How could I not blog about today? How could I not share today's story with everyone?
But, to tell about today, I must tell about the last six months. Strap in and hold on, because it might be a long ride.
I have gone through so many transitions in the last sixteen months. My goodness. WHO am I? WHO do I belong to? WHO belongs to me? Seventeen months ago, that answer was easy. Heck, technically, sixteen months ago today, that answer was easy. And in all reality, I still KNOW the answer, but he just isn't here anymore to confirm it...
I will skip all the different "personas" that I have had. Not only were there many, they also were exhausting, and nothing seemed to fit, perfectly, yet.
On July 14, I was told about a little boy who needed a home. A little boy who needed a Mommy to love and take care of him. A little boy who would, I thought, fit perfectly in to my life. But was I ready? Heck, I didn't know!!
Well, I am not going to go in to the details exactly about how this little boy came to me. Those are private, and will mostly remain private for our life- just between our family. It’s not that it’s a secret, or it’s something to be ashamed of by any means, but it is because some things families need to hold true and dear to their hearts. It’s sort of like having a special saying that only you and your loved ones say to each other...
But, when I found out about this little boy, and the possibility that someone could make my life complete, could make me feel whole again, and could make me believe in miracles, I needed to find out if I was ready. I couldn't possibly take over responsibility of another life if I was not ready. Luckily for me, I had an appointment with my counselor the next morning, and I decided that, above all, her assessment would be the final decision. The rest of our family and close friends had been running on adrenaline and emotion for ten months, so how could we clearly assess such a huge decision and responsibility as this?
First, I emailed my Mom. I wanted to run this by her. I wish now I had called her, but I had emailed her. I was not yet sure about how real the possibility could be. Wow. We have never had such "fire" emails. Both of us were excitedly writing back and forth to each other--send. Writing again--send. And again--send. As the conversation progressed, so did our excitement, and so did our speed of typing! And of course, so did her absolute, complete blessings, and knowledge that this is what I, we, needed in our lives. Then, I had to make it to my appointment.
I called my Daddy on the way. I called to tell him that I thought this was going to happen, but that I wanted to make absolutely sure that I was ready, and what did he think? He was also very excited, but I swore him to secrecy, not knowing that he was around others, so he couldn't get overly excited. But, I could tell in our secret Daddy/Daughter way, that he was ecstatic.
Then, off to my counselor I go. I had been seeing her for several weeks after other methods of counseling hadn't worked out because of the rotation schedules of the MFLAC provided by the Army (Thanks for the service, Army, but the rotation makes it difficult to connect with anyone, and it is brutally difficult to start from the beginning, tell the story over and over again, and go through the emotions again each time with a different person). This counselor got to know me, and she quickly took in my situation, and helped me make sense of my life, little by little. I knew that she would have a good judgment of whether I was ready or not. She had, in all honesty, seen me at my worst, in my most pain, and also in my quest for "something more". I decided that if she didn't think I was ready, I was ready to, and would have to, turn this situation down, in the best interest of me, my family, and most importantly, this baby.
As you can see from my previous posts, one of the major things that was so hurtful and that I grieved for so much was that Matt and I didn't get to have children. Of course, I missed him, I hurt because he was gone, I loved him, I had a huge hole, and I still do. Every. Single. Day. But, I also knew that I had to at some point make a step towards getting out of my grief and being an effective "person" again. But, to not have his children? To possibly not be a Mommy? Ever? That was every bit as painful as losing him. It is like I lost him as well as a child.
And I told my counselor this...Again. Then, I told her about the opportunity that came up. I was ready for her to shoot it down. I was ready for her to call me crazy, insane, and even ask "How Dare You?" I was ready. And, I knew that I should respect and accept her professional opinion, after some debate and inward looks at myself, but knew I would need to respect and accept her professional opinion before I left. Besides, I had already had my doctor tell me several times that I was young, and could conceive and "find someone else", even just two months after Matt died. It seemed so easy to him, and he was not happy with my thoughts of possibly trying to have a child on my own.
I was ready for it. I was waiting for her to crush my thoughts and “plans” at that moment. And she said "Why Not?" Wait, what? I had my argument planned, because I was going to put up a fight, but then she said "Why Not? As long as you know that you do not know the medical background of the child, and that you are ready to care for a child, no matter of any issues he may have, Why Not?" Wow. We talked about that in detail. I told her my earlier plan to someday try to conceive on my own- to find a donor that was as close a match to Matt as possible, and that I wouldn't know everything in that aspect either. She said "Well, you really don't even know what the future holds for your own child, even when you do know the biological makeup of both parents." Wow. Yes, I DO know that, instantly thinking of my in laws. "As long as you are aware of this, and comfortable with this, go get him!"
Oh my gosh!! Oh my gosh!! Oh my gosh!! Yes, that was all I could say. I was literally speechless!
