Most people have around nine months to prepare for a new baby. Paint a nursery. Shop for clothes and diapers. Arrange for work. But, in our family, we operate on a much more flexible calendar, usually less than a day's notice. The following scene is an excerpt from Seeking Solace, my new book about to be released May 3, 2022 (Ebook). This is a true story - my family's story. I thought of recording myself reading it to you, but I'd worry I'd need a box of tissues by the end. Yeah, not professional at all.
Anyway, for the first time ever... A SNEAK PEEK into Seeking Solace:
I looked at the clock. A quarter past eight. The office probably wouldn’t open until nine, but I dialed anyway. To my surprise, a voice answered on the third ring.
“Good morning, Mrs. Barlow. We’ve been waiting to hear from you.”
“Good morning, Dawn. How are you?”
“I’m great. Do you have any questions for me? Have you and Keith decided what you want to do with this scenario?”
“No, I don’t think we have any questions. Some of the medical issues are a small concern, but nothing that is a deal breaker. I think we’d like to move forward and speak with the doctors a little bit if possible.”
“So you’re saying yes?”
“Yes, we are ready to do this!”
“Then congratulations! You are having a boy! He is actually here in the office right now. He was discharged from the hospital this morning. You’ll want to hop in the car. Go ahead and think of a name on the way over so we can have the paperwork ready for you.”
Leave now? A boy? I wasn’t sure which to focus on first. Again, a boy. I loved boys. I had adapted to their strange sounds and innate ability to wrestle each other for no reason at all. However, I was absolutely positive, 100 percent, this time, that it would be a girl. What is going on? Is this meant to be? We are looking for Solace!
We could have requested a girl when we’d filled out the paperwork. My pen had hovered over the empty box a couple of times. But I couldn’t do it. Before we turned it in, we’d discussed it again. No, if God wanted us to have our little girl now, He would have sent us Solace. It flashed in my mind that we would need to complete yet another adoption to find our little girl. Where was she?
I left the box of cereal on the counter and hustled Cade out to the car carrying his socks and shoes. Keith called work. While I waited, I stretched my foot up against the dashboard, fumbling with my untied shoelaces, half of a granola bar hanging out of my mouth. I muttered under my breath. I pictured the dingy Converse footprint this would leave on the gray vinyl, then cursed myself for thinking such a dumb thing at a time like this. Do I have everything? I checked twice to see that Cade was buckled in behind me, only last minute remembering to toss in the smaller, extra car seat. We could install it at the agency.
I held Keith’s hand over the console. We had about forty minutes. First item of business: name. We hadn’t discussed boy names at all, but we’d borrowed the left-over short list from Cade’s newborn days. Surely we could come up with something. We volleyed names back and forth, analyzing the strength, masculinity, cadence of each one. Too unique. Too overused. We felt like chess players at a major tournament, hitting the chess clock button after each move. The phone buzzed against my backside, and I panicked into the receiver. No, we hadn’t decided yet! We countered a couple more middle-name possibilities and texted the twenty-minute masterpiece to the agency.
I dialed my mom and leaned my phone up against the dashboard. I never called my mom at work, so when she answered right away, I faltered. “Um, guess where we are.”
Mom refused to play along. “I can’t even guess. Where are you?”
“On our way to pick up your new grandchild. He was released from the hospital this morning.” The silence filled the space of the car, riding on the hum of the tires as my mom contemplated my words. Was I joking? No, I would never prank anybody like that. I smirked as I measured the pause on the other line balanced with the laugh-out-loud whoop, probably inappropriate for the accounting office she oversaw back in Utah.
“You’re kidding! Are you serious? You’re serious.”
“I’m serious.” I swiped at the tears that seeped down my cheeks with the sleeves of my jacket. I had managed some eyeliner and mascara before we left, but I was sure both had trickled into brown smudges nestled in the creases under my eyes.
“And guess what?” I added.
“It’s another boy.”
“A boy? Oh, wow, you’re going to have your hands full. Have you tried dad? Did he answer?” Sometimes dad ran the heavy equipment on the job sites and couldn’t hear his phone over the construction around him. Other times, he drove the dump truck and waited in the air-conditioned cab while the other workers loaded him up. That was the best time to catch him.
“No, I haven’t tried. He’s next,” I promised.
“Well, keep us in the loop.”
“I will.” I couldn’t remember the last time I’d giggled with tears swimming in my eyes. I acted so foolishly and giddily, but I didn’t care. All those years of meticulously planning a pregnancy announcement or gender reveal! I had always wanted that. I would have been so creative. And here I sat, shoes half tied and snotty sleeves, providing the most powerful punch of a surprise I possibly could. Oh, how I wished this moment would last! I called my dad with the same result.
“Your turn, Bug.” I dialed my mother-in-law and held the phone between us. A tired, cheerful voice answered.
Keith could barely choke out, “Hi, Mom,” before he was wiping his wet face with his free hand. I stared at him, surprised. I could count on one hand the number of times I had seen him cry. It touched me that this moment ranked with the other major events. He looked at me, pleading, clearing his throat to gain control.
“Kathy, it’s Chani. We’re okay. We just have something to tell you.” My voice cracked, and I knew my mother-in-law easily recognized the sounds.
“Is everyone safe?”
I laughed out loud. “We’re safe. We’re just—these are happy tears.”
“Okay, take your time.” It probably killed her to say those words.
Keith coughed and cleared his throat again, the emotion winning the battle each time. He finally mustered, “You’re going to be a grandma again.”
“Right now. Right now. We’re on our way to the agency to pick up your new grandson.”