Tuesday, July 27, 2010


A few days ago I posted this thing about grieving, and how it's a process, and it takes time, and it takes longer for some people than for others. I think that when I posted it a lot of people probably thought I was having a hard time, or that I was having a bad day, or that I missed Roo. The latter is true - I always miss her. But if I'm honest, I'm really pretty much okay most of the time. My biggest obstacle, the thing that I couldn't seem to get past in the grieving process, was Roo's stuff.

A few months after placement I spent hours washing and folding and putting away all of my Roo things. I got these plastic storage boxes at Target and I filled and labeled each box carefully - bedding, toys, Onesies and sleepers, clothes. Everything was neatly sorted and stacked and packed and when I latched the last box, I was immensely proud of myself. I stacked the boxes in the corner of my room where Roo's crib once was and considered it a job well done.

I likewise disassembled and packed up the port-a-crib and the swing, and boxed the diaper pail. And they, too, were tucked into a corner, ready for storage. It was hard, taking things apart with none of the hope and excitement I'd had when I put them together. But I made myself do it, and I did it, and I was proud of the strength I'd had to box up these reminders of Roo.

But the boxes sat there, and sat there, and sat there, collecting dust and filling a space I wasn't ready to have empty yet. I couldn't see through the boxes, but I knew what was in them, and it gave me a measure of comfort to know that all of my Roo things were still there with me, in my room. They were a reminder that there used to be a baby here - my baby. And I simply wasn't ready to let that go yet.

Last Monday, the 19th, I decided I was as ready as I was going to get. I moved a few stray boxes in the garage and cleared out the space where my dad's workbench used to be, the designated spot for all of my baby things. The crib, bubble-wrapped and carefully sealed up, was already against the wall. One by one I lugged the purple plastic boxes down the stairs, through the kitchen and the laundry room and into the garage. I hefted the cardboard boxes that held the swing, pail, and port-a-crib, too. It took a little shuffling and shifting but I got everything just so in the garage, with the crib mattress on top of the stacks of boxes. And then I stopped and stared for a moment. It was as though the nine weeks I had with Roo were packed away, too. Every reminder I had of her was boxed up, labeled, and stacked.

I went back upstairs to my room, my now completely Roo-less room. The room felt very empty. I thought I'd feel empty, too.

I didn't. Much to my surprise, I did not feel empty.

I cried, of course, because that's how I usually handle things. But I didn't feel empty. I felt kind of sad, wistful, nostalgic ... but not empty. The house was finally clear. I say finally because I know that people who came to visit were wondering what my problem was when they saw the disassembled crib parts stacked against the living room wall. Because I know my mother wondered if I was going to keep the plastic boxes in my room forever - her suggestions that I move them became less gentle suggestion and more baffled recommendation as time passed.

But the point I was making when I blathered about grief is this: I boxed things up when I was good and ready. Not before, to please others, but when I felt like I could finally let go. Some would argue that the length of time I let these things bog me down was/is ridiculous, incomprehensible, and unhealthy. I'm not even going to say how long it took before my mother and I got that crib out of the living room, wrapped and boxed up. But it got done, and it was hard, but it felt good.

A few days ago, I missed Roo, but I really felt okay about it, about missing her. It was the first time that has ever happened to me - a pretty big step in my book. I feel like getting things put away helped me get there. But the point I want to make, that I wanted to make before, is, I was ready.

You can't push the grieving process, even if it compromises the design aesthetic of your living room or takes up space in your bedroom or the hallway. You've got to let it happen more organically. It's okay for things to take time!

The reminders of Roo may be out of sight, but I realized when I stood in my room that day that those aren't all I have of her. Every room in the house reminds me of her because she was here. And if the house were to disappear, I'd still have her in my heart. So my Roo things are boxed away. If I need to revisit them, I can open a box.

And if I need more, I've only got to close my eyes and remember.

