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40 Hours

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

After Spear was born there was a bit of awkwardness in dealing with decision making. Right away so many questions were asked regarding his care and I always tried to defer to Mama E. The staff seemed confused on who to ask about things as well. If they asked her, she'd tell them to ask me. If they asked me I'd then ask her before answering ha! Or I'd at least say whatever I thought and then look to her for approval. 

She was quick to allow us to make any decisions regarding him. I also wanted to be VERY easy going. I wasn't about to come in and ruffle any feathers. I did ZERO research ahead of time. I'm not up to speed on all the latest things regarding newborns. I literally couldn't look into any of that type of stuff during our wait. I tried hard to separate myself, to protect myself. 

Now that the moment had come I just went with whatever the staff said was best. They asked about hep b I think and one other vaccine? I said sure whatever. They asked about goop in his eyes and I said sure. I basically straight up told them that I put all my trust in them to care for him in the best possible ways and that I trusted them and to do whatever they normally would do or would recommend to have done. It felt almost like I was a first time mom again because I felt pretty clueless and out of the loop!

Especially being in a new-to-me hospital. I went to all of my pregnancy appointments at my local OGBYN and delivered all my babies at the same hospital. I know their policies, their procedures, how they do things. I walked into this situation and this hospital with no clue about anything. It was neat to see the differences in how they do things vs how I'm used to things being handled at home. 



They told me they have a no-nursery policy where the baby completely rooms in with the parents. Mama E knew about this in advance and had requested for him to room in with us. UF Shands is a very adoption friendly hospital and that's the main reason Mama E chose to deliver there. They typically provide adoptive parents with their own room which is AWESOME! 

The staff also told me it's their policy to delay the first bath for 12 hours. They said they understood our situation was different than the norm and that they could probably override the policy and have him bathed if we wanted it. But yall I was just SO THANKFUL he was SO HEALTHY. I didn't care about small things like a dang bath. I said if their policy is to wait, then let's wait. And yes...it was pretty icky having him all covered in all of that. Especially knowing it wasn't my ick. But we rolled with it. I'm pretty sure this was my most laid back birthing experience ever. Usually I'm the mom coming in with a typed up birth plan and all these expectations and well researched plans haha! It felt very different for me to just roll with things but it was also just nice to trust the professionals and focus my energy on enjoying him and being there for Mama E. 


Obviously we prepared very little for delivery. What I mentally didn't prepare for at ALL was the after delivery part. When our other babies have been born it's all such a blur. Trying to nurse. The siblings coming in. Family coming in. I have NO CLUE how long the time period is until we move to postpartum but it always feels so fast. And the nurses always take the baby for awhile to the nursery. To check them out and bathe them I think? 

But things were much different at this hospital. I'm not sure if it's because of the time of day or that maybe more babies were born than usual but yall we were in that delivery room for AGES. UF Shands is also a hospital where the baby STAYS PUT. They don't take them at all, anywhere. That meant he stayed in that delivery room with us ALL. The ENTIRE time we waited. And oh how we waited. He was born at 5:27 and Mama E didn't have a room ready in postpartum until 10:30 PM. 5 HOURS guys. 



If you thought "man that must have been awkward and uncomfortable" when you read about us sitting in the delivery room from 8:30 that morning until he was born at 5:30 that evening...let me say that THIS was a billion times more uncomfortable and awkward. Mama E had just gone through CHILDBIRTH and had to sit with us in the same room while we were holding and loving on her baby

I have mentioned multiple times how Zach and I tried really hard to be super easy going...we hit our breaking point with the long wait for a room. It wasn't about us, it was about Mama E. She needed to be out of that delivery room ASAP. It's still so crazy to me that it took that long to find her a room. I felt so bad her having to hear Spear's every whimper and cry. I was thankful for the set up of the room as our little sitting area was to the side of her bed where she couldn't really see us. 

Zach went to get us all dinner and I tried my best to just enjoy snuggling that sweet baby and not overthink the emotions that were still so incredibly heavy in that room. 




I have heard about situations with birth mothers nurse the baby and I cannot FATHOM that. This was all so, so hard. I can't imagine how incredibly difficult it would have been for Mama E to try to nurse him on top of everything else. We never even discussed that as an option and when staff asked her if she was planning on nursing (yes, so many questions like that were asked...a reminder over and over again for her that she wasn't raising this child) she joked "only if they plan to take me home with them too!" 

I also had many people reach out to me and suggest that I try to nurse him. This was something I did put some thought into but I'm SO glad I decided not to try to do that. It would have required for me to take hormones and such to stimulate my milk production and I can only imagine what that would have done to my emotional state. All the stress related to his birth and then the awkwardness during the hours immediately after his delivery? No way could I have attempted to nurse on top of all of that! I read that skin to skin right after birth was so important to help bond and there was no way I was even going to do THAT while in the delivery room. Let alone nurse that child in front of the woman who had just delivered him. 

About an hour after delivery they brought me his first bottle! I have NO CLUE about formula feeding so this was an entirely new experience for me. Here he is drinking that first bottle :) 


Staff came in and out a bit which was a welcome distraction. Mama E had a couple of her friends come up to visit which was also nice. I'm glad she had someone there for HER ya know? JUST HER. One of her friends has been a big support system for her through this process so I was glad for the opportunity to meet him and thank him in person for being there for her. 

