Wednesday, September 8, 2010

major life decision

When we got to the hospital on Friday morning, a staff social worker was waiting for us. She’d confirmed that Kelly would like to see us and she mentioned that the baby was currently in her room – at Kelly’s request. All of the papers were signed that we could have complete access to the baby. And since Kelly knew we were on our way, she figured it would be easier if everyone was all together in one place. Walking in to that room was a little overwhelming. We wanted to see the baby, but we were also concerned about Kelly (…remembering Allan’s advice 3 months ago about showing an interest in our birthmom, not just her baby.)  

I will be completely honest and say I was not immediately in love. Ryan and I have visited about 750 babies in the hospital (most of them in the last year) and it felt a lot like we were visiting a friend in the hospital. Plus, he looked A LOT like Tony and it seriously freaked me out. He was itty bitty, but miraculously not hooked to anything. I picked him up (with permission from Kelly) and tried my best not to cry or gush in front of her. It was SO awkward!!  She called the nurse to ask if we could have our own room to bond and be with our son. The hospital just didn’t have any rooms available, and we’d told the social worker that we didn’t require a room to stay overnight at the hospital since we had family in town. (She told me, “that’s good, because I’ll be really honest and tell you that our rooms are expensive! If you have family in town, I would advise you not to waste your money on a room here.”)  So as much as we would have liked our own, private room – and as much as Kelly would have liked us to be somewhere else for our entire bonding experience, the hospital just wasn’t going to give us a place to hang out without paying for it.

We made small talk with Kelly and took tons of pictures of each other holding the baby. Kelly mentioned no less than 6 times that her epidural didn’t take (a fact she also mentioned when I talked to her at 3am). She barely completed her sentences before falling in to a morphine coma, so we sort of tried to let her sleep without disturbing her too much (or completely ignoring her.) 

Every time I looked at the baby, I had instant anxiety, “What in the world are we going to name you?” It’s a lot of responsibility, naming a child! If he was a girl, no problem...we had a name all picked out. But a boy?  A boy needs a strong name. He needs a name that’s going to give him confidence in school and life in general. A boy needs a name that won’t get him beat up on the playground. A name that isn’t too trendy, too hard to pronounce, or totally normal but spelled all jacked up to make it seem exotic. Ryan really wanted his initials to spell something (Ryan Anthony Westhoff spells RAW) and we both agreed that we weren't going to name him something, then instantly give him a nick-name. If we wanted to call him Billy, we weren’t going to name him William – his name on his birth certificate would be Billy Westhoff. We had “Hank” sort of picked out, but he truly didn’t look like a Hank. He looked more like an Oliver or an Elliot, (but ass-kicking on the first day of school...sorry REVILO). After a few hours, the baby’s doctor came in for a check-up. She wasn’t allowed to tell us anything specifically about him (hospital policy since this was an adoption and the birthmother’s rights had not been officially terminated) but she could speak in general about small babies and what they tend to need.

Shortly after, another nurse came in with our baby’s “low jack” – the device designed to prevent random visitors from stealing him right out of the hospital. Evidently, they were “out” of these devices on the night he was born, so he’d gone 10+ hours without a way to alert the hospital that somebody was taking him. (gulp) He’d been undressed for a good 10 minutes during his exam, so when the other nurse realized he also hadn’t eaten since 8 that morning, it made sense that he was screaming his head off. She asked if we wanted to feed him.  “Ummm…yes, please!”

Kelly was showing signs of extreme fatigue and awkwardness, so we asked if we could leave her alone and go somewhere. The nurse took us out to the lobby where there were several little chairs and a wall-mounted TV. She talked to us about techniques for getting him to eat and the importance of keeping him bundled. He took the bottle like a voracious bear cub and quickly sucked down 20 mL. He burped like a champ. As we held him and contemplated names for him, we sent out a few text messages – soliciting suggestions. Just then, Tony walked by. He was on his way to see Kelly. He quickly recognized us and stopped. “How’s it feel, mommy?” shaking our hands and smiling like this was totally a normal, cool, groovy situation. He sat down and talked about how difficult the birth was for him…how he got to hold the baby in the operating room…how they had no idea it was a boy and how shocked the whole staff was when he finally came out…”Can you believe they got that wrong? I mean…how strange is that?”

“It’s pretty crazy!” Ryan answered

Tony went on and on about how difficult the entire situation has been for him, how much he hates Mary and how sad he was for Sophie when he heard it was another girl. Not that he didn’t want a boy, but “when it was a gurl…that was jus…man…it blew mah mahnd. Ya no?”  Then he stared at Ryan with the intensity of a lunatic.