Friday, July 23, 2010

May 2009, Part Four

Although I continued to think about adoption fairly regularly, I had decided that it would simply be too much for me to handle and I had mostly decided on single parenting. As such, I’d given up on LDSFS, but S hadn’t given up on me. In what was perhaps a last-ditch effort to dissuade me from single parenting, S arranged for me to meet with a single mother and a man who was raised by a single mother. She (S) said it was just to give me an idea of what single motherhood entailed, but it was pretty obvious by the stories I heard that no one in the room thought I should keep my baby. It made me angry. I was sick of people pushing me toward adoption without asking me what I thought of things. I know that people meant well, but the thing about unsolicited advice is, it’s unsolicited. I didn’t want other people’s thoughts bouncing around in my head. I had enough of my own thoughts up there.

Have you ever seen the movie Wall-E? It’s a very cute movie I’ve seen several times. It’s set in a future where people no longer walk. They are fat, blob-like, and get around on little hover-chairs. Their feet are too fat and puffy to be walked on. At the end of May, My feet looked like Wall-E people feet.

Feet aside, I thought I'd be bigger at this point in my pregnancy. My belly was still pretty reasonable. I became convinced that the reason I didn’t have a bigger belly was because my baby was burning off calories for me. She had the busiest feet I’ve ever seen. She kicked and wiggled and hiccupped and punched happily for hours on end. I’m not sure where she found the room to move, but somehow she managed.

I bought diapers and wipes on sale at Target. All I needed was a car seat and a crib and I was set. I decided that my baby was going to be born exactly one week late (which she was!), so I had a little time left. I made a few halfhearted attempts at putting a hospital bag together but couldn’t find the energy or the motivation.

My mother spoke and planned as though I was going to keep my baby, which was a relief. I wasn’t sure how to explain to her that I didn’t feel I could make up my mind until the baby was born. But she seemed to know just the same, in the way that my mother so often seems to know the things I can’t voice.

My decision (sort of) made, I began to worry about more practical things, like money. I have a cosmetology license, so I knew that I was employable. But I hated the thought of strangers watching my baby for twenty-plus hours a week, and I didn’t want to impose on my mother and have people accuse me of making her raise my baby for me.

At my next doctor’s appointment, (TMI ALERT!) I had more protein in my urine than my doctor was happy with. My blood pressure was also high (for me, anyway), so my doctor ordered some blood tests to check for preeclampsia. If anything came up abnormal, my baby was on the way out.

I panicked. I was expecting another month to prepare. I wasn’t ready yet! After my blood test, I hurried home to throw together a hospital bag. I talked to my mom for a while and felt a bit better about things but the nerves remained.

My pregnancy books said to start watching my body for signs of labor. I wrote in my journal: “Oh, joy. One more thing to worry about. Because, you know, I don't have enough on my mind at the moment. Now I get to watch for signs of labor. Is irritation a sign of labor?”

My blood test came back fine, and now I found myself nervous in a good way. In a month, give or take a few days, I was going to be a mommy, and I couldn’t wait for my baby to be born!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thanks, or No Thanks?

Towards the end of my pregnancy, my mother finally started telling people I was pregnant (more on that as I get to June in my story). She told a few friends at first, and then a few people in her ward (church congregation). Instead of judging me, they were friendly and sympathetic. One woman came to visit me after Roo was born. And much to my surprise, a few of them wanted to have a baby shower for me.

I was stunned, but also excited. This was the sort of thing I'd longed for during my pregnancy - excitement, love, validation. One of the women planning it asked what colors were in Roo's nursery. I felt a little twinge of guilt (not for the first time) that my precious little girl did not have a nursery - no room of her own. Her nursery was a corner of my bedroom. But her bedding was pink and brown so those were the colors I gave. I was sent an invitation to the shower with a note on the envelope that it was for Roo's baby book. The thoughtfulness of these women I barely knew was overwhelming, and I tear up even now when I think about it.

The baby shower was on August 4th, and my mother and I got there a little late, which was kind of embarrassing. Also embarrassing was the fact that I knew maybe three people in the room. The rest of them were women from my mom's ward and she whispered into my ear who was who so that as I opened gifts I could smile at the appropriate people.

