Saturday, February 27, 2010

March 2009, Part One

I kept adoption in the back of my mind, but I also started looking at baby names, keeping my options open. If I was honest with myself, I didn’t want to go with adoption. I wanted to keep my baby. And since I was in no rush to decide, I figured I might as well start looking at things from the keeping-the-baby point of view. In my forays into the birth mom support group, I’d gotten to know a birth mom who kept her baby for two weeks before placement. I told myself that I was allowed to follow her lead – if I didn’t want to make a decision until after the baby was born, that was okay. In the back of my mind I thought I might do what she had done.

In the meantime, I decided to take a break from LDSFS and from the whole adoption thing. When H asked me (via instant message) how I was feeling about things, I told him that, at the moment, I was leaning towards keeping the baby. H asked me to give the baby my last name, not his. “i would like mine to die out,” he wrote. He asked if I was getting things together to prepare for having a baby, and I told him I’d done a bit of sewing, and checked prices of furniture on-line. Most of the rest of our conversation was rubbish, including this little gem from H: “i smoked weed because it makes you feel AWESOME!!!”

We discussed potential custody arrangements and I got the impression that he would be mostly hands-off – coming to see me and the baby a few times a month, that sort of thing. I didn’t dwell on it too much, because I had enough to worry about without future hypotheticals in my head.

My baby was a kicker. Her little feet and fists were in constant motion, and I loved the feeling. I loved to go to Target and look at baby clothes and bedding. I bought a few tiny things – sleepers and Onesies and socks. I told myself that, even if I ended up placing my baby, I could use them someday, for another child. If I ever had another child. Privately I thought this pregnancy would likely be the only one I ever experienced (and I still think so, sometimes).

All I’d ever wanted out of life was to be a wife and mother. Obviously, I’d sort of skipped the former, but here was my shot at the latter. Was it so wrong? I felt like everyone around me thought that single parenting was a horrible mistake. It seemed like they wanted to make me feel bad for wanting to be a mother, and it angered me. I was a mess of hormones and more than once I cried myself to sleep, feeling bad not only for myself but for the precious baby in my belly whom no one seemed excited about.

Pregnancy was very lonely for me. I hated shopping alone for baby things. I hated going alone to doctor’s appointments. I hated the feeling that I was the only one who seemed to be happy that I was having a baby. As wonderful as my mother was, it wasn’t the same as having a husband. I started to wonder, to worry. Could I be enough for my sweet baby? Could I love her enough, take good enough care of her? I could be a good mother, but I was just one person. Would I be enough?

H continued to IM me on and off. In one conversation, he said that he had no problem showing an R-rated movie (Kill Bill) to a 12-year old. He said a few other things that worried me. I started to really consider what H’s influence might do to my baby. What sort of things would the baby be exposed to? What things would she hear? What fumes might she inhale? What would she see? What would she be taught about God and morals and right and wrong? It worried me.

The baby kicked more and more each day. My appointments, lonely as they were, went well, and I was assured I had a healthy baby. I wasn’t happy with my weight gain (my doctor wasn’t worried, but I was) so I added more fruits and veggies to my diet. I’ve never been a big fan of produce, but there wasn’t anything in the world I wouldn’t do for my baby. I ate apples and carrots and salad and drank more water than I ever have before. It felt good. I felt good. My baby was happy and healthy, and I still had months to think about what I was going to do with my little kicker.

Friday, February 26, 2010

And Then, Some Days ...

... I look at the latest Roo picture I have, and I think: She's healthy. She's happy. She has an eternal family. She is still perfect, the most perfect baby I have ever seen. She has an amazing family, a family I love.

I gave that to her - indirectly, of course. But the perfect, happy Roo who is sealed to her mommy and daddy, is perfectly happy because she is sealed to her mommy and daddy. Maybe she would have been just as happy with me.

But maybe she wouldn't have been. It's not a risk I was willing to take.

She is happy. I will be happy, too, even if I'm only happy for her.

I did a wonderful thing, and no matter how selfish I am sometimes, I was selfless enough when it really counted. I forget that sometimes. That no matter what else happens, I did something pretty amazing once, when it needed to be done. I can't count on other people to remind me, so I'll remind myself.

It doesn't matter if people don't like me. It doesn't matter if they think I'm stupid or mean or a freak or a loser. It doesn't matter what things people might say to me that hurt me or cut me down. I will build myself back up. I will think of Roo, and I will be strong. I am strong. I'm not going to worry if no one else ever says so or thinks so. I will say so. I will think so.

And someday I hope Roo will think so, too.

I love her.

Some Days ...

... it's all too much. Everything. Everything hurts. I feel like I just can't ... I don't know. I just can't.

I miss my baby. I miss the sweet newborn that was mine. I miss having her nap on my shoulder, hearing her soft breath and feeling her silky hair against my cheek.

I want to look at the older pictures of her, six albums' worth, and remember her ... but the sight of her sweet, perfect little face cuts me to the core. Because she is not mine. I grew her - those eyes, that chin, they're very much mine - and gave her life, and loved her and took care of her. And she is a stranger to me. A perfect, wonderful little stranger.

