"So you go to China, meet your son, and then what?" Since returning home I have answered this question in many different forms. Sometimes I am optimistic and say, "It was wonderful! I saw him and just knew!" Sometimes I am more honest and say, "It was good, but a struggle, but overall really good." And sometimes I hear my mother's voice in my ear: "If you can't say anything nice..".
Meeting your child for the first time is meant to be a happy, momentous occasion. Our culture is riddled with first moment snapshots - posted from hospital beds and maternity wards. In every scene women, babies, and their families are grinning ear to ear, over the moon with excitement and happiness. My journey felt a little different.
When I was growing up, one of my favorite weekend activities was sailing. My family co-owned a small boat and many a Saturday would find us out in the Chesapeake Bay. I loved being on the water. The sun beaming down, the gentle winds picking at our sails, the smell of salt on our skin. There was no place on earth I felt more at peace and rejuvenated.
One summer my family decided to charter a boat in the West Indies. Each day we would sail to various islands and each night we would drop anchor near their shores. One night I awoke to the boat moving with alarming speed. I checked my watch. It was 3:30am. I knew we had to make Dominica by sunrise (for reasons I will share in another story) but we were going too fast. I made my way up to the deck. Rain was coming down in sheets. Our boat was keeling so far one edge was completely submerged. I held on to the railing for dear life.
Suddenly it felt like the floor dropped from under me. Everything went blurry. Waves of water and nausea hit me, drowning my senses. I tried to make it back downstairs but the intense vertigo glued me to my spot. I knew I was seasick. Never in my life had I been seasick but in this moment I was seasick. I scrambled through my queasy addled brain: Look for the horizon. Find the horizon and the nausea will subside. Except it was pitch black, it was pouring down rain, and the horizon was nowhere in sight.
That is what our first days in China felt like. Feeling my way through the darkness with no horizon in sight. Our new child needed so much, and yet every time I tried to provide for him - a bowl of congee, a bottle, a comforting embrace - he would meet me and my offerings with screaming resistance. I felt utterly helpless.
I spent the next three hours of that sailing trip too sick to even move. Then the rain turned to a drizzle, the winds turned to a gentle breeze, and the sun made its scheduled trek up into the sky.
And in China? We made it through those initial days then boarded a plane for Guangzhou, my new son firmly at our side. We found a little restaurant called Lucy's on Shamian Island and as we sat at our cafe table I felt the darkness begin to lift and the horizon move slowly back into focus. But that's a story for tomorrow. #AtoZBlogChallenge: L is for Lucy's.