On Christmas Eve, we left dinner at our aunt and uncle’s house and said “We’re going to sleep in so hard tomorrow. It’s our last Christmas without a kid, so we’re going to be lazy and SLEEP IN!”
Famous. Last. Words.
5:30am PST - We woke up to a call from our case manager on Christmas Day. Apparently she had already tried to call twice, but my phone was on vibrate and we slept through it.
“She’s in labor! Get here as soon as you can”
I think I’ll always have the flashbulb memory of me sitting straight-up in bed, hitting Nabil to wake him up, and replying “like is it real labor? Or just Braxton Hicks?” I was still in a daze and thinking: it’s two and a half weeks early. It can’t be real, yet. Can it?
“Nope, it’s real. She was admitted at 3am this morning”
Nabil and I shot out of bed, started looking at flights, and found a Southwest flight at 7am that still had two seats available. Nabil shouted from the next room “There’s no way we can make that” (it was already 5:45am). “Well, we’re going to have to try. Southwest is nice. Worst case scenario, we’ll tell them our situation, and they’ll get us on the next possible flight.
Next we grabbed our half-packed bag, threw out the sunny-weather clothes and scuba gear that were packed for our trip to Mexico (planned to leave a few days later), and haphazardly grabbed a few outfits for Chicago, winter weather. We had been gifted a few newborn clothes and a co-sleeper, so we threw those in a suitcase too, and called an Uber. Since it was Christmas morning, the closest car was 20min out. “We’re just going to have to drive and pay for short-term parking. Syd, can pick it up when she flies in late tomorrow night”. Luckily the carseat was already in the car, or we would have forgotten that.
We called family on the drive to the airport. Woke up some of them with the exciting Christmas news, left messages for others, let Nabil’s sister and brother know that we wouldn’t be able to make it down “…because we’re going to get OUR SON!!”
6:15 am PST - We pull up to curbside, I dropped off Nabil to check-in our luggage and swung around to park. “Our bags may not make it, but thanks to TSA-pre, I think we will!”
We made the flight!
The next four hours were an anxious, surreal, slow, fast, nervous, excited, blur. We texted some friends and family, and just kept looking over to one another and saying, “We’re literally on the plane to go get our son right now!”. Mind blowing. Of course we couldn’t sleep. I watched a few movies, but I can’t even remember what they were.
1:00 pm CST - Somehow all of our luggage arrived with the “late check-in” tag and all — even the almost forgotten carseat. When the Uber driver picked us up from the airport he was a bit confused with the empty carseat and no kid. “Oh no! I thought you grabbed him"!” I know, we’re terrible, but he thought it was funny too after the initial shock and dismay from a seemingly, real life Home Alone situation.
Got to the hospital, checked-in at the front desk as visitors, and found the delivery room. His birth-mom was doing great, progressing slowly (only 1cm more since we took off), and feeling nothing below the waist. We were so relieved that we made it there in time. We were excited that we were going to be there for our son’s birth — that we would be able to tell him as he’s growing up that we got to see him be born, that we’ve loved him since the second he came into the world happy and healthy.
After chatting a bit, we decided to go grab some cafeteria lunch before they closed early for the holiday. In all the rush and excitement, we’d barely eaten. I wasn’t really hungry, but stuffed down half of a soggy sandwich and granola bar anyway. Nabil ate one rubbery, chicken tender.
We finally relaxed a bit, and chatted with our case manager more. “He may not even be born on Christmas Day. Lots of first-time labors take a long time. He may be a ‘day after Christmas baby’”.
3:30pm CST - Our case manger got a text from her counter part (his birth mom’s case manager) that she’s progressing quicker than expected.
“Hurry back up here, she’s 10cm and about ready to start pushing!”
While the next hour was a rush, I have a handful of really clear memories from being in the delivery room:
+ I remember holding his birth-mom’s hand so she could squeeze during contractions, and having to un-hold momentarily to wipe off our mutual sweaty palms.
+ I remember studying all the Dr’s faces intently whenever his heart rate would dip to see if it was serious or not. Thankfully, it never was.
+ I remember the smell.
+ I remember looking at our son’s birth mom, being so thankful that she chose us, thankful that she wanted me in the room, and being so scared that she was going to change her mind when all of this was over.
+ I remember the nurses and doctors coming in the room from the hallway while chuckling and saying “Is that the dad in the hallway? I think he’s nervous. I offered him a chair to sit, and he said ‘I just can’t sit right now’”.
+ I remember seeing his hair more and more with each contraction and then seeing his whole body pop out in one fell swoop.
+ I remember cutting the cord: it was tough, yet swishy
+ I remember joking and laughing throughout the whole thing. I remember being in complete awe of his birth mom. She was so calm, lovely, and confident throughout the entire process. Maybe the strongest woman we’ve ever met.
+ I remember watching his birth mom hold him for the first time. I would stare at him and then back at her staring at him. I was (and am) so excited to be a part of their story. We feel so honored that she chose us as parents, but with all that excitement and gratefulness, came so much anxiety and fear with each new, progressing step that something would change. She could change her mind at any point until the papers were signed. We wanted to be a part of each step, to know him from the first second, and to bond, but with every deeper connection comes a greater risk of pain if it’s taken away.
+ I remember watching Nabil meet him for the first time after delivery. We were both feeling the same excitement, and the same fear.
+ I remember watching him be bathed and annoying the nurse as I took a dozen photos.
+ I remember saying goodbye for the night — to our son and his birth mom, hoping hard that everything would stay as planned and we would see them all again tomorrow.