I hardly wanted to put Roo down or hand her to someone else to open presents. I think part of me always knew that my time with her was finite and that I needed to treasure every second I had to hold her. But I let my mom hold her while I opened gift after gift - lovely, sweet, cute, thoughtful things. There was also cake and punch and chocolate-dipped strawberries and pink gummy bears and ... so many perfect little details. I'm getting all teary-eyed again.

Each attendee wrote her name and address on an envelope when she arrived, and I was given the accompanying thank-you notes so that it would be easy for me to write one and stick it in the appropriate envelope. I thought this was a thoughtful detail as well - they knew how busy I was as a new mom and wanted to make things as easy as possible.

But how I felt at the shower wasn't a new thing - I hated to put Roo down, ever. I passed hours, days even, sitting on the couch with her napping in my arms, on my chest, in my lap. Part of the reason I think her head's always been such a nice shape is that I only put her down to sleep at night. Most days when she napped, I held her, not wanting to miss a single second of the first weeks of my precious baby's life.

The thank-you notes sat unwritten on the counter. Each time I caught sight of them, I thought to myself, tomorrow. I'll write them tomorrow. I started composing them in my head, but I couldn't seem to find the time to write them on paper. There were plenty of times, of course, when my mom took Roo so I could have a break to get things done. But my head was such a mess of emotions that I usually wrote in my journal then, or poked around on-line at adoption websites and couple profiles.

Then, of course, a few weeks later, God answered my prayers in a way that I simply couldn't ignore any longer, and I knew Roo needed to be with her mommy and daddy. Once that decision was made, I skipped sleep and meals for extra time to hold my baby. The thank-you notes could certainly wait. My time with Roo was swiftly coming to an end and I wasn't going to waste a single second of it.

Then I placed. My grief and pain consumed me. The sight of anything from the time I had Roo was enough to break me down again. Eight separate times I tried to write thank-you notes but ended up hyperventilating in tears instead.

And now I find myself nearly a year later, and not a single thank-you for the shower gifts has been sent. It's an awkward, tricky situation. I don't think most people in my mom's ward actually know that I placed Roo. Every so often my mom will come home from church and report that so-and-so asked how Roo was doing, and my mother has told them what choice I made. But I don't think everyone who attended the shower or gave a gift knows. And I think, what if the lack of a thank-you has made them think I'm spoiled and selfish and bratty in addition to being immoral?

I hate that thought. But it's been so long now that It almost seems ruder to send them out at this point than to not. And what on earth would I write in them? I could write what I originally planned, but it seems like I ought to mention what happened, and why it's taken me so long. But it's so personal! It felt awkward enough having so many strangers at my own baby shower. Even more awkward to have to tell every single one of them that God basically told me I wasn't supposed to be my baby's mother.

And then there's the fact that even though it's been so long, I still cry when I catch sight of the pastel Noah's Ark on the front of the notes. I still don't feel ready to write them! Will I ever feel ready? And what if when I finally am it's too late? I know I read a Dear Abby once about late thank-yous (from a bride, of course) and the consensus was that it was better late than never, but what if it's years later? Three, four, five years later? Do I mention the adoption? Would people be mad to know that I kept their gift but not my baby? Should I have returned the unused gifts? Roo did wear several of the outfits, but there were some things she never grew into while I had her. Should I write the original thank-yous as planned and then stick in each one a generic, typed-out note about the adoption? Should I leave the adoption out altogether?

I've been sitting on this issue for almost a year, and I'm no closer to a conclusion now than I've ever been before. I don't usually solicit comments outright, but I am today. What should I do? Choke it up and send them out now? Wait until I'm ready? Forget about it (my mother's suggestion, as she's given many a bridal and baby gift over the years - including to relatives - and not gotten a thank-you note)? I'm open to suggestions, as well as assurances that I am not an ungrateful brat for not sending them out 11 months ago.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Are You Going?

Are y'all going to the Families Supporting Adoption national conference at the end of the month? You really should. You can register by clicking HERE. I think you can still register. If you haven't already, get on it! Time's a-wasting. FYI, it's free for birth parents!

