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Monday, May 30, 2011

Judgement Day

Graisyn was growing leaps and bounds. She had just surpassed two months old at the time our adoption hearing was scheduled to occur. It was December 30, 2008, the second to last day of 2008 and the last day that we would have to claim Graisyn's adoption on our 2008 tax filings. It was bitter cold. It was snowy. It was hours of driving to LaCrosse, the one reliably "friendly" court in Wisconsin, for our hearing with a colicky baby.

Yes. Our baby had colic. She was everything we had expected and oh, so much more. You know, I used to judge those who could not quiet their babies. I'll admit it. Then I was one of them. I think it was God's way of punishing me for casting judgement. Got it now. Thanks, God. You win. Now please silence this much wanted, much tried for, bouncing bundle of joy.

We packed up our little Graisyn and began our journey. We were gratefully accompanied by my mother-in-law and my little sister. They were our witnesses for the adoption hearing, having extended family there as requested by the lawyers, and our sanity during the long drive with a wailing infant. To this day, my baby sister does not want children. At that time, I could not pass blame on her. I too was questioning my parenthood, but you get what you get and you make due with what you have.

Graisyn was relatively good on the ride to LaCrosse. We made it to the courthouse safe and sound and still sane. In the courthouse we waited for our attorney with the other homosexual families who were there to stake their claim as the rightful parents to their children. You know, even in the "gay world" as it has been so graciously defined, there are all sorts of families. Sara and I used me as the incubator for Graisyn with donor sperm to conceive her. There was another couple who had their eggs harvested and fertilized by donor sperm only to them implanted in the opposite partner (and I thought we were a legal nightmare). There was yet another couple who had a known donor for the conception of their child. Yes, even those families who are gay can be as brightly colored as those who are straight.

Each family met individually with the guardian ad litem. We had to explain why we were at the courthouse that day and why we chose to be parents. We had to justify ourselves all over again. Trust me when I say that I had the fees from that meeting waived. God forbid she had actually captured that information from the phone interview we already had with her and that she already charged for. Umm, no friend. Recalculate please. And she did without question.

After our interviews, we waited to be called into the courtroom. There was a sense of nervousness in the air which I am sure was only due to the fact that we all ready to be granted or denied legal rights to our children. Still, we chatted amongst ourselves like the experience was nothing out of sorts, completely normal.

Then we were called into the courtroom. We moseyed in like nomads on the move. We had our children, our legal paperwork, our respective friends and/or family members, strollers, diaper bags, bottles. All of us took our seats. The judge addressed us. She had a compassion to her voice that made most of my nerves dissipate. One by one she called us up. Each parent had to testify to their desire to care for and raise to the best of their ability the child/children in question. The birthing parent had to terminate their rights, though only for a matter of minutes, so that the child could be legally adopted by a same sex couple. This is simply because, in Wisconsin, as Graisyn's birth mother and legal parent, I could not select a female to adopt and raise her with me. As her legal parent, I could only select a male. Making her a ward of the state gave Sara and I equal rights to adopt her. In short, it's a loophole in the Wisconsin legal system.

Within an hour a total of three families, ours included, had successfully been created in the eyes of the law. My wife, Sara, was officially Graisyn's mother, though in my eyes she had been since the day Graisyn was conceived. Sara's parents were legally defined as Graisyn's grandparents, though, again, they had anxiously adopted that title well before Graisyn's birth. The ramifications of that day in court created more family ties and offered Sara, Graisyn, and I a sense of legal protection that I cannot even define. It is amazing to me what an hour in a courtroom and thousands of dollars can do. I still am emotional about it today.

The drive home after our hearing was exhausting. Snow heaved from the sky for the duration of our tour home. Though relieved at the outcome of our hearing, I think it was fair to say that the hours of screaming from Graisyn coupled with the ill road conditions the entire way home tested all of our tempers. We arrived home, tired and grumbly, but in one piece and as one family. It was time to shovel.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Arrival

We arrived home from the hospital after our embarrassing little false alarm. I think it was after midnight so that would have put us on Saturday, very, very early Saturday, October 25, 2008. It was so bitter cold outside. In only a short time, the weather went from a welcomed chilly nibble to a full chomp on our limbs. We were so tired. I was still a bit bewildered by Friday evenings tribulations and I was still mildly uncomfortable. To sleep we went.