Sweet footprints!


Staff would come in and do checks on him and such. Again, it's a learning hospital so a lot of them were students learning the ropes which I didn't mind. This particular dr who came in though wasn't very pleasant. She asked Zach and I to leave the room so she could discuss some things with Mama E regarding Spear. This conversation upset Mama E a good bit. When the dr left I started to go back in the room and saw that Mama E was on the phone crying so I quickly closed the door back and waited out in the hall a little longer. 

Mama E has experienced childbirth 5 times and has had many bad experiences regarding her treatment by hospital staff. This was a HUGE concern of hers and something we talked about a lot during our time together. I witnessed it firsthand myself at her appointments. It made me angry to see the way she was often treated. A lack of general respect and kindness towards her was common. And I could see how it was probably even worse during some of her delivery experiences. I PROMISED her that Zach and I would NOT let that happen this time. We wouldn't stand for it. We would make sure that NO one talked down to her, or treated her in a judgmental way. I think this is a lot of the reason she wanted us at the hospital with her. She was thankful for that support and knew we meant it full heartedly. You know Zach will get crunk on someone if needed ;) 

I understand that this dr was Spear's dr. That she had to push Mama E a bit on some things to make sure Spear was able to get the best possible care. I wasn't in the room when she spoke to Mama E but I just know it was all very hurtful for her. She had really tried her personal best to take care of Spear while she was pregnant and I think having this dr question that really upset her. 


The dr spoke to us a bit and told us that Spear would be in the hospital for at least a week for monitoring. We had been told 5 days during the whole wait so we had assumed that long, but a full 7 was a little surprising for us especially with his healthy weight and high apgar score! We rolled with it though. I'd MUCH rather stay in the hospital longer to make sure he had the very best care rather than take him "home" too soon and have to come back for some reason. She told us they'd monitor him for that 7 days to see if a NICU stay would be needed or not. Obviously if they realized it was needed, he'd move to NICU prior to the 7 days being up. 

I wasn't worried. I felt SO much peace regarding his health. Seeing that great weight on the scale and that high apgar and his beautiful skin and hearing his cry. He just seemed perfect to me and I couldn't fathom him needing extra care. I knew it was a strong possibility and it was something we'd been aware of before even matching with Mama E. But I felt really at peace about it from the moment he entered the world. I didn't feel consumed with worry or like every little move he made could mean something was off or wrong. I really wasn't paranoid or anything which I truly believe was due to ALL of the prayers. I heavily debated sharing the possibility of a NICU stay. I'm thankful I've kept the details private but am also thankful I have always shared that possibility. Specific prayers lead to specific results!


Once we got back in the room I was glad that Spear was in the little heater bed thing. Mama E hadn't wanted to hold him after the initial delivery holding. She couldn't even really seem him in that bed due to her angle which I felt was for the best. The lawyer advised me to offer for her to hold him anytime she wanted but to only offer it once and let her be the one to make that move if she decided at any point that she wanted to. So I made sure to offer it once while we were in the delivery room and she declined. 

I'm glad he was in that bed so I was able to focus on HER for a bit and comforting her and allowing her to vent about her frustrations regarding that dr. I'm so thankful for our open relationship and that she felt comfortable enough with me to share everything on her heart. I reassured her that WE were so proud of her and that WE knew she took such great care of Spear and that it was OBVIOUS she did amazing because, hello, look at him! NO dr was going to make us waiver on our appreciation and love for her! 

When one staff member came in they moved him to the small rolling crib and then left it directly in her line of vision. I felt weird moving it and like sat there trying to figure out a good excuse because I felt so bad that he was literally placed where she couldn't help but stare at him. Zach was a genius because he said "Emily move him out of the direct light b/c that junk is shining right on him." Perfect excuse ;) 


Mama E was exhausted (rightfully so) and so frustrated. She really wanted to get OUTSIDE and have a break and there was a lot of talk about the rules and regulations regarding that. Since she was having her tubes tied the next day they wanted to leave the epidural port in so they could easily put her under the next morning for that procedure. She really didn't want to deal with having to stay inside that whole time so they took it out to allow her to get outdoors as soon as she moved to postpartum. 

Once again our journey was experiencing another wait! I'm telling yall this experience has been allll about the waiting! We were all pretty annoyed by it and our conversation wasn't "light and cheerful" like during the delivery wait. It was more "complaining and annoyance" during this one ;) At least misery loves company and we were all in the miserable boat together! 


Goop eyes!


At around 10:30 Mama E was FINALLY moved to a room. I stayed with Spear and Zach walked her down with her things and to get her settled in. Literally as they were moving her, her mom came in. She went down with them and then came back up to visit with us. 

We had met her mama a couple times. I met her early on in things as she helped keep Mama E's other kids for appointments and such. Mama E had told me that she knew her parents wouldn't be there during the delivery or after because it would be too hard for them, especially for her mother. Which I totally can understand. They were VERY supportive of her decision to place him for adoption but couldn't emotionally handle seeing their grandchild and knowing they wouldn't watch him grow up. 

Her mama sat with us and talked about how she wasn't planning to come at ALL but then she was sitting at home and just thought "This isn't about me. It's about my daughter and I need to be there for HER." Yes. Yes. YES! I'm SO thankful she made that call to come, even though I know it was difficult for her. I know that Mama E needed her there and I'm sure she has no regrets about her decision to come up to the hospital that night. 