When I placed Roo, I gave her parents a notebook I'd filled with everything in the world there was to know about Roo. Her schedule, her habits, her temperament, her health. I was a Roo expert. I knew her better than I knew myself.

That honor belongs now to P and M. They are privileged to know the ins and outs of Roo - to know every little thing about her - the sound of her breath, the faces she makes, the bumps in her tiny teeth. I signed all that away.

I will never regret my decision. And yet ... I miss her. I miss her, and it hurts. She is not mine. She will never be mine again. That will never, ever change. Which is sort of horrible. With my dad's death, I grieved (and still grieve), but that was different. My father will never be any less dead or more dead than he is. Nothing about that will change.

Things with Roo will change. The grief began with a birth, not a death. She will learn and grow and become her own person. Her life will have ups and downs like everyone else's, and things will change. And I won't be around for any of it. I will be an observer, a witness to it all, but it will not be mine to share, to enjoy, to thank God for.

To be a birth mother is to experience the worst sort of unrequited love. I love Roo with every atom of every cell in my body. And she will never really love me back. Not in the way that she'll love her mother. Which is how it should be. I know that. I wanted that.

And yet ... it hurts. And I'm going to live with that pain for the rest of my life.

I'll do it, though. I'll do it for her.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm Not Proud of This ...

I'm really not. And I wonder if I'm going to get a lot of vitriol for voicing this. But my current blogging philosophy is that it's best to be completely honest about my feelings and experiences because trying to paint a pretty picture isn't going to help anyone.

I need to make something abundantly clear, first and foremost: I am NOT for one second referring to P and M in any part of this. They are, in my mind, what every adoptive couple should be in patience and attitude and love. None of what I have to say applies to them AT ALL. I love them more dearly than I can say and if anyone even so much as thinks anything unkind about them, I will beat that person up.

That said ...

Sometimes - rarely, really, but every now and then - I get irritated by the attitudes of some hopeful adoptive couples. There, I said it.

I don't get irritated by many of them, and as I said, it's something rare. I love adoption and I think it's heartbreaking how many wonderful couples can't have children the typical way. Heck, I've got two pages of links to adoptive couple blogs in the hopes that maybe I can play some small part in helping their birth moms find them.

I try to go through my link lists fairly regularly to make sure I don't have any bad or invalid links. For the most part, I like reading their blogs as well. It helps me to feel that I've made the right decision for my little Roo.

But every so often I'll read something in one or two of their blogs that just grates at me. There's no kind way to explain it - no way of putting it that will make me seem any less juvenile and petty and selfish.

It's something that I'm guilty of, myself, which makes me a hypocrite, and I am acutely aware of that. It's something that everyone is guilty of at some point in this adoption thing, and I certainly don't fault anyone for it. It's just sometimes I get sick of it.

Desperation.

I'm not going to pretend that I can even for a second imagine the agony of the seemingly interminable wait to be chosen. I've never been on that side of it, and I hope and pray that I never will. I feel I can relate a little to the insecurity, the doubt - why not me yet? What is it about me that has kept me from being picked? - because I am single with no love life to speak of, and although I'm probably going to get crap for saying this, I think there are certain similarities in being single and wanting to get married and in being approved and waiting to be chosen.

I'll duck for a moment to avoid the rotted fruit being tossed in my direction.

All done?

Good.

But therein lies some of my beef with why-haven't-we-been-picked-yet desperation. And let me state again, I know how cruel and insensitive this is going to sound, and I am not the least bit proud of myself. When I read that sort of thing on a blog, my knee-jerk reaction is, hey, folks, count your blessings. You've got each other. You're sealed to one another. You've got something, even if it's not exactly what you always planned. No, you don't have children, and maybe you never will. But you have each other, and you've been approved to adopt. You have been found worthy to be parents.

Birth moms never get that official seal of approval.

And birth moms rarely have birth fathers involved to be there with them, to share the burden and the pain. I don't have a good man by my side to say no, we don't have a baby, but we've got each other. In my case, I don't even have a father around for support.

As a single pregnant woman, there is nowhere you can go for validation - no one to tell you that they've looked into your finances and your emotional health and relationship skills and everything else and found you to be a perfectly acceptable mother. The attitude is so often the opposite - you were stupid enough to get into this mess. You can't even take control of your own life. What makes you think you could possibly be responsible for someone else's? No one will tell you that you will make an excellent mother and that any child would be lucky to be in your care.

I searched for that kind of validation during my pregnancy. I couldn't find a single soul who thought I should keep my baby. No one on earth, not even my own mother, thought I could be or do enough for my child. I was found lacking. Not only did my baby's father desert me, but those close to me, whom I loved and admired and respected, also felt I simply wasn't enough, nor could I ever be. Those who knew me best found me lacking.

Adoptive couples have relative strangers - adoption agencies, caseworkers - telling them they are wonderful people, that they've lived lives of example and responsibility, that they've made the very best choices and will be wonderful parents.

Birth mothers have people who know them through and through telling them their babies deserve better than to have them as a mom.