“Ryan, I want you to PROMISE me something.”

(Oh, God…what?)

“Okay…” (seriously shitting his pants)

“Promise me that you’ll get this boy a guitar.”

(huge sigh of relief)

“Oh! Absolutely! We already have one at home!”
“Do you play?”
“No…Ashley does. I mean, I took lessons, but I just don’t have a gift for music. Ashley is the musician in the family.”

He looked at me with a light in his eyes, like we were kindred spirits.We spoke the same language. Then he went on and on about how “Sophie is just a nat’ral musician. She can watch anything with music…ah mean…if she hears sumthin’…she can remember it…you no that kahmershul with the dogs? That one where Share-ul Maglofflin is singin’? Sophie comes up to me just bawlin’ an ahm like ‘whassa madder baybee?’ an she’s like…’its jus suh sad’…ah mean…she feels it inner soal. This kiddlebe jus like Sophie, ya no? Ah got tah holdim whenny first came out an he was cryin’ up a storm. Ah jus holdim an start singin’ an he jus…he stopped. Is jus amayzin’. He’s gonna be a musishun. Ah jus no it.”

We talked a while longer and I snapped some pictures of him for reasons I can’t explain. I supposed some day, our son will want to know more about his birthparents and it will be good to have pictures, but I have no idea what to do with them until that moment. The sight of the guy makes my stomach turn, but I knew this was my chance. Of course, he’s done nothing but terrorize our birthmom and take us on endless roller-coaster rides to crazy town, but it was hard not to shake his hand and thank him for stopping by. He was a total gentleman. Completely charismatic. We could see how Kelly would believe every single word that came out of his mouth. We could see how he probably had the power to really manipulate her too.

After sitting there for a while, we decided it might be time to get some food. Neither of us had eaten anything since lunch the day before and we were becoming delirious from a lack of sleep.

Since Chick-fil-A was like invented in Georgia, we decided to stop there for lunch. It’s a little treat back home, but for whatever reason, it didn’t taste good to me at all. Something about my empty stomach and the greasy breading made me instantly nauseous and very uncomfortable. But over greasy Chick-fil-a and waffle fries, we decided on a name.

Luke Adler Westhoff.

It was official, and we had followed all of our rules. Luke was a nod to my maiden name, Lucas but we had no intentions of calling him Lucas, so his name would be Luke. Plain and simple. Easy to spell with special meaning (also…who doesn’t love Luke Skywalker?). His middle name would be Adler as a nod to two of my favorite designers, Jonathan Adler (who’s LA store was recently the highlight of my summer) and the incredibly talented Harold Adler (who worked with Saul Bass to create some of the best title designs in Hollywood history). His initials spelled “LAW” which Ryan loved, and as hard as we tried, we could not come up with any horrifying nick-names if Luke happened to be the weird kid on the playground.  We still didn’t have an official weight or height, but we sent out the texts before we left Chick-fil-a.  

Instead of heading back to the hospital, we decided to contact Sarah and get directions to her place. We were exhausted and thought it might be a good idea to get a nap in – which totally did not happen. The minute we got to Sarah’s, we sat down and started calling everyone we knew. The news was just too exciting, but a lack of internet at Sarah’s place made it impossible to send out a simple facebook or blog update. We would have to share the news the old-fashioned way. Sarah walked in the door around 5:30 and we squealed and hugged and told her everything we could about the flight, our birthparents, and her new nephew. We all hopped in the car and followed her iphone directions back to the hospital.

The nurses at the desk were thrilled to see us back so soon and remembered us from earlier. They brought Luke out to the lobby where we snuggled and played with him for several hours. Sarah was instantly smitten with Luke and it felt slightly more real once we introduced the two family members to one another.  Plus, we were on a different floor now, so there was no chance of Tony just walking by on his way to torture/control/manipulate Kelly. It was just us. And it felt amazing.


Anonymous said...

Hi there! I'm a friend of a friend, and have been following your blog for a while. Being a southerner, I wasn't a fan of the "accent", but maybe that's because they sounded too much like my grandparents. ;). Anyway, I'm a mom, and I just cried and cried reading this. You, my friends, are about to have the most wonderful adventure you have ever had. Love makes a family, and you guys obviously have so much of it to give to little Luke. Congratulations, rest up, enjoy every second, get used to sporadic showers and sleep, and welcome to the wonderful world of parenting a little boy- it's awesome. Many blessings!

Vanessa said...

Ashley - This is your life, so I feel slightly guilty about getting so much out of it, but please know how excited and amazed I am about your journey. And with phrases like "the intensity of a lunatic" - you are a gifted writer as well. We wish you the best of luck mama!