I am super excited to go! Will I see you there? Any of you? Most of my friends live in my computer so it'll be nice to see if some of them exist in real life, too.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Good Grief!

A caveat: this gets a bit rant-y. I'm trying to rant less, I really am, but sometimes I just need to get it out. And I feel like my ranting is more productive now than it once was. You've been warned :-)

Grieving after placement is unlike any other kind of grief in the world. It's different, and it's difficult to explain.

I've never lost a child in the mortal sense. Roo is healthy and happy. I don't even like to think of what it would feel like if something were to happen to her. I can't imagine it, and I don't want to. I would never say that I know what it feels like to lose a child.

And yet ... I did lose a child. I lost my child. My baby - the one I took home from the hospital, who had my last name, who was my responsibility - no longer exists. It's like that baby was sucked into a vortex, and in her place is the little girl belonging to P and M. I love her, but she is NOT my baby anymore. This Roo never was. My Roo is gone.

So there's a grief there, to be sure. All birth moms grieve and I'm no exception. I reckon I feel a bit more like I've experienced a death than is usual, because I didn't choose adoption right away; I waited. I came home from placement with an empty car seat, home to an empty crib and stacks of freshly laundered Onesies that my Roo - MY Roo - would never wear again. It very much felt as though someone had died, and the grief was overwhelming and all-encompassing. I'm crying as I type this just thinking about it.

I remember coming home after my dad died and looking around and thinking, he's never going to sit at the end of the kitchen table anymore. His Dr Pepper isn't going to be in the refrigerator. His sunglasses aren't going to be on the counter by the sink, and his laptop from work isn't going to be in its case by the front door ... All around me were places he'd once occupied and now they were empty.

It felt the same after I placed Roo - the empty car seat, the empty crib, even the empty diaper pail. They were all signs that I used to have a baby, used to be a mom ... and that I'm not anymore. I couldn't look at or even think of any of them without a sob fizzing in the back of my throat.

And yet, for all my grief, for all my pain, my little Roo is alive and well. How glad I am! She's delicately chubby and smart and happy and delightful and everything one-year-old should be. I know it's wrong to compare my grief to that of a mother who has lost her child. There is no comparison, in all fairness. In comparison, I've got it easy. And yet I grieve.

Other people draw comparisons, too. And their comparisons are usually impatient ones. The implication is that because the child I birthed and love it still alive, I haven't a right to grieve as long as I need to, if at all. The implication is that I get a month, maybe six weeks, and then I need to get on with it. How on earth is this fair?

I know life's not fair, and that anyone who says otherwise is selling something. That's #1 on my list of the Facts of Life (and yes, I do have a numbered list). But, look, there's unfair, and there's unfair. My dad died almost two years ago and my mother has yet to be told she needs to get on with it already. I was told to get on with it two months after I placed Roo. What's up with that?

When my mom grieved the loss of her husband, no one ever said to her, "You're thinking too much of yourself, that's why it hurts. You need to think of other people. Find some way to serve or volunteer and you'll feel better." And it's not surprising that no one said that to her, because really, who SAYS something like that to a grieving widow?

But that's exactly what I was told after placement. People told me that I was too wrapped up in my own problems and that if I wanted to be happy I needed to think of other people for a change and find ways to serve others. And I thought, excuse me? I gave two people I barely know a BABY. I think I'm good on serving others for a while. And yes, I am a bit wrapped up in my grief. But I think I'm allowed! If anyone's entitled to a good pity party here and there, it's a birth mom. My grief at placement was and is no less valid than my mother's grief at my dad's death. I need to feel my feelings and learn to live with them.

People's suggestion that my grief was selfish and that I needed to stop thinking only about myself was shocking to me - still is, actually. I grieve because I love, simple as that. And I WAS serving others. Just because I don't keep a running tally on my sidebar of my service hours this year doesn't mean I'm not doing anything. I prefer to do that sort of thing quietly, thankyouverymuch.

