I’ve been thinking about how to share Mila’s birth story for months now. Seven months, to be exact. I’ve learned that when I have a baby, I go into a newborn fog that hovers really thick for about six months, and then starts to lessen. It’s still there for the first year, at least for me. I think it’s a combination of sleeplessness and all the mental planning that goes into caring for a newborn. Packing bags and counting bottles and diapers and making sure you have enough stock of everything on hand. Mentally tracking bowel movements and teething symptoms and sleep time and wake time and spare clothes for the inevitable leaky diaper. And then there’s the hours of staring at your precious baby, trying to breathe in every single detail of that baby hair and those killer eyes. Kissing those baby cheeks. It’s practically a part-time job.
It takes me about a year to adjust to a new baby and find myself on the other side. It was really hard with Wrenn, but I knew what to expect with Mila, and so it’s been a little easier to accept. I know it’s a season that has an end. A season that in hindsight will seem so brief. But also a season where things like writing or quilting go from life giving to overwhelming. My brain just can’t process anything extra. So alas, the quiet on this little blog.
Back to Mila. I also want to preface by saying that there’s a version of Mila’s birth story that we will share with the world, and another version we will share with only her. Because it’s her story to tell. Not mine. Not yours. And so I want to say thank you in advance for not asking personal questions about her story. This is a way you can show Mila and her birth family love.
It was the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday. We were out of town, staying at a relative’s ranch, enjoying a lazy day of fishing and eating and sleeping in with Mr. Right’s side of the family. It was the most amazing morning, which in hindsight, seems like such a gift from God. Our big day started full of love and family. Mr. Right and I took Wrenn fishing on our relatives’ private lake. It was just us and our little fishing boat, along with some more relatives in another fishing boat cheering Wrenn’s efforts on.
She caught a fish. We all caught fish. And then we sent Wrenn in so that Mr. Right and I could have some time fishing, just the two of us. We laughed so much. It was the happiest morning.
As Mr. Right and I fished, it started to drizzle, and we could see storms off in the distance. We decided to come in before the rain hit, and I went downstairs to shower before lunch. We were having a big family fish fry. For some reason, Mr. Right decided to hang out on the porch while I cleaned up downstairs.
This is where I should mention that we had no cell phone service at the ranch. None. And really, it was glorious. We had lived tethered to our phones ever since we turned in our adoption paperwork and joined the waiting list. We knew we could get a call at anytime. We kept our phones at the waterpark all summer. We slept with them next to our beds, never on silent. We were always reachable.
Except for this weekend. For some reason, we just knew we wouldn’t be getting a call. We weren’t matched with a birth mom, and there were none on the waiting list. And so we decided to enjoy a disconnected weekend. I left my cell phone in another room most of the time. It was so refreshing.
But somehow (God!), Mr. Right’s phone rang as he sat on the porch at that moment. That one spot, at that one moment, he got cell reception. It was our adoption agency, calling to tell us that there was a baby girl at the hospital, waiting for us to come pick her up. She told us as soon as we got there, this baby girl would be discharged to our home.
The only detail we got was that she was a hispanic baby girl, and that she was healthy. That was it.
Mr. Right came downstairs and caught me right as I was stepping into the shower to wash the fish smell off of me. I reeked of fish. The conversation went something like this:
Him: PUT YOUR CLOTHES BACK ON, WE’RE HAVING A BABY.
Me… totally and utterly confused: WHAT?
Him: The adoption agency called. There’s a baby girl at the hospital and we can come get her RIGHT NOW.
Me… not understanding at all: WHAT?????
Him: GET DRESSED. WE’RE HAVING A BABY GIRL!
Me… still confused and now in total shock: NO WAY. NO WAY. I DON’T BELIEVE IT. NO WAY. NO WAY.
Him, now gathering things and shoving them into a bag: GET DRESSED. WE HAVE TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW. WE’RE HAVING A BABY GIRL TODAY!
I probably said “No way” and “I don’t believe it” and “what?” about 100 times as I got dressed and scrambled to throw all my belongings in a suitcase. I smelled like fish. I had on no makeup. My things were scattered around the room. OH MY GOSH WE WERE HAVING A BABY AND HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET THERE AND WE HAVEN’T EATEN LUNCH AND WE NEED TO TELL WRENN AND OH MY GOSH I SMELL LIKE FISH AND GOD IS SO GOOD AND I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING TODAY.
WE WERE HAVING A BABY!!!!!!
Mr. Right and I dressed and carried our suitcases upstairs, to find our extended family standing around in utter shock. None of us could believe it was finally time. In God’s amazing, generous grace, I was able to pull Wrenn aside, get down on her eye level, and tell her that she was getting a baby sister. Today.
And y’all, our 3-year-old cried big, adult, HAPPY tears in that moment. It was one of my favorite memories of that day. She had prayed every single night for a year for her baby brother or sister. She had helped us paint her nursery. She had walked through grief when the other baby had fallen through. We had tried to protect her from the details of the adoption, but she’s smart, and perceptive, and she knew more than I wanted her little heart to know. In that moment, Wrenn expressed such JOY at the news. She got it. She totally understood. And her response was happy tears.
Mila, your big sister has loved you since before you were made.
We said our goodbyes, left Wrenn with our extended family, and Mr. Right and I set off for a long drive to the hospital. What should have been at least a 5-hour drive (in the pouring down rain) turned into a 4-hour drive, with Mr. Right driving 90 in the fast lane, with his hazard lights on. We were in shock the whole way there. We decided we would wait to tell anybody outside our immediate family until this baby was ours. And so we didn’t tell anybody.
I should add, since this wasn’t planned, we didn’t have any baby gear with us. No car seat, no diapers, no bottles, no formula. I had a few boy clothes and a single bag of diapers back home in the nursery. Everything else was either covered in dust in our attic, or was still at the store. WE HAD NOTHING.
We got to the hospital, and two women from the adoption agency met us at the door and offered to go buy us a car seat. Remember, it was Black Friday, so the stores were probably insanely crowded. I am so thankful for those two women, who saved us from additional chaos. Instead, we got to go upstairs and meet our Mila.
Our time at the hospital was sacred. We got to spend about an hour with Mila’s birth mom, and all I will say is that we could see and feel how much she loved Mila. We are so thankful for her.
Our first picture with Mila.
And then we were back in the car, making another long drive home. Only this time, I was sitting in the backseat, wedged between fishing poles and our new baby girl. So tiny and beautiful, all 6 pounds, 3 ounces of her, with a full head of black hair. We called and texted people all the way home. We laughed and we cried and we celebrated with our prayer warriors who had seen us through the past year (and many, for years and years before that). That was probably the happiest drive of my whole life.
And that is how we went from a family of 3 at lunchtime to a family of 4 by dinner.
When the doctor first handed me Wrenn, in the delivery room, I cried such big tears that the doctor asked me if I was in pain, worried that the epidural had worn off. No, not in pain – I was crying tears of overwhelming joy at first meeting my baby girl.
I didn’t get to cry those tears of joy upon first meeting Mila, because the circumstances were different. Instead, during one of those first middle-of-the-night feedings during her first night at home, I held Mila in the dark and sobbed those same happy tears as I thanked God for answering my prayers.
Same tears from my same mama heart. Mila joined us in a different way, but she is absolutely ours. God knew from the very beginning of time that she would be a forever member of our family. God was so sweet to answer our prayers and let us experience His love through our journey to Mila.
Her birth mother gave her the name Mila. We gave her her middle name – Anne – named after my middle name. She will always have a piece of her birth mother, and a piece of me. Intermixed. Together. So dearly loved.