We thought we had plenty of time so we leisurely rode the moving walkway. They tell you to always check your gate because it could change. It did and we didn't. We got all the way to the gate listed on our ticket only to find out it was the wrong one. We found out what was the right one and headed that way. I guess I wasn't going to have time for a smoothie. I was walking pretty fast and Mike says, "Don't worry we have plenty of time." Just then we heard the final boarding call for our flight and we started to RUN! They were so nice at the gate and thanked us for running. We climbed onto a plane full of very crabby looking people. In a short while we realized their sour disposition had nothing to do with us but the temperature of the plane. It was so HOT! Amanda was pretty good through most of the flight. She snacked, colored, watched videos on our camera, and snacked some more. In fact, by the time we were descending, she was so stuffed she wouldn't eat or drink anything else to help with the ear pressure. I had taken Tyler on a flight when he was her age and he had thrown up on the descent. So I'm glad that didn't happen.
It was close to 12 pm by the time we left the airport in Orlando and headed for Tampa. Amanda immediately fell asleep and we called Annsley and left a message on her phone. In Florida a mother can sign the relinquishment papers after 24 hours and they are immediately irrevocable. So, when Annsley called us back she told us the papers were signed and the baby was free for adoption. That was such a relief! Even though the birth mom didn't want to meet us, I couldn't help but think if she did, she might take one look at us and decide we weren't the right family for her baby. I'm glad that didn't happen either.
Finding our way around new places is always a challenge for us but Google maps didn't not let us down. We found our way easily on the first try. However, just blocks from the hospital, a black SUV ran a stop sign and was heading right for us. All I could do was gasp which was not so helpful to Mike. Thankfully he saw the car and swerved and braked. The other driver also slammed in his/her brakes and we avoided an accident by inches. We were a little concerned that we might have missed a stop sign or something but we went through that intersection several more times over the course of the next day and we didn't make the mistake. All I could think about was how we didn't get the extra insurance but at least we would have been near the hospital. Again, I'm glad that didn't happen.
We called Annsley from the parking garage to find out where we should go. It was a massive complex. She began to tell us that we would have to come back later because she was just about to leave the hospital to bring the birth mom home. My spirits began to fall. I was disappointed at the thought of having to wait but then she learned we were already in Tampa and at the hospital. She told us to meet her at the main entrance. Just then a nurse came walking by who was willing to lead us to the main entrance because that's where she was going. Yeah! She even gave us helpful information like, "Be very careful crossing the street on this corner because people will try to run you down." Good to know! As we neared the entrance it dawned I me that I had no idea what Annsley looked like so how would I know who to meet. Not a moment later she approached us. Of course, she had seen our profile and she recognized Amanda right away. She told us the birth mom still didn't think she wanted to meet us. She was afraid we would look down on her. Of course, we hold her in very high regard for the decision she had made on that day and gave no thought to the one she had made nine months previous.
Annsley got us cleared through security and we learned the term, "BUFA." When we came to the hospital we needed to give the name of the baby we were there to visit. When Annsley suggested "BUFA", I laughed. Why would we call her such a ridiculous name? Because that's what they normally do. It stands for "Baby Up For Adoption." Not the most politically correct or positive adoption language, but also not ours to argue. We also met the hospital social worker, Robin, who was our contact at the hospital if we needed anything. Most babies at the hospital room-in with their mothers. Only babies with "issues" where in the nursery. There were eight babies in the nursery on Thursday afternoon. She told us that the nurses were about to do reports but we would be able to go in and see the baby. It was about 3 pm and even though they told us we would need to leave by 3:30 pm, she encouraged us to stay until they asked us to leave. I'm glad she did that, because I'm a rule follower and when that clock hit 3:30 pm I would have left. Instead I got to stay a few extra minutes.
Amanda was not allowed inside the nursery but thankfully she stayed with Annsely so Mike and I could go in and meet Christiana together. Robin took pictures for us. There is nothing sweeter than those first moments meeting our new little baby. Then Mike went back out to be with Amanda. She kept looking through the window signing and saying, "Please, hold baby?" It was so sad. I remember feeling the same way only a few minutes before when we first peeked though the glass at her lying in a bassinet. Mike took Amanda for a walk and I was allowed to go sit in a tiny little nursing room with Christiana. She had just been fed so she was just sleeping peacefully. I took the opportunity to just relax and snuggle with her. It was so restful after our crazy day of travel that has started 12 hours before.
After they told me that I needed to leave. We decided that we would go find our hotel. Her next feeding was schedule for 5 pm so I planned to come back then since more than likely she would just be sleeping until then. We really had no idea how the hospital stay would go. We've heard of families being given a separate room and being able to stay with the baby at the hospital. But that was not the case. She had to stay in the nursery. I felt like such a bad mom for just leaving her and not taking every moment I could to be with her, but we needed to find a room and get some food.
Now, I am a planner. I would liked to have booked our room before we had left for Florida but I left that up to Mike. He did a search and had a general area of where he thought there were some good hotels. However, that map didn't make it into the stack we had, so we took off in the general direction of where he thought the hotel would be. It was a real test of trust for me as we began to get off the main thoroughfare and onto small residential streets. But alas, we found the strip and the first hotel he pulled into had rooms reasonably priced, right on the first floor and not very far from the entrance. Every step counts with a pregnant mama and slow walking toddler. The room was great and had a fridge and a microwave and the hotel was pretty close to some grocery stores. After we dropped off our stuff in the room, the reception printed off some maps with the location of the grocery store, so we head out to get some food and a Styrofoam cooler. It was a great grocery store with a fabulous produce section. It was also in a strip mall with a Smoothie King. I finally got that smoothie.
When got back to the hotel it was getting close to Christiana's feeding time. There was no way for me to get back to the hospital that didn't involve me driving in a strange city by myself late at night. We needed to get Amanda to bed and I really needed to rest, too. Both Mike and my cousin Elisa encouraged me to just stay at the hotel and get some rest. Elisa said, "Take one more night when you're not responsible for a newborn since you will be for the next 18 months." Good point. We called for Amanda's pack-n-play. She was so happy when she saw her bed arrive at the door. She couldn't wait until we set it up. She climbed right in and laid down. We took our cue from her and decided to all go to bed. It was 5 pm Minnesota time. That didn't matter. We went to bed.