We're very happy to report that three weeks ago Riley Susan Kinnane-Petersen came into this world. It was the most amazing experience and I'm quite confident that I will never really be able to explain in words the awesomeness of her birth, or how happy we are to have her in our lives. She is perfect in every way - healthy, beautiful, wonderful attitude, and if her ability to control her daddies is any sign, absolutely brilliant.
On a Wednesday afternoon about a week ahead of her due date, we got the call from R saying that the doctor said she was already two centimeters dilated and that the baby could come at any moment. She went on to say that if she didn't go into labor before Friday, that the doctor had said she would induce her as Riley was clearly ready to meet the world. For a few moments I think I probably stopped breathing. As we were only a week out from the due date we'd told ourselves that it could happen at any point, but hearing the words really hit home. I asked R if she thought we needed to take a flight out that night, or the first flight the next morning. She said the next morning would be fine, we discussed where we'd be staying while in California, we both said how excited we were to meet in person for the first time, and than we hung up the phone.
I took a deep breath and called John who was still at work. "Hello - what's up?" He said in a tone which stated he knew there was only one reason why I'd be calling him at work at this time of the day.
"Tell your co-workers that you're going to be out of work for a little while." I said.
"Really? What's the story? Is everything okay?" he said. I went on to explain to him what R had said; that everything was okay and that we needed to get out there ASAP. Then I jumped onto the internet and bought our flights, changed the dates for our hotel and called my boss to let her know I'd be leaving a few days earlier than I'd expected. Of course, my boss being the consummate friend, mother, and professional had nothing but positive things to say. The rest of the evening was spent running around the house not really doing anything, but seeming really busy.
The following morning at the early hour of 3 am we woke so that we could catch the first flight out to LA. We grab our stuff - two large carry on bags, and two smaller "personal items" (that's what the airlines call small bags) so that we didn't have to check any luggage on the way out there. We didn't want anything to slow us down. Once we landed we ran off the plane and tried to wait patiently for the rental car bus to pick us up and take us to our car. Turns out the long wait for the bus was only the beginning our waiting with the rental company. Between waiting for the bus and then waiting for our car to be ready it probably took close to an hour and a half. I don't think I've ever waited that long for a rental car in my life (which is a bold statement considering I traveled for two years for work). While waiting we called R to let her know that we'd arrived and would be headed her way as soon as we could. She advised that she'd had a few contractions during the night, but that she was feeling well and was looking forward to meeting us.
So, off to the inn that R had been staying at to meet her in person for the first time. We were nervous, but mostly excited. We made decent time and called her when the GPS said we were about 10 minutes away. She was just finishing up getting ready and said it was fine for us to come directly to the inn.
Meeting R in person was amazing. We'd seen many pictures of eachother, but she was even more beautiful in person and her calm demeanor and welcoming smile made us all at ease. Without even asking she quickly reassured us that she was feeling wonderful both physically and emotionally and that seeing us in person just made her feel even more confident in her choice of adoption. We all went to lunch and talked about general things; our families, etc. The food was really good. After lunch we went to the grocery store and, with R, we went to Babies-R-Us to pick out a few outfits for Riley to bring her home from the hospital and the hotel stay. It was great to have her there. Later, when we went back to the hotel R gave us a whole bunch of amazing family clothes that we'll be able to dress Riley in. It will be so great for us to be able to put her in some outfits and explain to her that these were some of the same clothes that her birthmother and birthsister wore when they were her age. R's generosity really is quite impressive! We had also brought a small gift for R. In anticipation of Riley's birth we'd had two identical lockets made and engraved. They were simple copper lockets that had the words "Love Is There" engraved on the front. As those of you who've followed our story know we believe that adoption, and particularly open adoption, is all about love. Anyway, we can certainly attest that in our adoption the love in the air is almost palpable. Additionally, the "wedding" bands that John and I wear are both engraved with the same words. We made two of the lockets so that both R and Riley can both wear them whenever they'd like. Just one more symbol of the fact that R made this decision with thought and love. We also got to meet R's friend T. T is a great guy, and clearly is a great friend to R. We were happy to meet one of the many people who have been there to support, and at times be supported by, R.
