It's been a very interesting 24 hours. And by interesting I mean exciting, and terrifying, and hopeful, and pragmatic, and devastating all at once.
Yesterday at 1:45 I received a call from our agency, a BABY call as I explain it to my students when my phone goes off in the middle of class (and yet it's rarely actually a baby call). It was a last minute placement, a really last minute placement, as they needed an answer in 45 minutes or so since they were bringing profile books to the hospital at 3:30 the same day. The baby had been born the day before, and whoever said yes to this opportunity had to be ready to go to the hospital and be placed with the baby the very next day, within 24 hours -- including dropping all the fees and everything. There were no red flags for us in the profile opportunity. We said hell yes.
Then I started freaking out. I realized that this meant that if we were chosen, I would be going out on maternity leave THE VERY NEXT DAY. The agency said that they'd call either by 5 or in the morning (they open at 9), and it depended on how long the birthparents took to make their decision. I really wanted to know before going to sleep (because HOW DO YOU SLEEP in this situation), but I also really wanted them to take their time and make the decision that was right for them.
We didn't get that call by 5.
So what do you do when you could be a parent tomorrow, or things could continue on, status quo, stuck in stasis?
It is not easy, I will tell you that. We knew the sex of the baby, so I asked, "What if we revisit our names and narrow it down a bit?" because that sounded like a fun way to pass the time. Bryce had concerns: "What if we pick a name and then this baby doesn't turn out to be ours? Is that name done?" Interesting question. I said no, because it wouldn't be attached to a baby we'd met, so it would still be fair game...if we had met the baby, named the baby, and then found out that we weren't taking that baby home that would be a different story. Just to be safe we narrowed it down to four, two clear favorites, and two different middle names. (No, we are not sharing these. Everything is so crazy about our process, we want to hang on to something "traditional!") We actually identified one new name for the list, so that was something that we can take with us.
Bryce wondered if we should be pragmatic and pack something up in case we had to go to the hospital the next day. I said no. Absolutely not. I do NOT want to pack a diaper bag with a little outfit and a couple diapers and wipes and a receiving blanket and whatnot, and then have it sit there, unused, needing to be unpacked. Nothankyou. So we didn't.
We reviewed the agency's handbook section on the paperwork you would sign, which was very responsible. And then we opened up a bottle of wine, which was maybe not so much but our thinking was, hey--we're not celebrating as much as taking advantage of what could be our last night of not-parenthood. Bryce thought maybe we should go out to fancy restaurant, a sort of "last hurrah," but I remembered all the "last hurrah" nights out we took during IVF, before a cycle started, and I just didn't want to do it. Also, I was tired -- in part from a long day at school, and in part from this building excitement over a possibility that could change our lives so quickly.
Because that was the thing -- to spend an evening wondering if tomorrow is the day you become parents is surreal. It was a bit scary -- all of a sudden I felt very inadequate and unprepared, but then it disappeared (somewhat) as I imagined having that baby placed in my arms, picking the baby up, and having that first moment of Oh holy jeezum, this is it, the moment I've been waiting for...I am a MOTHER. This baby is mine to care for. And then the moment where Bryce held the baby (a moment he, like many guys, is so nervous about), and we sat together and gazed at this tiny human that we didn't create but that we will raise together...and POOF! I could see our first family moment in my mind.
I also had some weird thoughts:
What do you wear on the day you might become a mom?
Oh no, my desk is SO not clean.
Wait, I'm going on maternity leave tomorrow if this works out? I won't see half my kids again unless I can visit!
They give you diapers and formula in the hospital, right?
Should we set up the bottle sterilizer thingie and make sure we know how it works?
Do I need to wash baby clothes tonight just in case, because they're stale and haven't been washed since last year?
I opened the door to the nursery. I turned the light on low. I looked around and thought, is tonight the last night you're empty?
It is so hard not to dream in these situations.
I know that it's better to be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed, and I know the realities of profiles -- it's like The Highlander -- there can be only one. If there were four books, there was one happy call and three "better luck next time" calls. I knew the chances were more in the "better luck next time" camp. But how do you not plan for something that could happen in less than 24 hours?
I went to bed wondering if we were going to bed the two of us and waking up parents.
It was incredibly difficult to go to school and act like everything was normal. I am strangely good at dissociating from this, after all we've been through. I can pretend to be okay when I'm a wreck. To a point.
