Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The momentous occasion
When I graduated from Gloucester High school in June of 1991 I was 17 and pregnant. I wasn't interested in marrying the father and I wanted my baby to have a stable life, which didn't include being raised by teenagers. I spent the summer and fall talking to adoption agencies and meeting couples who were interested in adoptions. No one seemed to feel right to me and I got down and discouraged. When my due date was right around the corner and I had no clue about what to do and where to turn, Frank & Ellie came into my life. Frank & Ellie lived in Louisiana, and Ellie was friends with the lady for whom I was a live-in nanny. Ellie had been trying to have a baby and things weren't going well. Call it fate, divine intervention, whatever..... When Ellie called my employer to talk and vent, my employer said jokingly "I have a pregnant babysitter" and the ball rolled from there. Within days of talking to them I knew Frank & Ellie were meant to love and raise my baby.
I had decided I didn't want to see the baby, thinking giving her up for adoption would be easier if I didn't see her at all. When she was born (after 12 hours of blissful morphine-aided labor) the doctors immediately whisked her out of the delivery room and into Ellie's arms. I didn't see either of them (at my request) and was discharged from the hospital within 24 hours.
Because Frank & Ellie and I had met and arranged the adoption without an agency involved, the hospital wouldn't allow Ellie to take the baby out of the hospital, I had to do it. Carry this little person who lived inside me for 10 months out into the world. And hand her to someone else. And so 2 days later I found myself walking into a little room off the nursery and being left alone with this baby. A beautiful baby girl, caramel colored skin, thatch of jet black hair, the cutest little rosebud-puckered lips. I picked her up and held her to my face, trying to imprint her scent in my brain. I whispered to her all the things I wanted her to know......that I loved her, that she was always wanted, that I hoped she'd be happy and healthy. Then I laid her down and stripped her naked so I could count her fingers and toes, and kiss her belly, and touch her face. Then I carefully re-dressed her and carried her out. I didn't take my eyes off of her for the elevator ride, wanting to memorize every detail, every moment. Then I stepped outside and there was Ellie, waiting. The hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life was to hand my baby over to Ellie. My baby had both her mothers touching her for a brief moment, mere seconds. And then Ellie put her daughter in the carseat and left with her. I walked away with empty arms and a broken heart.
That was our first meeting, Annie and me. Annamaria Elizabeth, big name for a little girl. Not one single day passed in my life that I didn't think about her, wonder how she was, what she looked like, what she enjoyed. In January of this year Annie turned 18. And this week I got the chance to hold Annie in my arms again......and I didn't strip her naked and count her toes!! (She assured my she still has all 10 of them!!)
My mom and I took a road trip to Louisiana to meet Annie. We got to the restaraunt before she did. When I saw her across the parking lot I felt like the piece of my heart that had broken off 18 yrs ago when i let go of her was suddenly back in it's place. I admit I cried as soon as I had my arms around her, I couldn't even talk. And self-assured young lady that she is, Annie patted my back and soothed me :)
We spent about 3 and a half hours together getting to know each other. I got to see 18 yrs worth of pictures of a happy, confident, strong-willed little girl. And i got to enjoy just being near my baby. When I am less emotional I'll share the road-trip and dinner tales :) For today all that matters is that I got to hold my Annie again after a lifetime of waiting.