The three of us sat and talked for awhile. I offered for her to hold Spear but she did decline, which I understand as well. My big thing was I always wanted to offer because I wanted to make sure everyone involved had every opportunity needed to help them heal (sidenote but I did not offer Mama E's friends the opportunity to hold him haha). Maybe holding him would help in her process, maybe it wouldn't, but either way I didn't want her having any regrets and didn't want her to have to ASK to hold him if she wanted to. 

Our talk with Mama E's mom was a very, very emotional moment for all three of us. We all cried. And it felt good to let those tears flow freely rather than trying to hold them back. She thanked us over and over and said how perfect it all truly was and how proud she was of Mama E for this decision and how they couldn't have imagined a better family raising this baby. We all hugged and I made sure to let her know, just as I have Mama E, that our door is open and that we're always here for ALL of their family. 

She gave us a super sweet card and a gift for Spear to have. This is just so precious to me! 
Such a powerful moment together that I'm very thankful we all had. 



They moved us into a waiting room to wait for a legit room to open up. Yup. At 11:30. Then they moved us to what we started calling "the closet room." It was a small room in postpartum that isn't used anymore (or at least not currently). It only had a couch (no bed). We hung out there until a legit room was ready for us. LONGEST. DAY. EVER. 


Hanging in the closet room! 


Drinking that DELICIOUS postpartum OJ ;)


FINALLY at about 12:30 we were moved into our room. It was funny because on our way to the room we bumped into Mama E just walking down the hallway haha! So chill like she hadn't just given birth! 

This room was provided to us at NO COST. AT ALL. So while it was frustrating waiting for so long...we also didn't complain a bit about it because we were just very, very appreciative. A lot of times in adoption the baby rooms in with the birth mother. The adoptive families stay in a hotel and come visit with the baby, in the birth mom's room. 

Even as close as we are with Mama E, I can't imagine how tough and uncomfortable that would have been for us ALL. So I'm super, super appreciative that UF Shands offers this!!!

Sweet feet!


I love his long fingers!


Even though it was so late Zach still busted out with a gift for me! I ZERO percent expected it!!!! I had joked about a "push present" when we got matched and Zach said "you ain't pushing" and made jokes that this baby cost us enough to count as the gift ;) It was SO crazy sweet and thoughtful of him to get me a gift!!!!! I love that each of my babies have a piece of jewelry that their daddy gave me when they were born :) 


A Spear for our Spear ;) 


(next day obviously)


Zach went and slept in the closet room so he could have a bit of solid sleep and I hung with Spear for the night. It was WEIRD as I've never had a baby stay in the room with me that first night like that! He never left the room at all. I didn't get ANY sleep but I did find that the staff really didn't disturb us much. I'm sure part of that is that I hadn't delivered so that cut the amount of people in the room that they needed to check on in half ;) 

Nothing like a 1:30 am photo session ;)




And more at 4:30 ;)


I joked a lot about how it was UF hospital b/c we are Seminole Fans and of course the GATOR hospital would have all the opposite stuff from what we'd use. They used Huggies diapers (I'm a bit of a Pampers snob) and they used Similac formula when the free samples I had with me to use after discharge were all Enfamil!

This instant formula was SO gross and got EVERYWHERE. But yall know how I roll...I def kept asking for more so I'd have a nice stash to take with us when we left ;)


They had to come prick Spear's feet every 6 hours to check his blood. Something about his blood type not matching with Mama Es or something put him at a higher risk for jaundice? Even the first time they tested it he was super low on the spectrum for it so they assured me it'd very likely not even be an issue at all but seeing them drain his little feet was awful! And it was always like the worst timing too when he was sleeping and I was sleeping! 


I tried to do a good bit of skin to skin. Zach is the skin to skin PRO and did it a lot too. Everything I read said it's AMAZING for bonding and healing and just has endless benefits for newborns in general, but especially ones in adoption situations. 


All the bandaids and tags! Bless him!


Sweetest snuggles!



Every state has different rules regarding adoption. In Florida the birth mother cannot sign over her parental rights until she's cleared to discharge from the hospital. Often this is at 24 hours after delivery, but we knew going in that Mama E was having the tubal procedure which would mean she wouldn't be discharged that quickly. We assumed 48 hours. After delivery. So we had a full two days of waiting. 

Yes. More waiting. 

I posted this on IG and wanted to have it here as well (I posted several "mini blogs" and will copy and paste them in the appropriate posts!):

Waiting.
This journey has been filled with many waits. Waiting to find that perfect match, that “yes.” Waiting for the birth of this baby we’ve prayed for for so long. 
Now we enter a new phase of waiting. Waiting on a mother who loves her child so unconditionally to sign paperwork stating we will raise him. Waiting to see if he will need any extended hospital care. Waiting to see if he’s truly ours. 
The faith is in the wait. So we wait. And we trust. And we pray. 
And while we wait we enjoy these sweet moments with the one who is worth waiting for 💙
I know I’ve asked for so many prayers in this journey. But this stage of things needs the most yet. Pray for healthy baby. Pray for his mama and her unimaginably difficult decision. Pray for us as we try to guard our hearts while unable to hold back from having him fill them full. 



