Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two Things ...

1) I am feeling much, much better since I posted last. I know that there are people who think that it's not good to deeply feel negative emotions, and that's fine for them, but I'm the sort of person who has to let something out before I can get past it, and that's what happened. I let it out, and I feel a million times better. Also, I got a new Roo video that day, which pretty much made my month.

2) November is National Adoption Month! I'm still debating whether to take Mrs. R's challenge to post every single day. I did it last year and it was exhausting. But I think maybe I can do it. I'm going to try it for a few days and see what happens.

That is all. Thank you :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Good Times, Bad Times

For the most part, I feel like I am doing remarkably well for myself 13 months post-placement. I have good days and I have bad days, but mostly good days, and the bad days aren't as bad.


Today is the rare exception.

I've made a conscious effort to be less negative on my blog (I've been criticized for my negativity in the past) and I think I've done fairly well. I no longer feel the need to express every thought I have in such a public forum. I might have done so in the past when fewer people read this blog, but the more people that read it, the less comfortable I feel sharing certain personal things. I have another blog for Roo, a private one, where I do write every thought I have about her and about her adoption. I've thought about giving P and M access but I worry that they'd think less of me for some of the things I've written. Or that they'd worry about me, and I don't want that. Of course, that probably happens enough with this blog. So I don't know. I've never been a fantastic communicator, and even after all this time I still find myself re-reading my e-mail to P and M eight or nine times to make sure it sounds okay, because I think that if I say the wrong thing, they won't like me anymore.

(Much of my relationship with H is a blur now, but I can recall him once telling me affectionately that I am "action-packed with issues." I think he said it affectionately. Although in retrospect it might have been more like disbelief. Either way, he wasn't wrong.)

But all that aside, this blog is still first and foremost a place for me to write about what it's like to be Roo's birth mom, and that includes bad days, of which today is one.

Sometimes I can actually feel a bad day building up. I'll have a sniffle or two here and there, but no major sob explosions for a while. Then I'll realize that my bouts of sniffling are getting closer and closer together. At the same time I'll find myself thinking of Roo more and more often, and the next thing you know, my mental dam bursts and everything comes out. I'll sit and cry for a bit and miss Roo. Then I feel a bit better.

Except sometimes, today for instance, I don't sit and cry for a bit. Sometimes, like today, I will be fine one minute, and the next minute I'm choking back sobs and wondering if I could possibly leave work early because I'm having trouble breathing and holding myself upright.

Today, I miss my little Roo so much that it physically hurts. I feel a little sick, actually. I just ... I miss her. I miss her, and that sucks. Most of the time it seems strange to think that I ever had a baby, that I was ever a mother for a few brief weeks. But on days like today, it's all I can think about. On days like this, all I can think is, I used to have a daughter, and now I don't.

It feels wrong to even put this into words, but sometimes I wish I didn't love her so much. I think, if I loved her less, it would hurt less. It seems unfair that I have to love her as much as I do but that I don't get to reap any of the benefits.

I hate feeling like this. I hate the selfishness of it, the fixation on what I have lost rather than on what Roo has gained. But hate it or not, it's there, and I'm stuck with it for a while.

I wonder if I ought to even post this. I'm not sure. It's hardly beneficial to anyone at all, is it? But then, I think maybe when Roo is older and she reads it, it'll help her know how very much I love her.

Monday, October 25, 2010

In Which I Tell a Story I've Told Twice Before

This is probably going to be a little TMI, so consider yourself warned.

Today marks two years since a home pregnancy test showed two lines instead of one. I've written about it before, here and here, but I like to reminisce, and I'm putting off doing something unpleasant, so I'm going to write about it again.

I've said before that I knew I was pregnant before I knew I was pregnant. (Here's the TMI part.) My period was militantly regular. I had never in my life been so much as ten hours late - until October two years ago. Things should have started on the 20th, but didn't. Each day that passed increased my sense of foreboding. It put a bit of a damper on my birthday as well, because all I could think was, I'm three days late. I tried to talk myself out of a panic. I'd been sick a few weeks before. Maybe the antibiotics had messed things up a bit.