When I was pregnant, I remember hearing someone say that it wasn't fair that so many loving, wonderful couples couldn't have children. The person who said it went on to imply that, as a knocked-up skank, I owed such a couple a child - they deserved to be parents and I didn't. My attitude, once I'd gotten past my initial offense, was that no, it wasn't fair that these couples were childless. But you know what else wasn't fair? I was single. These couples had each other, at least. Whom did I have? No one. Just my baby. They had each other for eternity. I had no such guarantee. This might be the only child I ever had, my only chance at a family. Yeah, their lives were unfair. But you know what? Injustice abounds. And I don't owe anyone anything.

I was wrong about that last bit, of course. I owed Roo the best I could possibly give her, and once Heavenly Father made sure I knew that, and told me who her parents were supposed to be, I gave it to her.

My point is ... well, okay, I'm not sure I have one. I guess it would be to be grateful for what you've got, even if it's not what you thought you wanted. I've come to realize over the past few months that this time I have as a single adult is going to benefit me. I am going to enjoy it while it lasts. I am going to study and travel and organize my life so that when, God willing, the time comes that I do marry, and have children (or not - there are no guarantees) - I will be a better version of myself, better prepared to be a wife and mother. I want to be happy just as I am - single and childless and slightly chunky. I want to learn to be happy without a man. I want to be responsible for my own happiness, instead of waiting for someone to ride in on a white horse and do it for me.

I think that having that kind of attitude - that I'd be happy with, but I can be happy without - is going to make me more attractive to men, and I think that there are certain parallels in adoption.

A birth mom doesn't want to read that your life is miserable without children. She doesn't want to feel that your happiness hinges on a baby. The most appealing thing to a birth mother (in my opinion, anyway) is a couple who wants a baby very badly, but who are making the most of life without one because they know that it will happen when it's meant to happen, if it's meant to happen at all.

And now I'd like to apologize for being immature and petty and selfish and whiny and rude and inconsiderate. It's a bit of a departure for me (don't laugh) and it's not something I plan on revisiting. I just needed to get it out, and if you've made it this far, then God bless you, little buddy. Because this was quite a rant.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February 2009, Part Two

My sister came to visit over Valentine’s Day weekend.

We’d never gotten along very well, owing to the fact that when we shared a room during our formative years, I was exceptionally obnoxious and she was exceptionally strong-willed. We’d learned to play nice as we got older, but I suspected that had as much to do with her moving across the country as it did with any real maturity or understanding.

We’re five years apart – 4 years, 10 months and 2 days to be exact. It’s a difficult age difference for sisters, and I always got the impression that in my sister’s mind, I stopped aging or maturing at around age 13, when she left for college. I was stuck forever as the bratty little sister, and it was only in the last two or three times we’d seen each other that we actually started to enjoy each other’s company.
The visit went well, for the most part. We got along swimmingly, and I dreaded the announcement that I knew I had to make. In light of my sister’s recent fertility issues, I was especially anxious about sharing my news.

Each day of my sister’s visit my mother asked me when I was going to tell her. I told her not yet. How on earth do you begin such a conversation? I didn’t know, so I put it off again and again. Finally, the last day of her visit, I decided to spill. My mother, my sister and I went to my brother’s house for dinner. And after dinner, when we were all sitting around and talking, I finally blurted it out.

My heart was hammering faster than my baby’s, I swear. It was awful. I felt like I was saying some sort of expletive. The word “pregnant” felt dirty in my mouth. But everyone was so nice about it, and no one seemed too horribly disappointed.

My sister called her husband a few minutes later, to tell him, and she relayed the message, “He says to tell you we’ll adopt it,” only half-joking. Which was awkward. Then my mom called my brother in Canada to tell him. I wasn’t sure how he’d take the news, either. His wife was due with baby #4 just a few weeks after I was due.

It felt so nice not to hide things anymore, though – to not have to suck in my stomach or worry that someone would recognize my clothes as being from Motherhood Maternity. I still wasn’t sure about adoption, although I did tell my siblings that I’d met with a few couples, when they asked what I planned to do.

I wrote to H – a nice long letter, sort of an airing of grievances. I waited anxiously for his response. And waited, and waited. His inaction made me worry about what sort of future we would have together, and what sort of father he might be. And yet to place my baby for adoption just because of H … inconceivable.

I wrote this in my journal a few days later: “Part of me wishes I could be pregnant forever. As long as you're in my belly, you're mine. I wish you could always be mine.”

And the next day: “I can't even begin to describe how the thought of adoption makes me feel. It's like my heart is being ripped out. I can't bear it.

I spent a good portion of the day crying. Things went poorly with S, I haven't heard back from H and ... just a million little things. I've never felt so alone. I have nothing. How am I supposed to give up the one good thing I have in my life?

I wish I could keep my little banana baby inside me forever and never let her go. How am I supposed to let her go? To some other family, to be their daughter. Their parents and siblings will get to pick her up and play with her and love her and I won't. It kills me. I die.”

I didn’t get an e-mail response from H, but finally he contacted me via instant message. It wasn’t pretty.

He told me, “I pretty much realize that when you have this child, it's up to us to have a good friendship , because I don't feel I can ever be what you need in a relationship setting.”

Well, I thought, that would have been nice to know a few months ago.

(Aren’t you glad, dear reader, that I’ve saved all my Instant Messages?)

