It was a beautiful morning on February 8th. The sun was shining and it hit 60 degrees. If you know anything about Rhode Islanders, 60 degrees in February is considered a beach day. We excitedly rolled out of bed and went downstairs to start loading up the car for our drive to Tennessee. Inside our back door was a care package with a card left by one of our neighbors. It was the sweetest thing, literally and figuratively.
We had made a list of the baby supplies that we thought we should bring with us. Little did we know that we would end up only needing half the amount of stuff that we lugged 1,275 miles. We packed a portable bassinet, car seat, bath products, clothes, diapers, feeding supplies, burp cloths, receiving blankets, and pacifiers. You name it, we packed it! Plus, we had to pack for ourselves expecting to be there for upwards of a month.
After packing, we just had to wait for Scott’s sister to arrive. She offered to house sit for us and take care of our dogs while we were away. That was incredibly generous of her and very much appreciated! She arrived around 11 AM and we decided to depart shortly after. Even though it was gorgeous out, we were expecting a blizzard that night so we wanted to get south of Maryland before it hit the east coast.
Originally, we had discussed flying to Memphis. It would have been a direct flight from Providence, but we were concerned about having a newborn on an airplane. Some airlines will not allow babies under 2 weeks old to fly and we had that cloud of uncertainty as to the length of time it would take to finalize the adoption. Plus, I had a fear of our baby getting sick from being on a plane with potentially ill passengers and recirculated air. Driving back and forth became the solution. When I look back on it, we totally should have flown! Scott and I have been known to bicker quite a bit. We can squabble over how blue the sky is. Just imagine the two of us alone in a car for 19 hours.
When we left, both of us were filled with excitement. We were on our way to becoming fathers. It was surreal. I think I probably pinched myself a hundred times on the way just to make sure it wasn’t a dream.
Before we knew it, we had been through Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and were about to hit Pennsylvania. I remember saying to Scott, “Wow! This drive is going to be a piece of cake!” Nope! You tend to forget just how small the states are in the Northeast. PA was the first state that we felt like we were driving forever and getting nowhere. It is freaking huge! Well, every state is compared to RI. By the time we got to Amish/Dutch Country, it was close to getting dark. We stopped for some coffee before we were to cross into Maryland. Once we got to Maryland, we felt like we were far enough south from the impending blizzard, so we stopped for “dinner” at a McDonald’s off the highway. It was like the “Twilight Zone.” It appeared to be a nightclub for old Donald Trump supporters who were dancing to the sounds of the DJ spinning Fox News’ greatest hits. We could not get out of there fast enough!
We hopped back in the car and ended up in West Virginia. I had never been to WV, nor had I ever planned to. It was only the Eastern Panhandle, so it went by very quickly, even though “Dueling Banjos” played on repeat in my mind. I know, I know….sorry if that offends anyone. I know the panhandle is an exurb of DC, but it still reminds me of “Deliverance.” Some day I will return and give it a chance.
Then, we entered Virginia. Mammoth VA! The state that never ends and where there were torrential downpours the entire way through. We did not see one sight while we were there. For the most part, we never saw more than 10 feet in front of us.
Our plan was to drive straight through, only stopping for gas, restrooms and food. By this point, I kept trying to talk Scott into getting a hotel room for the evening. He insisted on plowing ahead. He didn’t let me drive one mile the whole way. He claims that I am a terrible driver. I wholeheartedly disagree, but will admit to driving like an old man.
We were so tired and second guessing our decision to drive. But, once we reached the Tennessee border, our excitement returned. That is, until we realized it was still another 7 hours before we would get to Memphis. Tennessee is very long! I did my best to keep Scott awake by playing “Heads Up” with him on my phone. We just needed the sun to come up and we would be fine.
We were just about an hour outside of Memphis when we ended up getting pulled over by the highway patrol. The officer stopped us for not moving over while another officer had a car pulled over. He was nice at first. He looked over the car and asked if we were really from Rhode Island or if we had a rental car. We told him that we were bonafide Rhode Islanders and then he quipped, “You boys are a long way from home.” He went back to his cruiser, ran his checks and came back with a $200 ticket. He told us to have a wonderful vacation and then Scott yelled at him, “We are not on vacation, we are adopting a baby!” He apologized and walked away. I had to remind Scott that it’s not appropriate to yell at police officers. Hahaha!
We finally reached our hotel on February 9th, after what seemed like an eternity. We could not wait to get to our suite for a shower and much needed nap! Scott texted our birthmother to let her know that we arrived safely. After we woke up around 4 PM, we decided to go out for a drink and a bite to eat. That’s when I fell in love with Nashville hot deviled eggs. Try them! You will thank me later.
We were pretty low key and crashed early that first night. The next day (Friday, February 10th) we both slept late then woke up and decided to explore Memphis and have some BBQ.
We also had to go clothes shopping because it was close to 85 degrees and all we had packed for ourselves were winter clothes. Throughout the day I discovered that I really couldn’t understand anything that anyone was saying. There is a very distinct accent in Western Tennessee that is completely different from the East. Someone could simply say “Hello” to me and after trying to translate, my mind wanted to respond, “What? Timmy fell in the well?” After a good nap, it was time to go out for drinks and some more Nashville hot deviled eggs! We were both on high alert because it was our son’s actual due date. We ended up back at the hotel to call it an early night.
I fell asleep and then the next thing I remember is Scott frantically waking me up at 9 PM because our birthmother was going into labor and was on her way to the hospital. It was time! This was really happening! We found ourselves in a frenzy trying to get composed and packed up. We hopped in the car and off we went…………..