That got me through my birthday. And each day that passed, as much as I worried, I thought, today's the day. Well, the 24th wasn't the day, either. I told myself that if nothing happened the next day, I'd buy a home pregnancy test. Nothing happened. I bought a home pregnancy test. I can still remember - like it was this morning - driving home from Target with a sick feeling completely unrelated to pregnancy hormones. I already knew the truth. And all I could think of was, my brother is going to be so disappointed in me. In retrospect, it seems funny to me that my first thought was not for myself or my baby or even my mother. My first thought was, what will Scott think? I have let him down.

I love my brother. He is one of my favorite people in the world. I'm sure he's done stupid things in his life, but nothing major, nothing serious. And he's the sort of person whose goodness inspires others to be as good. I felt like a failure. I didn't want him to know how badly I'd messed up because I was afraid he'd think less of me for it.

Well, as I'm sure you know by now, after I waited the prescribed amount of time, and two pink lines appeared in the results window of the test, and I swear, I could feel a chasm form in the space-time continuum. Now there was only before, and after. I was desperate for the peace and safety of the before, but there was no going back from the after. There was a grand canyon between the two, and that terrified me more than anything. I had made some serious mistakes before, but nothing I felt I couldn't sort of take back through repentance.

This was something I most certainly could not even dream of taking back.

My mother had gone out shopping. You may recall that my father had died only about seven weeks before all this happened. In those days, my mother distracted herself from her grief by leaving the house and getting a head start on her Christmas shopping. Many times she had offered to take me with her, and several times she had pleaded with me to go with her, but I almost always declined. I've never been one to distract myself from my grief. I wallow. And on top of my grief over my father's death was worry about a fight I'd had with H. After our breakup in July we'd tried to remain friends (and obviously we still saw each other on occasion) but I had a hard time separating my emotions and I'd fought with him. I was afraid that the words I'd said in anger had permanently ruined any chance of even friendship with him - he being of course the only man who had ever been interested in me.

(That didn't sound right grammatically, but I'm too lazy to look into it, so please ignore it if it bothers you as well.)

Once I got over my initial, heart-stopping shock, I numbly descended the stairs and collapsed on the couch in front of the TV. I had thought about turning it on to distract myself but I couldn't seem to remember how to work the remote control, so I sat there and cried.

My mother came home not long after, excited about her purchases, which she immediately removed from their bags to show me. I tried hard to look enthusiastic, to smile and give the appropriate responses, but I have the world's worst poker face. The fact that I hadn't quite managed to stop crying was probably a clue as well. My mother asked what was wrong, and I just shook my head. In retrospect, it seems sort of odd that she'd ask about my tears when my father's death was so recent. Perhaps, being my mother, she could sense that there was something different about my unhappiness that day.

She persisted. I cried harder. "I can't tell you!" I sobbed. I realized later that as I spoke I had nervously shredded a number of half-used Kleenexes and set them in a pile on the ottoman in front of me. This, too, might have been a clue to my mum. She urged me to tell her, saying that I could tell her anything. At this, I let out a half-sob, half-cry, and tried desperately to get my vocal cords to function properly. No such luck. I hadn't even used the word "pregnant" out loud to myself. I sure as hell couldn't say it to my recently widowed mother.

I remember crying harder then. My mother kept asking me to tell her why I was so upset, and I kept refusing, shaking my head and sobbing and shredding Kleenex. Finally, she said, "The only reasons I can think for you to be this upset and not tell me are that you've got AIDS or you're pregnant. Which is it?"

I looked up at her. The good news, I thought, is that I don't have AIDS. But I said nothing. I couldn't. She knew just the same.

"You're pregnant," she said. I nodded.

We both cried then.

It's funny to remember it now - I can remember it so clearly, and yet it feels like it happened to someone else. Now I can't fathom being that selfish and blubbering and weak in the face of such a thing. I suppose that at this point in time I've simply been through enough that almost nothing fazes me anymore. I suppose it's because I experienced something that made my selfish and blubbering and weak that I'm no longer any of those things.