He didn’t have much useful to say after that – more excuses, things about how he was distancing himself to keep from getting hurt. Apparently it didn’t occur to him that his distance might cause me any hurt. The conversation devolved. He mentioned that he’d been a big baby despite his mother smoking throughout her pregnancy, and then made a remark I’m not even sure I should mention (so here’s your EXTREME TMI warning) to the effect that I should take a photograph of a rather personal place to show to my next boyfriend, because I would never be the same after I birthed his spawn.

My jaw just about hit the floor. I teared up. How could he be so crude, so flippant? My next several responses were monosyllabic while I gathered my composure. He asked if I was showing yet, and if it was “uncomfortable to walk yet, or just kinda like a fat chick at a mall?” We debated the efficacy of therapy (don’t ask) before he signed off, saying “ok, i'm getting tired, and, well, admitingly, drunk.”

End of conversation.

I wasn’t sure if he’d signed off yet, so I typed this out for him to see the next time he logged on:

you still there?
i'll take that as a no
well for the record, i'm still mad at you.
you treated me like crap for five months when i was really vulnerable and that's not easy to forgive.
and i've got ultrasound pictures but i don't feel like you deserve to see them because i still don't think you really care.
i just wanted to tell you that.
and you said you think you could be a good father but the fact that you were drinking while having this conversation with me says otherwise.
so ... yeah. i think that's it.

The next night he messaged me again, telling me that he didn’t think his drinking had anything to do with what kind of father he could be. He said he had poor stress-handling mechanisms or something like that, and I pointed out that children can be stressful. He didn’t see the connection. I gave up trying to explain it.

The month ended and I was no closer to a decision, or to any answers, than I’d been the month before. I was getting tired and depressed and my patience with H was wearing thin. I wasn’t sure what to do about him. I wasn’t sure what had happened with the papers he’d been served with. But I’d survived another month of pregnancy, and I decided that was something to celebrate.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Really, Really Need This

Oh, Mrs. R. You kill me, you know that? I think I will actually cry when I don't win this giveaway.

You know what it is this time? I can't even believe it. It's a blog makeover! Click *here* and check it out.

I've been saving my pennies for months now trying to get the money for some kind of pretty blog makeover. I would be happy verging on obnoxiousness if I won this. This blog post counts as an entry for me. Oh, I'd love to win. The only thing I can remember winning in my entire life is a New Year's raffle. And the prize was a Spice Girls cassette tape. Their SECOND album. I still know all the words to "Spice Up Your Life."

I just wish I could spice up my blog!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Time

I love Wolfram Alpha. You can type in the most random things and get information - anything from a math problem to the meaning of life (42, of course!).

One of the things you can do is type in a date, and it will tell you all sorts of interesting things about it - famous birthdays, the phase of the moon, what day and week of the year it was.

I typed in Roo's birthday. 7 months, 10 days ago. 32 weeks 1 day. 225 days, 161 of which were weekdays. The moon was full.

Just for the heck of it, I typed in September 9, 2009 - placement day. So I know that it has been 5 months and 8 days. 23 weeks. 161 days, 115 of which were weekdays.

Sort of bittersweet for me. I wanted something happier. So I entered December 12, 2009. Roo has been part of an eternal family for 2 months and 5 days. 9 weeks and 4 days. 67 days, 48 of which were weekdays. What a wonderful thing!

Since I received my temple endowment: 12 days. 1 week, 5 days. 8 weekdays, waning gibbous moon.

Wouldn't it be nice if Wolfram could count forward, too? Tell me how many days, weeks, months until the blessings will come. If I could only type in "marry eternal companion" and have it down - waxing crescent moon, 7 months 4 days, 31 weeks, 5206 hours.

But then, I think sometimes it's best not to know. Things happen when they happen - on God's time, not ours. Sometimes the best you can do is roll with it, and have faith that good things are coming, and that they'll come when they come.

Monday, February 15, 2010

February 2009, Part One

I heard from H via instant message – he’d been served. Frankly, I was glad the process server people had finally tracked him down. The waiting was starting to irritate me.

He made a few excuses for ignoring me for a while, but his excuses only served to irritate me. I found that I had a lot less patience with him than I had before. Before, it was just me, and if he hurt my feelings, fine. But now I had my little berry-sized baby to think about. I was no longer the only one being slighted, and I wasn’t going to tolerate it.

H sent me an instant message a few hours later. Did I know what I was having? I told him I hadn’t found out yet, but that I expected to at my next appointment. He said he was going to write me a long e-mail soon explaining some of his behavior to me – it never came, and he had more excuses.

The next day, at S’s suggestion, I met with another of the couples I’d liked on-line. My feeling at that time was that, if I chose adoption, I would go with the first couple I met. So you can imagine my surprise at finding I liked the second couple just as much as the first. They were wonderful people, and I wished I could give a baby to them as well as to the first couple.

I decided I wasn’t even going to meet the third couple, because if it was this hard to choose between two couples, how on earth was I going to choose between three?
And yet, when I really stopped to think about it, I realized that part of my problem was becoming that I didn’t feel really, really good about either couple. I was trying to decide which couple felt the least wrong to me, and I wasn’t sure what to make of that.

