Some of you know that we went to visit our birth mom last week. Whew! What an adventure we had getting home! But first, let me tell you about getting there.
Tuesday night we dropped off kids and had a quiet night at home, getting ready to go.
Wednesday morning we left and had no problems with flights or anything, even got to the Kansas City airport a few minutes early. Picked up our rental car and headed off into the Kansas wilderness. I was so organized as to have printed out directions and maps for each step of our way. Finally, Anne is organized!
But then, partway there, we got a call from our social worker, B., that the birth mom, V., couldn't find a sitter for her older kids so we couldn't go to Olive Garden. She still wanted to meet, just at the offices. Okay, minor re-direct, but a good reminder that even the best laid plans have to be flexible!
We made good time on the road and got to the offices and met B. We chatted for a while about birth mom and about what to expect when the baby's born, legal stuff, etc. Not long after, V. came in. V. is petite and quite pretty with dark brown eyes and dark brown shoulder-length hair. Her baby belly is small and she wears big clothes so one wouldn't automatically notice that she's pregnant. She came in and gave us both hugs right away. We sat and chatted. I had brought coloring books for her kids so they had something to occupy them in the other room. We gave V. a silver necklace with a tree on it which represents family, since we are going to be family. After we chatted for a while, we suggested that we go to McDonald's with a Playplace so we could eat dinner and the kids could play. It was hard to talk much with the kids around, but we got a little chance to know her and we were glad to get to know her kids a little bit, too, since Baby will undoubtedly want to know about them, too. In some ways it was easier to have the distraction of the kids, rather than trying to constantly think of something to say.
We all left McD's about 9. I gave her a tin of cut-out cookies I had brought along and explained that they are a family tradition for us. I wanted to give her a treat and a glimpse into our family, as well. She gave us both hugs again as we left and said goodbye.
We took B. back to the adoption agency offices and got to chat over how it had all gone. She said she could tell that V. had been comfortable with us and she (B.) felt like it had gone well. We said a happy goodbye to B. and went to our hotel to chill and get to bed.
We joked that we had gone all that way to have dinner at McDonald's! *groan* But, of course, it wasn't about the food at all. Our purpose - getting to meet and know V. - was fulfilled. The one disappointment in having the kids around was that in the chaos, I forgot to take a picture and I didn't get to touch her baby belly and try to feel Baby kick. :(
We knew that bad weather was on its way through the area, but after obsessing over weather predictions and calling my dad for advice on Kansas blizzards, we decided to stay in Wichita that night and take our chances in the daylight. I think that was the best option, but it was not pleasant driving. A band of rain had preceded falling temps, ice, and snow so the roads were pretty bad. John is a good driver and not overly anxious about snowy roads, usually, but this was white-knuckle driving. The drive that had taken us less than 3 hours the day before took us almost 5 hours on the way back. We saw a number of spin-outs, including one not far in front of us. In addition to snow and ice, the wind was blowing in strong gusts, and in our light-weight rented Kia Soul, things felt pretty precarious.
Finally, we reached the airport and returned the car. Whew! The worst was over. Or was it?
We got inside and found that many, many flights had been cancelled, but thankfully, ours had not. We boarded the plane a little bit late, but not too bad. But then we sat and waited for a runway to be clear, for the plane to be de-iced, for a different runway to be cleared, for the plane to be de-iced again, etc. So we finally took off two hours late, but at least we were on our way.
We descended into St. Louis, and, I can tell you, I was terrified. Admittedly, I hate landing - it always makes me nervous and nauseated - but this was awful. The plane bounced and dipped and I really, truly expected to be flipped over or driven straight into the ground by a gust of wind. I was petrified. John has flown more than I have and he said it was the worst he's ever experienced, too.
By God's good grace, we landed safely, but I was shaken. Turns out the airport had actually been closed at the time we landed because of the 50 mph winds, but since we were in the air, we had to land. Personally, I think they should have just diverted us to Minneapolis, but no one asked me.
We went straight to the ticket counter to try and figure out how we could get home since our connecting flight was long gone, and I said in no uncertain terms that I was ready to rent a car and drive home from there. John (always sensible - so annoying!) pointed out that roads in Iowa and southern Minnesota were closed anyway because of the blizzard so it wouldn't do us any good to try to drive. If not for the kids at home, I would have advocated for a mini-vacation in St. Louis until the roads were clear and we could drive home!
No such luck. We got re-booked on not one, but two more flights that would get us to Minneapolis in the morning. I went to the bathroom and sobbed and prayed for a few minutes, splashed water on my face, and went out to await death on our next flight.
Thankfully, we had a few hours for me to calm down before we had to get onto a plane again. Our flight to Chicago was fine. The landing was bad and I was a bundle of nerves, but not as bad as St. Louis. We settled in to spend the night in Midway airport. Thankfully, the Dramamine was still at work and I was able to sleep for an hour or more on the floor. I caught a few more snatches of sleep, but mostly listened to CNN on the TV overhead all night.
Our flight out was at 5:40. We arrived safely in Minneapolis; the landing was so smooth I was surprised when we touched down. I have never been so glad to be home!
Another aspect of all of this was our kids at home. We had to arrange for another family to take Johanna since Pat and Katie were leaving Friday for Christmas, we had to impose on the family who had taken Micah and Sam for another night, and Will ended up staying over with a friend, as well. During the day, friends had contacted us to say that they had come to pick up Will for basketball practice and found the front door wide open and no Will. They closed the door for us and figured out that Will was at practice, but then we couldn't get ahold of Will. He wouldn't answer his cell or our home phone. Finally we tracked him down (safe and sound at a friend's) but I was getting a little stressed! So thankful for friends to rely on at times like that!
So, now we are making plans for a planned c-section on January 8. Less than two weeks away!
Unfortunately that means I have to get on a plane again. Waaaaah!