I guess part of what has changed my perspective is Roo. As hard as things were, I'd do anything in the world for that little girl, and if I had to go back and do it all again I'd move heaven and earth to get her here and to the point she's at now. She is happy and healthy and so very loved. She has phenomenal parents. She had to get to them in a rather unorthodox way, but I'm okay with that.

I am as happy today as I was devastated two years ago. The apparent cause of the devastation ended up being my saving grace. I don't know where I'd be today without Roo. I don't like to think about it. I don't like to think of what my life would have been without her, or what the world would be like without her.

Two years ago my life changed deeply and forever, and I am forever grateful.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

You Say it's Your Birthday

I'm going to ramble a bit today. I've decided I'm allowed.

It's October 23rd again. That always happens this time of year :) It's my birthday, and it feels kind of weird. My birthday always feels kind of weird for some reason. Kind of not quite normal.

I feel like my birthday two years ago was the last normal birthday I ever had. Which is sort of funny, because my dad had just died. So maybe my 25th wasn't the last normal one, my 24th was. Except that when I turned 24, my dad was being treated for brain cancer. Which is also abnormal (in every sense of the word). So maybe my last normal birthday was four years ago.

I'm not sure I can even remember four years ago. I'm sure I must. I'm sure something happened that year. As I recall, I had just graduated from beauty school, so I must have been happy. I think the lack of any strong memories of that year is probably a good sign that it really was my last normal birthday.

But the reason I think of 2008 as my last normal birthday is because it was two days after that birthday that I had one of those moments when you know the rest of your life is going to be marked by before and after. Two years ago, I found out I was pregnant. Two years ago, my vibrant, darling, cheerful little ray of sunshine was a jumble of dividing cells still a week away from a heartbeat. That seems crazy to me. I can hardly remember my life before Roo. Which is just as well, because it can't have been half as happy without her.

When I was about eight months pregnant, I bought a super cute outfit for Roo. It was size 3-6 months, and I decided it was going to be the outfit I dressed her in on my birthday. She would be 3 1/2 months old then, but I knew she was just going to be a tiny little thing and it would fit her. I remember thinking how much fun my birthday was going to be as a mommy. Instead of the usual boring picture of me, there would be a picture of me and my daughter. I could picture myself going out to eat, baby in tow, getting a free birthday dessert and a million compliments on my baby.

What's that saying again? Something like, "Man plans. God laughs."

Right after placement, I remember opening the wrong drawer in my dresser by mistake, and instead of my shirts, there were Roo's clothes. And right on top was the birthday outfit. It just about killed me. A few weeks later, on my birthday, I kept myself busy, but at one point I did go back to that drawer and pull out that little outfit. I wondered what Roo was wearing that day instead.

I've been thinking about that a lot this week. I don't know why. I guess because since I was seven or eight or so, I haven't had a birthday turn out the way I'd hoped or planned. Many of those years, it wasn't just a change of plans, but some ... some event, or something unhappy that made my birthday unhappy. Some years it might be something little, like the Yankees winning the world series. (That was a joke. Although I do hate the Yankees.) But there was the year the girls at my birthday party, spurred on by the suggestion of one girl in particular, passed around sheets of paper with everyone's names on them and rated them on looks, personality, popularity, and other things. There was the year that my mom, desperately worried about me, dragged me to the doctor, who prescribed antidepressants, which I still take ("Give 'em a year, 18 months tops, you'll be done with 'em," he said, back in 1998). There was the year that, on the way home from school, my parents and I were in a car accident. There was the year that my church choir practice ran late, and when I got home for my family party, I found that my extended family had already cut into my cake and some were ready to go home.

Birthdays and I don't get along.

Hmm. I'm sure there was a point to this post. Or then again, maybe there wasn't.

Gee, this is embarrassing.


