I remember meeting Sarah in the first childbirth class that she came in. She was very thin. It looked like she had not eaten in many days. But many women have this look when they are first arrested. It is from the life on the streets. Her eyes were big behind her glasses. She was quiet in class, which is not unusual for a first time an inmate attends a class. We know they have to see if they can trust us.
A few classes later, she asked to talk to me privately in the classroom. I said, “Sure,” and we went to the corner of the room. I stood so she would have her back towards the other girls, so they would not be able to see what she wanted to tell me. Her eyes started filling with tears. She said that she was pretty sure she would have to serve prison time and that she did not want this baby to go to foster care. She wanted this baby to be in a home of love with a mommy and daddy. I told her I would contact an adoption agency for her and that they would talk to her and help her with her options.
Watching her say those words that are so hard for a mommy to say, my heart broke for her. I was so thankful that she trusted us enough to help her.
As soon as we got to the car, I called the agency and told them we had a mom that wanted to surrender her baby for adoption. They said they would be out the next day to visit her.
Not being able to find out what happened at the visit for two weeks till our next class with the pregnant inmates was hard. Did she agree to talk to them? Did she listen? Was she willing to look into adoption? I could not wait to find out.
The next visit, Sarah pulled Heather aside, and said she met with the adoption agency and that she wanted to look more into it and find just the right family for her baby girl. When I heard, I was so thankful.
A few weeks later, she made the final decision. She said, “Yes, I am going to do it." She had picked out the couple. She was excited about the decision, and I was so glad she felt this way. I knew that when it came time, when we got to the hospital, she would start feeling different and could even change her mind. I knew this mother and baby needed our tender loving care more than ever.
She asked if Heather could be her birth doula, and we wanted to be able to give her what she wanted for this birth, as much as we could. Heather agreed.
It was VERY early in the morning that she was brought to the hospital from the jail for her planned Cesarean birth. Heather was already waiting for her.
Heather said she was nervous, as moms are, before having a surgical birth. Heather stayed in touch with me via text message, so we would know what was happening.
After her little girl was born, Heather said she was excited and happy, but it soon turned to being very upset knowing the decision she was going to have to make.
During the many texts that Heather sent me, I knew Mom was not doing very well. We already knew that Heather would not be able to spend the day, and I was going to be there for her postpartum time with her baby. I got there earlier than I had planned, so she could become used to another person in the room, and also knowing that Heather was going to be leaving her.
Heather gave her such a huge hug before she left, and Sarah had tears in her eyes as she was holding her baby.
She was holding her baby all the time to help with the bonding process. She talked softly to the baby, played with her fingers, and gently touched her head. She would reach down and kiss her many times. She talked to her most of the time. When she was not talking, she was singing to her. I would go and sit on the bed next to her and hold her and listen to her, and she cried many tears. She kept telling me she just did not know if she could give her baby up. I would hold her and tell her that decision is still a couple days away. I told her to just enjoy her little girl.
I spent the entire afternoon and evening staying by her side, and then, I would back away to give her private time with her daughter. When I could see it was becoming overwhelming, I would move back in and sit on the bed with her.
We talked, and at times, we laughed. So many feelings she was feeling at one time. I felt for her as she was trying her best to stay with her decision, but I also knew that her heart was pulling strong. Heather and I both agreed this could go either way.
I have attended many adoption births, but this one I believe pulled me more than others I have attended. Knowing it was getting close to the time I had to leave, it was becoming harder. She knew that Sydnie would not be there till the next morning, and that meant being alone with her thoughts, with just her and the deputy.
Leaving her was difficult. I put my things away slowly, so it did not look as if I was leaving right away. But, the time had come. I had to leave. I had already taken many pictures, and I was still taking more for her to have to remember those days she had her baby with her.
I sat down on the bed one more time. I held her hand. She then let me hold her baby. I gave the baby a kiss and put her back in her mother’s arms. I then leaned over and gave her a hug as she held her baby. I did not want to cry in front of her.
I slowly got up, and hugged her again. I got my bag and told the deputy good-bye. I walked back over to the bed one more time. I gave her a hug and touched her baby’s face, and then gave Sarah one more hug and brushed her hair back out of her face. I smiled at her. I told her good-bye.
It was a long walk down the two halls, and the elevator took forever. I got outside the door of the hospital, and the tears started. I was proud of Sarah and how even though she was questioning her decision; she was loving on her baby the entire time.
I got in the car and just sat there thinking of all that had just happened with tears streaming down my face. I was thankful for the long drive home. I was alone with my thoughts for Sarah and her precious baby.