I sent H an instant message a few days later. I wanted to know his blood type, since I’m Rh negative. If he was Rh negative, too, I’d be in the clear, but if he was positive, I was going to need a shot to keep my blood from messing with the baby’s blood. So I asked H what his blood type was, and he told me it was either gravy or Miller Lite, depending on the day. I resigned myself to getting a Rhogam shot and decided not to push the issue.

I had dinner with the first couple I met. I liked them even more but I didn’t feel ready to make a decision yet. I had hoped that a second meeting would make the decision easier, but I felt more confused than ever. I prayed for guidance but didn’t have any strong feelings one way or the other.

I had my ultrasound to look forward to, at least. I knew somehow that my baby was a girl, but I couldn’t be certain until I’d been told by someone who knew what to look for. The days before my appointment were interminable. I wanted so badly to get a glimpse of the little invader in my belly.

It was marvelous! Every little part was perfectly formed and in place – although how the ultrasound tech could tell one tiny blob from another was beyond me. But everything was perfect, right down to the teeny-tiny profile of my baby girl. The ultrasound tech asked me what I thought I was having, and I was rather smug when I was proven right. However, my little spud was stubborn and wouldn’t get into a position where all four chambers of her heart were visible at once, so I got another scan scheduled for 10 days hence. I didn’t care much about that – my baby was healthy and happy, and I had pictures to prove it!

One of my first thoughts on finding out my baby was a girl was that the second couple I’d met with had a little boy already, and how nice it would be if they had a little girl, too. But the next day, when my mother discussed adoption with me again, I had a mini-meltdown. The ultrasound had made it very real. My pregnancy felt more and more real by the day, and while I had been able to consider giving up a baby who was mostly theoretical, the idea of giving up a very real baby hurt me down to my DNA.

I told myself I didn’t have to think about it just yet, because I had another hurdle to jump. I had to tell my brothers and sister that I was pregnant, and I couldn’t put it off much longer.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Desperate (to be a) Housewife

I was going through the pictures folder on my computer and I came across this:



I know it's sort of cheesy, but I can identify. I've never been an overly ambitious person. Well, maybe not never. When I was six I wanted to be an astrophysicist and an opera singer. But as I grew older I set different goals. I didn't dream of being a lawyer or an actress or a therapist or a writer. My aims were simple. I wanted to get married, and I wanted to be a mother.

Maybe I should be ashamed of it, but the truth is that I never cared if I got a Ph.D or made a lot of money or did anything big to change the world. I've always thought that a 4-year degree might be nice, but I never felt like it was a priority. Money? Sure, money's nice, but I think the Beatles were on to something - money can't buy what's most important.

And now that I've been out of school and work for over a year, I find it difficult to focus in on what I want. What should I do with my life? It's hard to say. Because I don't really want to go back to school, and I don't really want to work. I want to be a mother.

Before you leave me a comment about how I need to keep busy in the meantime, know that I am acutely aware of the importance of a mother having an education, and a job skill to fall back on. I know all that; it's not news to me. The problem is that I just don't have the burning desire or the motivation to better myself in those ways. I'm so well-rounded I should have my own orbit. I have an associate's degree. I have a cosmetology license. I'm a notary. I'm a blogger. I play the piano. I've studied psychology, philosophy, sociology, English, Spanish, and public speaking. I am, by all accounts, an accomplished and intelligent young woman. I'm not bragging here, I'm stating facts. I have learned to be responsible, and mature, and selfless, and organized, and keep a house. I've worked hard to hone the kinds of skills that will benefit me most as a wife and a mother. I'd like to put them into practice, that's all.

I wish I knew when.

Alone

Rant alert!

Two things I am really, really sick of that I see more and more of lately:

1) Girls who are 19, 20, and 21 years old complaining about how they're sick of being single and how they "never" date, and

2) Girls who are 19, 20, 21 years old getting married.

Honestly, wait a few more years before you start complaining and getting bitter. Plus, most of the ones who say they “never” date have actually been on some dates, sometimes, which still beats me. I am one of those statistics that used to irritate me – I got pregnant when I wasn’t dating. H and I were quote-unquote hanging out at the time.

Actually, there are three things I am really, really sick of, and here's the third:

3) Men who are my age – 26, 27, 28, and older – only befriending, hanging out with, and dating girls who are 19, 20, 21 years old.

I have a number of theories about this but none of them are very flattering to men in general so I'm opting not to share them.

And please don't comment to tell me that *I* shouldn't complain about being single either, since I'm only 26 and there are older women who are still single and would certainly enjoy being married as well.

And I KNOW that having pity parties about my marital status isn't a great way to attract men. Which is why I'm going to shut up about it now. I just needed to vent. Thanks for reading, and I promise I'll return to more relevant material soon.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's the Little Things

P and M are amazing.

They always seem to know when I need a picture. How do they always seem to know?

I'm glad they do. It made my day today.

January 2009 – Depression, Indecision, Adoption

I realized on New Year’s Day that I was going to have a baby this year! A 2009 baby. My due date seemed closer than it had the day before. Previously, I’d think to myself that I was having a baby next year. Now it was next year.

