Thursday, September 25, 2014

Party of Four!

My sweet peas
Three months is a long time - a lifetime actually.  Our little guy is three months old now, and I can barely remember life without him.  Logan's birthday feels simply impossible to capture and I have literally been struggling to put our experience into words here for weeks.  Our beloved son is home with us now.  H.O.M.E!  He lives under our roof, we get the privilege of snuggling him in the wee hours of the night, we kiss away his tears and we celebrate his smiles and milestones.  We are beyond honored to hold his little tiny hands and kiss his sweet cheeks.  He is growing bigger and stronger right before our eyes and so are our hearts with our endless love for this sweet little gift from heaven.  His name is Logan David (Logan- another great 'L' boy name, and David - we wanted a biblical name and David means "beloved") and he is truly a gift from God direct to our little family.  A piece of the puzzle has fallen beautifully into place and life feels brighter and actually seems in sharper focus.

during a visit with Nana in the NICU- IV free!
He was born in Utah, on June 24th.  Joe and I were fortunate to both be at the hospital waiting - no crazy travel at the last minute, no driving wild through the night racing against labor pains, no missing a single moment...except we did miss some of them.  Logan's brave birth mother fought her way through an incredibly difficult delivery to bring forth a tiny boy with the cord wrapped tight around his neck three times.  THREE.  Upon his entry into this wild world, he was not breathing.  We believe this part of his delivery was eventually expected because a team of doctors and NICU staff fought hard to bring him quickly into the world- and keep him here.  He had a vacuum placed on his head multiple times in effort to suck him out of his warm, known, womb-world - FAST.  As his mighty heart began to flag in protest and dropped in rate, the doctors were at the ready and upon his arrival, immediately began CPR on his tiny body.  My heart stops when I imagine that quiet delivery room with doctors frantically working over him.  He was rapidly intubated and put on a ventilator in order to help him breathe.  Within minutes, our sweet boy was whisked to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where he would remain for the next four and a half days.  This entire nightmare unfolded while we were waiting in the lobby... with no idea of what was happening.

sweet sleeping baby
Logan arrived one week past his due date.  Initially to me, those extra days of waiting took on a new, longer dimension of time.  They felt like they lasted f.o.r.e.v.e.r.  But in reflection, now I see it was God's hand working all things for good.  With that extra time, we were all able to travel to Utah safely (i.e. without racing) and be fully rested and present on his birthday.  We were able to get acclimated to Utah, find a great hotel near the hospital, swim with Lily, find parks for Lily to play in and see some sights too.  Meanwhile, Logan was able to stay in his birth mother's womb a few extra days increasing his strength and lung development to the absolute max - every ounce of which he would absolutely need upon his arrival.  God knew best.  

tummy time in Utah
We learned in so many instances through this journey to Logan that adoption is a fluid process.  The waters we traveled often had changing currents, routes, rapids, sometimes waterfalls, other times calm and smooth.  Sometimes it was beautiful, sometimes it was scary...but it was always ever changing and completely worth it. (Of course, it goes without saying that in a heartbeat, we would do it all again to get to our sweet little guy!) I'd like to say that I handled all of these unexpected changes with an open flexibility both in heart and spirit, but alas, I did not.  I was an anxious mother-to-be, filled with emotion, hopes, dreams and expectations.  We had been given little to no prep by our social worker of what to expect at the hospital on Logan's birthday, so when things started to zig and zag, I had a difficult time because we had no information.  To say I was a graceful woman of God in these moments would be a total lie.  I hate admitting that truth, but there it is.

an early morning in Utah...
I was reminded over and over throughout our time in Utah, that I am married to the absolute best guy on this planet for me.  Not only is he an incredible father, but he is a fantastic husband who does not falter when things fall apart or get scary. Plus, he's great with people- an added bonus over and over, through and through.  Joe certainly had his hands full between me and everything that was going on. Oh, how I love that man and my gratitude to God for Joe's presence in my life went to a new dimension during our time in Utah.  There are many layers to this story that I will keep private, but it would be selfish not to share this beautiful, crazy, wild adventure with you.  Our story is an absolute testimony to God's faithfulness, provision and goodness.

