Our friendship feels much older than it is, and began on the first day of class when our children began Montessori school together.
Actually, we became friends while I was stuffing my foot in my mouth.
Priscilla was outside of a classroom with her 3 kids. They were adorable. Since she was Caucasian and the kids had a huge dose of Asian, I was just sure we shared a common thread through adoption. In an effort to connect, I blurted out,
“Three sons. How wonderful!”
She replied, “Toshi here is my only son. These two are my daughters.”
(Sorry, Mika and Hitomi. It must have been the uniform.)
Later, I learned that no, they were not an adoptive family.
Silly me. Yuji, Priscilla’s husband is from Japan.
She still brings up that huge faux pas, and thank goodness she laughs.
We rarely see each other now. Our children all went on to other schools. Life is busy and we don’t live close, but when we do communicate it’s like no time has passed. We pick up where we left off.
When our children were little, we spent many afternoons together at the school playground and attended more than a few birthday parties together. As our friendship grew, we realized just how much we had in common. We joked about maybe being related.
One day in 2001, Priscilla called to chat. It was a normal conversation about what our kids had been up to and the weather, then she nonchalantly asked if we would like to attend the birth of her fifth child.
It was so random that I thought she was joking.
She explained that although the three of us were a family formed through adoption, she knew we were not present at Alli’s birth and had never experienced birth together. She wanted to give this to us.
Because she could.
And because her heart is the size of Texas.
After discussing, we joyfully accepted this unusual invitation.
Alli was eight years old that summer and she was very excited about witnessing a human birth. We prepared her by supplying her with age appropriate books, by talking about what to expect, and by viewing a Lennart Nilsson film, Life’s Greatest Miracle. (The best I remember, Alli and Lars both fell asleep…)
When we told people about our plans to witness a friend’s delivery, some were shocked and let us know that it seemed odd.
I just smiled. I knew something that they didn’t know.
This was a selfless gift.
When the big day arrived, Priscilla called and suggested that we mosey on over to the hospital. Alli had slept in her clothes so she would be ready to go at moment’s notice. We were at the hospital within a half hour.
The nurse explained things throughout the day. She showed Alli how the baby’s heart monitor was attached to its head, and how wires were placed inside the uterus to measure contractions.
The baby kept pushing its bottom upward under Priscilla’s ribs. She invited Alli feel the baby move. Our child was fascinated.
We were at the hospital for over eight hours before the baby came and Alli never once complained. Her attention span and patience were amazing. She was so curious and glad to be taking part in the birth that she was totally consumed by it. The only fussing she did was when we’d take a break. She didn’t want to miss the birth.
When we returned from dinner, there was a quiet reverence in the room. It was time. The lights had been dimmed and Yuji stood beside Priscilla, their pinkies clasped. We three stood close by in silence, huddled together with our arms around each other. It was a sweet prelude to the major event.
The quiet room suddenly became busy with activity. The nurse ran around setting up the equipment needed for the delivery. She called the doctor to let him know that it was time. Another nurse was writing down information. The anesthesiologist came by to check on Priscilla’s pain level. The doctor arrived.
He looked suspiciously at our young daughter and asked if we were all comfortable with the situation. We were.
At five-forty-five the three of us were once again standing close together as one, only a few feet away from the doctor. We were looking at the baby’s head.
Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt Larry’s chest heave. I glanced at Allison’s little face. It was full of wonder and awe like I had never seen before.
It all happened so very fast. Priscilla gave one final push and there he was…a new human. As the doctor held him up, baby Yoshinori cried at the surprise change in environment.
It was priceless.
The doctor handed Yoshi to Priscilla, and the scissors to Yuji. We watched as he cut the cord. The nurse explained the protective skin coating. She showed us the three important arteries within the umbilical cord, and held up the placenta explaining its importance. The nurse then asked Alli to assist her in taking Yoshi’s footprints. ☺
I glanced up at the clock as Alli then took her turn to hold Yoshi. He was less than twenty minutes old and in the arms of his friend. Astounding!
I can’t really explain this adoptive mom’s heart. I’m not sure that other adoptive mothers who were not present for the birth of their children even feel the same things that I do. But I had a tiny sadness, a longing to participate in childbirth, a little hole in my heart for something I had missed with my child and my mate.
Priscilla, you knew this. I don’t know how, you fertile mother of five, but you did.
Thank you for giving the world your wonderful children, and for healing the hole in my heart.