Mama E had been nervous about those first moments after delivery, for me? I was most nervous about the wait between. Between delivery and her opportunity to sign. 

I had a lot of emotions regarding this wait. I thought once we were matched that I'd feel GOOD and just SURE but I didn't. I think it's impossible to feel content until it's all signed and set in stone. Even though there wasn't a single "red flag" of concern that everything would go smoothly and that this baby would end up being ours...it was still SO HARD to wait. 

We decided once we were matched and had decided a name to do a puzzle fundraiser to help raise funds for our travel expenses (thank you to all who donated...the donations completely covered my stay in Florida as well as some of the post placement visit expenses and were a HUGE blessing to our family!). I loved the IDEA of the puzzle but I was honestly thankful that not all of the pieces got "purchased" and that his name wasn't revealed prior to placement. 

I didn't feel comfortable thinking about his name. Let alone using it or having other's know it. I wrapped several gifts for him prior to his birth and just put little cute sayings like "our newest baby" or even used his nickname "Tab" rather than what his name would be. No one knew his name prior to his birth except for Zach, myself and Mama E. 

Even at the hospital after his birth I didn't use his name. I never once said "Spear" when I talked to him. I even avoided saying it when I talked about him. Several of the nurses and such would ask his name and of course I'd tell them, but I just couldn't use it. Not yet. 

The name thing was a big anxiety thing for me which I think does make sense. We never used our kids names until they were born. We never knew the sex until birth and always kept the names a secret! I think some part of me felt like using his name would jinx things. Like it shouldn't be known and attached to him until he was OUR baby. 

It was one small way for me to keep my guard up, to keep that wall around my heart. Not that I think it would have made it ANY easier if Mama E decided to parent...but in my state of mind at the time it helped me cope with the wait. 


I stayed very focused on the present during this waiting period. I tried not to think about the "what ifs." I also didn't think about the future. I couldn't. Luckily a new baby has a lot of needs and you're also dealing with a lot of exhaustion. So it wasn't TOO hard for me to just stay focused on the NOW and not think too much beyond that. 

I appreciate all my incredible friends for their constant support during that waiting time. I'm sure it was hard to know what to say but everyone said just the right things to provide me comfort and remind me that everything would be okay. No matter what happened, it was all HIS plan. 



At 6:45 in the morning (Sat Dec 2nd!) the nurse came to get me to bathe Spear for the first time. I called Zach from the closet room to join us and he met us there. It was so neat to be IN the actual area while they washed him! At our hospital you can watch through a glass and I don't think I've ever seen my babies get their first bath? It usually happens when I'm being moved to postpartum! 

SO much hair!!!







All clean!


Zach came back to the room with us and I showered and got ready for the day at that point! I had 4 hours of broken sleep but I'm thankful I went ahead and got ready as it ended up being a VERY full day. 



Skin to skin :) 


Daddy's view of this precious boy! 


I asked Zach how he felt about things. He felt SO sure that it was all going to be okay. Zach is just very positive that way. I mean we left the dr when he got diagnosed with MS and he never hesitated or got upset or faltered at all. He was confident right from the moment of diagnosis that he'd be FINE. Same goes for Spear. He was confident our entire match. He was never nervous or worried that it wouldn't work out. 

While it's awesome that he's like that, it's also frustrating for me at times. I was SO upset when he got diagnosed with MS and it's like "dude be upset for a second okay?!?!" While I'm thankful he's such a strong leader and has such unfaltering faith...I wouldn't mind a little tiny bit of weakness once in awhile so I wouldn't feel so alone in it when I struggle! 

Zach said he felt the SAME with Spear as he did with our other children when they were born. Spear was his son. That quickly. I envied that he could feel that so easily and trust those feelings so surely. I also think it was easier for him to be attached that quickly because really the process for him wasn't a whole lot different than usual. He's never been pregnant or delivered a baby. He's always watched from the sidelines during labor and has always been the "dad role." His role was no different this time and I think that helped him to feel like everything was the same as it's always been! I'm sure it would have been different if Spear's birth dad had been present ya know? 

I also asked him how he liked it that he could feed him. He's never been able to feed our babies in the past because I was nursing. He said he'd rather not be able to feed him because he'd rather him be breastfed haha I'm telling yall Zach is hardcore about some breastfeeding!!! 


My turn for snuggles!




So obsessed with all that hair!!!








I struggled with feeding him. Which I know is hilarious because it's a bottle, it's supposed to be EASY. But I was just so clueless about it and the formula got EVERYWHERE. I also didn't know how much to feed him as he was VERY sleepy and didn't seem to want to each much at all. I always have heard how formula fed babies are "overfed" and I didn't want to overfeed him. 

The nurse told me to just feed him 1 oz every 3-4 hours (which yall is NOT RIGHT so don't follow that advice!!!). I think a negative about a learning hospital is that you can get someone who doesn't REALLY know the right answer and guesses rather than finding out. The one nurse that came in and went over a newborn baby book with me legit had no clue what she was talking about. If I hadn't been a seasoned mama I would have walked away very misinformed! 

I ended up NOT feeding the poor kid enough because I went off what I was told which wasn't right. It's hard to find info on formula feeding a newborn. Even googling I mostly came across stuff trying to convince moms to breastfeed rather than giving them the advice and knowledge they needed to have in order to formula feed. 

