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By Cathy Ladman

We waited and sweated for about an hour, and then they began to call the names of the parents to come to take their babies from the caregivers. We were third or fourth to be called. As I watched two babies being handed over to their new parents, my heart started to come back to life. I was no longer numb. I think I was hyperventilating. I had a smile on so wide that I looked like Wal-mart Parent of the Month.

They finally called our names, and we walked over to the caregiver. And there was Milan -- the same Milan from the picture, the same Milan whom Tom had spotted when we walked into the building. She was alive and alert and she looked completely puzzled. I thought, "Exactly," as I took her in my arms and pulled her to me. She whimpered and cried a little. It was downright surreal.

The three of us went back to the hotel and tried to get some rest. When we would lay Milan on her back, she would cry. I mean, scream. She did this all the time. When we would change her diaper, she screamed. And when it was time to go to sleep, the only way that she would drift off was if one of us held her and rocked her to sleep and then, very gingerly, placed her down, and slowly pulled the supporting arm out from under her.

It took two nights for us to become completely and utterly exhausted. At the same time, Tom and several others in our group became violently ill from one of the meals. Guess what we learned about China? They have HORRIBLE Chinese food. Who would have guessed that? I had to go out to buy Tom Gatorade with Chinese writing on the bottle. I was pretty sure it was Gatorade. It was blue liquid, and there was a picture of someone surfing on the bottle. So, I thought it was probably safe.

At that point, however, I didn't really care if it killed him. Tom was in an awful mood and had lost all patience. I remember standing at the window of our hotel room, over twenty floors up, and thinking to myself, "Oh my god. What have I done? We have a baby who won't stop crying, and I hate my husband. I can't believe how married we are. Now the question is: Do I have the physical strength to lift his body and throw him out this window?"

I looked at Milan, who had finally fallen asleep lying next to Tom, who was also sleeping. And I realized that this man, whom I hated, would someday be the man that she hated. And my heart softened. I got into bed next to Milan and passed out.

From that moment on, my life has been so completely different in ways that I never could have anticipated. Every day, there are things I realize I had taken for granted that are now distant memories. Things like showering. Brushing my teeth. Peeing in a room by myself. Going to the movies. Boy, do I miss going to the movies. One night, Tom was away, and I was with Milan, and I wanted to go see Million Dollar Baby, but I couldn't because I had to stay home with Twenty Thousand Dollar baby.

And outlet malls. I really miss the outlet malls. It's close to impossible to shop for bargains with a two-year-old who's wiping her nose on a rack of peasant skirts.

Sometimes it's really hard to have a baby. A lot of the time. Most of the time. All of the time. Do I wonder if I did the right thing? Yes, sometimes. Would I do it again? Yeah, most of the time. Do I know, in my heart, that we're a family? Yes, all of the time. Okay, most of the time.

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