Oh, I've got it! Birthdays. Right. So, I think of 2008 as my last "normal" birthday, but if I'm honest, last year was probably one of the best birthdays I've ever had. I think there's something to be said for that. Finding out I was pregnant was one of my life's defining moments. But I wouldn't trade any of the before for the worst day of the after. I am so much happier now. My life is so much better. I think the world is so much better, because it contains my favorite person in the world.

So, you know what? To heck with normal birthdays. The abnormal ones are exponentially better.

Okay. I'm done rambling. Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 18, 2010

One Thing

Here's another question answered:

If you could only have Roo know one thing about you, what would it be?

The most important thing for Roo to know about me is that I love her. Obviously, either her parents or I will answer whatever questions she has about me, but if I had to pick just one thing, that would be it. I love her forever.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Southwest Regional FSA Conference, Day Two, Part Two

The following is long, and self-centered, and mostly for my benefit. You have been warned.

I think I mentioned on Friday that at the dinner, I met both of the couples I considered placing with when I was pregnant. One of the couples, I've seen many times since then. There's no awkwardness. The other couple, I haven't seen or heard from since I didn't choose them.

I don't think I mentioned on Friday that when I saw N, the wife in the second couple, I almost cried. I don't know if it's ridiculous or not, but I felt terribly guilty exchanging pleasantries with her. I wanted to apologize profusely for not choosing her and her husband. I wanted to beg them to forgive me and tell them it's not personal, I liked them very much. It just wasn't right. Do other birth moms ever experience this? I don't know how many birth moms have ever run into couples they didn't pick after the original meeting. I don't know if my reaction is normal or not.

I mention this mostly because at lunch I once again met up with the first couple I talked to, the ones with whom I am very comfortable. Their little girl just had her first birthday. They came over to talk to me and Breonna, who also considered placing with them (small world, eh?). If my awkward interaction with N is atypical, I can only imagine how abnormal my relationship with the first couple is. I could have talked to them for hours.

It's a funny thing, but as much as I enjoy their company, as long as I could have talked to them, as comfortable as I feel with them, I know I wasn't supposed to place with them. They know it, too. If I had, they wouldn't have their little girl, and they wouldn't trade her for anything in heaven or on earth.

After lunch it was time for Mrs R's adoption advocacy class for birth moms. There wasn't enough time for all of it, really - there were so many comments and experiences packed into that room, we could have talked for hours, not just 50 minutes. Maybe next year? I got a few minutes at the end to talk about doing outreach at schools. I think I may have noted before that public speaking doesn't bother me like it does most people. I think that, given a subject and a few minutes to prepare, I could probably address the United Nations. School outreach? No problem. Fifth Sunday presentation? Easy. Adoption Academy? Birth mom panel? Kid stuff.

My problem with public speaking arises when I'm called upon to address my peers. That's when nerves set in. I felt confident until I stood up, and looked around the room. All birth moms, at least two of whom don't like me; strong women who had as much to say about advocacy as I did, but it was me up front. I felt inadequate. It didn't help that this was Mrs. R's class.

I don't know how many of my blog readers have met Lindsey. If you saw her pushing a cart in the grocery store, you would probably hate her, because she is this tiny little thing, pretty and well-dressed and obviously not poor. But hating her would be unfair. She's also genuine, and friendly, and has been through her share of hard times. I felt this immense pressure not to say anything stupid, because I didn't want to take away from what she'd had to say.

In the end, I did what I usually do when I'm nervous - I spoke fast and used polysyllabic words in the hope that people would only hear half of what I had to say, and sat back down. Next time, if there is a next time, I'm going to rein in these ideas I have about winging it.