But people would insist; I was depressed because I was selfish and immature, and how could I not see that? Why didn't I get on with things already? What was my problem?

I have overwhelmingly more good days than bad days now, ten months post-placement. Bad days are very rare. But I still have days here and there that are tough, when I miss Roo so much I physically ache from it. I don't think that's anything to apologize for. And yet people pretty much come out and ask me why I haven't moved on with my life yet and what the heck my problem is and why I'm still thinking about the baby I placed because it's been nine months and I should be all better now.

I will never be all better, because I will never stop loving my little Roo. Certainly the time will come when the pain will be a fraction of what it is now, I will be better, but not ALL better. And I'm okay with that. I can be blissfully happy with that. In my mind, all better means I don't care any more, and I don't ever want to not care.

You want to know my problem, bearers of unsolicited advice? I miss my baby. I miss my baby who isn't my baby any more. I miss her and I reckon I always will. If I want to cry about it, I'm allowed to cry. Holding my feelings back won't accomplish much. Crying helps. Crying helps me to quote-unquote move on.

The question then becomes, what are you supposed to say to a birth mom when she's depressed after placement? Well, here's the answer: Tell her that you love her, and let her grieve. She'll "move on" when she's good and ready, and not a moment sooner.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Today I had the most amazing visit with Roo and her family! Roo is getting so big - and although I didn't think it was possible, she keeps getting cuter as well.

I'll admit to being nervous about the visit today. I'm not sure exactly why. Maybe it's because it's been a while since my last visit and I wasn't sure how Roo would take to me. I think part of it is that I just wanted things to be perfect.

And you know what? They were, I don't think things could have gone any better. It was such a good visit! It was relaxing and comfortable and I loved seeing Roo just being Roo, crawling and playing and jabbering and demanding attention from her parents and her sister when she thought she wasn't getting enough (even though she always was!).

I am so blessed to have an open adoption! It does me so much more good than I could ever hope to describe. I am a spoiled girl, really I am. I think of my mom's birth mother, who placed her baby and had to walk away and live with uncertainty and unanswered questions. I don't think I could have done that. I am so thankful for her courage and her strength. And I'm thankful for Roo's parents. Because of them, I don't have to wonder the way my birth grandmother did. Because of them, I have never for a second questioned my decision to place Roo in their family, or to place her at all. God meant Roo for them all along. I'm glad she's theirs.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's Roo Day!

Today is Roo's first birthday! Woo-hoo! Last July 7th at this hour and minute Dr K cut me open and pulled the cutest tiny girl ever out of my belly. Where did the year go? How did my teensy-weensy little newborn get so big? And so cute! I think P and M are feeding Roo liquid cute. She gets more adorable by the minute.

Happy birthday, darling girl! The world has been a better place for exactly a year now. Here's to 101 more (at the very least)!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Here's the Story

Once upon a time, I thought I'd get myself "caught up" in telling my pregnancy story, and I thought I'd get to the point where I was exactly a year out, and I could reflect on labor and delivery and all that a year to the day afterward.

Obviously, I'm not there. I don't think I've gotten to the end of May yet, have I? I'm slacking. And stalling. I don't know if I'm ready to go there yet. I thought that distance, that time - a year, for crying out loud - would make a difference. I thought that like with everything else, the pain would lessen after a while, and I could write about things without getting so emotional.

Why do I always have to be wrong about these things? I started reading through my journal for the month of June, year 2009, and I couldn't do it. It hurt too much. The pain felt so fresh. Maybe it's because of the time of the year. It feels too much like it's what's happening now. I can close my eyes and pretend I'm there. It hasn't been long enough yet.

I don't think I'm ready yet. I meant to be. I thought I'd be. When I wrote that bit on my due date, I realized how far behind on my story I am, and it was frustrating.

I started this blog for Roo but it's too public now for me to be as open about things as I want, so a few months ago I started a private blog, just for Roo, and I spill everything I can think of there, because she deserves to know everything, not just what I feel comfortable sharing with the world. Last night I wrote a few things down for her, because it was on July 5th that labor was induced, and I wanted to record my memories of that for her.