This nurse came in and showed us this technique that was supposed to help it be less of a mess when feeding him. I found that this way though ended up giving him more gas in the long-run. Speaking of gas...I also totally wasn't burping him enough. I just totally forgot about burping. He was so sleepy and just cuddly and easy that I never even though about it. Mom fail. And just goes to show it doesn't matter how many babies you have had...the newborn phase is a BLUR and you really do forget! 


I loved that this photo was in our room! We always get a pic of Zach holding our babies this way :) 


I did NOT take many pics of Spear during those days of waiting. Mostly because I thought we'd be in the hospital a full week so that I'd have TONS of TIME to get lots of pics. I used that time to rest and to just try to mentally make it through and didn't focus a lot on pics. Which I totally regret because man I love me some baby hospital photos...that lighting is always so good! I had SO much fun with Tess taking tons and tons of pics during our stay (you can see some of them in this post...and really can see how much Spear and Tess resemble each other as newborns!


Mama E had her procedure at around 4:30 that morning. Zach went to get some breakfast for us and grabbed her some too and left it on her table in her room. Her room was literally two doors down from ours. I'm so thankful we had our own space. However, I could HEAR her phone ringing whenever someone called. If I could hear that...then I knew she could hear whenever Spear cried. And that bugged me. I hated thinking about her laying in that bed hearing him. It added a lot of extra anxiety to the situation because I couldn't fully relax and enjoy him while worrying about her ya know? 

She also kept getting bothered by staff asking about Spear. Which broke my heart. People would come in our room asking if I was "Ms Mama E's Last Name" and I'd say no. Then they'd also come in and say "I went to Ms Mama E's room and she sent me here." Ugh. I asked if we could label our doors or something but with HIPPA it's not allowed. I hated that they'd keep going into her room regarding baby type stuff and she'd have to keep telling people over and over about our situation. 

I am always hardcore about being SUPER nice to all the nurses and staff when I have a baby. Not only because I'm just a natural extrovert and love visiting, but especially because a connection helps big time while at the hospital. This baby? I was OVERBOARD tight with everyone haha. I'm talking everyone knew our story and our situation. I was hoping by sharing our story that it would help Mama E to have the best possible care. I wanted people to be tender with her and kind and respectful and to pray for her too. I asked them all to pray for her. 

Everyone was SO GREAT. We had PHENOMENAL people with us through the entire wait and I checked in with Mama E regularly to make sure she was receiving great care too. Once she was back from her procedure I went to check in with her but she was CASHED. I asked a nurse about the tubal and she said it's a pretty rough procedure and has a rather tough healing and recovery. Mama E was on some good pain meds and I'm thankful she was able to get some deep sleep! 







Skin to skin with Mommy too :) 


I love the contrast of Zach's big hands on Spear's tiny body!




I'm so glad Z got a picture of this! Spear constantly would only open one eye haha it was like he was a little pirate ;) 


During our match I put together gift bags for Mama E and her daughters (then when her son moved back into town we got him a gift too). Gift giving is my love language. Regarding adoption you aren't supposed to give things to the birth mother but a small gift is okay at the birth. Wellllll I mean "small" is a relative word right? ;) Y'all know I tend to go a tad overboard in the gift giving department! I loved that her mama gave Spear a gift because it made me feel like it was more okay that I got all of Mama E's crew stuff too. I will be doing a separate post showing all the gifts :)

Something that was also important to me was to write Mama E a letter. I tried multiple times during our match to write it but I just couldn't. I knew it had to wait. I also tried to write Spear a letter during our wait and that too couldn't be done at that time. I wanted to write Mama E's letter when everything was fresh and raw and in real time. So I wrote it that morning before going to her room to give her the gifts. I'm also doing a separate post with the letter soon! 


Since Zach had solid sleep the "night" prior, he made plans to watch the FSU game with Spear that morning and let me sleep. I decided to finish up the letter to Mama E first. I wanted to go in and spend time with her as soon as possible. I felt like it was very, very important to show her that I'm STILL here for her. I wasn't just a support system while she was pregnant, but I'll continue to be now that he's born and in our arms. 

She was awake when I popped in which worked out great. I gave her the gifts and showed her each of them so she didn't have to open them (she was still looking pretty uncomfortable after her surgery). I told her there was a note in her bag but that she should wait and read it later as it may be emotional for her. She really liked everything and seemed genuine in her appreciation. We talked a bit and then I left to let her rest but I let her know we were down the hall if she wanted company and reminded her that she could see Spear at any time if she wanted too as well (I know, I know, the lawyer said to just offer it once. But yall I couldn't do that! I didn't want her to feel uncomfortable asking to see him if she wanted to so I offered again!). 

She said she did want to hang out and we made plans that evening to have dinner together, all four of us!



We were doubly blessed...both by having the LEGIT hospital room but also by having the "closet room" It was such a great spot to sneak in an uninterrupted nap :) 


I went to the closet room at noon. I got an hour and 45 min sleep when a text woke me up. From Mama E. It simply said "Birth dad (except used his name) just left. He wanted to see baby."

Yall. I have NEVER bolted out of a bed like I did right then. 

I RUSHED to our room FIRST. Zach was holding Spear and I said "Did he come by? Did he come in? Did anything happen?" Thank the LORD it was all a "no." I then RUSHED right into Mama E's room to make sure she was okay.

