Warm and cold

The last 48 hours have been such a cacophony of experience that I couldn’t even begin to formulate coherent thought until now. I’ll try to start at the beginning.

We got to the hospital around 10:30, and I went straight in to see K and then stayed with her through the birth. Her day nurse was brusque, and that’s putting it mildly. I’m pretty sure she was watching tv while helping K deliver. She wouldn’t talk to K, looked put out every time she had to come in the room, and didn’t really talk to me either as I asked for clarification on how the day would proceed.

K made her adoption hospital plan known to all the nurses and the hospital, but some of the staff didn’t care. She chose to have the baby taken straight to the nursery, which was apparently not allowed. The midwife was yelling at her, saying,

You have to at least look at your baby! You have to know what he looks like!

while she was in hard labor. My issues with that are manifold: what level of ego allows someone to think they can tell a mom how to prepare herself for something like relinquishing a child?! The only person qualified to make those calls is the mom giving birth. K is healthy and took care of herself and the baby; she’s not losing a child because she’s a bad parent, but choosing a better life for a child she clearly loves but can’t care for right now. The same midwife never spoke directly to me and made me feel unwelcome, despite K’s request that I be there and the fact that I was the only person with her during the course of her labor development.

The delivery nurse was a shining light of kindness in comparison, giving the baby to me to hold for a minute and walking me through what was happening. Dave was in the lobby with Tess for the whole thing, so I was texting him all the way through so he could be part of things from afar. The nurse reminded me to take pictures so he could see our son, too.

No hospital policy exists here on adoptive parents’ rights, which means whoever’s working decides how the parents-to-be are treated. Well, we’d originally been told we could room in with Remy, as K told them she was ok with that. The nurse responsible did not agree with that, and told me,

This is a hospital, not a hotel.

She also, without exchanging a single word with K or I on the subject, told me I couldn’t keep the baby from his mother. I was aghast, as I would never! We were the ones pushing for an open adoption!

They kept saying the only place we could spend time with him was in K’s room, who was trying to avoid the heartache of watching us bond with her son. The hospital social worker said,

I’m just the weekend girl. You can’t sign anything today, so don’t ask me questions.

I’d never asked about signing. I already knew it would be Monday.

The nursery staff were the one saving grace. Remy was at risk for jaundice, so they didn’t let us hold him for six hours. Watching him through the glass all day was frustrating, as I wasn’t sure whether he medically needed anything or it was another tactic to keep him away from us until the signing. I understand the need to protect a birthmom’s rights, but Remy’s first day consisted of no parental touch – just nurses and heel sticks. That’s not right, for him or for us. Still, the nurse kept us posted on how he was doing and kept the shade up all day so we could at least keep eyes on him. She kept promising that labor and delivery would give us a room for a few hours of alone time as a family.

We ran out for dinner and came back expectant, only to be told L&D would not under any circumstances let us have a room. The night nursery nurses took pity on us, and let us come sit at their desks and feed him. Dave got to see him for the first time up close, and we got to hold him and have a moment. The actually let us have an hour, and even made us coffee!

We couldn’t room in, and while K kindly offered to let me sleep on a chair in her room and take care of Remy there, I felt uncomfortable forcing that on her. I didn’t know what she wanted and needed. She’s a mom, and this was her one night in the hospital. Did she really want me there, or did she want some alone time to process, mourn, or just reflect?

Finally, I stayed. K and I actually got to share stories and laugh. We even took care of Remy together at 11, then fell back asleep. We shared our sides of the adoption experience, and honestly just reveled in the birth being behind us – on both sides!

I couldn’t get over feeling like the bad guy somehow. Clearly some of these people feel we’re coercing K, or are against adoption. People asked whether Tess was adopted too, but not in a friendly tone. K, Dave and I were frankly dying to get out. We spent hours together, the three of us, waiting for signing time.