And, overnight, I looked pregnant. I’d gone from being flabby on December 31st to having a little pregnant belly pop out on January 1st. I was loathe to transition to maternity jeans so soon, but I did it, and they were the most comfortable pants I’ve ever worn.

I was a bit nervous about my popped-out belly, though. The only people who knew I was pregnant were my mother, my therapist, and my bishop. I’d decided not to tell anyone else until the risk of miscarriage was past. Suddenly, I was in my second trimester, and I felt woefully unprepared to share the news with anyone. My mother began to ask me more regularly when I planned on telling my brothers and sister. I didn’t want to think about it. I became horribly, cripplingly depressed. I was convinced that I would make an absolutely horrible mother – but I also couldn’t stomach the thought of anyone else raising my precious baby. I didn’t know what to do or when to do it, and I wanted to take back the past year of my life.

I began to consider adoption more strongly. I found three or four couples that I felt pretty good about. I sent them a few questions and liked their responses. I told S about them. We looked at their profiles together one night after group, and a few birth moms hung around and looked at them, too, giving their opinions, which made me really uncomfortable. But adoption seemed a bit more palatable than it had in the past, which terrified me. I wrote this in my journal:

“How can I give up my baby? It goes against nature. How am I supposed to just pick some strangers to raise my baby as their own? I don't know if I can do it.
How can I do this? How can I possibly do this impossible thing I know I have to do?
I don't know. I'm glad I've got time.”

Then, the next day, “Every time I think I've got my mind made up once and for all I change it, or I second-guess myself, or I just get anxious.”

My sister was planning to visit in mid-February and I decided to tell my siblings then exactly how bad I’d screwed up my life. In the meantime, I didn’t hear from H. I figured he’d probably been served, and that was why he’d been silent. But then, I thought, wasn’t he at least angry? Shouldn’t he at least have something angry to say to me? Once more, H’s inaction left me feeling crushed.

I tried to find solace at the birth mom group, but there were a few birth moms who dominated every conversation every week. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, and my forced silence hurt me more than I can say. I felt unimportant, and I left in tears on more than one occasion, frustrated that no one seemed to notice I didn’t have a chance to say a word.

I still met with S, and we decided that it was time for me to meet with a few of the couples I’d selected from the LDSFS website. I was super nervous and not entirely certain how I felt about adoption, but I didn’t know what else to do. I arranged to meet the first couple towards the end of January.

I loved them right away. I was nervous, but they soon put me at ease, and we had tons in common. They emphasized many times that if I chose them, my health and happiness as a birth mom were as important to them as how the baby was doing. They were charming and intelligent and easy to talk to. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to meet another couple. How could anyone else measure up to these great people? But days later, I was unsure again. My heart and mind were both a mess. As my baby grew, so did my indecision.

The next time I was to meet with S, I went at the usual time and instead of the usual wait in the waiting room, S came and got me rather quickly.

"We've got some baby daddy drama," she said.

We went back into the main reception office area where my file was open and a lady seated at a computer was on the telephone. It turned out that the process server people had tried to serve H on nine separate occasions. Nine! They had even tried at the main office of his company. I explained that he worked at a different office. I found the address and gave them his work schedule. I was more determined than ever to have him served. I felt like he was being intentionally difficult, and it made me angry.

Group that night was two married birthmothers. I was hoping that hearing from women who'd been through it and met decent men would help me, but knowing that four and six years later these women still wept thinking about their experiences made me feel like I couldn't go through with it. One of the women had a 5-month old girl and the other was six or so months pregnant with a girl. She had the cutest little round belly. This one was her third with her husband of four years. I was jealous. I was depressed.

I was still unsure about the couple I’d met, but I had liked them very much. S suggested meeting with another couple, if for no other reason than to cement my choice of the first couple. I agreed.

This strange little part of me hoped that H would file his paperwork and keep me from placing so I could keep my baby. In the back of my mind, I knew that if that happened, it would mean H would still be in my life. I pushed that thought aside and focused on meeting the second couple I’d liked.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Seven Months Old

My little Roo is seven months old today! I love her so much. I miss her.

I'm probably not going to have a visit for a while. I've decided I'm okay with that. My mother is fond of reminding me that that which does not kill me, makes me stronger. I've always liked to correct her, citing ample evidence from my life to prove that that which does not kill me, makes me wish it had. (I've also coined the phrase, "This, too, shall pass, like a kidney stone.) But I've found that there's no point in worrying about things that are beyond my control. Not to say that I don't still worry about them, but I try not to, because nothing ever comes of it but more worry.

Roo has the very best parents, she really does. I know that everything they do for her they do because it's in her best interest. I guess what I've grown to hate is that, since Roo was born, the things that are in her best interest and the things that are in my b est interest seem mutually exclusive. It seems grossly unjust, and there are days where every breath I draw is a battle to reconcile myself to that perpetual, seemingly permanent injustice. It stings.

Although I can easily recognize the hand of God in my precious baby's life, it seems particularly cruel that I - the one who grew her and carried her and gave her life and cared for her as I've never cared for anyone before - will play no part in her upbringing, something that defies biology and instinct and every atom of every cell in my body. Though I will be a part of her life, however small, she will never in a million years appreciate how deeply I love her. It is the worst sort of unrequited love.

