I posted this on Facebook and Instagram and texted and called lots of friends and family so most people already know this, but obviously I have a lot of blogging to catch up on and stories to tell. Julia Rose Nash (she will go by Rose - we know it is unconventional but that is just how we roll around here) was born on January 17th, 2014 at 2:06 a.m. at the Pomona Valley Hospital in Southern California. She weighed 8 lbs. 6 oz. (80th percentile) and was 20 3/4 inches long (90th percentile). Both Paul and I were able to be there for her birth. And she is beautiful. Her lips pucker in the most beautiful bow and she has soft little cheeks that beg to be kissed. And gorgeous dark hair, just like Clara had when she was born, although Rose doesn't have quite as much of it and it is a little shorter except for in the back where it is just as long as Clara's was when she was born.
Back in October we drove down to Disneyland with Paul's parents when our annual Yosemite trip was cancelled thanks to the government shutdown. On our first day, Friday the 11th, as we were walking down Katella on our way to line up at the gates for admittance to the park I pulled out my phone to check my email, etc. since I knew I wasn't likely to check it for the rest of the day. To our surprise, there was an email from an expectant mom letting us know that she had seen our profile and would like to get to know us better. For her privacy, we are just going to refer to her as "T" for now. T told us up front that she was emailing other couples but that she was due January 11th (3 months to the day from her first email) with a baby girl who was 1/4 Hispanic, 1/4 Caucasian, and 1/2 Iranian.
We started emailing. Right around this time, we started getting a number of emails from other expectant parents who had seen our profile and wanted to open up a line of communication with us. It was totally weird and nothing we had ever experienced before. We actually took a few hours out of one of our days at Disneyland to meet with a couple from southern California who were trying to find a family for their baby girl due in December. We were approached by an expectant mom carrying identical twin boys due next March. We even had an intense two week period of daily emails with a young woman from Provo who "chose" us to adopt her baby due in October (around the time of the Disneyland trip) but who changed her mind just a couple days later.
But as we were prayerfully approaching what to do about any of these possibilities (and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that we were being considered at all by any of them) we felt like our relationship with T was growing and things were coming up with the other situations that just didn't feel right for our family. We told the woman carrying the twins that we wouldn't be able to adopt her babies because of other commitments. We wrote to the couple we had met during our trip to Disneyland and told them that while we appreciated them considering us that they should focus on one of the other couples they were still corresponding with. It felt so weird and so scary to be telling anybody we were sorry that we wouldn't be able to adopt their baby after such a long time of wanting to expand our family and having disappointment after disappointment as four adoptions in a row didn't pan out after having been "chosen", but we felt really strongly that we were making the best decisions we could for our family. It wasn't about finding "any" baby; it was about finding our baby.
T was praying too and being very thorough in her search for the right family for her baby. She emailed us and other couples daily even though she had to go to a Wifi spot to do it, and her questions were very focused. It was clear that she was doing everything in her power to do what she felt was best for her baby and we loved her for that, regardless of what she decided. At the end of October though, she surprised us by telling us that she had chosen us to be the parents for her baby and that she wanted us both to be present for the birth.
After that, November was spent strengthening our relationship as we started texting and Skyping and the agency went to work trying to serve the birth father with legal paperwork that would start the process of terminating his parental rights. Nobody knew for sure how he would react and it took a number of tries for the agency to finally make contact with him, but ultimately he signed and said he was supportive of the adoption plan. It was a huge relief for all of us.
We continued our communication through December and started making plans for a January baby. We were even a little worried going to Utah over Christmas break that the baby would come early while we were there. But Rose ended up being born 6 days overdue. T started having contractions on Wednesday afternoon that were strong enough that Paul left work early so we could get things ready in case we had to leave that night. I felt like I would never fall asleep, but somehow I did. The next morning I was at the grocery store at 9:30 a.m. with Clara, and Paul was working from home (since we knew T had a scheduled exam with her doctor that might give us insight into whether we should head down), when T called me to let me know that she was on her way to the hospital to be induced.
I excitedly called Paul to let him know and we packed the car and were on the road to southern California less than an hour after T called us. T texted us updates while I drove and Paul worked on his computer because he had projects that needed to be finished. I called my childhood best friend and college roommate, Carrie, who lives in Orange County and made arrangements for her to watch Clara (I had asked her in advance and she was so nice to say yes, even though she has two boys of her own and is super busy and had just put her house on the market). Carrie met us at the hospital in Pomona around 4:45 and Clara happily transferred cars and seemed like she was going to be just fine.
It was exciting and nerve-wracking going into the hospital to meet T in person for the first time, knowing that in just hours our little girl would be born. We were really lucky to meet Kayli before Clara was born and spend time getting to know her in the days before Clara's birth because I went out in advance to make sure I was there. We weren't sure what it would be like meeting T at the hospital. But everything went great and our Skype sessions beforehand really made it feel very natural and like we already knew each other.
T was doing an awesome job getting through the pain and eventually got an epidural, which helped things be much more comfortable for her. When it came time to push I assisted another nurse by being right at T's side as she pushed through three counts of ten trying to get Rose to come down. After over an hour of pushing, the doctor finally said that he was going to have to try using a vacuum-suction thingy to guide Rose out or they would have to do a C-section. A team of probably 10 nurses and doctors swarmed the room and Paul and I shrank back into a corner just trying not to be in the way. Thankfully, the vacuum worked and Rose was born at 2:06 a.m.
