We left so J could spend some time with her son and we headed out to buy her some dinner. We went to Red Lobster and got one of her favorite meals and returned back to the hospital. I passed the meal onto the caseworker, and then, as we were walking back to the nursery to see Levi again, the caseworker stuck her head out the door and called me back.
"She wants to meet you."
"Me or us?"
I was so nervous. I had slept maybe 3 hours total and felt like I wasn't quite at my best...so I took a deep breath and walked in through her hospital room door. I was greeted with the kindest, sweetest, warmest welcome. The first thing J said to me? "Ooooooh, you're so cute!" I was so taken back by her animation and immediate compliment, I could only return the same statement because, "YOU'RE so cute" was the truth! I laugh a little when I think about our first moment seeing each other, and I love that. I love that it's filled with such happiness and in such a heavy time...that there was this light moment of happy. We hugged and talked. She told me a little bit about her struggles during the pregnancy and about how she is ready to make some improvements in her life. I felt intimately connected with her as we forged this mother bond. Meeting your child's birth mother is always a sacred experience, no matter the circumstances.
When I think of J, I think of love and happiness. In our short moments together, that's what I felt. There's a happiness in her heart that pours out. She has a great smile that is infectious and you feel her love. There was no doubt, and remains no doubt, in my mind that she adores her son. She spent as much time as she could with him, preferring he sleep in her room than in the nursery. She truly wants what is best for him. I simply felt her love and I immediately felt connected to her and loved her.
We left the hospital so she could spend time with Levi and returned at 9pm to sign the relinquishment papers. When we got to the hospital, she had already signed her portion. We signed, and left, allowing her the entire evening to be with him knowing that in the morning we'd return to take him home with us. It was all surreal and completely bittersweet.
I cry when I think about what those hours must have been like. I'm not sure how a woman goes through the long 9 transformative months of pregnancy, becoming a mother for the first or third time, and then says goodbye. I can't imagine the pain and emptiness that must bring on. I can't imagine saying goodbye. I just can't. And as many times as I've said it, I only believe it more and more strongly each time...there truly must be a very special place in heaven for mothers who will sacrifice so much goodness for a pure hope for something better. The courage that takes, and the faith, is beyond my ability to measure.
The next morning we arrived at the hospital and said our own goodbyes. We spent a bit of time with J. Marcus came into her room with me so they were able to meet and talk. Unfortunately she was still suffering from some pain but overall doing a lot better than the day before. We took a few pictures, and J tried hard to keep moving along, being extremely kind but also trying to take care of business. Clearly, she did not want to cry in front of us and mentioned a couple times, "Ok, I don't wanna cry..." and would change the topic.
We are now a family of six. Transitioning from 3 to 4 kids has been much smoother than I anticipated. I think there are a lot of reasons for that...the school year was ending and so I didn't have to worry about schedules with a new baby. Callie is older and adores Levi, so she's actually quite helpful. Life has been really good. Levi is my little buddy. For the first 2 months he only wanted me to hold him. ONLY. He cried unless he was in my arms. We spent most of our awake and asleep time together. Now he's getting older and likes exploring a bit on his own, but still wants to be near me, and quite frankly...that's ok with me.