A little back story on Spear's biological father. I can go on and on for days about all the amazing qualities Mama E posses. I cannot do the same for Mr. J. (no cute "Papa" nickname for this dude). He's bad news. He's bad news for Mama E. For her children. Their children. Our child. 

The ONLY good quality about him is that he left town back in May. She was able to go forward with an adoption plan for her baby without him messing things up. He was out of her life. Which was the very best thing for her and her babies. 

Well. Recently he showed back up. They have been in a relationship for 8 years. They have children together. She was pregnant with his baby. It's HARD to cut ties with someone, especially someone who is tied so tightly to you in so many ways. I was very proud of her for continuing to keep distance from him and not allowing him back her in life.

Mr. J was NOT on board for the adoption plan. When Mama E and I got close I asked her about why he wasn't on board. She said he wanted to keep the baby. Which is not news an adoptive parent wants to hear. I worried from the start about that because this was his first son. All his prior children with Mama E have been girls and I could just see a guy wanting to step up when it's a boy? 

The way Florida adoptions work regarding the birth father is that first he must be located to be served the papers regarding the adoption plan. They did due diligence in locating him and couldn't find him. At the time he was in another state and didn't have a job or home situation which makes it pretty impossible to find someone! If they'd been able to serve him then he would have had 30 days to respond to the papers and if he wanted to parent he would then have to prove he's capable (clearly if he can't care for the children he already has, he isn't capable). Since they couldn't locate him info was placed on a registry online and a time period was given for a birth father to come forward. He didn't. 

When he showed back up in Jacksonville my anxiety went through the roof. I wasn't worried about him trying to parent this child. I was worried about his possible influence on Mama E. I was worried for her safety. The safety of all of her children, including this unborn child. I was worried too for the funds she received as part of her living expenses and such. I was worried he'd try to claim them as his or cause her to be disrupted in the plans she had for herself moving forward. I was extremely concerned that he'd convince her to get back together with him and to raise this child. Aside from the fact that we're matched with her and excited to raise this baby in our family...even an outsider perspective would say that him being raised by Mr J would not be a healthy environment and would not be in the best interest of anyone. 

While Mama E was in labor the day prior he called her. I knew it was him based on her tone of voice and how it changed and shifted. She told him she was in labor but told him the wrong hospital. I guess that morning a "friend" of hers who happens to be related to him told him where she really was. Like who does that? Poor Mama E had been through labor, surgery and placing her baby in our arms and then had to deal with that mess?!?! I. Was. Livid.

Thankfully Mama E was okay. She said he seemed in an okay headspace when he came in and that he just wanted to know about the baby and wanted to see him. She was TICKED at the girl who brought him up there and I felt so bad for her because she felt truly betrayed. And she was scared for her other children too. She has a new home and Mr J doesn't know where that home is and she was worried that this "friend" would take him there too. She was worried about her other children and was on the phone trying to make sure they were all safe and with people she fully trusted. 

Can you even imagine that? Having to be worried for the safety of your children while stuck in a hospital bed?

She said she told Mr J that the baby was with US and that we had already left. Smooth lie that I'm very, very thankful for. Zach and I had talked about the "what if" scenario if Mr J showed up at the hospital. Zach is a big dude and he not only feels protective of his children but also of their mother...he let Mama E know that if Mr J EVER came around to let us know and he'd drive down and handle things himself if needed. 

Leading up to Mama E's due date I actually discussed the possibility of him showing up with the lawyer. They said they've only ever had that happen once. And to CALL THEM if it did but that they didn't foresee it being a likely occurrence. 

It was a CRAZY series of events. I feel like his visit was Satan trying to steal all of our joy and make us question our faith and trust in God and His plan. And boy, God didn't like that one bit and responded in a HUGE way. Immediately

As I was standing there with Mama E a nurse came in to deliver flowers to her. From her father. Which was HUGE. It instantly calmed her and was just exactly what she needed in that moment. To be reminded that she has a strong man in her life who loves her and is proud of her and that she CAN do this. She doesn't need to backtrack down a bad path. She can continue being strong and that she has the support she needs to be free of Mr J and the countless ways he held her back. 

I went ahead and left her room and went straight to the nurses station. I told them what happened and expressed my concerns about Mama E's safety. They said the hospital policy is either ANY guests welcome or NONE. And guess what we were considered? Yup. Guests. So the policy had to remain open door BUT if Mama E had any unwanted visitors she could notify them and they'd call security. I asked that nurse to please go see Mama E herself and let her know that they were there FOR HER too and would make sure she felt safe etc. I think it was important for Mama E to have that support of the staff too. 

I glanced at my phone in all of this and saw this text from my sweet, amazing, Godly friend Elaine. A perfect reminder in that moment. Just when I needed it most. A God thing no doubt. 


I went straight back into our room and immediately called the lawyer. It was a Saturday so I got an after hours line but told them I needed to speak with the legit lawyer immediately. He called back right away and I filled him in. He was pretty awesome about it and said he'd come up there himself if needed and that he was glad Mama E handled it like she did and that we did the right thing calling. 

