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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lawyers and Labor

It was the end of summer and my belly felt like a tomato that was going to split in the heat of the sun. It was September, or thereabouts, and I wasn't due until November 13th, 2008. I was already getting uncomfortable, but was willing to take one for the team and stick it out for a couple more months.

Things were winding down with the adoption process. This alone took a substantial amount of weight off of our shoulders. Our social worker had all of the documents finalized and sent over to our lawyer's office in Madison. Our lawyer prepared the adoption paperwork and set the date for our hearing. December 30, 2008. Phew! Just made the cusp. We'd be able to claim some of the adoption on that year's taxes. Our life and estate planning was also under wraps. Documents were signed and notarized, and copies were given to respective beneficiaries to be placed in safe keeping.

All we had left to do was meet with the guardian ad litem who would represent the interest of our daughter at the adoption hearing in December. The Law Center for Children & Family Services instructed us to schedule a call with the guardian ad litem prior to the adoption hearing. This would allow that individual to best serve the needs of our child and to get to know us and our family a bit better. What they meant to say was, "You don't know it yet, but this will allow that individual to double charge you because the questions they ask you during your phone call with them will be the same as questions they ask you on the day of your hearing pre-courtroom." I hate to say it, but it's true so, here goes. I'm cheap. The fact of the matter is I am fiscally mature. Now, that doesn't mean we have a lot of money because we don't. Sara and I both work entry level jobs and don't have college degrees. I am a Sales Assistant. Key word being assistant. She, at the time, was a dispatcher for the cable company. Key word...I digress. The point is we saved our asses off for this baby and I, we, were in no position to let money just fly willy nilly out the window.

So, I'm claiming ignorance! It was probably because we didn't read the fine print, but we didn't know there would be double charges for our lovely guardian ad litem. We didn't know the full listing of charges outside of the $1,200 fee for the social worker, the $5,000 "flat fee" for the adoption (including the $1,500 deposit), and the $2,000 "flat fee" for the life and estate planning. Flat fees don't include things like mailing, stipend for travel and food for our lawyers from their office to the adoption hearing, and even miscellaneous fees which probably applied to things like staples and envelopes or anything directly related to the preparation and successful delivery of our case. We didn't have a full understanding of any of these fees because we weren't billed for them until after our daughter was born and the adoption was complete. Because we didn't know, there was no need for ruckus so we remained quiet and compliant, and I scheduled a call with the guardian ad litem just weeks before our hearing in December.

Sara and I took the last couple of months of the pregnancy to rest and finish preparing for the arrival of our daughter, now deemed Graisyn Quinn. We made final touches to her room; a bouncy yellow and deep chocolate colored paradise with bits of dusty pink scattered throughout. Her name was elegantly stenciled on the wall above her crib. We stuffed all of the liners in the cloth diapers that would be used to cover her tiny bottom. We were the recipients of a wonderful baby shower which my aunt threw with the help of our mothers. We wrote thank-yous until our hands hurt for the plethora of items we received for Graisyn at the shower. We worked with our employers for the time we would be taking off to enjoy our new bundle. We read books on gay and lesbian families including statistics stating our child would still be normal even with two moms unless we did something deliberate to screw it up. We relaxed.

The air was growing crisp as summer wound down and fall wound up. We were going to to the doctor every other week for the last parts of September and then every week starting in October. Things were progressing really well with the pregnancy and they seemed to be progressing quickly too. At 34 weeks along, I was dilated to 1cm. This isn't anything unusual, I learned. Woman can sit for weeks at one, two, even three or four centimeters with nothing happening. I prayed that wouldn't be me. I wanted to make it to term, maybe go a tad early, and that was it. Not a second overdue!

Two more appointments came and went. At weeks 35 and 36, I was dilated to 2cm and Graisyn had already started to drop. I was certain I could have delivered her right there at the 36 week appointment, but my doctor told me that he would absolutely see me the following week. I know it was a bit premature, but given the amount of pressure that our little girl was putting on me, I couldn't fathom how my body would withstand potentially 6 more weeks of growth to make it a full 42 weeks.

The 36 week appointment fell early in the week, on a Monday or Tuesday, I think. I moseyed through the rest of the week doing my usual things, just doing them a bit slower. By Friday, I was uncomfortable, but not in any pain. I was having contractions at work and into the early evening that were every 12-17 minutes apart. I was also experiencing some loss of fluid which I linked directly to my water breaking. I was nervous. Sara was nervous. Neither of us could recall a damn thing from our labor and delivery class, so we did what any nervous, first time parents would do. We drove to the hospital.

False alarm. I spent an hour or two hooked up to monitors at the hospital with Sara right by side. I was having contractions, but they were not intense enough for real labor. That made sense, I wasn't in any pain. The fluid I was experiencing was another story. The nurse suggested I peed my pants when Graisyn kicked or due the pressure she was placing on my bladder. I told her that I did not pee my pants. Then I looked at Sara, completely and utterly humiliated and told her that I just knew I did not wet my pants. I felt my face getting hot and red. I was flustered and embarrassed. Tears welled in my eyes as I tried imagining that I may have actually pissed myself. No. I couldn't have. This fluid was pinkish in color, not yellow, and it was sporadic, not constant. It resolved to be the result of my cervix thinning, not a loose bladder. It was early labor, essentially a false alarm. Home we went...

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