At 2:30 today, we signed the papers. Remy is ours, to be finalized in a few months. The three of us celebrated while the agency staff looked on, amused. One looked like she wanted K to be in tears and leaning on her, and didn’t understand why she was laughing with me instead. The lawyer sorted stuff out and left, and there we were: hugging K goodbye before going into see our son in the nursery.

We got a new nurse, Betsy, who is our Boca hospital hero. She listened to our needs, called around to set up as much as she could to make us feel welcome, and let Tess and Rose come back to meet Remy in a private room. Let me tell you – after 2 days of heartache, bonding time feels amazing. We finally felt like a whole family. Brittney, our night nurse from before, took over from Betsy and guided us through tonight. We laughed over diapers, talked formula minimums, and frankly gazed adoringly at our kids and basked in her praise. Remy opened his eyes for the first time, and we cooed and relaxed.

I’ve saved an important story for last. When we came back from dinner to visit with Tess and Rose, we were stopped at security when she asked,

Are you the adoptive mom?

My heart broke. I was waiting for the charge nurse to come tell me that Tess wasn’t a real sister and therefore couldn’t come back. I got so angry, I got hot spots in my cheeks and my hands were shaking.

Instead, Betsy came out and invited us back to a room she set aside for us. She explained when Remy was due to eat and told us to have fun. She also walked us through our discharge timeline for the next day. I almost burst into tears. We’d been given the runaround and brushoff for days, but as I said before, the people on duty set the policy. Betsy and Brittney let us celebrate becoming parents to this beautiful boy, and suddenly our frustration and hurt melted into gratitude. I’m disappointed that the hospital was so anxiety-inducing on the most part, but was delighted by the kindness and leadership of a few who we actually overheard saying,

Sometimes you have to do the right thing, even if it’s against the rules.

Well, between those women, the amazing Grandma Rose who has swept Tess up and let us focus, and K, wonderful K, who entrusted us with this beautiful boy, we are pretty freaking happy (and exhausted).

8 thoughts on “Warm and cold

  1. Dear parents to Tess and Remy, Congratulations to your wonderful little boy. I have been following you every day since Tess was born and shared happy and anxious moments with you. I was so relieved that he didn’t came too early and you could enyoy the marriage of your friend but today I was crying when I read the the rapport from your hospital experience.People with not an ounce of empathy should not work in hospitals. I am sure, that it is possible for Remy to overcome this first day and I wish you all luck and strength for your children in the future. Helga

  2. Your strength and patience, and kind hearts are eternally inspiring. I love you all to bits, and can’t wait to meet your 2 gorgeous children!
    p.s. Tess looks giant next to him in those photos! Can’t believe how much she’s grown! xoxo

  3. Reading all that made me sooooo mad! The Canadian in me wants to write an angry and stern letter!
    But – it’s over and now you have a wonderful new addition to the family! Can’t wait to meet the little dude!

  4. I’m so happy to learn that Remy is all official! But I’m incensed at the treatment that the two of you, K, and Remy got from the hospital on day one! Way to take a miracle and make it feel like torture to everyone involved.

    Liam was very excited to see the pictures of Remy and is trying to get his head around the idea that Remy is Tess’s little brother, when he is quite sure there was no little brother at your house the last time he was there.

    We’re so looking forward to your return with the handsome little guy!

  5. Oh, my goodness! I was turning red and getting teary eyed for you as I read your account. Thank goodness there were a couple kind hearts to help put a silver lining on this hospital experience!

    In other observations… saying “Damn, sis” at 1 day old? Oh, he’s an Oplinger for sure! 😉 lol – Love you guys so much! Hugs from afar… 😀

  6. Congrats you guys! Remy is beautiful, and oh that hair! Lucky little man. I am so sad to hear about the treatment of you, Remy, K, the whole thing. I’m sorry 🙁 Sounds like someone is in need of some serious intervention. Thank goodness for a few superstars like Betsy and Brittany. I also must say, K sounds like an amazing woman. I hope you are all enjoying his new sweetness and bonding as a family. Tess will show that little man the ropes in no time 😉 Hugs and congrats from Utah!

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