I had told people in part because the call came when I was about to teach, and partly because if I was going to be going out without much notice I felt I needed to let the people directly affected know. So a lot of people were in our corner. In fact, I am totally overwhelmed with how much support we received today, throughout the day.
Because at 9:20, I received the call. And it was a no.
I was okay on the phone. I was okay on the phone with Bryce. How disappointing, but we'd had such a short time to get excited, and it was thrilling to get so close. Maybe we'd get another call sooner, since the last profile call we received was in MARCH. 10 months ago.
And then... I lost it.
I felt all the hope and promise of those hours, all the joy of thinking that we might finally make it to parenthood and be done with all this waiting and being on hold and finally, FINALLY move on to the next part of our lives. It felt like the floor was yanked out from underneath me, and all the realism of thinking we'll have more chances in the future was overshadowed by how long it took to get another profile call, and how the silence was so empty for so long that I started not really thinking about it quite as much. It wasn't feeling all that real, and then all of a sudden it had the potential to get SUPER real, SUPER quick, and then...nothing.
I will admit that I was a teensy bit short with a few people who saw me and said "Everything happens for a reason." One was someone I don't even really know and I said, "I appreciate that you are trying to be helpful but I patently disagree with that statement, having been through so many things for which I can't fathom a reason." I told another person who told me that God was waiting for just the right moment to bring me someone very special, and that he wouldn't put me through all this if it wasn't for something great, and I said, "Well, I've been waiting a second grader, which just seems an inordinate amount of time and there's been so much pain in there that I can't say I agree with you, but thank you." Then I just said thank you and swallowed my thoughts because I just didn't have the energy to explain how empty "Everything happens for a reason" or "It will be your time next time" feels when we've been at this for so. very. long. I hid in the Lead Teacher's office and cried while the librarian covered my 3rd period class, and then realized that if I stayed there random people could walk in to pick up printouts and I just really didn't want that. So I tried to look like a human-like-substance in the hall, went to the bathroom and rinsed my face a bit, and went down to Guidance.
The school psychologist let me sob and was so helpful, even closing the blinds for additional privacy. She convinced me that I didn't need to pretend everything was okay. I didn't need to "Pull myself together." I could go home and be messy there. Maybe that would be a better choice than being at the verge of tears and crying between classes for the rest of the day. I had the blessing of my principal, who was so disappointed for us (and had called the night before to offer his thoughts and let me know I could call him ANY TIME if the news was good and I would be going out on leave at the snap of a finger). I tried to say I had things to do, there was a quiz tomorrow that I wanted to help students prepare for and I felt bad for letting them down...and the school psychologist said, "We give ourselves too much credit...the world can go on without us and it will be fine. You need to go home and take care of yourself."
So I did.
I am feeling much better now. I put all the materials we looked at last night away. My mom stopped by to give me a hug. Bryce got takeout for us for lunch. A friend whisked me away to a see a happiness-making movie at 4 (LaLa Land, which I loved). I changed into yoga pants and a cozy shirt. I made some Tension Tamer tea. Those aren't in order, but I think followed the charge to "Take care of myself." I talked with Bryce, and we discussed our feelings about it all. The disappointment. The exhaustion. The positive point that we were profiled and it could happen again, but the incredible toll that kind of whirlwind takes on you emotionally.
This is the process, though. We cannot have a baby without it. We need to accept these ups and downs, the crickets in the waiting and the whiplash of last minute profile calls for which we aren't selected. We need to subject ourselves to this dichotomy of long silences and then hope followed by sadness so that we can get to the profile opportunity that is OUR baby, where we DO get chosen. I need to grow a thicker skin for future opportunities. I think this one hurt so much because it had been so long since our last opportunity and this one could have been such a fast transition to parenthood. Had it been us that was chosen, we might have been home now with our infant, lost in the confusion of brand new parents without the benefit of a pregnancy to at least gradually get used to the idea that this tiny human will come and be ours to care for. But that's not what happened. Not this time.
It's good to know that we really can take last-minute profiles, that we are ready (even though my desk won't likely be less messy in the days to come). It's good to know that we are being profiled again. It's good to know that last year all of our calls came in January through March (the early July thing wasn't a profile call but a blind profile that fell through before they called us, so it counts in my mind as one of the five opportunities we've had in 17 months, but not as a profile call), so hopefully we are going to receive more in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully it just takes one more.
I swear, if I hear anyone say to anyone "why don't you just adopt," I am going to smack them. Hard.