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“The Decision” A Blog Post by Lydia Miller

In the Spring of 1997 while only 16, amidst a fire of fierce independence and an opportunity, I left home. I moved into a studio apartment with my brother and I did well enough matching myself to the life I had chosen. I became a master of fried potatoes and onions, I worked full-time, I paid my portion of the bills and I kept my grades up. All that stated, my mismatched ambitions caught up with me soon enough and six months into my new life I returned home a more subdued, pregnant 17-year-old. And despite all of the complexities surrounding my circumstance and the fact that I had no idea as to what I was going to do, I had a mother that vowed to support me in any decision I made.

I was single and the father was unavailable so I made the decision to have the baby boy adopted. My decision proved best when, after only one call to the local adoption center, I met the couple whom I instantly knew would be the parents. The one stipulation I held and that the couple agreed to was that it was to be an open adoption; I didn’t know what the future held but I knew that I wanted the option to be an inconspicuous presence throughout the years, if circumstances allowed.

My mother taught at the high school I attended and had worked it out so that I could complete my final semester from home, and it was during one of these remote school days that I went into labor. Everything happened quickly then, and the majority of the memories I retain surrounding my first labor and delivery are isolated to a timeline of a car ride, an epidural, and being relentlessly beaten at two-handed spades until the pain of the contractions was so much so that I was thankfully relieved from playing any more.

My intent to follow through with the adoption never wavered, and from mild contractions to hard labor my mother and I made sure all the staff understood the plan so as to ensure that once the baby was born we would be separated for the remainder of the hospital stay. But despite this conversation, just an hour or so after I was taken back to the room a nurse appeared in the doorway with a tiny rolling crib.

I remember the feeling of being caught off-guard and of only being able to shake my head a little, without words. My mother had been sitting on the couch next the window, and she explained to the nurse that there must have been a miscommunication because I was having the baby adopted, but the nurse did not move. She stood there in the doorway with her hands on the cart and waited for an answer from me. My decision had been made and this wasn't part of the plan, but the temptation was too strong. I pushed myself into a sitting position, nodded my head and watched wide-eyed as she wheeled the cart towards me. I turned towards my mother as she got up and walked towards the hospital bed, and I remember how the joy that emanated from her allowed an ease in me to be certain that this was the best decision.

He was swaddled in standard hospital baby garb- the thin cotton unisex hat and the white blanket with horizontal blue and pink stripes. He was the most perfect baby I had ever seen; his skin was beautifully tan and smooth, and he had thick, long dark silky straight hair that curled up at the ends. He was truly like something out of a magazine.

We had kept a few baby clothes at home in case I changed my mind about the adoption, and my mother retrieved the few items we had so that we could dress him up for those couple days. I was too timid to maneuver his delicate body but my mother lived and breathed to change his outfit as often as she could, and he wore every assortment of soft sporty blues, matching socks and soft cotton hats available in his tiny wardrobe.

He slept next to me both nights and I recall these hours with clarity- so carefully resting on my side, hyper-aware of every movement made. Instead of sleeping I spent hour after hour cherishing moments; admiring his beauty, closing my eyes to feel our breathing in sync. I settled into a feeling of peace beyond which I had ever known for the gift of time that I had been given with this child who slept so peacefully and unknowingly within the curve of his first mother's body. That hospital room was all that existed and I smiled and fully rested in that moment, not thinking about the decision I had made or what was about to happen. He was my sweet little baby, and I was in love.

The time for discharge came and the nurse appeared at my door once again, ready to wheel me downstairs, my baby in my arms. The adopting couple waited for me in the lobby, but the staff instructed us that we would have to go outside the hospital doors to complete the adoption. I remember sitting in the wheelchair in the lobby as the muffled protocol was explained, the new mother looking over at me, tears streaming, her heart breaking for what I was enduring.

I never cried here, I was determined. I did all I knew to do for the decision I had made. I breathed. This was the moment that was promised, this was the moment that I had destined for my baby, the promise I had made that meant more than myself, to fulfill that his life had the potential to be anything it dared to be. I would never hold him back. I was dying inside.

The nurse wheeled me just outside the automatic doors and locked my wheelchair. My eyes met the mother’s and I bowed in nod. Each step she took towards me seemed heavy, laden with emotions that overfilled her heart. I held my baby up and forward, our arms met each other’s with love and reverence, and on that day, my baby was given his second mother.

I remember the ride home. I reclined my seat back all the way. I remember when I got home, going to my room and lying on my bed. I remember just short of one month later, calling the mother in the middle of the night, so desperately sad, crying to see my baby. They drove down the mountain to our home and arrived trembling at the meeting, helpless with only the trust of a promise that I had made that they feared I would break.

He was so sweet and sleepy when they arrived. And sweet and sleepy and peaceful and swaddled in a blanket, his mother handed him to me, and he was just as I remembered him. 

It was an eternity ago when in the middle of the night at 17 years old I cautiously sat with my baby on the over-stuffed couch in my mother's old home. With the world quieted again, I leaned back and allowed my body once again to relax. I closed my eyes, I smiled and I held my baby. He was ok, and I was ok. We were breathing together again, and there was nothing to fear and there was nothing to be sad for. This, was enough.

Original post date: 19 May, 2024

Author/Website Creator: Lydia Miller