I'm getting maudlin and broody. I don't mean to sound so despairing or melancholy. My feelings of sadness today were brief and passing. I have felt joy and peace more deeply since going to the temple than I ever have before in my entire life. I don't think I've been unhappy for more than about fifteen minutes total since I left the temple. I know that temple attendance does not make life perfect or without trial. But it helps, and it has made such a difference for me!

I am eternally grateful to my Father in Heaven for entrusting His precious daughter to me - for trusting me to take care of her developing physical body and to find the family He meant her for. I am thankful for those nine weeks I had to be her mommy. In placing her, I was able to give her an eternal family. As a birth mom, one of the hardest things to come to terms with is that the only way you can give your child what you want for them is to give them to someone else. Although I like to think that I gave them to her, and not the other way around. I couldn't give her what I wanted most for her by being her mommy. I think I'm finally okay with that. Roo is where she was meant to be. There isn't a doubt in my mind that P and M are supposed to be her parents. And I'm okay with that, too. I'm happy about it. And so is Roo.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

December 2008, Part Three

I met with S again. I told her I wanted to have H served. He wanted me to make up my mind? He was going to have to wait. And if he wasn’t going to be kind or supportive in the meantime, to heck with him.

I told S about looking at couple profiles, and about how I hadn’t felt any divine inspiration. At group I heard birth moms talk about the warm fuzzy feelings they had, and how they just knew when they saw their couple’s profile that they’d chosen right, and all sorts of other maudlin and sometimes nauseating clich├ęs and hearts-and-flowers stories. I told S that I hadn’t felt that with any of the couples I’d seen. They seemed nice enough, sure. But there had been no heavenly choirs, no pillars of light.

She said that was normal, and that despite what I might have heard at group, she didn’t know any birth mom who’d had instant warm fuzzies. They all started off picking a few couples they liked, narrowing down the list, and meeting with them. I felt better after that. But I still didn’t feel 100% that adoption was the right decision.

My appetite was spotty, and my temper was all over the place. My brain was a thick swamp of hormones and hunger-crabbiness, and it was hard to think clearly about the right decision for my baby. I went back and forth on adoption like a tennis ball at Wimbledon. I was getting fatter, which depressed me because I lost weight after my dad died and I’d gotten down to a respectable size 12 when I got pregnant. I told myself that at the very least, if I went with adoption, the grief of losing my baby might equal my grief at losing my father, and I’d grieve myself back down to a smaller size.

That seemed like a bad way to decide on my baby’s future – a future I’d begun to wonder about more and more. What sort of person would my little Strawberry be? What would she (I always knew it was a she) do with those tiny fingers she was growing? Play an instrument? Throw a baseball? Write novels? My pregnancy hadn’t seemed completely real to me in the past. My therapist said I was detached. I didn’t feel it. Where once I had hoped to miscarry, with each day that passed I became more and more alarmed at the possibility of a miscarriage. The thought of losing my precious little fetus was unbearable. I took care of myself better than I ever had before.

I got a “Merry Christmas” text from H. I wasn’t sure what to think about that. My head knew, but my heart was confused. The part of me that still loved him wasn’t ready to completely shut him out. That part of me still wanted him around; wanted him to step up and be supportive and mature. I texted him back. He didn’t reply. I wept.

S texted me on New Year’s Eve telling me she’d given H’s information to the process server people. I watched a “Twilight Zone” marathon and brooded. I’d wasted so much of the past year! I wanted to take it all back, never have met H, spent more time with my father. I missed my dad so much! It seemed impossible for me to get through everything without him here. The past four months felt like years. How was I supposed to get through the next year without my daddy?

And how would my precious baby get by without a wonderful daddy like I’d had? The thought pained me. A little girl needs her daddy. But I was also pained at the thought of carrying this baby and then handing her to strangers. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I only hoped that the next few months would provide me with a few answers.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Oh, and by the way ...

I'm going to the temple tomorrow!

Today, actually, since it's after midnight. I am super excited! I'll be in the 5:00 session and I am counting down the hours.

I don't expect miracles or perfection in my life after I've been to the temple. But I anticipate a little bit more peace, a little bit more clarity. I'm looking forward to it. Peace and clarity are two things I feel I've been lacking of late.

I would never be where I am today if I hadn't placed my little Roo with her family. I am where I am because of P and M and their love for me and prayers on my behalf. I never, ever worry about Roo. I know she is happy and that she has the best parents in the world.

Eternity, here I come!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

December 2008, Part Two

I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday, the 15th. I was excited because the doctor was supposed to be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat. If she couldn’t, she’d do a quick ultrasound to check. I prayed that my belly fat would muffle my baby’s heartbeat so I could get a scan. I desperately wanted a picture of my little Strawberry Shortcake. I wanted it for me. And to take to group to show off, and to shove in H’s face to see if it would make him grow up.

I told H about the appointment. I invited him to come. I didn’t want our relationship to have ended the way we’d left things at the end of November. It had been too cruel, too abrupt. H, I decided, needed another chance. I wanted him there. He said he’d try to come. Our only contact for weeks had been the occasional text from him asking whether I’d decided yet what to do. Was I going to place my baby for adoption or single parent? I told him that a decision of this magnitude was going to take time, and that when I decided, he’d be the first to know. The Saturday before my appointment H still seemed to be planning on going to the doctor with me. I thought that maybe things would work out between us after all. Maybe he really did love me, and he hadn’t just said so because of the baby.