He then said the hospital staff had notified him that Mama E could be discharged that afternoon if she wanted. Which SHOCKED me! I thought we'd have a full 48 hour wait!!! However Mama E was in a LOT of pain and part of the adoption laws in Florida state the birth mother cannot be on any pain medication for a certain amount of time prior to signing. So he had already talked with Mama E and made plans to come at 9 AM THE NEXT MORNING to get things squared away! HUGE, AWESOME news there!

He also reassured us that he wasn't worried what so ever about this birth dad situation. That as long as Mama E didn't name him on the birth certificate it wouldn't be an issue and that he'd go over those things with her plainly when the time came. 

As soon as I hung up with him the social worker came in to talk with us. I hadn't met her yet but she wanted to let us know that she met with Mama E. She said she does this ALL the time and that she saw ZERO red flags concerning this adoption plan. That Mama E seemed very confident and comfortable with the plan and that she was also confident everything would go smoothly. 

THEN literally the minute she left a nurse came in. She told us that Spear was doing phenomenal. And that we could GO HOME THE NEXT DAY.

Say whhhhat?!?! I'm pretty sure Zach and I both had a mouth gapped open look on our faces. How in the world could he already leave the hospital!?!?!?!  We were ALWAYS told 5 days MINIMUM and then after his birth that night prior were told 7 days! And we weren't even out of the woods for NICU stay. We literally couldn't believe it. 

She said that he showed ZERO signs or symptoms of concern. NOTHING seemed like he'd need any additional care. She said they would allow him to be discharged at 40 hours. 40 HOURS yall. GOD IS AMAZING.

The nurse said that during that 40 hours they'd either see a drastic change in him where he'd need that NICU or he'd be cleared to discharge. She said it was extremely unlikely to see that shift at this point in the game.

She agreed that this right here. THIS was a real life, in your face MIRACLE folks. She said it was something rarely seen or witnessed that a newborn in this situation would be discharged that quickly. Miracle

I literally couldn't even wrap my head around this news! We told her we had just talked to the lawyer. I'm pretty sure I went through every single thing that had just happened. Because it was SO CLEARLY the LORD AT WORK! Right?!?!? I have NEVER seen such a Godly response to a situation so quickly and so obviously directly from HIM. I felt the power of ALL the prayers that had been being lifted. GOD ANSWERED. And he didn't just answer but He answered BIG. He's an awesome God!!!

The nurse was awesome about everything. We told her we had plans for our kids to come meet their new sibling after signing and asked if we'd have to leave right when discharged? I mean we needed to slow roll it as much as possible haha which is so opposite of probably what most people would say! She said it'd be NO problem to take our time the next day and that they had a much bigger, nicer, better room available so they'd go ahead and move us right then and there to that new room so our big day the next day could be more comfortable and have better lighting.

That nurse went and got another nurse to help us move rooms and SHE had been super touched by our story and situation. She shared with me that she had gone to visit Mama E earlier that day. That she talked with her a long time and told her how incredible she was and how brave and strong and how proud she was to be part of this story and that she's just so proud of Mama E. She said Mama E cried a little and they had a nice moment together and that Mama E really responded well to their talk. Yall that was just the icing on the cake of so much great news all at once. Mama E later talked to me about that moment and how much it meant to her. For her to always be so worried about how she'd be treated and then have a nurse step up and do that, all on her own? Another awesome way that God had His hand all over this situation.

Good news after good news after good news. 

Let's recap:

Birth Dad shows up: scary as crap
Mama E handles it so well: God thing 1
Mama E's dad sends flowers: God thing 2
Staff is there to protect Mama E: God thing 3
Social Worker sees no red flags: God thing 4
Lawyer plans to have her sign earlier than expected: God thing 5
Spear gets to get discharged at 40 hours post delivery: God thing 6
And heck let's toss the new room in there too as: God thing 7 ;) Why not?
Plus the nurse having that talk with Mama E: God thing 8

ALL of that. THAT many "God things" in under a 10 minute span of time. Incredible. I still get chills when I think about it. This is God's story and boy is He telling it!!!


All situated in our new room! Beginning to allow myself to let those walls come down, still cautious but increasingly hopeful that this is IT! 




Sweet nurses really went above and beyond and got his little foot prints for us in his baby book :) 
(poor thing with those dang bloody heals from all the pricking!)



New room! Whoop whoop!!!

I wonder if this sign was to help relay the info regarding our special circumstances? 


That evening Mama E came into our room to visit and eat dinner. Zach went and got us O'Charley's so we could have a feast together. She seemed to be doing really well. She held Spear for a bit and then stayed for a little while. She was more distant than she had been. It seemed like as my walls were coming down, hers were going up. Which I understood. She needed that space and distance. I tried to respect whatever she wanted and just let her still be in that drivers seat in all of this. 

She didn't stay very long. It was a brief visit and she took majority of her food back to her room with her. I'm sure the magnitude of that night wasn't lost on her. It was our last time all together in the roles we'd all been used to. Her as the parent. Us as the support. Everything would change the next morning. A shift. A divide. Everything over these several months was leading up to that moment, that decision. We understood her need for that space and were just thankful she felt comfortable enough with us to come see us and spend that time together. 

After our dinner Zach went to sleep in the closet room again. I had alone time with Spear. Our last night of not quite yet being mother and son. It had been such an emotional couple of days and I was just mentally drained. I poured myself into Mama E so much so that I didn't have much energy left for myself. For facing how I was feeling and coping. 