We'd hoped to meet her daughter V, but prior to our arrival she wasn't sure if V would be able to visit with us as it was her first week of the new school semester. As luck would have it, she didn't have any classes for the rest of the week so V arrived that night by train. V was everything her doting mother had said she was; beautiful, intelligent, confident, polite, well adjusted - the list goes on and on. Needless to say we were impressed. She hopes to study marine biology, and John has already suggested that she come out to Atlanta to see our truly impressive aquarium. That night we went out to dinner at one of Vs favorite restaurants and enjoyed some great food and even better conversation.
After dinner we dropped them off at the inn and returned to our hotel. R advised that she'd call us if anything happened in the night. R had said and done everything she could to make us feel confident that she was going to follow through with the adoption plan, but perhaps as a result of our previous unmatch and reclaim we were still quite anxious.
The next morning we grabbed a bite to eat and then headed over to the inn to pick up R and V. As she hadn't gone into labor yet, she was scheduled to be induced at noon. We arrived at the hospital, and after a little bit of confusion about where we needed to enter (emergency vs. standard admission) we made our way up to the maternity ward where R was shown her room. It was a two bed room, but luckily there were no other mother's to be in there. The signage on the walls stated clearly that only two visitors we're allowed. The nurse who showed us the room pointed that out to us, but R worked her magic and convinced them to let us stay.
The nurses at the hospital were all very nice and professional.. and with only a few minor exceptions seemed competent and able to do their jobs well. One small exception was the that first nurse was unable to successfully hook up an IV to R. She made several attempts which was rather difficult to watch, not only because the idea of being pricked multiple times isn't fun but also because R particularly dislikes needles. Finally, the nurse left and called in a more tenured nurse. This nurse was clearly tenured (probably fairly close to retirement) and new what she was doing. I don't think she smiled once, or even looked anyone in the eye. She simply got the needles she needed, grabbed R's wrist and started assessing which vein she would be using. It was clear she was only going to make one attempt and that it was going to be successful. When she found the vein of her choice, she got out the needle and simply said "don't move, this is going to hurt" and with those words stuck the IV in with one quick motion. It worked, and within a matter of minutes the drug that was to induce labor was appropriately being administered. And so labor began...
I won't go into all the details of the labor beyond sharing that it was a) long - basically 12 and half hours, and b) the most amazing and beautiful thing I've ever seen. R allowed us all to be there for every minute of the labor and birth. About half way through R's friend S showed up and stayed the entire time to help. S has a child of her own and having gone through child birth herself really helped the rest of us know what we should be doing.
And so it was that at 12:37am Riley was born.
Just as previously discussed R asked that we be the first to hold and be with Riley. We stood over her as the nurse cleaned her off, smiling, crying tears of happiness, and thanking R. It was an almost surreal experience. I kept looking back to R to see her calming, confident smile. R asked the nurse to give us both the bracelets so that we would have constant access to the baby, and then asked to go to another floor so that she didn't have to be in post partum with other mothers. We were taken to our own room on the pediatrics floor where we spent the next 48 hours caring for Riley. As the pediatric floor didn't normally see newborns (and especially not newborns being adopted by two men) we we're quite the celebrities. I think every nurse came in and introduced themselves and gazed at the beauty that is Riley. At one point we had an entire class of nurses in training stop by. There was, of course, a nurse and orderly specifically assigned to us. We we're particularly pleased with the day nurse and orderly. Not only did they do everything they could to make sure that Riley was safe and adapting to life outside of R well, but they also hooked us up with all the supplies we could dream of for our hotel stay.
We visited with R, who had a bout of nausea after Riley's birth, the next morning and we stopped by a few other times as well. We weren't allowed to bring Riley to her (as one really shouldn't be moving a new born about the hospital), but we did our best to make sure R knew that she could stop by and visit with Riley as much as she wanted. R's daughter V and her friend S stopped by several times as well. It was great for us to be able to take some many great pictures. They will be great to show Riley when she's older.
