Friday, August 21, 2009

A Patient Nurse

"can you please spell for me your daughter's name?" the scheduling nurse asked.
"name?" i hesitated. "you want me to give you her name?"
"ah...yes," she efficiently responded. "her name and her birthdate, please."
all that raced through my mind was: but we don't have her yet. we've never seen her. i've never held her. she doesn't even know we exist. how can i assume the right to give anyone her name? my eyes welled up with tears. i just wasn't prepared for her to ask me my daughter's name. i wanted to explain all of this to her but i choked on my words.
"it is okay," she calmly answered. "we just need to start a chart on her in order to schedule her appointment with the cardiologist."
"oh, okay, " i stammered. "but you know we don't have her yet? she is still in china. nothing is official. you know that right?"
i had really only called to begin the process of interviewing local cardiologists that we will need when she gets home.
"yes, dear. it's really okay. i just need a name," continued this very patient nurse.
for just a moment i began to consider how best to describe all the different names of this child. i imagined what it might sound like if i started to list all of the chinese names by which we've called her...AND all their meanings... AND all their pronunciations - correct and incorrect - AND all of her nicknames... AND all of the names we've considered for her. oh my. thankfully, for once, I showed some restraint.  
"bella grace.  that will be her name.  bella grace xue mcnatt.  that is her name." my voice cracked at the end. i had never given anyone her name over the phone.  it felt big.  huge and amazing.  it felt right.  somehow, i think this kind nurse understood.

it was a strangely defining moment for me.  reality and and wishing all wrapped up in one question.  "her name, please?" i suppose it isn't a hard question when your child is in her high chair in the kitchen, or in her crib up the back staircase, or asleep in her car seat just behind yours.  but, when you haven't yet laid eyes on your child...when you don't know the timber of her voice or her favorite food or her special toy. when you have no idea what her cry sounds like....well, then, i suppose it is only normal for even basic questions like these to be hard.
we did get through the rest of the phone call. an appointment was made. i am sure there were a few times when she considered transferring me to the pysch ward of the hospital. but, all in all, another step was taken in this new process of adopting. we set the appointment for january 6th. she began to tell me about what bella grace could eat prior to the appointment and how i should refrain from any type of lotions or powders on her chest area. oh boy. i knew it was time to end the call before i literally burst into tears. she was just doing her was she to know she was speaking to a woman who couldn't wrap her mind around lotions and powders when she had yet to wrap her arms around child?

as emotional as this exchange was though, the phone call and scheduling actually provided a bit of hope. i am quite hopeful just to have a date.  will she really be home by january 6th?  will she really be in the backseat of my suv on her way to a cardiologist appointment. i know i won't, for one minute, remember anything about the lotion or, i would appreciate a friendly reminder from any of my detail oriented friends. i won't remember the instructions...but I most certainly will remember the phone call where i was first asked, "her name, please?"

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