Today Ethan is 3 weeks old. Three weeks since we received the call that would change everything. I still find myself looking down at this tiny head nestled on my chest and wondering if this could actually be real. I hear myself talking to him and referring to myself as Mommy and it feels…fake somehow. I keep expecting this to be a temporary visit, like all the other children we’ve cared for off and on over the years. As the stacks of baby gifts begin to accumulate and the well wishes keep pouring in, I think it’s maybe starting to sink in. This.is.MY.baby. It’s so crazy, you guys! CRAZY!Our last few days in Florida the anticipation of life back in Iowa was almost unbearable. Our families and friends waiting to meet sweet Ethan could hardly stand the wait any longer. To try and pass the time, we ventured out to a local seafood restaurant on the banks of the Pithlachascotee River where we enjoyed local fresh food and great views. Matt and I spent a few hours at the pool our last afternoon – soaking in the sunshine and time alone together once again. Matt swam out across the empty pool…something he hasn’t attempted in 10 years. We laughed and talked and laughed. It wasn’t pretty, but he did it. It was awesome!
On Thursday morning at o-dark-thirty (we had barely slept) we all roused and loaded up for the final trip to the airport. FINALLY! Ethan was a trooper – the ENTIRE day. We had a 2 hour lightening delay at the airport. UGH. Eventually they opened up the ramp and we started to load the plane. Me, Matt, Mom, and Ethan were first on. Mom and Ethan first…Matt and I were just taking the final steps onto the plane when ‘KABOOM’…lightening and thunder. The ramp closed again. So we sat, on the airplane, just us 4...for at least an hour. Just when we were starting to get antsy they finally loaded the rest of the plane and we were off. Ethan didn’t make a peep the entire flight. He slept, ate, and slept some more. He’s quite content in my arms – I have to say. And then it hits me. These are the arms he’s known since birth. These are the arms that have held him and comforted him and fed him from the very beginning. I.am.his.mommy. Incredible. But back to the story…
We landed without incident in Cedar Rapids where my Dad was waiting to greet us and drive us home. He was thrilled to see his newest (and tiniest) grandson and my heart just swelled as he finally held him. My Dad and my son. I really wasn’t sure I’d ever experience this joy…oh what a gift.
When we arrived back at home the house was filled with welcome home surprises from our loving neighbors and friends. Stacks of diapers, wipes, and formula! Toys, clothes, books, and gift certificates! My two closest friends had made a huge welcome home banner and washed up several new things for us to use in Ethan’s room. There was a frozen meal in the freezer and a pile of packages and gifts from family and friends! It was so incredibly humbling and wonderful and I couldn’t help but shed a few tears. Was this really happening? Did we just walk into our house with a baby? Our baby? Are we really parents!?!
We didn’t have much time to contemplate - the rest of our immediate family quickly filtered in – each one reveling in the amazing little bundle that was here to change our family forever. We spent the evening talking about our time in Florida, all that changes that we’ve seen in this amazing baby already, and passing him from one loving set of arms to another. It was overwhelming and wonderful. Our family was finally together…and forever changed at the same time.
That night when it was just the three of us – we looked at each other through different eyes. How is this baby going to change us? For one – we have to get used to the other person talking to someone else! For seventeen years it has just been US…so if I hear Matt say something, 95% of the time, he’s talking to me. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve both said ‘huh?’ to the other person only to realize they were talking to Ethan. That will take some getting used to! There’s SOMEONE else here, folks! What!?!
We’ve had a steady stream of visitors, gifts, meals, and packages ever since. We are simply blown away by the generosity and love we’ve been showered with. It is so beautiful. So wonderful. And so incredibly appreciated. This baby, our baby, is so loved by so many already. This was the most important thing to his birth mother – and was the thing she kept repeating to us time and time again about what she saw in us and why she chose us. The love we have for each other and the love that we have around us through our friends and family. She knew this baby would be loved. I knew this baby would be loved. And yet it is still so incredible to witness it. I feel so much that I can’t adequately articulate. If I seem unemotional when you see me it’s because I can’t figure out how to feel. I am simply full of a million emotions combined.
Gratitude, shock, awe, love, excitement, fear, amazement, humility, unworthiness. At any given moment I can’t believe this is all real. I’m sitting in our home…with a baby. I’m on maternity leave. I’m not obligated to do anything else but this. Love and care for this tiny life that has been given to us. It’s shocking. It’s a blessing unlike anything I could ever have imagined. It’s still…so unreal!
Yesterday Ethan had his first visit with the pediatrician here in Ankeny and all looks great for our little bundle. He’s thriving, my friends! He is up to 5lbs 12oz! He is alert more and more – though he still prefers a snuggle more than anything (and this mommy is more than happy to oblige.) I can’t tell you how good it felt to have confirmation that little Ethan is healthy and doing well. That the love and care we are giving him is getting him started on the right track. That we are doing this whole mommy/daddy thing right. While we’ve had a few minor poop explosion incidents, and I know there will be potty incidents to come, we’ve got a good handle on this little guy and it feels amazing…even if still a little bit unreal!