I could barely type through the tears. I'm getting throat fizzies just thinking about it. So many things have gotten easier with time, but I guess this isn't one of them. It comes down to this: I'm just not ready yet. Someone asked me on my Formspring a few months ago when I was going to finish my pregnancy story, and the answer I gave at the time was true at the time. But I'm not sure now. I think the answer is, when I'm ready.

And I'm not there yet.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Something I Didn't Expect

The last time I had a Roo visit, I knew it would be my last for a while. And I was okay with it, for the most part, or as okay as I was going to get. I knew I'd miss Roo, and that it would be hard not to have visits as often, and that I would look forward every day to the next time I got to see her.

I expected all that, and for the most part that's what has happened. But lately I've realized something else, something I didn't expect at all: I miss P and M. Not seeing Roo means I haven't seen them, either. I saw them both at the adoption academy in April, and it was so nice! I hadn't realized how much I missed them until I saw them there. And a few weeks ago I realized I miss them again. Yes, I'll be happy to see the world's cutest baby and take a million pictures of her and kiss her chubby little cheeks and marvel at how she's grown. But I'm also looking forward to seeing her parents and talking to them, and watching them be Roo's parents.

When I met them, as I've mentioned before, I liked them almost instantly. They were the first couple I'd met where I really, truly thought, Oh! Infertility is so unfair! I knew they were Roo's parents, but more than that I wanted them to be Roo's parents. I wanted to see them have two little kids instead of just one, and I wanted to see them have a happy little family.

At the first visit I had after placement, I knew Roo was where she belonged. I could just feel it. I knew I'd made her the happiest girl in the world (even if she wasn't quite old enough to appreciate her unofficial title). It did me so much good to see that. And it still does ... and I love seeing how well P and M are suited to their job as the parents of two darling little sisters. Their children mean the world to them, and that means the world to me.

I miss them! I can't wait to see them soon.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Just for Fun

Don't remember if I posted this one before (don't care too much either) and I'm feeling nostalgic.

Here I was a year ago, July 4th, ready to pop.

I miss that belly.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I'd Like to Thank the Academy ...

So. Y'all remember Captain Cluck? Click on his name if you don't. Long story short, I'd grown weary of seeing blog awards and not having one of my own, so I MADE one of my own, featuring a chicken, because I think chickens are adorable.

I offered up Captain Cluck to anyone who had ever wanted a blog award because, like Mr Sunshine in the Jimmy Dean Breakfast commercials, I think you're all awesome. One of the awesome peeps who adopted (no pun intended) Captain Cluck was Mary. Mary is awesome.

(I know I use that word too much. I've been told. I don't care.)

Because Mary is so awesome (hi, Mary!) she took pity on little old chickens-and-Paint Shop Pro me, and gave me a real, legitimate blog award! Here it is. Isn't it pretty? I've always loved daisies.

This is probably the first and only time that "sunshine" has been used as any sort of descriptor for me. I'm more ... partly sunny, I guess, or I would be if I were weather, which I'm not. But I'll take it just the same. Captain Cluck was getting lonely on my sidebar, and I bet he likes daisies too.

Actually, I did accidentally spread a little sunshine in Galway, and during the rain at that. This guy was standing by the bench with the Wilde Brothers statues, playing the most beautiful song on his violin. I dropped two coins into his violin case. I thought they were one-Euro coins, but they were two-Euro coins. I discovered when I went to pay for my hamburger later that I'd dropped in four Euro instead of just two. Oh well. Sure made that guy's day!

I'm supposed to nominate 12 other people for this particular blog award, which seems like a bit much. I'm not at my best and brightest before noon, and I can't even think of 12 different people I know at the moment, much less 12 award-worthy blogs. I don't want to be insincere or hasty so I'm going to be a lazy weasel and do that later. In the meantime, Captain Chicken and the Sunshine Flower (that sounds like a band from the late 60s) will keep each other company in my sidebar.

Thanks again, Mary! You're awesome.