She adores him.
While we waited expectantly in the hospital lobby for news of Logan's birth, we began learning that things had not gone as smoothly as we had prayed.  As information slowly came to us from various sources, we began to grasp and understand the seriousness of all that had transpired in his little life- which was not even an hour old at the time.  As we sat, fighting back our tears (I did not actually fight mine back) and frustration (I didn't fight that back either) at not being able to be with him- or even get information about his condition, our little guy was back there, behind the locked doors of the NICU, down a long hallway, all by himself, fighting his way off the ventilator and back onto room air.  His strong lungs and healthy weight -(almost 8lbs!) and will to live, were becoming rapid assets.  
a glimpse of my view...Lily is singing us a song 
Within an hour, he was breathing room air on his own with complete saturation levels and his pulse and heart rate were back on track.  His APGAR scores rebounded and he was resting peacefully....all by himself in his little NICU bed. (This broke my heart because I had envisioned holding him immediately and snuggling him for hours on end - but it was simply not meant to be that way....apparently, God wanted us to have an exciting story to tell!)

first smiles
By all accounts that first day, Logan was doing amazingly well all things considered.  His rough entry changed all plans that our birth mother had previously set forth in her birth plan.  She now wanted to spend more time holding him than previously planned.  It was initially supposed to be all us, following a brief moment for her, but for her, that all changed when he was placed in the NICU and after the emotionally and physically draining delivery they both went through together.  (At this particular hospital, they keep babies who are admitted into the NICU there for the duration of their stay only allowing visitors, ie. no rooming in with the baby). Logan now being in the NICU cancelled our room at the hospital where we were planning on staying with him until he was discharged.  

my favorite boy in blue! Go Royals!
Of course we had no problem with Logan's birth mother spending time with him, we were actually thrilled to have something so lovely to someday share with him about his birth mother and adoption story.  We viewed her desire to love him while she could as a gift beyond our imagination to him and to our family.  We just did not realize that her having time with him, basically cancelled out our having time with him- even after relinquishment papers were signed, due to the nature of a closed adoption and the ways hospitals view birth parents vs adoptive parents.  Never in our wildest dreams did we envision not being able to see or meet Logan on his birthday, but sadly, despite our best efforts, that is what happened.

a summertime selfie with my little guy
Our selfless birth mother thankfully never wavered in her desire to place Logan for adoption, but with her deciding to spend more time with Logan, it dramatically impacted our ability to see and spend time with him while he was in the hospital.  We were initially told that we should lower our expectations of seeing him at all before he was discharged.  We could not accept this...and initially, it felt like there was something big that they were not telling us about him and his condition.  We desperately wanted to see him with our own eyes, to hold him in our arms and whisper our love deep into his little heart...not to mention just get some first hand updated information about his condition...but we were locked out aside from the occasional phone call saying he was doing "well" with little other specific information offered. Logan's birthday, despite being a wonderful day simply because he was born, was turning into an awful experience in frustration and desperation as we were repeatedly denied access to see and hold our son. 

big sister TLC
Adoptive parents prior to signing of relinquishment papers (and sometimes even after papers are signed- we learned the hard way) are essentially treated as "strangers" to the hospital.  We had to go through our assigned social worker for everything and sadly for her, basically outside of us being able to meet and hold him and speak with his doctors ourselves (which was not happening for whatever reason), nothing she told us was going to be enough of an "update". We felt alone and it felt like we were being shut out.  We were so close to our little Logan, and thanks to the NICU security, we were literally locked out of his little precious life.  It was awful.

getting ready to leave the hospital
This was a scary time for us.  Everything felt shaky in those moments, we worried about what we were not being told.  We were plagued by every worst case scenario, we felt deceived and taken for granted.  There were late night phone calls, lots of tears, early morning phone calls, frenzied prayer requests being texted out to our prayer team warriors and desperate attempts to cling to what was true....but even that felt a little bit upside down in those days and moments.  We did not know who or what to believe and it felt scary.  We had temporarily moved our family across the country so as to be completely present for Logan, and we were being shut out even though we were right there. 

meeting Logan for the first time!
Eventually the following morning, due to further setbacks in the relinquishment of parental rights process, a window of time opened up and after several requests, we were finally (and thankfully!) granted a two hour visit with our Logan.  We were scrubbed in, and escorted down a long hall into a room filled with monitors, wires, beeps, alarms, bags, IVs, and a little, tiny bed that held our sweet little swaddled bundle of mighty boy.  I had long wondered what my initial feelings and response would be upon meeting our son, and those were answered in a fraction of a second forever blazed into my heart.  I can see him in those first few seconds perfectly there in my mind's eye, swaddled in the hospital blanket, he was propped up onto his side with blankets, a turquoise binky in his tiny mouth with beeps and monitors and the hum of hospital in the background.  He was so little but there was no mistaking him- he was our son...and we were finally meeting him.  I remember thinking, "Oh, there you are you sweet boy, I've been missing you for so long and here you are!"  He was beautiful and perfect and so, sweet.  I was rendered helpless to my overwhelmed emotions- my tears falling all over him as I leaned in close to kiss him. Here he was and we were finally with him over 24 hours later.  I felt the same when Lily was born- just that crazy wonderment and awe of finally getting to meet this tiny beautiful creature who has already and forever taken over my heart. It is not every day you get to meet and hold a blessing in your arms, and June 25th was one of those life-altering days for me.

