By Jennifer Scott
We adopted our first baby around two years ago. It was the most joyful and humbling moment of our lives.
As I reflect back to those days leading up to our daughter's birth, my stomach fills with butterflies of excitement and nervousness all at once. What should we pack to bring to the hospital? What should go in our baby bag? Essentials only I think. No one wants to be that first time mom running into the birth room as if she is headed out to Europe for three months! As I go over in my mind the logistics of what to bring, I also reflect on the emotions I was feeling at the time. Will our daughter be healthy? What will our baby think of us when she looks into our eyes for the first time? Will the birth mother trust us to raise her baby? I go back and forth from our mental to do list, to my heart bursting with emotions of uncharted territories.
Our daughter was born in the United States 4 states away. We were able to meet with the birth mom two times before she went into labor. We had lunch with her on our first visit and spent the day talking and getting to know each other. Our second visit, a couple months later, we met again. This time she brought her mother along and we all went out for breakfast. Even though our plates were empty, we sat there not wanting it to end, as we cautiously asked questions about each other’s family. Slowly we were opening up to each other and building a bond for this little human growing inside her.
When the breakfast was over she invited us to her prenatal visit. We all sat in the exam room together and listened to the heartbeat. I will never forget the sound of her heart beating that day. At the end of the prenatal visit she asked us to be at the birth. She wanted Chris and I to be in the room when the baby was born. We were beyond excited as this was always our dream, but if you have ever walked the long road of adoption, you know it is a journey of fully surrendering and having no attachments. We looked at each other and of course said yes! We got back to our room that night, exhausted from the emotions, and sat outside under the stars and full moon to catch a breath and reflect on our day.
As a midwife, call it what you wish, but lots of babies are born on the full moon. Over and over again we saw this in our practice. I looked at Chris and said, even though our birth mom's due date is not for another week, we should pack our bags tonight. My gut told me to be ready for the call.
We went to bed that night, way too late, with our minds going over our lists. I woke up at 4am unable to sleep. The full moon was shining in our window. Around 6:20am the phone rang, I woke up Chris before looking at my phone, and said, here we go, are you ready. My gut was right. She had started going into labor around 4am and now that things were progressing so she was headed to the hospital with her mom. We quickly grabbed our bags and took off to the hospital.
The full moon was setting as the sun was rising. It was the most beautiful sunrise: Deep colors of pink and purple, mist slowly burning off from the warmth of the sun, mountain peaks peaking through. We got to the hospital an hour later and all hugged. The birth mother asked me to hold her hand as labor intensified. Our baby girl was born at 10:37am bright pink and healthy. My husband got to cut the cord and the birth mom got to hold her precious bundle skin to skin as well all cried tears of joy and pain for the beauty of life as we know it. I was able to do the first feeding. As she drank the precious donated breast milk, we looked into each other’s eyes, so trusting, so innocent, and promising to always love. The bags lay there, totally forgotten, but completely essential for the hours to come.
We had packed our bags, not knowing exactly what we should bring, or how long we would be gone. Even though I was a midwife, and had been to over a 100 births, I was still a first time mom in my heart, and had no idea what I was doing. So we kept packing and did our best to guess what we needed.
Many times, parents forget to bring a bag for themselves when packing for the birth. Your mind is so excited about meeting your baby for the first time, you forget about your needs. Since you will most likely be sleep deprived and running on adrenaline of excitement, you need to pack for whatever life presents you with, both physically and mentally.
For us, I packed: tea, coffee for hubby, power bars, change of clothes, water bottle, toothpaste and toothbrushes electrolyte mixes, dark chocolate, essential roll-on, face wash, deodorant, and phone chargers.
Not very much for any of us, but just enough to make sure the little one was well taken care of until we could get her back home. What do you think? Did we miss anything? What’s the one thing you realized you needed the day after the birth? If you were giving advice to a first time parent, what would you tell them to bring?
Let us know in the comments or hop over to our social media channels. There may be a conversation already going on there.