Before the conference, I agreed to facilitate one of the classes. I was told that all I'd have to do was to introduce the speaker, give him or her 10 and 5 minute warnings, and, at the end, hand out the thank-you gift. I thought, I can handle that. But it turned out, the class I was supposed to facilitate wasn't actually a class, but a panel. The birth grandparent panel, more specifically. There was a red folder in the room that had the biographies of the panelists and a list of questions for me to ask them. There were four nametags on the podium, and four chairs set up. There were two panelists there. The third was going to be a few minutes late. Was there a fourth? I was confused. Despite the absence of the third panelist, I didn't want to start late, because I know that panels tend to run long as it is. I didn't want to read the panelist bios for the same reason - besides, their bios were in the folders that everyone had picked up upon signing in that morning. It seemed both redundant and a waste of time for me to read the lengthy bios of all of the panelists.

I introduced them and started with the first question. From the back of the room, someone I love dearly but who will remain nameless in this accounting, called out, "Jillybean, why don't you start with having them all say why they're here today?" Which was irritating because obviously, they were here because they were birth grandparents, and humiliating, because I felt like a child with both the nickname and the direction, as though I weren't clever enough to moderate a panel. I already felt I wasn't clever enough, and the suggestion certainly didn't help. Dare I say it shattered my already fragile calm?

But the suggestion had been made, and the first panelist started, and basically told her story and answered most of the questions on my sheet of paper. The third panelist (there were only three, despite four nametags and four chairs) came in at this point, and I gave her the appropriate nametag, which she set on the fourth chair next to the Kleenex box.

It became apparent that instead of questions being asked and answered, this was just going to be the birth grandmothers telling their stories. Which was fine by me, except that there I was, standing at the podium like a jackass (and no, jackass is not a bad word. I heard it on "Matlock," and Ben Matlock would never swear). I wanted to sit down, but the fourth chair had things on it that I would have to hold if I sat there, and if I sat in the audience I might have to pop back up if there was time for questions. So I stood there the entire bloody hour, feeling like the dumbest person on earth, cultivating a strain in my neck from looking to my right where the panelists were seated, and trying desperately to figure out if I might be able to sit down somewhere. I leaned over the podium as much as I could so I didn't stand out. I tried to be invisible. I failed miserably.

I almost cried, too, which was even worse. The first panelist spoke frankly about her anger at being told her single daughter was pregnant. And I swear to you, as she spoke, her rage was palpable. For some reason, hearing her speak made me think of my own mother. The idea that my dear old mum might have harbored similar feelings of anger toward me just killed me, and I teared up. My mother has been really and truly angry at me once in my life, and the occasion constitutes one of my least favorite memories.

(I asked my mother Sunday night if she'd been angry at me when I told her I was pregnant. "Oh, honey, never angry," she assured me. "I just felt so bad for you! My heart broke for you, but I wasn't angry." I was terribly relieved.)

Personal awkwardness aside, the panel went well. I think it was impactful, if that's even a word. Birth grandparents have an important perspective and I don't think they're heard from enough. Anyway, When the panel was over, it was time for cake and ice cream and then the birth mother panel. The cake was made by a local birth mom who has been to culinary school. It looked amazing and tasted pretty darn good too. I wish I'd thought to take a picture of it.

The birth mom panel is usually the biggest draw and the best part of any adoption academy or conference. I was super excited to see that two of my favorite birth moms were on the (4-person) panel. I go to group with both of them but I never get tired of their stories. One of them, my friend A, was only a backup panelist, but the fourth panelist was a no-show so she got to be on the panel! I was super excited for her, and she did an amazing job. She is both a single mother and a birth mom, so I love her perspective. A needs to speak more often. She is awesome.

After the panel, there was a raffle. I did not expect to win. I've won a raffle once in my life. The prize was a Spice Girls cassette tape - their second album. But lo and behold, not one but two of my ticket numbers were called! I won a beautiful hair clip from Ruby Jane Boutique and a gift certificate for a free consult, x-ray and treatment from a local chiropractor. I've never been to a chiropractor before, so that will be interesting.

And then it was time to go.

I can't talk about the conference without mentioning Andrea and Josh and the amazing job they did putting everything together. I don't think Andrea slept at all for about three months before the conference. Dare I say her lack of sleep was worth it? The conference was fantastic. I can't wait for next year!