As I held him that night I was overcome with emotion. I felt the desire to sing to him and realized I hadn't yet chosen a song. I have a song for each of our children that I sing to them when I tuck them in and I decided to look into a few and see about choosing one. Throughout the adoption I had been keeping an ear out for inspiration for a song and whenever I'd hear 1,000 Years I'd think "this feels so right." 

I looked up the lyrics. And they were just so perfect. Perfect for that moment. Perfect for the way I felt and the way I knew I'd always feel. I sang to him and that's when it happened. Right there in that bed. 12 hours before the lawyer would come to make things official. That's when my walls came crashing down because my heart could no longer be contained. My love overflowed and I couldn't hold back from pouring it fully into him any more. This was it for me. I was all in and there was no turning back. He was mine. I was his. 



My baby. 


As I allowed myself to fall in love with this precious boy, it also made it impossible to hold back the emotions any longer. I cried so hard. All the tears I'd been holding back. All the pain I'd been trying to protect myself from feeling. All the fears. All the hope. All the magnitude of it all. I just let it all go. I allowed myself to feel it and feel it fully and just get it all out. 


After feeling all the feels I was physically spent. I got Spear to sleep and started to sleep myself when BAM a nurse came in and pricked his feet to draw that blood. UGH. He was so upset and I was so exhausted. We had a HUGE day the next day and I just needed a little, tiny bit of SOLID sleep. I buzzed for the nurse and one of my favorites came in (Marley). I told her I knew their policy for not having babies in the nursery but if she didn't mind taking him for just a little bit I'd appreciate it SO much. She was glad to do it (her sister is starting the adoption process so I shared a lot with her!) and I was thankful for that much needed SLEEP. It was only for a few hours but yall know that even just a few solid hours can make a huge difference when you're that exhausted! 

When Mama E left our room that night she said she wasn't feeling well and would come back by later. I sent her a text letting her know we were heading to bed and that she could come by if she wanted or come by the next morning. She responded and said she'd love to spend some time the next morning. She mentioned she might like some alone time with Spear and that she wanted to see us all before she left to get some pics together. 

I instantly said of course but didn't hear anything further from her. 

The easy thing would have been to let it slide. Not to bring it up. Not to mention it again. But that next morning I sent her a text and let her know he was finishing up eating and that it'd be a good time for him to come visit with her alone if she'd like that. 

She said yes. 

A nurse came to get him and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't upset. I'm thankful I had a mission and a focus: getting ready for the day. With the plans ahead regarding the photographer coming, our other kids coming, and being discharged there was a LOT to focus on. I tried hard to focus most on not messing up my makeup ha!

When that nurse came to get him I got so upset. Upset that he was leaving me. But mostly upset to think about that time he'd be having with her. It could mean everything changing. She could spend that time and not be able to finish the plan she'd put in motion so many months ago. This could be a goodbye to my child from me. It could be the end of our story with him. But I was also upset thinking that it most likely would be the end of his story with her. Their goodbye. A final moment as mother and son. It was heartbreaking to think about the feelings she was having. Alone in the room just down the hall. What would she say to him? What would her words be? How would it all make her feel?

I had then, and still have now, no regrets in offering her that time. I knew it was what was best for her. And, honestly, what was best for ME too. I needed to know that she had every opportunity with him that she needed or wanted. That she had every opportunity to change her mind. I needed to know she would make this decision with a clear mind and heart and with no regrets. I needed to make sure I could look at him in my arms and not ever feel any guilt. Never think I should have done more for her. 

While he was away I posted some of my thoughts on Instagram. A way to get prayers rolling for this HUGE day ahead without straight asking for them and a way for me to focus on ALL the many ways God was present in this story:

God is in the details.
From the beginning of our adoption journey every time I’d close my eyes at night I’d have this brief vision. My arms lifting a dark curly haired baby. 
When we matched with Mama E all of her babies are blonde. In my moments of doubt during the wait I’d come back to that vision and worry.
But here I sit with this dark haired baby on my chest. 
It’s just one of the many little details in this journey. Little reminders that God is all over this situation and that He is guiding our way. 
Yesterday was a day filled with such moments. When a rocky moment came we were instantly flooded with incredible reminders that God is with us. He’s working. 




It was 7:30 when he went to her room. The nurse who took him came back by and said they were both doing well. That Mama E asked her to change his diaper and then she asked to hold him and cried some but that she was okay. She left them to have some time alone and would be checking back in with her shortly to see how things were going. 

We were SO blessed with so many incredible nurses during our stay. They all treated our whole situation so tenderly and lovingly. I'm thankful for them!

At 8:40 he was back in my arms. For good. 




Almost as soon as he got back the nurse came to take him to be circumcised (Yall don't even come at me with anti-circumcision junk. Any rude comments regarding it will be deleted, we've been down this road already in the past and I won't be bullied about it again. I know it's a controversial thing but it's also a PERSONAL decision and one that was made by myself, my husband, and Mama E and one that we are all content with). 

I felt like the timing all worked out so well that he was able to have that uninterrupted special time with Mama E. I'm so thankful they didn't try to come get him from her and that SHE was able to decide when her moment with him was over. When it was time say that goodbye and let him go. Let him come back to us, come to us to stay. 

For 4 months we waited for the moment Spear would enter the world. And for 40 hours we waited for the moment he'd enter our family. 


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