May brought my first Mother’s Day. I’d already gotten a great gift – my 3D ultrasound. I wasn’t really expecting much. I don’t think my mom was either, but she got something just the same, something she didn’t deserve.
H’s mother wrote her a letter. She e-mailed her, and she did it on Mother’s Day, first thing in the morning. My mom didn’t want to tell me about it at first. She didn't say a word. But I could tell that something was bothering her. At first I assumed it was me, that she felt a little strange about the circumstances of my first mother's day. I asked her several times what was wrong, and finally she told me.
It was a very manipulative letter. I don’t want to get into it, but suffice it to say that H had lied to his mother and said he’d never heard back from me, and H’s mother had a little pity party about how it must be nice for my mom to spend Mother’s Day surrounded by her grandchildren, and how maybe she should stop to consider how H’s mother felt, not knowing what was going to happen to her grandchild, blah blah blah. It upset me greatly and I cried for a while. I felt like Mother's Day had been ruined for all of us, and it was all my fault.
But my mother – my dear, sweet, strong mother – the one who should have been more upset about it than I, was the one who made me feel better. She said that she wasn’t going to let the letter bother her, and I shouldn’t either. We went to my brother’s house for dinner. He and his wife had gotten a card and flowers for my mom, and a card and a box of chocolates for me.
Their kindness was overwhelming. Cruelty and nastiness, I’m used to. I can more or less handle it. But kindness and understanding were still sort of foreign to me, and brought me to tears much more quickly. It was a lovely card, and the chocolates were my favorite kind. After their kids were in bed we all just sat and talked for about an hour, which was great. I'd worried that my pregnancy would make things awkward and uncomfortable but that wasn't so. It felt good to feel normal.
I was a bit depressed I didn't get a cute mother's day-for-the-mother-to-be card, but then who would buy me one? My mom, perhaps, but it seemed like more of a husband sort of thing to do, and I had no husband. Probably never will, I thought to myself. No one had wanted me before. Why on earth would anyone want me now?
I began to suspect that childbirth classes were a huge mistake. There were so many more things to worry about than I’d ever imagined. On the day we discussed labor, I thought to myself again that, sorry, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t actually want to deliver a baby. The only way I got through hearing about everything was to remind myself that my mother had made it through childbirth with each of her children, and she’s no glutton for punishment. If she could do it four times, I told myself, I could do it once.
More than once I began to have doubts about whether I could be a good mother. I thought that such concerns were probably normal, but that didn’t bring me much comfort. I wondered: Am I too selfish? Too anxious? Too tightly-wound? What if I couldn’t take good care of my baby? What if I lost my patience? I wasn’t certain what you were supposed to do with a newborn. I knew about feeding and diapering and supporting the neck and sleeping on the back, but that was about it. How much crying was normal? How many diapers was a baby supposed to go through? How often was a newborn supposed to eat?
Could I give my baby everything she needed? All the attention, all the love? I knew I loved her, and that I’d love her even more once she was out of my belly. But I thought, was love enough? I wanted to be a good mom so badly. But I wasn’t sure if wanting was enough, either.
I wanted to keep my baby very badly. It felt like the right thing do to about 95% of the time. Was the other 5% nerves and anxiety, or something more? I had trouble stomaching the thought of adoption, the thought of my baby being someone else’s to cuddle and care for. It didn’t sit quite right with me. It was like an emotional heartburn. It wouldn’t digest properly.
I continued to meet with my therapist weekly. I read him the letter H’s mother had written. John was galled. He agreed that the whole of it, especially the timing, was distinctly manipulative. He also said not to let it get to me. My mother met with her own therapist, who helped her craft a terse response to the message. She heard back quickly – H told his mother I’d never responded to his e-mail. Based on what H’s mother had to say, it seemed that H had been telling his mother naught but lies for months. Oh well, I thought. Their problem, not mine. My mother ignored the second letter, and we agreed to put H and his mother behind us.