And if you've read through my excruciating, self-centered rundown of the conference, you deserve a prize.

I mean, you're not going to get one from me, but you certainly deserve it :)

No, wait, here. Have a platypus.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Southwest Regional FSA Conference, Day Two, Part One

I meant to post this on Saturday, when I got home from the conference, but I was tired, and I had a church activity at 7:30. And after that, I was even more tired, on top of which I had to find a recipe for funeral potatoes and get to the grocery store for ingredients so I could make said funeral potatoes the next afternoon. Long story.

I digress. Back to the conference. I'm splitting day two into two parts because it's long.

I ended up not going to many classes - I only went to one, in fact. I'm still not quite sure how that happened. I meant to go, I really did. But I got to the ASU Institute building early on Saturday. I had to put labels on the thank-you salsa (long story) and I wanted to make sure I had time to do that before breakfast and everything. And then it looked like a little help was needed at the registration tables, and I thought, hey, when we're helping, we're happy, right? So I helped. I got people signed in, gave out t-shirts and raffle tickets, and directed them to breakfast. Then it sounded like breakfast was starting, but I wasn't that hungry, because I'd had a little Cap'n Crunch before I left the house.

I love Cap'n Crunch. It tears up the roof of my mouth and leaves a film on my teeth but it's delicious. And you can't help but be encouraged by the cereal's old commercial tagline: "You and the Cap'n make it happen!" Of course, they were never really specific as to what, exactly, the two of you made happen. I suppose it could have been anything from breakfast to a nuclear holocaust.

Again, I digress. I wasn't concerned about breakfast on account of I'd already eaten. So I stayed up front at the desk. Then people dispersed to go to the first classes, and I wanted to go to hear Tamra's class on what to expect after placement. But there were still things to be done at the desk, and I wanted to help. I'll go in late, I thought. But the next thing I knew, people were out of the first class and going to the second. Well, shoot, I thought. But I knew I had ten minutes to get upstairs for the second class, Jessa's, on who, when, and how to tell people your adoption story. But I didn't finish with what I was doing until it was too late to politely enter the room, so I gave up. I consoled myself with the fact that I had heard Tamra speak on a very similar topic at the national conference, and that I'd attended a class on who and how to tell at the national conference, although someone else had taught that one. I figured I still had most of the relevant information, and refocused on being useful at the registration desk.

I sat down with another woman who was wearing a super awesome "FSA Conference Staff" button like I was and we sorted and boxed up the care basket donations people had brought. I should mention here that my local birth mom group has started our own version of the well-known birth mother baskets (also, I may or may not write the fluffy, exclamation-point laden blog). Ours are called care baskets, and we took donations at the conference. I couldn't believe how many people brought such nice things - fuzzy blankets an beautiful jewelry and gift cards and books and what looked like half of an entire Bath and Body Works. Which explains my subsequent hives.

"We got great stuff here," I told one FSA volunteer. "I almost want to get knocked up again just so I can get a basket!" I realize my eternal salvation is probably more important than a care basket, but honestly, you should have felt this microfiber and wool throw blanket someone donated. It had to be pried out of my hands.

Adoption-related CDs are on the list of things we would like to see donated. I wasn't sure exactly what adoption-related music was, but I saw it on another donation list and thought it sounded nice. Some kind soul seemed only to have noticed the word "music" and donated six or seven CDs that, when I saw them, I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. I settled on laughter, and showing the stack to my friends.

The CD on top was the only one still shrink-wrapped - Classic Love Songs of the 60s. The rest of them were clearly used, cases scratched. The next CDs that I remember are as follows:

I know there was at least one other CD but I don't remember what it was. I want to say George Winston or something like that. I shouldn't make fun, really. It's nice of people to donate things. It was just such an odd mix of music that I had to laugh.

