October 6th, 2006 I went into labor and called the Tways to make the 2 hour journey to meet us at the hospital. They arrived as labor was progressing and stayed in the delivery room with me, along with my amazing labor coach, Lyndie. A few hours passed, and out came the most beautiful 8lb 3.5oz baby girl I’d ever seen. Meleah Claire is what they named her, and she was perfect. I was at peace seeing Matt and Annette hold her. I could see in their eyes that this was a moment they had longed to have for a long time, and I knew they would be the best parents for Meleah. Seeing how amazing they were with her only further confirmed that this was still the right decision for me to make. Throughout the whole pregnancy, delivery, and even the few days leading up to the signing off of my rights to her I had such a feeling of peace about my decision. I knew it was right, and that this was the right couple to adopt this sweet little girl.
The months passed and before we knew it Melanie was ready to have her baby. One night in early October she started having contractions, and we all prepared for the long night ahead. We went to the hospital once and were sent home a little while later. We pulled the mattress off our futon and put it on the living room floor to try to rest. Melanie and Lyndie laid on it while I laid on the couch beside them, and we made a half-hearted attempt to sleep, which was pointless. Melanie was in too much pain, and we weren’t going to if she didn’t. We laid there for a couple hours while Melanie struggled through contractions and Lyndie tried to comfort her. I laid there trying to pray and occasionally offered lame encouragements, but mostly just kept my mouth shut. Things got bad enough around 2:30 for us to go back in.
We loaded Melanie’s stuff into our little car, loaded Melanie herself into our little car, and headed out. We wound through the deserted side streets on the way to the hospital trying to avoid stop lights, and pulled up to the emergency room entrance. As Lyndie ran inside to get a wheelchair I looked over at our friend in the passenger seat. She had her head against the window, staring out. As she gritted her teeth past another contraction, tears on her face, she muttered I hate boys, her breath fogging up the glass. I smiled and rested my hand on her neck. I felt pretty powerless, as I imagine most men do it these moments. Lyndie showed up with the wheelchair and we went inside.
Melanie and Lyndie prepared for their long night and I retreated to the waiting room for an equally long but slightly less eventful one. The last time I saw Mel before the baby was born was an hour or so later right before they gave her an epidural. I spent the night watching the History Channel on a tiny television. You do not know boredom till you spend the night in a hospital waiting room. I guzzled cheap coffee all night in a futile effort to stay perky. The Tways showed up and eagerly raced to the delivery room. Lyndie came out once to tell me Mel was going into final labor and once to tell me the baby had just been born. She had way too much energy. I had exciting news too though – thanks to the History Channel, I was now an expert on the Knights Templar. Tell you anything you want to know.
The first time I held Melanie’s baby was a spiritual experience for me. I had never held a child in whose unborn life I had something invested. She was only an hour or two old, still ruddy from birth, but mercifully cute like not all newborns are. I held her in my arms and stared down into her eyes and felt love and gratitude and pride. I felt like I had played some small role in this child being here, in the joy her new parents were feeling, in the circle that was gathered around. In Melanie, exhausted but resplendent like all new moms are.
By mid afternoon the adrenaline Lyndie and I had been running on for the last 30 hours was beginning to wear off. We were supposed to hang out with friends as a celebration that evening, so we hugged Melanie, exchanged loves, and went home. We slept all afternoon, and when we woke it was with a peaceful, drowsy joy, like Christmas morning. We stopped at the hospital to see Mel again and then headed to the restaurant to meet friends. We clinked glasses and toasted the mother and baby asleep at the hospital. We were proud of our friend, though her hardest day was still ahead.
Next Monday will be the conclusion of this series. Please come back and hear the rest from Mel and I on Monday!