we said our goodbyes we knew it would be only a couple hours before we would see each other again.
Christian and I picked her up around 11pm and headed to target to get some necessities (dark chocolate…) before going to the hospital. Once at the hospital it was BABY TIME- or so we all thought. The doctor had mentioned that we could have a baby by 6am so we were expecting things to progress pretty quickly. That wasn’t quite the case. Juniper took her sweet time but finally came into this world at 4:40pm. Shannell let Christian and I stay in the room for the entire birth. It was so beautiful, and Shannell was a CHAMP! No exaggeration. I was watching her thinking, this whole birthing/pushing thing really isn’t that bad (unfortunately I know that isn’t the norm :)). We watched a beautiful baby enter the world and take her first breath. I remember seeing her head start to crown and I was flooded with much excitement thinking, “this is really happening!!!” Seconds later the doctor announced that the cord was wrapped around her neck twice. She was pretty blue but the doc got her all untangled and Christian was able to cut the cord.
***This is when my heart started breaking as I balanced my excitement with the loss I felt Shannell might be experiencing*****
As they took little Juniper to the heat lamps to get her breathing, I left Shannell's side to be near Juniper. I remember walking over to the sweet babe and glancing back at Shannell, thinking to myself, "you're such a jerk. I can’t believe I just left Shannell's side!" I felt as though I was abandoning a dear friend in a time of great sacrifice. At the exact same time I couldn’t leave Junipers side. I felt torn between wanting to spend every possible moment with Juniper and wanting to make sure Shannell knew I loved her.
Warming Juniper up and getting her breathing seemed like it took forever. I remember when they told me I could touch her I reached out and touched her little hand. I don’t remember what I said to her but I felt a wave of deep emotion. So much love for her, and for Shannell’s great gift and sacrifice. I couldn’t wait to hold the sweet angel.
As soon as they let me hold her I wanted to make sure Shannell had as much contact as she wanted. As we had planned for this day, Shannell made it very clear that she wanted Christian and I to be the first ones to hold her (what a selfless act right there!). We wanted to make sure we weren’t robbing Shannell of that precious experience. The plan was made between us and Shannell that we would do skin to skin right next to her so that she could be there and experience those first precious moments.
I can’t begin to imagine what Shannell was feeling at any point in this journey, but especially right after giving birth. I remember looking over at her from across the room, and although the room was busy, there was a stillness about her. Like I said, I can’t imagine what she was thinking in those moments, but I know for us in that moment, time seemed to stand still as the reality of what we had talked about for a long time continued to unfold before our eyes. For Christian and I it was immense joy. However, at the same time it was heartbreaking to see our dear friend who was seeing all these events unfold through a different lens. I kept feeling guilty for being so excited. I remember thinking, how could I be this happy when Shannell is watching and probably hurting inside that she isn’t the one holding and loving on this precious baby?
I remember walking over to Shannell’s side so she could see Juniper and maybe even hold her. She needed a bit more time before she was ready to hold her and I felt awful for asking before she was ready. The evening flew by and before long Christian and I were carting the precious baby to our room for the night. I didn’t want to sleep. I just wanted to hold her all night and give her a million kisses (which I did). I remember praying for Shannell that night and asking for her to be comforted in what could be a sad and lonely night. I messaged her around 9pm saying we could come hang out with her if she wanted. She text back a while later but I didn’t see it until around 4am when she text again saying she was up for some company! So Juniper and I headed back down the long hall to Shannells room. I think that was the first time Shannell held her. Shannell looked so refreshed and was glowing. I left them alone for some much deserved one on one time. I walked back down to my room and remember feeling a little empty. I even had the thought- what if Shannell changes her mind? Juniper is a perfect, beautiful baby girl, and I knew this was definitely a possibility as emotions were high, but I let it pass and tried to enjoy every moment I could. We had visitors throughout the day, mostly family coming to offer congratulations. It seemed to be another whirlwind of a day, and before we knew it the social workers were there for relinquishment (kind of a cold term but I’m not sure what else to call it).
Christian, my mom and I said our goodbyes to Shannell and Juniper, and headed back to our room. We waited there for a while making small talk awaiting the cue that Shannell had signed before we proceeded. What a mix of emotions. Again, my heart was breaking as I imagined her sitting on her bed holding Juniper as the social worker read the documents. Did she pause and take a minute to look at Juniper before signing- maybe even hesitate? Was she heartbroken but followed through because she felt it was right? As badly as I wanted her to sign, I also understood if she couldn’t. What a sacrifice she was making, one that many are unable to even comprehend.
A text came through and our social worker said, “Congratulations! Shannell signed!” Immense joy paralleled by heartbreak for Shannell ran through me. We hurried through the paperwork, reading and signing all the documents. We were anxious to get back to Shannell and Juniper.
We finished the night with lots of hugs and pictures and eventually headed home with our baby. Did I just say that? Yep- almost 6 years into this family building gig and we finally had a baby! Still surreal, we loaded her up in her car seat and into the car and headed home. It was late and we were emotionally and physically exhausted so we crawled into bed with our sweet baby and said a prayer of thanksgiving that night for so many things.
Today marks 8 weeks from when Juniper joined our family and every day we thank God for the blessing she is in our life. Our hearts are overfilled with gratitude this year as we have so much to be thankful for.
Leave a Reply.
Thank you for visiting our blog. We are so excited about adoption and would love to talk and visit with you. Scroll to the bottom of our page to find out what brought us to adoption.