"My wife and I have been trying to have a baby for a long time. We are encouraged by our friend's recent success with adoption, and have decided to go this route. We need letters of recommendation from friends, for the adoption lawyer. Would you please write one for us?"
I was awed and felt honored to do so. I didn't know the details of their fertility struggle, but it made sense. They had been married for a few years, and were lagging behind on the baby train. I took my task seriously, and wrote from my heart. When I completed the letter, and sent it to my friend for approval, ready to edit and re-write if necessary, he made me laugh out loud in his reply. "Um, these people you described sound amazing. When can I meet them?"
About a month later, I got an e-mail with a blog link. Their adoption blog. Advertising themselves, as prospective parents, and asking everyone they knew to post it on Facebook, forward it to everyone in their contacts. Apparently that is how it is done, these days. I was busy that day, but a few days later, I obliged.
My husband got a text from him last night. "We are in the NICU. Giz's father is listed as the attending. We have a baby."
My dad has been a neonatologist in the hospital I now do pathology for, for over 25 years. I remember visiting the NICU various times growing up. Having a dad as a neonatologist is a lot to live up to. I remember being in gas stations in rural Southern towns, filling out checks to pay for college essentials like gas and caffeine. We have a very rare Norweigan last name, listed on the check. "Is your dad Dr. so-and-so?" the clerk asked. I answered, "Yes. That's my dad." "He saved my little boy. I think of him every day. He is like the sun, to me. The one that hung the moon." This sentiment repeated itself, throughout my life, in restaurants and other various public venues. In medical school, when my attendings learned my maiden name. Living with my dad was like living with a celebrity. A very aloof, private one, that reserves emotion and judgment and does not seek attention. It just came, with the nature of his business. He is very good at what he does.
My dad was over for sushi last night, when my husband received the text. "I think I remember the baby I admitted last night. The one your friend is adopting. Tell him I work again on Christmas Eve, and I will be happy to talk to him."
I worked today, and couldn't contain my desire to visit and participate in their joy. I called my dad at 9:30 and asked, embarrassingly, what floor the NICU was on. I visit the SICU, MICU, CCU, the floor, radiology, and the lab, but don't have the occasion to see the NICU. "It's on the second floor. Down the long hallway off of the physician elevators. Use my physician code to get in the door."
I did, and felt apprehensive and intrusive. I went up to the desk clerk, and announced myself. "I am Dr. so-and-so's daughter. I have friends with a baby here, and they asked me to visit." She smartly replied, "Let me just check with them, and then I'll guide you to the room."
As I walked into the darkened cubicle, my lawyer friend was holding his new baby girl. His face was shiny with tears. My heart was skittering all over my chest. "Hi, Gizabeth. This is Lorelei. She's my daughter. She is coming home on Christmas Day." He told me his story. They got a call from their lawyer at noon the day before. The mom had just learned she was pregnant a few days before, and was not prepared to be a mother. Her friend, the father, was in full agreement. The mother read through dossiers of prospective parents, and chose my friends.
I sat in the dark room for 45 minutes. My friend the adoptive mom showed up eventually, from her mad dash registering at Target ("I think I probably registered for too many things twice, I couldn't concentrate!") and took the baby in her arms. She is a schoolteacher for inner city children, and worried about the fact that her kids are unprepared for her maternity leave through mid-February. But she was thrilled, and knows the kids will wait for her. She babysits my kids, occasionally, and they love her to death. She has the right combination of artistic creativity, compassion, and boundaries that will make her a wonderful mom. And her new baby girl looks a lot like her. The daughter is biracial, a mixture between Caucasian and African-American parentage. She has the olive skin and dark, wavy hair of her adoptive Caucasian mom. She is ravishing. They were all glowing.
I walked back down to my office and tried to focus on my livers, lymph nodes, SPEP's, IFE's, and peripheral smears. I kept thinking of them all day. Of their wonderful Christmas miracle. Beats the hell out of all the lights and the presents under the tree. I am so happy for them.