On Sunday morning R was released from the hospital, and Riley was released into our custody that afternoon. Although all the hospital staff had been great to us, it was such a great feeling to be able to take her back to the hotel. Riley slept through the entire ride to the hotel and I drove more carefully than I think I've ever driven before. The day after being released from the hospital R signed the paperwork required to relinquish her parental rights and place the baby in our custody. And so we went about the next few days cherishing our little one and the moments that R could spend with us. We did take her out of the hotel once to see a local pediatrician for her first follow up appointment. As expected no issues.
R was amazingly generous with her time while we were there. Each day should would come over and spend a few hours with us. Enough time for us to take pictures and talk, and for her to get to know Riley while at the same time allowing us to take those first days to bond with Riley (even though we'd bonded basically instantly upon laying eyes upon her). :) We were also fortunate to have two of my long time friends from high school stop by to visit with Riley and us.
Several days later we were given clearance to return to Georgia with Riley. We packed up our things, and R came by to say goodbye for the time being (we will definitely be seeing her again in the future). R read her the book Love You Forever. It was a beautiful moment. We said our goodbyes and had a few hugs, and then we were off to catch a plane home. Being new parents with a new born we were very nervous about the flight. We'd spoken with our pediatrician before hand who'd said that although not ideal to fly with a newborn it was certainly better than driving long distances. She said just to make sure that Riley was covered so that peoples germs were less likely to get to her. So, armed with several small bottles of Purell, formula, and some diapers we ventured on to the plane. In the airport we carried her in the car seat which worked fine until we got security. We knew that we'd have to take her out of the car seat to get through security, but we didn't know that at LAX there is a specific way the car seat is supposed to go on the security belt. The nice security lady kept telling me, please turn the car seat the other way. I'd turn it, and then she'd say "no, the other way" and then I turn it again. This happened probably nine times - at which point I'd "turned" the car seat in every possible direction. Finally, another security lady moved it one more time and then sent it through. I didn't point out to anyone that the position the car seat was in was the second position we'd had it in. Then we proceeded to to the gate.
As we hadn't been able to book our flight more than a few hours ahead of time John and I were not given seats next to eachother, and worse yet we'd both been given middle seats. We figured that if she threw a fit on the plane that would be the worst possible configuration. In the middle of strangers, crying new born, and no one to help with whatever the issue might be. As we were boarding we asked the gentleman sitting in the window seat next to me if he'd be willing to switch with John. Again, having traveled a great deal I just assumed he would say no, but it seems that the prospect of sitting next to a newborn increase your chances of a positive response. Out of fear or kindness the gentleman said yes, and moved to another seat. We thanked him profusely, and offered to buy him a drink once we were in the air.
We should have known there'd be no issues on the plane with our perfect little Riley (even the doctor had said she was perfect). She didn't cry once the entire trip, she slept for most of it and enjoyed one little meal just before landing. Once again, she was a star. Nearly everyone on the plane congratulated us on our new arrival.
So... after more than three and half years of waiting R brought to us our little baby girl, Riley. She is all we could have asked for, and we feel even more blessed to have the additional pleasure of having R and V in our lives. It really couldn't have worked out any better than it has. As always we are thankful to R for being an amazing person, all of her family and friends for their support of her, and to everyone who has supported us along the way. We couldn't have done it without you.
Thank you for reading.
P.S. It should go without saying that throughout all of this the IAC was there to support all of us. We stayed in pretty much constant communication with IAC counselor who - just like the entire time - was there in any capacity that she needed to be for R and for us.
P.P.S. Apologies for not updating the blog a little more frequently in the recent past. I haven't decided exactly what to do with the blog going forward. I will continue to blog, but might end this one with a last post which will link over to our new family blog.... or I might just keep on with this one. Part of me really likes the idea of just having this blog as a record of our journey up to Riley's birth.... so, we shall see.