So, upon leaving the office, I immediately called Matt's mom. I asked her "Would you like to be a Grandma again?" "Yes...Whyyyy?...?" (She and I had already talked about this possibility- hypothetically.) I told her. And I told her his name would be "Gabriel Louis Wagstaff", the name that Matt and I had picked out for our first son. Gabriel is Matt's middle name, and Louis is my Daddy's middle name, and Matt's grandpa's name. She was SO excited! She was thrilled at the possibility of another grandchild, and of the miracle that was taking place. I swore her to secrecy, and told her I wanted to call Matt's dad.
"Hello". "Hi!" "Hi Kiddo"...(small talk). "So, um, do you want to be a Grandpa again?" "Uh, uh, uh" (I can hear the wheels turning, and "I'm not ready for this conversation"...) "Are you pregnant?!?" "No! Not even close! But, I am going to adopt a baby boy!" "Wow, Kiddo. Are you ready for this?" "Yes, as long as I have everyone's support, then yes!" "Well, we will always support you, and if you are sure, we are here behind you." (I love this statement!!) We talked about the day, how it came up, and what my counselor said. We talked about the dangers of adoption, and the risks, and the love that we could have. We talked about what would possibly happen the next couple of days, and further on in the process. Little did I know, I really had no understanding of "the process" yet.
I get home, and I am in a daze. I email my mom, and tell her, and tell her that I am going to go through with it. I talk to the person that helped to set me up with this, and confirmed, and we planned. I talk with my Daddy, and our other family, to let everyone know. After I had, again, overwhelming support, I immediately start calling our friends. Overwhelmingly, I had very, very strong support. There were some "Are you sure?s" and "well, it’s crazy", but overall, I had overwhelming support. Wow! It's really going to happen!
Then, my friend and I went shopping. I am so thankful for her, because I could not say anything but "Oh my gosh, R! I am going to be a Mommy!" Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! We went to the mall to find stuff, we went to Target; we went all over. We bought some stuff, but overall, I think that we were both in such a daze that we bought a bunch of very random stuff. There was no organization, and, frankly, we were upset at Target's lack of items for the little ones that day. :)
April came home that night (as she was still living with me) and I told her. As a best friend does, she was concerned for my health, for the baby's health, and for my responsibility. I am sure that this came up very suddenly- well, it did, and because of that, and also my recent quests for a persona, she had every right to be concerned.
The next day, my friend J and I went shopping. Wow. This lady knows how to keep it organized, focused, and comprehensive. I ended up getting the baby everything he needed, from his crib (purchased the next day), to his diapers, to his clothes for the first few months, to receiving blankets, to bedsheets, bath towels, bibs, well- everything, and did it in essentially 8 hours for less than $1200.
My Daddy came over early Saturday morning. I am talking 7 am!! Together, with April's help, we completely emptied the incredibly overcrowded, messy, unorganized, filled office, and moved it about the house in a semi-organized fashion. Then, we started preparing the nursery. It took us most of the day to get the office cleaned out, and we still had to go and get the crib! So, at about 9 p.m., Daddy and I venture out and pick up the crib. We get home, and start putting everything together. As usual, I have Matt's music in the background. When we had just opened up the crib box, "his" song, "What I've Done" by Linkin Park came on (it was played during his photos of our wedding video). I always know he is here when this one is on. Dad knows this, and he knows the song, and we just looked at each other. We both knew that it meant that Matt was there, and wanted to help! So, I just put the song on repeat, and loved Matt, loved my Daddy, our family, and my new baby, who I knew nothing about. We worked until 4 am Sunday morning, and I had to leave at 6 am to drive the 6 1/2 hours home to meet mom and Harry to pick up my new baby boy and become a mother.
That was the longest drive ever. Even though I was busting the speed limit, I just couldn't get there fast enough. I was exhausted, excited, elated, ecstatic, nervous, and, I realized there were still so many I hadn't told yet. So, I called on my way home. I think I probably made 25 different phone calls, and had to keep all of them short, because I had lots to make. And, I answered so many questions that helped confirm to me that this was right, this was my Miracle, and I was ready. Other than that he was a boy, I knew nothing of him. I didn't know his race, I didn't know if he had been circumcised or not, I didn't know what he looked like; I didn't know anything. And I didn't care. I just knew that he was my Miracle.
I meet my mom and Harry just off of the interstate. My sister brought them to me, and she took Lily home with her, while they jumped in with me, and off we went to continue the drive to the orphanage in ChicagoLand. We got there slightly later than we had hoped, but when we walked in to the large, ornate orphanage that looked just like in the movies, and saw that little boy, my heart changed. I knew that his heart matched mine, and that we would make a good, no, perfect pair.
