"Your baby is coming!" Our daughter's birth mom, Brooke, had finally gone into labor, almost two weeks late. The call came at 3:30 A.M., and we were out the door by 4 A.M. The toy dangling from the empty car seat rattled like a ticking clock as we drove along the highway for two long hours.
I had the honor of being in the delivery room with Brooke. I was standing at the foot of her bed as a HUGE baby was born into the world. Perri Joy Brooke was finally here, at 10 lbs. 3 oz. and 21.5 inches. I thought I knew what to expect, having had the same front-row seat when my niece was born, but the emotions that surged through me this time were completely different. Watching my daughter's face emerge was strange and wonderful.
The nurses laid Perri on Brooke's chest. There were seven people in the room at that point, everyone moving quickly and talking, but Brooke was focused on this tiny being. I was not jealous or worried. I knew that this time with Perri would be unforgettable for Brooke, when Perri was hers and hers alone. She deserved this precious time with her baby. I felt reverence as I stood beside her bed.
My heart sank to the floor when Brooke asked, "Do you want to hold her?" She gently placed the not-so-little bundle in my arms. I stared down at this squealing, bright pink baby. I studied her every detail: her curly hair, her long eyelashes, her fluttering tongue as she cried, her big hands and dimpled fingers. My heart was full and crushed all at once. I didn't feel like her mother yet, but I was undeniably in love.
One of the nurses ushered my husband into the delivery room. Tears welled in his eyes as he walked toward me. We smiled deliriously at each other. I handed Perri to him and said, "Isn't she heavy?" Never having held a newborn baby before, he answered, "She feels like a sack of feathers!" We didn't say much else. He just stared and studied her features, as I had.
We spent two nights in the hospital. Brooke and I weren't getting much sleep, so we ended up talking for hours. There were tears and laughter and everything in between. Through it all, there was a devastating feeling in my stomach as the hours in the safe haven of the hospital dwindled away and the discharge was approaching.
Finally, that dreaded moment came. The moment we would take a sweet girl's baby away from her. It sounds horrible to put it that way, but that is exactly how it felt. Brooke placed Perri in the car seat and the tears started to pour. We said our goodbyes quickly, because everyone was falling apart.
We arrived home to see a big banner on our garage that said, "WELCOME HOME BABY PERRI!" I started to realize that everything we had hoped for when we began the adoption process had come to fruition.
It's difficult to put into words the feeling of walking through our front door for the first time with our daughter. We left the house as a couple, and came home as a family. Suddenly everything looked different.
That wasn't just our couch; that was the place my husband and I would sleep with our daughter in the middle of the day while we were exhausted. That wasn't just our kitchen sink; that was a tiny bathtub, where I would hold a slippery little girl as she wailed in protest. Those weren't just our dogs; those were Perri's guardians and adorers. The promise of a thousand memories flashed before me as I scanned the room, then looked down at the car seat holding a sleeping baby.
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