I meant to go to the 11:00 class on communicating with your adoptive couple, because although I feel like I do okay with that, I figure I can always do better. I attended a similar class at the national conference but it had been taught by birth moms, and it seemed to me that this one, being taught by adoptive parents, might offer a different, more relevant perspective. But the others in charge who'd been around the registration desk had all disappeared, and I didn't want to just abandon the desk, because even though the day had started officially at 8am, people were still trickling in hours later. I ended up answering a few questions and checking in a few very late people so it was just as well.

By the time I decided I really wanted to go to the class it was 11:20 and I refuse to be that late. So I stayed where I was. One woman kept coming back up front to ask me questions. She didn't have a lanyard so I'm not entirely sure she was in the building for the conference. She asked me a lot of strange, random questions and needed help turning on her own mobile phone. She kept thinking I worked at the institute building. Each time I explained to her I was there for the conference, and that the people who could best answer her questions wouldn't be in the building until Monday. She kind of scared me.

Around this time, my friend Breonna arrived and we talked for a while. She showed me the adoption book she'd won the night before in the raffle. It's called "We See the Moon" and it was a little strange. I'm not sure I understood it. It's a children's book that's supposed to explain to little ones about being adopted. It featured lines such as "The full moon glows heavy in the night sky. A beacon of beauty and truth."

If anyone can explain to me what that has to do with adoption, and how on earth a child is supposed to understand it, please let me know. I'm baffled. The illustrations were neat, though. Breonna and I talked for a while and then it was time for lunch.

Phew. I think I'll end here for now. Part two will be along later.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Southwest Regional FSA Conference, Day One

I learned my lesson with the national FSA conference - if I don't blog about it right away, it's not going to happen. I've still got three or four drafts of posts I started about the national conference, and I've pretty much given up on them - it's been two months, it's just not going to happen.

So I thought that this time, I would blog about it as soon as I could. I should probably go to sleep instead, because the conference starts bright and early tomorrow morning, and I am not at my best and brightest at 8am even if I've gotten a good night of sleep. But I have never been good at doing things because I should. Let's face it, if common sense was a strong point of mine I wouldn't have faced an unplanned pregnancy.

I digress.

Tonight was the first part of the Southwest Regional FSA conference. The dinner and decorations were western themed and it was suggested that we dress "country casual." I don't own boots or a hat but I did dig up a cowgirl shirt and decided that constituted dressing up.

The events of the evening took place outdoors, on the roof of the parking garage adjacent to the building we'll be in tomorrow. Phoenix weather is unbearable in the summer but the fall makes up for it, particularly in the evenings and today was no exception - it was perfect.

Before dinner, there was a slideshow about the adoption triad featuring an adoptee, a birth mom, and an adoptive couple. I should mention that I was the birth mom featured. Can I sound cheesy and braggy and say that I loved my story? I did. I thought that Sarah, who put the slideshow together, did a great job with my story and the other two. The other two were really amazing too, because the adoptee is also a birth mom, and the adoptive mom is also an adoptee. And I'm the daughter of an adoptee. I love all the little connections and coincidences there are in adoption. It was so cool to see the adoption overlap in the slideshow.

The evening felt like one big happy adoption reunion - I swear, I got to say hi to every person I've ever met with an adoption connection. It was great to see so many of them again. I saw adoptive moms I've done outreach with, birth moms I've met and lost track of, couples whose blogs I read, and both of the couples I met with and considered when I was pregnant. I was surprised at how many people there I knew. I thought, this must be what it's like to be Tamra - I felt like I knew nearly everyone!

It was also fun to meet people I've only ever encountered on-line. Tonight I got to meet Michelle, Kelsey, Jessalyn, and Lindsey, a.k.a. Mrs R. I met Lindsey once before, at the national conference, but it was at the end of the day, in an elevator, and I was tired and greasy and could barely see out of my contact lenses because I'd been wearing them for 14 hours, and it wasn't a proper meeting.

I got a more proper meeting tonight complete with something at which I excel; the awkward hug. I should tell that to people when I meet them - "Hi, it's so good to meet you, if we hug it'll probably be awkward." Oh well.