Hi Daddy!
His tiny body bore the marks of the battle he had already fought...his battle to live.  We knew he was strong and mighty, and witnessing his fragility mixed with such might was life giving for all of us.  His tiny head bore a deep circular bruise at the crown from the vacuum and attempts to save his life by hurriedly trying to pull him into this world.  There were abrasions, places where he had been bleeding from the struggle as well.  In addition, he had an IV in his head for fluids- (he had already pulled the IVs out of both of his hands earning him one in his head- poor baby!)  And as all babies in the NICU are, he was hooked up to multiple monitors keeping track of his breathing, heart rate, oxygen levels, IV levels etc...he looked like he was living in a science fiction future.  All tubes and monitors aside, he was beautiful.  Truly perfect.  His tiny face, one of the sweetest I have ever seen- let alone held and loved.  We were over the moon - instantly and forever. He was our boy.

Baby Logan in the NICU
That day in those two hours of our visit, we were able to hold him, feed him, snap dozens of photos, change his diaper, speak with doctors and nurses about his condition, find out first hand about his prognosis (perfect!) and get a better first hand understanding of what happened to him and all he had been through.  We were informed of all of the testing he would undergo to ensure his health and learned he would remain in the NICU for several days so they could monitor and test him and double and triple check his recovery.  We finally felt like his parents and felt informed about the care he was receiving.  Upon seeing him with our own eyes, and grasping all he had undergone, we were immediately thankful that Logan was in and would remain in the NICU for the next several days even though it meant we would not be able to be with him all the time as we had initially hoped.  As much as we longed to have him with us, we were thankful that he was getting round the clock trained care and supervision and was seconds away from help should he need any (which he didn't- praise God!).  

Big Sis meeting Logan for the very first time! 
As we walked out of the NICU that day, our hearts were zooming with joy and incredible anticipation for the new chapter our lives were about to enter.  Sometimes difficult transitions lead the way to beautiful beginnings, and this was certainly one of those times.  We could not wait to tell Lily all about her new baby brother (rather abstract for a 3 year old who cannot see or meet him- but now we had photos and videos to show her!) We were on our way. We felt peace and joy.  The fears and unknowns felt less than before and we were so thankful for the opportunity to meet our son...finally.  

 It was later that afternoon on the 25th in an empty hospital lobby in Utah, when we were finally able to sign the papers making official what we had long known in our hearts, Logan was joyfully our forever son.  Our beautiful birth mother (whom we never had the privilege of meeting in person - she chose to have a closed adoption) gave Logan the gift of life and forever blessed our family with joy.  She gave our family another son, a little brother for Lily, a nephew for our brothers and their significant others, a grandson for our parents, a cousin for many little ones across the country, and a great big love and appreciation for the miracle and blessing of adoption. 

So proud to be a big sister....
Our incredible birth mother took fabulous care of herself during her pregnancy, receiving regular prenatal care and abstaining from dangerous substances.  It is clear that she loved (loves) Logan too by the way she cared for him during her pregnancy.  We are beyond thankful for her- in every way, for the hard choices she made and for the self discipline she demonstrated throughout her pregnancy -all for Logan's (and our family's) benefit and gain.  She chose us for him and our lives are forever changed for the better.  I look at him and absolutely cannot imagine him being anywhere but with us in our family.  God chose him for us and it is truly a miracle that everything we had to do in the adoption process led us to this perfect sweet snuggle of a boy.  

It is safe to say, she adores her little brother...
I think of our birth mother several times a day whispering prayers for her healing body and heart, knowing that our greatest happiness is her deepest sorrow.  I pray that our paths will God-willing one day cross, so I can tell her in person how grateful we are and how much we love and treasure sweet Logan.  We let her know we are open to contact should she change her mind, but until that day comes, she will forever be in my prayers and part of my deepest gratitude.  I thank my God every time I think of her.

Party of Four!
Logan remained in the hospital for four and a half days.  We could visit him freely after the first 50 hours of his life, following birth mom's discharge from the hospital.  Those were a long fifty hours, and yes, I counted them all, but in the end, our social worker was right, those first hours were worth "giving up" so his birth mother could spend unlimited time with him (a true gift for everyone!!) in exchange for a lifetime of loving little Logan.  Our hearts are so full, they are brimming over these days.  Where there was once mourning, there is now dancing and gladness.  Ashes have been traded for beauty, and ruins of this once devastated heart are stirring with life, hope and joy again and for all of this and so much more, we praise His holy name.