Her head was a little cone-shaped and she had an abrasion on the back of her scalp from the vacuum. And her blood pressure was high for a little while. But otherwise she was healthy and kicking and doing good.
The next few days were spent in the hospital with T and Rose. T was in quite a bit of pain because of some tearing when Rose was born, and obviously the time in the hospital was bittersweet since T knew that she would be placing Rose with us at the end of her stay. We tried to make sure T knew that we loved her and wanted her to have all the time with us and Rose that she wanted.
Here is our first picture as a family of four. Paul has been joking about how he is outnumbered by us girls.
I stayed at the hospital each night while Paul went to the house of my former bishop from the ward that I grew up in. The Clark family is amazing and I love them so much. They ended up watching Clara for us on Sunday morning when placement was happening. Bishop Clark (I can't believe he was bishop there something like 20 years ago or so - he is still Bishop to me) served his mission with my dad in Austria and has a daughter my age who always invited me to slumber parties even though she was a grade ahead of me in school. And Sister Clark was the person who taught me how to sew in 6th grade or something - I remember sitting at their kitchen table getting sewing lessons and making scrunchies and a skirt. I recall going to their house on Christmas Eve (at least, that is how I remember it) as a kid for Christmas party open houses that were one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.
Anyway, I know I am getting all nostalgic, but sitting in their kitchen eating pancakes for breakfast on Saturday morning just did my heart so much good because I was flooded with so many memories, which is unusual for me since I moved around so much as a child that I am not often back in a place that affects me in that way. It was just SO nice being in Chino Hills where I did 4th - 9th grades, because that area will always feel like home to me since it is the longest stretch that I ever lived in any one place of my childhood.
And Carrie was so great with Clara and kept her overnight since Rose was born so late/early. The next day when I was missing Clara badly I opened my email on my phone and saw that Carrie had typed up a detailed email about everything they had been doing, complete with pictures. I'm planning on posting Clara's adventure here soon because it just made me smile to see that she was so happy and doing so well when we had worried about the separation, even for such a short time.
Anyway, back to the hospital...
On Saturday Paul picked me up in the morning so that T could have some time with Rose on her own. We went back to the Clarks' and Sister Clark gave me some great resources for if I want to do homeschool preschool for Clara (Sister Clark runs a preschool out of her home), and then Paul spent the afternoon with T while I took Clara back for a nap. That evening we traded off again and T and I just talked and cooed over Rose. Eventually I discovered Haagen-Dazs bars in the cafeteria for T and I, which was pretty much a perfect dessert. Paul and Clara enjoyed having daddy-daughter dates both evenings while I spent time at the hospital with T. They went to Target to pick up diapers and formula and found a pet store where Clara obsessed over the fish and even pet a rat.
We put this headband on Rose because it was covered in rosebuds. Kayli had made this for Clara before she was born and it was such a perfect hand-me-down for Rose. I got busy taking photos to document our little stay, both for us and for T. I can't wait to send T all of the pictures because I know that she loves scrapbooking and is already wanting to start working on her scrapbook.
On Sunday morning Clara went to Stake Conference with the Clarks while Paul and I went through placement at the hospital. We met with T's caseworker and signed the documents acknowledging that Rose would be in our care and that we intended to adopt her. In California, there is an initial Foster Care situation until birthparent rights are terminated (each state has different laws) and after that period the adoption can be finalized. Usually it takes around 6 months. T had some additional time alone with Rose and we know that this time was both precious and incredibly hard. When it comes to talking about adoption and placement, we aren't even qualified to describe what that must be like for T and we know that describing it as "hard" is an understatement and doesn't begin to explain everything. But we can say that T is an incredibly beautiful person who is full of faith and love and who is stronger than she knows.
T had given Rose a beautiful blanket with her name and a rose embroidered on it. It is so soft and creamy colored and it will be a special keepsake for her that I know she will treasure. We had brought a basket for T with some little gifts in it. It is agony trying to find just the right gifts to give in this situation. Our hearts were breaking for T as she placed Rose in my arms. I can't even describe the feeling. It is gratitude and heartache and jubilation and sorrow and joy and pain and humility and pride all wrapped up in one and that doesn't even touch a fraction of what it truly feels like. It feels like entire worlds colliding and re-orbiting; it is like continents shifting with the tremors of tears on the faces of everybody present; it is cataclysmic. I know I wax poetic and I'm trying to avoid sounding cheesy or cliché but I just want to at least try to explain what it is like.
I hope T doesn't mind me posting this picture of all of us. I sent it to her the day we got home and she replied that she loves how happy we all look in it and I completely agree. Another birthmom I know put it well when she explained that adoption is the happiest kind of sad.
We drove home Sunday afternoon and both girls did great. Clara listened to "Let It Go" from "Frozen" on repeat fifty hundred times and Rose literally slept the entire time except for when we stopped to fill up with gas and get dinner, which was perfect because she was able to have a diaper change and take a bottle to get her through the rest of the journey. It was sort of amazing.
We are settling in and feeling super grateful. Poor Rose has had her nights and days totally mixed up so we aren't getting tons of sleep, but we pretty much expected that. Clara is totally enamored and wants to know what Rose is doing constantly. It is the first thing she asks each morning when she gets out of bed and our first night back Clara offered the prayer at dinner and asked for a blessing for Rose without any prompting. The sweetness is unbelievable.
Many more posts to come... :)