By: Chris Coyne
On January 7, 2010, our new birthmother, Aimee, called me after boarding the Los Angeles-bound airplane. She sounded really excited about her trip. I was so relieved to see her at baggage claim. She gave me a huge hug while we were waiting for her bags. To my surprise, she grabbed my hand and touched it to her very huge belly. I melted but I did not feel much. I was so excited; I am sure I was a mess. I lugged her extra heavy, wheel-less bag to the car. Aimee sat in front with me and her daughter sat in the back by herself. (Did I mention Aimee had a three-year-old who was also coming to Los Angeles?) While I was driving, our birthmother kept grabbing my hand and placing it on her tummy.
This was a whole new experience for me! I was sitting in very heavy traffic on the 405 freeway. I was transporting our birthmother (who looked like she could deliver at any moment) and her young daughter to an apartment in Hancock Park. I had one hand on the steering wheel and the other resting on her belly. She told me she wanted me to know about every part of her pregnacy and wanted me to feel comfortable around her. She explained to me that she knew this was right and she knew the baby boy she conceived was for Jon and me. I was sold! I felt butterflies in my stomach when I first felt the baby kick.
Jon was sold too! She had opened our hearts and our minds and we began to bond with her, her daugter, and our unborn baby boy. She shared everything about herself and her pregnancy from that point on. Aimee and I spent so much time together the first few days. (Unfortunately Jon was still wrapping up his New York project so he did not have this opportunity.) On just her first day in Los Angeles we had to do some grocery shopping, check into the apartment, and stop by the attorney’s office! She was wiped out after the flight but she managed. The next day was brutal too: we had to go to the Medi-Cal office, her first OB appointment, and meet with a social worker at the apartment.
The OB talked over a few things with Aimee before Jon and I spoke to him. She told the doctor she was ready to deliver as soon as he could induce! He was a bit worried about the emotional roller coaster she was about to go through, but first had to ensure the baby’s lungs were developed. She had not been able to sleep much in the last trimester so he gave her something to help her sleep.
A week later she had a late-stage amniocentesis. Jon took her little girl over to the Third Street Promenade during the test. I held her hand and tried to keep her calm when they jabbed a very long needle into her belly. It was hard to watch. But I think this was a real bonding moment for us. Some type of connection was forged. They had to send the fluid in for testing but the next day we received a call from the lab. Our baby was ready for delivery and he was exactly 38 weeks.
It took a couple of days for Cedars to book an induction. She checked into the hospital on January 18th. Our moms came into town to be with us for the birth, but it didn’t quite work out that way. Aimee planned on having a friend come out to assist with childcare while she was in the hospital but that didn’t work out either. Our moms had to watch Aimee’s little girl. I do not recall if we asked them or if they offered, but they definitely stepped up. This put them in a very weird position. They were undoubtedly nervous for us and stuck at our house with a stranger’s child. I know it was hard on them but we really did not have a choice.
So we checked into the hospital for the induction and we asked our birthmother if it would be ok if we stayed until after the birth. She supported that idea. We did not want to miss the birth, but also a nagging voice was telling us to not leave the hospital. What we did not know was that it was going to be a very long night.
The hospital nursing staff was amazing. They gave us a glamour room! A huge room, with sweeping views of the Hollywood hills, the Hollywood sign, and beds for two of us.
At first Jon and I were staring at the equipment and wondering about all the beeps and blips coming from the monitors but the novelty wore off after a couple of hours. Our first major obstacle was to try to keep our birthmother from knocking out the night nurse who inserted the IV. It was kind of funny to see a girl with piercings and tattoos freak out over a little needle. Shortly after, around 10 pm, the nurses inserted cervidil into out birthmother’s cervix and she began feeling pain shortly after that. The nurses discussed Aimee’s options for pain control. She could get three shots of something that was going to be amazing and something so she could sleep. She asked for her first shot 5 minutes after she felt her first contraction. We settled in for the night and began to feel the rhythm of the hospital.
At dawn a new set of nurses came in. We really liked our new nurse. She told us all about everything! Before this point we felt a little over our heads. We had never been to a birth before. We had no idea if we were going to be in the room, out of the room, or asked to video tape it! We felt in the way. Every time a nurse came in to check Aimee’s cervix, Jon found himself looking out the window. This new nurse started asking the right questions at the right time and we found out everything we wanted to know.
We were going to be in the room. The rest of the afternoon was much more comfortable. We started joking and playing around a bit. There were so many procedures! Aimee asked for an epidural block after her final shot. After that labor stopped! So they gave her oxytocin. Labor got really strong and she took a few naps. We felt like everything was going really slowly and nothing was happening and she would fall asleep every time something was about to happen.
Around 8PM they checked her cervix; she had dilated to 6. I had not eaten anything the whole day. I was starved and ran to a vending machine to grab a candy bar and to call my mom. Just as the candy bar dropped out of the box Jon came running down the hallway. She had dilated to 10 and she was screaming for me!
I entered the room just as the anesthesiologist was backing off the epidural. Aimee gave me this really intense look and closed her eyes. The nurse had called the doctor and he was on the way back to the hospital. Aimee was a little overwhelmed and she fell asleep…again! The nurse gave Jon and me the play-by-play of what to expect for a normal vaginal delivery. She would expect one of us to hold one of Aimee’s legs and the other to support Aimee’s head and neck for the pushing.
The doctor came in and the room transformed into a birthing room. Lights popped out of everything. The bassinet was warmed and the room was ready for our son to be born. The nurse told us she had been through this before with adoption plans. She knew the most important thing was to not run over and leave the birthmother after the baby was born. Jon and I decided we would take turns seeing him after Jon cut the cord.
Aimee woke to organized chaos. There was a doctor scooting her into position, a few new nurses, and us –looking as confused as ever. She began to shake and cry. She was exhausted and now she had to push out a very large baby and she was convinced something was wrong because she could feel pain. They did not explain to her that they were turning off the epidural block. She was going to feel the delivery and began to fight the pain. As they were preparing her to push she panicked a bit and the nurses tried to get her to calm down but nothing worked. Jon and I took our predefined positions, me holding her leg and Jon holding her up. She would not push. The pain was too intense. We swapped places. I tried to get her to calm down but nothing worked. I happened to glance down and see the top of my son’s furry little head. He had jet-black hair. I told her I could see hair and that got her focused. She asked me what color it was and I told her I could not see it now and asked her to push and she did. He was out in a couple more pushes.
This was the moment that would change me forever. I was a parent. I no longer was a wounded person hurt by an unbearable loss. I refused to leave her side. She pushed me away but I could not walk towards him until Jon met me halfway. We switched. I glanced down and this perfect little wrinkly baby boy stopped crying for a second. We kept on switching back and forth until Aimee stopped us. She knew what we were doing. She made us stop.
They cleaned him and handed him to us. He was so little. We both took off our shirts and held him against our skin. He was so alert. He was perfect. Aimee watched it all. She later told us this was the moment she knew she had made the right choice.
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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