(I wrote these words yesterday, but didn’t manage to press publish until this morning. If you’ve missed this (admittedly over-blogged 😉 episode in our lives, you can catch up with Maya’s birth story here.)
One year ago today, at 10:30am, our life changed with one phone call. One phone call to tell us that our daughter was waiting for us in the NICU. One phone call followed by one texted photo of the most perfect tiny baby girl. And then one long day of waiting to meet her.
I was chatting with my mom yesterday and saying that I don’t think I fully felt everything that happened at the beginning after Maya arrived because everything felt so surreal and unbelievable. We were instantly in the throes of caring for a newborn, so there wasn’t so much time to really feel everything and the enormity of what had happened.
But there are ways in which that has actually turned out pretty perfect as well.
First, I’m grateful that Maya instantly felt like she’d been there all along. We didn’t feel the enormity of it right away because it felt (after the first few moments) not so much like a surprise but an of course. Of course you are here. Of course you are you. Of course you are ours. I’m grateful that Maya never felt like an added responsibility or an extra piece. Instead, from those first moments, she felt like a limb I’d always lived with. And once she was here, I couldn’t remember life without that limb. Leaving her in the hospital late that night felt like I’d left a piece of myself ten miles away, like I couldn’t quite breathe until I could see and hold her again.
The transition from pre-Maya to life-with-Maya was seamless. Now, lest you think that our transition to being parents was seamless, that isn’t what I’m saying at all. That was a learning curve! But the transition from our two-person family to a family of three, feeling totally whole as three, was seamless.
Second, I’m grateful that I feel and remember every aspect of that day. I can vividly picture exactly where I was and how I felt and how the light struck the bed as I made it that morning and how I felt a *ping* in my soul that I thought was God telling me there was a baby coming, that He had a baby in the palm of our hand that was already here on this earth and that it would be revealed soon. I remember thinking, hopefully, maybe we’d meet him or her in just a few months.
I remember racing to the car when Kim (our agency angel) called so I could get better reception. Our sweet little apartment is a concrete bunker with the worst cell reception, so I sat in the parking lot of the garden center around the corner and stared at the shrubs in front of me while she told me that our daughter was here.
I remember shaking when I saw Maya’s photo come through in a text and knowing in my soul that she was ours. I remember wandering around Target wanting to shout at the top of my lungs that she was here! But instead trying to choose a handful of baby clothes to bring to the hospital. I think I spent two hours in Target and only bought three things!
I remember standing in the parking lot of Michael’s school and trying to explain that she was here. She’s here, look! She’s perfect! Can’t we go already and get her?! But Michael was only one week into a job as a teacher with a classroom full of kids and a principal who didn’t yet know we had come to Houston to adopt. Knowing her now, she would have understood, but those first weeks were tenuous.
I remember the heavy, humid clouds and the grey day as we drove along equally grey concrete to the hospital that looked a little like a space ship. I remember not being able to find the right building or the right entrance or the right elevators. I remember making Michael stop in the lobby so we could brush our teeth and fix our faces so that we were fully prepared to meet our daughter.
I remember squeezing his hand in the elevator as we rose to the NICU floor and thinking, this is a moment I hope I’ll never forget.
I remember meeting our friend (and fairy godmother) Debs at the doors to the NICU where she handed us bright yellow nametags. Future Mom. Future Dad.
I remember setting my tote down at the door and squeezing Michael’s hand again as we walked over the threshold into a little twin room.
I remember seeing my girl all bundled in her little plastic box, sleeping so peacefully.
I remember standing over her, touching her soft skin, and saying to the nurses, But can we have her? I meant can we take her out, can we hold her, would you hand her to me already, I need to feel the weight of her to make sure she’s real. But I also meant can we have her. Can we have her forever. Is she really ours. Have we really just been given this perfect gift.
I’m grateful now that I didn’t fully feel any of those things at the time. If I had, I would have melted into a paralyzed puddle on the floor. I’m grateful that I can feel it all now, a year later (and hopefully just as vividly in the years to come), but that at the time we were able to get down to the business of loving and caring for her without completely losing our minds with emotion. Apparently that was to be saved for 365 days later!
As I tidy up this post and fix my made-up words, Maya is standing over her basket of books, picking them up and inspecting the covers, and then choosing another one. She is our miracle who almost walks and exclaims uh-oh when she throws something out of her high chair. This time last year, we weren’t looking this far ahead. Thankfully, instead, our overwhelmed brains were making memories of that wonderful day to last our lifetimes.
Tonight we’ll put Maya to sleep and leave her with her aunt for a few hours while we go to the same burger joint we did on the night we met Maya. After hours of cuddling and calling family, we needed sustenance and a breath of air. As we ate, not even tasting anything, we could only say to each other, Can you believe it happened? Isn’t she perfect? Tonight, we’ll linger, toast to the best day of our lives, and perhaps only say those same things just a few times.
It happened, and she’s perfect. And we are our family of three.
A few more photos from meeting Maya: