Jonathan puts his arm around me and peers down at her. Our daughter. I look at him and his eyes are glossy with unshed tears. We smile at each other.
The rest of the day and through the night, we are working together, trying to keep Amina happy, dry, fed, safe, loved. It is exhausting and we are awkward, not knowing the best ways to do any of the parenting tasks. We feel like a team though. Occasionally we smile at each other in wonder. This is our new life.
Amina is beautiful. I can’t sleep even when she does because of the wonder of it all. I look at her tiny fists and impossibly small fingernails. Her perfect little lips, shaped like a rosebud. I gaze at her and think about birthday parties, school clothes, prom dresses. It’s all going to be perfect.
I must have drifted off to sleep because I wake up and there is bright light coming in the windows. I glance beside me and see the pink flannel blanket in the spot where Maggie had been sleeping. I sit up with a start. Where is she?
Across the room, I see Jonathan standing near a window, Amina is nestled on his shoulder and he is rocking her back and forth, singing softly to her.
It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
I climb out of bed and cross the room to join them. Jonathan smiles up at me and I feel complete in a way I haven’t felt in the five years since we’ve been trying to have a child.
Several months pass and we are finally cleared by the Department of Social Works. It seems we are finally able to take our baby home.
We make our way to the airport. Everything is more complicated with Amina. We’re used to moving quickly and purposefully and all our capabilities seem to be slowed as we attend to our new little one and all the accompanying gear. We tried to pack simply but we still struggle to keep track of everything. Standing in line, my cell phone rings, I am holding Amina and trying to keep her from fussing. Jonathan is making sure all of our documents are ready. We glance at each other and he shuffles all the papers and our passports into one hand and carefully takes Amina from me while I dig for my phone.
“Haji,” I say, before I answer.
The airport security official calls to us that it is our turn to present our documents at the same time that Amina starts crying and Haji tells me the news. I grab Jonathan’s arm and tug him out of line. He looks at me questioningly and Amina cries on. “I’m sorry,” I say into the phone, “You’ll have to repeat that.”
I hear the words but my mind, exhausted from not enough sleep and from the excitement of the past few months, can’t process the meaning. It seems like Haji is saying that there’s another baby. Mama Emma has another baby for us. It’s Eshe’s sister’s child. Our baby Amina’s cousin. It’s a little boy. They want to keep them together.
Check back tomorrow to see if this family might be going home with two babies!