Wednesday, May 28, 2014

To Matthew on Gotcha Day

That moment when I birthed you from my heart was not like when I birthed your sister and your brother.

With those first two, the pain ripped through my body, threatening to tear me apart with each push. Their bodies emerged from my ownwet, new, and covered in water and blood.

Their first cries pierced the quiet birthing rooms, announcing their presence, their place in the world. I cried tears of joy and relief, and I reached gently and pulled those new, limber bodies to my chest, my breast, my worry overcome with mama instinct as I snuggled those babies close to my heart.

Your birth was different. The room was loud with the cries of other babies, each one caught  by a mom or a dad who had waited months to welcome them with anxious hearts and joy mixed with fear.

I was overwhelmed with emotion waiting there, desperate for just a glimpse of your face, the face I had stared at for hours in the months we waited—singing to you, talking to you, praying for you.

When they put you in my arms, you felt small and helpless as you pressed your body into me, fearful and unsure. You looked up into my face and held my gaze, and as I cried tears of joy, you must have felt a kind of terror I’ve never known. It was a transfer—a passing—from one life to the next, and I will never know what you left behind in that moment.

I gained you, dear boy, and you lost a country and a culture—when so many months before that you had lost even more: your family and the potential for life in the place that was your first home.

In my arms you felt strange—smelled strange—but I clung to you just as you did me, and when I put you in your daddy’s arms, he began to rock you and sing to you, just as he did with our first two babies. It was that moment—watching the two of you togetherthat broke the spell of my worry and grounded me—watching Daddy sway back and forth with you, his quiet tenor voice humming the same hymn he sang to our first two babies for so many months.

When he handed you back to me again and I snuggled you close, I made the same promise to you that I made to your brother and sister—to be your mama forever, to take care of you always.

You came to me a different way, birthed in my heart, but that moment of your “gotcha” haunts me in the same way I’m haunted by my laboring to birth your sister and brother. It was a passage for them from the womb-world of warmth and quiet to the bright, cold reality of lights and harsh noises and always needing something more.

But your birth from womb to world had already occurred, and that moment signified something more than separation from your mama’s body to her arms. Somewhere along the way, you were also pulled (or handed) from that mama’s arms to a new strange place, where you learned to calm your own cries and to stop asking for what you needed. You didn't know there was more to need by the time I met you.

When you arrived in my arms, you didn’t know warmth or softness or the lull of a mama’s voice. You had to learn those things, and I will always be haunted by all that you were asked to give up in the first few days of your life.

And that day, when I finally “gotcha,” you once again gave up what was familiar to you and held me tight with your body, and you birthed yourself into my arms and my heart and my life. And your dad's too.

I am so grateful, my brave boy, that you made that choice. That you chose to trust me and your dad, that you decided to embrace this new life we are helping to make for you.

And today, though I am across the country from you in body, you are near to my heart and my mind. 
I will not forget the first moment I held you.

And I will also never forget what it cost you to be a willing participant in your birthing into this new life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wonder of Wonders

Sometime the milestones with our boy are mini and I only feel them in my heart. But once in a while we have a really BIG milestone, and I feel like shouting it from the mountain tops.

This is a mountain top kind of week.

Matthew is eating food on his own. From a plate. Not a mush or mash, but several different types of food in separate little piles on his plate. Glory be.

Not only that, he’s drinking water from a squeeze bottle all on his own.

It’s miraculous.

This is an amazing season with our boy—and I apologize for not blogging more about it. Life is also very busy and fast paced, with the end of the school year looming and so many things to get done, both at home and at work. But I’d be remiss to not at least share with you that we are seeing new and wondrous things each day in his development. He’s moving forward in his social skills, his communication, his eating, and his play.

And both Aaron and I also feel a shift in our hearts. It’s subtle, but it’s there.

I’ve read so many adoption blogs, and again and again I hear about the two-year mark. The first two years are so, so hard, and then when families round the corner into the third year, it’s like things just settle in and life becomes normal in a way it wasn’t for the two years prior. On May 28 we will celebrate Matthew’s Gotcha Day again, TWO YEARS with us, and it’s just recently that we’ve felt a kind of goodness and permanence that is new and so, so nice.

It’s not like every day is perfect. Some days are still hard. But we’ve accepted our boy, delays and all, and we feel SO grateful that he’s part of our family. We’ve quit asking all our “why did this happen” questions and have learned to embrace this journey we are on. And frankly, it feels quite normal now. Life feels normal. Matthew is so familiar. His delays and challenges are familiar to us, and we are encouraged by his many successes.

It’s good.

Send up your cheers for our boy—who is learning, growing and changing each day. And know that we are celebrating the sweetness of this season in so many ways, big and small—its normalcy as well as all the huge steps Matthew is making as he continues to gain skills and reveal more of who he is to all those around him.