Of course, it was emotional. Of course, I couldn't thank the parties involved enough for their giving to me this child, for their making my dream- my dream that was lost ten months ago, happen. I couldn't believe that in an instant, I became a Mommy.
We had dinner with a friend of mine, who used to be my roommate when I lived in Chicago, and then we started the trek home to my Mom's. Wow. I thought the ride up to IL was long. This was even longer, and it was only a three hour drive. All of us were exhausted. All of us were tired, ready to be home, and being so overly cautious with the new baby that it seemed to take forever. He was so tiny. So fragile, so...miraculous.
We finally got home at about 3 am on Monday, July 18. In a daze, I woke up the next morning for what was my last week of work, which, coincidentally (or divine intervention?) had already been scheduled. I had already resigned from my position (not really knowing why other than that I “needed to”), and we had worked out a plan for me to take on a part time position with the university so that I could find my footing in life again. I began, little by little, telling my coworkers of the happenings in my life. Again, shock, but still overwhelming support.
That night, I took my little Angel, and my puppy to a hotel nearby so that we could have family bonding time. On my way, I heard for the first time "God gave me you for the ups and downs. God gave me you for the days of doubt. And when I think I've lost my way, there are no words here left to say, Its True. God Gave Me You", and I knew that God had given me my Angel, Gabriel.
Bonding was probably the most wonderful thing that we had done. I still believe that. At the orphanage, I am sure that he got lots of attention, but he got lots of attention and care from many different people- on shifts. At my Mom's, with my sister, brother, mom, Harry, niece and nephew, he was still being passed around. He was loved! Oh so Loved! But, it wasn't different than the orphanage just yet, at least not that a five week old could tell. In the hotel, he got constant attention, only from me, from his Mommy. For two days, we lived in a hotel, just getting to know each other. Just praying for our togetherness, safety and happiness. And, we felt Angel Daddy the whole time.
Gosh. I am sorry if you are getting tired reading this. It is a long story!
For the next two months, we lived with my Mom, as we were not able to leave Illinois. It was SO nice to have her around, for help with the baby, for understanding of the situation, for helping me process, and for helping me to be a good mommy. She did a wonderful job, too. She was so good at letting me be the mommy, and her the grandma, and didn't try to overstep as I have seen with some families. She let me learn, and was there for advice when asked, and let me be his primary bond. She helped me gain confidence in myself, and her and Harry always pointed out that "Gabe knows who his Mommy is!" Wow. That made me feel so good. My little boy stared at me, and stared at me. Yes, he knows who his Mommy is! This is the VERY short version of our visit in Illinois. We met with lots of friends, saw lots of family, went to the doctor, the parade, the park, the Rock Island Arsenal (and Army base near my hometown), and participated in 9/11 ceremonies. I found and accepted the Lord and Jesus Christ as my Savior, and I dedicated Gabriel, promising to raise him in the hand of the Lord. Gabriel grew so much during this time, and I grew even more!
We finally came home, just in time for the one year anniversary of my husband, of Angel Daddy's, death. Wow. When I stop and think about it even now...Look at all that had happened, in only one year? And Angel Daddy, Matt, was there the entire time, holding my hand, guiding me, and has lead me to so much. When you hear the saying that God doesn't close one door without opening many others, this is so true. Yes, I have had so much pain in my life the last year. So much unbearable pain. But, look at this truly, wonderful, beautiful blessing-Miracle- that He has granted me? He has also blessed me with an amazing family and friends, and a wonderful, very strong, support group.
I would love to go on and detail every single minute (or at least month) of my child's life since then, but, ultimately, it is regular baby and mommy stuff. Nothing that has happened to us has been significant to us, or has "only happened to us", but regardless, it is special. Each moment is special. When he first met Granddaddy and Nana, Aunt Leslie and Uncle Alvin When he first rolled over, when he first rolled over again, when he first met Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Jason W., when he cut his first tooth, when he wore his first Halloween costume, when I had my first birthday with him, when he saw Grandma and "Grandpa Twin" get married and cry only at the end when everyone clapped, when he first sat up, when he first said "Mama" (still waiting on the second one for that), when he first ate solid food; when he had his first doctors' appointment in TN, when we first flew to Utah, when he first met Aunt Cassimo, Aunt Amanda and the kids, and our PGR family, when we first flew back....Gosh. There are so many memories....And I cherish them all.
Ultimately, it brought us here. It brought us to this day. It brought us to this day in life where now, we are Legally, in Love. My baby is legally mine, and I am legally his, although from the moment I knew about him, he was mine. I was attached immediately, the way I assume mothers are to their babies. But, now, he is -legally- mine. He is mine. He will forever be mine. He is my forever family. He is my forever reminder that God gives Miracles. He is my forever Angel, and he is my forever reminder of our Angel in Heaven. He can call me Mommy, and NO ONE can contest it.