I flew to Texas on Sunday May 8th - Mother's Day - to be there for Clara's birth. I had originally booked a ticket for the 10th but Kayli had had a contraction earlier in the week and started dilating and there were a few potential complications with the birth father that made it seem like it would be best if I went earlier rather than later. So I went.
The biggest concern was that the birth father, who is in the armed forces, was being reassigned to a base away from Dallas and we were worried that he would be difficult to reach when the time came for him to sign the paperwork and that he would not be cooperative about making this any easier for anyone. We have never met Clara’s birthfather and most likely never will. Knowing that he would be leaving the Dallas area around May 12th, Kayli made a plan to be induced if necessary. But these stressors were relieved when Kayli learned that there was a caseworker whose husband served on the base that the birthfather was being assigned to, so when the papers were ready we would have easy access to the base. This caused everybody to breathe easier and we nixed the inducement plan in favor of letting Clara make up her mind about when she would be born.
While we waited on Clara to decide when she wanted to make her debut, Kayli and I watched movies, got massages/facials, went shopping, made cards, and spent time with Kayli's family. I stayed with a family in Kayli’s ward from church right up until the day before Clara was born and each night I went back to the house where I was staying and talked to Paul about his day at work and my time with Kayli. Paul deserves huge credit for staying behind to work and solidify his position at his new firm while I went off to be there for Clara's birth. It was painful to spend nights apart from each other and I have found that I can hardly sleep by myself anymore. In 7 years of marriage, the most we have ever been apart from each other is maybe 2 days. Paul would say that he liked having the big bed all to himself, but I know that this is just a front.
From this point on, I have already blogged about Clara’s actual birth and how Kayli was in the hospital when we found out that Clara flipped into a breech position and all the crazy things we did to try to get her to flip back to where she was supposed to be. I will just link to that blog post rather than reiterate it all here since it has extra pictures and I don’t want to be too repetitive.
On the Tuesday after Clara was born we took her to do a photo shoot with a newborn photographer. After taking photos of me, Paul, Clara, and Kayli as a group, the photographer spent another 4 hours molding Clara's tiny, sleepy form into the most darling poses. It was one of the most soothing, fun things I have ever seen. The photographer had white noise going and space heaters blowing warm air over Clara to keep her comfortable and relaxed. Paul, Kayli and I just sat and gazed at our precious girl the whole time and I might be biased, but I think that the photographer was a little enamored with Clara's easy-going demeanor. She said that some babies had to come back multiple times in order to get enough photos for a true newborn shoot because they fuss so bad and can't settle. For Clara, it was a piece of cake.
I am also just going to link to the blog post that I wrote about Clara’s placement. Just to add some dates for Clara’s benefit in the future, I wanted to clarify that we don’t really feel like there actually was a “Placement Day” with her – we were there from the beginning and even though paperwork hadn’t been signed, Kayli had allowed us to take Clara home to the hotel early so that we could have as much early bonding time as possible before Paul had to head back to California for work. Clara was born on Thursday, May 19, left the hospital on Sunday, May 22 to stay with Kayli for a night, and then came to stay with us in the hotel Monday, May 23. Paul and I signed “at-risk” placement paperwork on Wednesday, May 25, which might be considered “Placement Day”. Clara’s birthfather, Carlos, signed his relinquishment of parental rights on Thursday, May 26, and Kayli finalized her divorce and signed relinquishment papers on Friday, May 27. It was quite a week.
Clara and I flew home with my mom’s help on Thursday, June 2, just six days after all parental rights had been relinquished and two weeks after Clara’s birth (she was born on a Thursday). I had been in Texas for just short of a full month. Clarabelle was a phenomenal little traveler and slept the entire time. Here is the link to the blog post I wrote about her first plane flight.
Now we are together as a family and the final stages of the adoption won’t take place until late November or possibly December when we are finally able to go to the courthouse and have the adoption finalized in front of a judge and then go to the temple and have Clara sealed to us as a family for all eternity. It is amazing to think that Clara is already 4 weeks old. Just this past week she has really started using facial expressions and she is sleeping even better than she did right when she came home. There was even one night where she went to sleep at 10 and only woke up once – at 2:45 a.m. – to eat.
We call her Clara-girl, Clarabelle, Claradactyl, or we just stick to Clara or Clara Jane.
Thanks for all of your beautiful and kind comments to everyone who has left messages for us. We're glad you like the photos of our sweet daughter (hopefully we will get more photos from our photographer soon - these were just the sneak peeks she sent in an email to me). And we are grateful to be able to share our story because to us, adoption is one of the most beautiful things in the whole world.
We love our Clara-girl so much and it makes us happy that so many other people feel love for her too. I am typing this from the rocking chair in her nursery while I listen to her alternately coo, sigh and grunt in her sleep and I am feeling truly blessed.