Two hours before the appointment, H sent me a text message. He had some important meeting at work (on his day off) and he wouldn’t be at the appointment. I cried for a moment. Then I got angry. The man didn’t want to hear his own child’s heartbeat. What was wrong with him? “I think I hate him,” I wrote in my journal.

My mother took me to see my OB-GYN. God bless my flabby stomach. I got an ultrasound. My mom was in the room with me, and when she saw the screen, she wept. I looked back and forth from the screen to the wand on my belly. There was a baby on the screen, and the wand was on me, so … mentally, I tried to make the connection that the baby on the screen was actually growing inside my body. It felt unreal – and yet, my pregnancy felt more real just then than it ever had before

The baby was kicking and twisting and wiggling like nothing I’d ever seen before. I didn’t know babies moved around so much at 12 weeks. I got a printout of my baby – a distinct tiny skull, and a blur of limbs and torso. I took a picture of the scan with my phone’s camera, and sent it to H, with the caption “the round thing on the right is the head.”

No response.

H was going to ignore me? Fine. I’d just have LDSFS serve him with paperwork and be done with him. If he wasn’t willing to change I didn’t want him in my life, or in the baby’s. Adoption seemed a more feasible option than it had before. It had been on my mind for a bit, and I’d browsed through adoptive couple profiles. A few of them danced through my mind as I waited from a response from H. None of them felt right, but I thought to myself that if my baby’s parents were out there somewhere, I was going to find them eventually.

I also decided that, dominant genes be darned, my baby was going to have my blue eyes and auburn hair, instead of brown eyes and hair like H (much to my delight, she did in fact take after me). I told myself I was better off without him.

Hours later, I got a text from H in response to my latest Tweet. After a bit of useless banter I asked him if he’d gotten the picture I sent earlier. He said he hadn’t.. I was irked. My phone said “delivery successful” after I sent him the picture. He said his phone was stupid sometimes and lost pictures. He didn’t ask what the picture was, and he didn’t ask me to resend it. Highly suspect, all. But what could I do? He also didn’t ask anything about the appointment – how it went or what had happened.

I thought about resending the picture but changed my mind. I wasn’t going to force things. If H wanted pictures or information, he could bloody well ask for them. A day or two later he asked if I’d made up my mind yet. I told him no, and that it might take me six more months to decide. A few days later we made tentative plans to go out to dinner. They never materialized.

I hated myself then. I was full of an intense self-loathing at my past behavior, and at the man I chose to give myself too. I would have given anything to be rid of the guilt and disgust that overwhelmed me. I clung then to the thought of my sweet, precious baby. I looked at the ultrasound picture fifteen or twenty times a day. It kept me going.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

December 2008, Part One

I told H (read about it here). He wasn’t thrilled, which I can’t say surprised me any. He’d mentioned several months ago that he had no interest in ever having children. I went to LDSFS again to talk to S, and although I enjoyed visiting with her, I wrote in my journal that I definitely felt more pressure to adopt this time, which irked me.

The pregnancy itself was going well enough. I didn’t throw up once, despite severe and persistent nausea. I was ravenous most of the time but not many things were palatable. I could eat probably five or six different things, and I ate so much of them so often that I can’t eat most of them today. I was exhausted all the time and desperately looked forward to the second-trimester energy surge I’d read about.

At S’s suggestion, I agreed to go to the birth mom support group. The first week I went happened to be the week they were going out to eat at Oregano’s, to celebrate a few recent placements. It was awkward, because I hadn’t even decided what I was going to do with, and because I was one of only two pregnant women there – everyone else had placed. The other pregnant woman (I’ll call her G) was due in April. I felt sorely out of place. Everyone else seemed to know each other. I don’t have the most developed social skills in the world. I found myself wanting very much to go home. Finally, one birth mom turned her attention to me. She asked me all sorts of invasive personal questions, and everyone listened in as I answered. I was encouraged by at least four people to go on-line and look at adoptive couple profiles. But the food is good, and I got along well enough with G.

The nice thing, of course, was that for a few hours I’d been surrounded by women who had been through what I was going through, who knew what I’d done and weren’t going to judge me for it because they’d done it too. That was comforting, and although I didn’t feel any sort of kinship with anyone, I didn’t have any friends or confidantes, so I decided I’d attend group the next week as well. I didn’t want to let S down. She’d been so kind to me.

I went to group again. There was supposed to be a speaker, but he canceled, so we all just visited. It was nice on one level – to be once more surrounded by people who weren’t going to judge me, people who knew what I was going through. But at the same time, I looked at the two women who’d placed a month ago. Both of them absolutely lit up when they talked about their babies. They lived for pictures and visits and updates. They talked about them a lot. Would that be me, too, if I chose placement? Living my life waiting for another picture, another letter? All I’d ever wanted was to be a mommy, and this was my chance. Once more I shoved adoption into the back of my mind, and I concentrated on taking care of myself and my strawberry-sized baby.