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By Sharon Lee Fernberg
When our first child was due to be born, my husband and I were required to attend parenting classes at the local hospital. “There will be a trickle when your water breaks,” the nurse informed the parents-to-be. However, after a perfect ten-month pregnancy, my water broke at 5:30 a.m. At 11:00 a.m. while at my obstetrician’s office, the water still gushed from my body as though something inside me kept flushing an inner toilet. Towels and maxi pads could not prevent what occurred inside of me. At 1:00 p.m. my obstetrician ordered an x-ray. A nurse pushed me to radiology in a wheelchair that held a small bowl under the seat. I felt embarrassed that it overflowed but considering I couldn’t even see my feet at the time, I smiled apologetically. Fourteen hours later, my son Jeffrey entered this world, weighing in at 9lbs.2oz. and 21” long. I spent two weeks in the hospital. He flattened my bladder, I was told.
Eighteen months later, after being two weeks earlier than the actual due date or two weeks past the due date of my second child, my son
Patrick howled his way into our lives, weighing in at eight pounds and 20” long. This time when my water broke, the nurse was correct. I felt only a trickle. We went home three days later.
Years later, the pregnancy lasted longer than a year. It began with a meeting on adoption. My husband and I endured sixty page home studies, writing individual accounts on each of our siblings, our parents, our children, and having meetings in our house with the caseworkers from the local agency that handled the adoption proceedings. We took pictures of each room of the house, pictures of the boys and of each other, and provided photos of the cat. We had to be fingerprinted by the FBI in Buffalo, New York.
As weeks and then months passed by, we continued to wait patiently and anxiously. We had no choice. It wasn't our decision to make when our daughter would be delivered. Nevertheless, a television meteorologist prepared us. A blizzard was due to arrive in Western New York the end of February. We couldn’t take a chance that her plane would arrive from Korea and we wouldn't be there. My husband informed our caseworker that we were going to go to New Jersey and spend a few days with my sister and her family – just in case.
Three days later the call came from New York. The plane would touch down at JFK around 6:00 p.m. that night. It was Leap Year Day. We
were only one hour from the airport but we had to meet the adoption agency greeter early to sign papers.
The wind hissed that day. A cold chill lingered. In my arms, I held a white and yellow shell stitch afghan I had crocheted for my daughter. Jeff held tightly to the diaper bag. Patrick hugged the pink snowsuit. My husband waited nervously with the camera in his hands. At 6:21 p.m. the plane touched down. Within minutes, a greeter said, “Sung Sin HWANG.” He handed me our 6-1/2 month old daughter. I whispered her new name, Lindsay Sung-Elizabeth. She didn’t cry although tears trickled down my cheeks. Her dark slanted eyes stared up into my face. I kissed her nose. Her small arms curled around my neck. Her shoulder-length silky black hair skimmed my cheek as she laid her head on my shoulder. So, this was our daughter. The boys’ sister.
As we departed the airport a half hour later, I held Lindsay tightly, protecting her against the cold chill with the afghan now cloaking her small body. I don't know why but at that moment I thought of the times I had given birth to my sons, and I knew this would always be the day my daughter was delivered. I looked from Lindsay and glanced at my sons, their round faces beaming with excitement and joy. It was
then I realized that the overwhelming love I felt in my heart was the same for all three of my children. I felt the tears trickle down my face.