We awoke later that Saturday morning and began going about our day as usual. There was laundry to be done, dishes, an antsy dog to be played with, and contractions to be timed (Sara was persistent with this one).

My contractions were still a good fifteen minutes apart, so we were on alert, but not overly anxious. We also had a Halloween party to attend that Saturday evening, so Ms. Graisyn would not possibly cause us to miss such festivities.

And she didn't. We attended the Halloween party un-costumed, but ready to socialize with our friends. My contractions persisted the entire time, so we didn't stay long. In fact I think the fun times, for us anyway, lasted about two hours. Then, home we went to time more contractions and get some shut eye.

I slept for two hours. By 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning, I was pacing the house like a horse in heat. I was uncomfortable, aggravated, and sweaty. Sara slept soundly as I traipsed the area around our bed and into the hallway outside our bedroom. I was certain that it was time. Our little Graisyn Quinn was ready to make her appearance into the world. I was, however, still embarassed enough by Friday's events to second guess myself. I let Sara sleep while I continued making trails around our house.

Sara began to stir sometime around 1:30 a.m. She must have heard me panting with discomfort. Or maybe the sound of my plotting feet in and around our bedroom had finally been enough to wake her from her sleepiness. When she pulled herself fully from sleep mode, she asked me how long I had been awake and, more importantly, how far apart my contractions were. Oops. My bad. Seven to ten minutes apart I think.

Wrong. Let's try three to five minutes apart. It was time to head to the hospital. It was almost 3:00 a.m. Sara was adamant that we leave right away. I was adamant that I take a shower first. Listen, a girl has to be clean for a day like this. I won. Shower first, then we leave. Sam and baby one. Sara zero.

Sara and I arrived at the hospital at about 3:30 a.m. We entered through the E.R. and were escorted to the birthing unit. I was hooked up to monitors so that the nurses could be certain that it was actually time. "You're staying," they said. Sara went back to the truck to get our bags only because I made her leave them there for fear of being embarrassed all over again. They settled me into a birthing suite.

When Sara got back with our bags, we settled in. We were given instruction to walk to help the labor progress. We walked. We walked and walked and walked. We traveled the birthing unit for more than three hours. We got to know it very, very well.

Sara's parents, who received a premature phone call from her about the anticipation of our arrival, arrived at the hospital at 8:30 a.m. They were given strict instruction to wait down the hall so that I could manage the pain of my contractions. I was bedridden at this point and had opted for no pain management. That's right, the nurses never even started an I.V. on me. Mom and Dad in-law waited with anticipation down the hall.

My labor was progressing really well. It was about 10 a.m. and my water still had not broken and I was still just under 8 cm dilated. The doctor came in to break my water. Sara and I heard him tell the nurses that he would break my water and then head to the sister hospital to do rounds there. Not a chance. He broke my water and within ten or fifteen minutes, for sure within the next two contractions, I had to push. I guess this in unheard of. Typically first time moms take a bit longer to deliver. Maybe I should have told everyone that I am traditionally atypical. Oh well.

The nurse advised me to quit pushing. I advised her that was absolutely not a possibility. She checked and called the doctor back. Our baby, our Graisyn Quinn was on her way!

The doctor was back in the room. He asked if he had time to put on scrubs. He didn't. He ripped off his sweater and threw it on the pull out sofa next to him. The nurses threw paper scrubs over his designer button down. I pushed for a total of fifteen to twenty minutes and Graisyn made her debut into the world. She was here all too quickly and managed to rip me pretty substantially, but she was here nonetheless. I held my screeching baby while Sara cut her cord and I got stitched up. Then she was taken for her weighing and cleaning.

Grandma and Grandpa in-law came into the room as soon as they could. They fell in love with her as quickly as Sara and I had. I was exhausted, but with the visitors pre-birth and after birth, could not get my brain to settle down enough to sleep. The last of the visitors left, including Sara's parents, at 6:30 that evening. Finally it was our turn to get familiar with our new family. It was our turn to sleep. It was our turn to be with our baby.

Our Graisyn Quinn had arrived. 
October 26, 2008, 10:36 a.m. 19.5" long and a comfortable 6lbs. 15oz.