She (Lindsey) said she liked the slideshow, and then she told me I have soft hair, which was delightfully random. I'm stealing a few minutes at the end of one of her classes tomorrow on adoption advocacy; I'm talking about doing school outreach. I suppose I should probably figure out what I'm going to say ahead of the time, but really, where's the fun in that?

Assuming always that a lack of preparation equals fun. But whatever.

The food was yummy, the music was entertaining, and I had excellent dining companions (hi, Nicci!). All in all, it was a great night. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. This promises to be a great conference!

And now I'm going to bed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

June 2009, Part Four: the End of the Line

I wanted more than anything in the world for my baby to get out of my belly. My entire body hurt all the time. I was so tired of being pregnant! I felt massive, like a beached whale. Moving was agony. I went downstairs in the morning and only went upstairs once a day when it was time for bed. One day I went downstairs but forgot my mobile phone upstairs. I cried when I realized it. I cried over a lot of things. A TV commercial for antidepressants made me cry because the people in it looked sad.

I wanted my baby to be born but I still worried like a worrying worrywart. I secretly felt that my baby deserved more than I could give her but that I wasn’t brave enough to trust her care to those who could give it to her. Was I too selfish and immature to me a mother? Would I depend too much on my mother? What if I was a horrible mother? What if I just couldn’t do it? I was going to have this teeny-tiny, helpless little person completely dependent on me for everything – on me and me alone.

I was overwhelmed. I felt like I couldn’t do it. I wanted my baby to have everything in the world, to be happy and know that she was loved, completely and totally. I wanted her to be safe and secure and comfortable. I didn’t ever want her to feel scared or worried or sad, and I knew I couldn’t control that. It scared me. And there were so many things I couldn’t control! SIDS and car accidents and random violence and whooping cough and so many other things … what if something awful happened to her? I hated the thought that I wouldn’t be sealed to her, that something could happen to her and she’d be lost to me forever. I get all teary just thinking about it now!

I loved my baby more than anything, and I prayed that it would be enough. More than once I lamented to my therapist that things would be so much easier if some nice man would take pity on me and marry me. I suggested marrying a man who needed a green card, or a gay man who wanted to get his parents off his back. My therapist said that was a bad idea. He never has had a sense of humor, that man.

It came down to this: I knew deep down that my baby deserved so much better than me. But I was too selfish. I admitted it. I knew myself. I love too much, too quickly, too deeply. I knew that I would set eyes on my baby girl and never want to let her go. I’d told myself before that I’d decide for sure what to do with my little girl once she was born, but I was lying to myself. I knew I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t possibly not be this little girl’s mommy.

My due date came … and went. I was never one of those women who want to deliver early. I wanted my baby in for the full 40 weeks. But past 40 weeks? I knew I was going to be crabby until she came out. Being past due is perfectly normal, but I was a million percent sure of both the date of my last period and the day I’d gotten pregnant. I was done cooking.

I don't know what I expected on my due date, really. Trumpets and fanfare, maybe. The beginning of labor. A party. A phone call. A migraine. Anything. Nothing happened. Nothing was ever going to happen that day, and I knew it all along.

To take my mind off things, my mother took me to see the movie "Up." I wrote about that *here*. I'd expected a fun little cartoon but it turned out to be quite a tearjerker. I couldn't imagine how devastating it would be to get the news that Carl and Ellie got. That sort of shock should have pushed me towards adoption, but it had the opposite effect. My baby seemed more precious than ever, and I thought to myself that I simply couldn't bear it if I lost the one good thing I had going in my life.

And, I thought, how could anyone ever love my little girl as much as I did? I couldn't fathom it, so I pushed it from my mind.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Deep Thoughts, By Oprah Winfrey

I'm not usually an Oprah fan (although I do like the supercut of her shouting the names of various celebrities). But I do like this quote I found on-line that has been attributed to her: "Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother."

Not having heard Oprah actually speak those words, I can't vouch for the context. But I think it's a good addition to my collection of adoption quotes.

What are some of your favorite adoption (or adoption-related) quotes?