Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My Hospital Experience


Those three days I spent in the hospital after Noah was born via c section were painful and very confusing, especially for someone who was overwhelmed with so much emotion it was hard to feel each one completely.  I was happy, sad, scared, and shocked, but how was I supposed to feel each emotion?  I was in a state of numbness, honestly.

My sweet boy was placed in the NICU because there was a little bit of water in his lungs, he was breathing too fast.  That was so scary, because I was unable to leave my room to see him there since I had just come out of surgery.  I just wanted to spend more time with him, but it was about him, not me.  He needed to be there to get better.

The day after Noah was born, family and friends came to see Noah and fell in love.  He had to have been the most beautiful baby in the hospital (biased, of course).  I had a million pictures of Noah the night he was born but none after.  This is a hard thing to accept and my biggest regret.  I wish I had spent more time with him in the hospital.  It would have been easier if he was born naturally but because I had surgery and he was 3 floors up from me in the special care unit, it took a team of nurses for us to get to each other.

I went up to see him on my 2nd day, because that was the day I was able to leave the surgical floor.  My mom and sister were with me....he looked different.  I have felt this way every time I have seen him since, why can't time stop?  Why can't he stay the way he was when I first laid eyes on him?  I guess that's how life works.  When I saw him, I was so overwhelmed.  How could I love someone so much?  It seemed impossible.   I went to see him again the 3rd day, this time alone.  I knew that this was going to be our last visit alone together for a while.

When I walked over to him lying in his bed, his eyes opened.  I will cherish that moment forever because that was the first time I saw his brown eyes wide open staring at me, it was like he knew me.  He did know me.  I was the mother who carried him for nine months.  He heard me cry.  He heard me laugh.  He heard me tell stories to him.  He knew who I was.



After that visit, the next time I went to the special care unit was to place him in his parents arms in the Entrustment Ceremony we had planned.  We wanted this moment to be special.  A beautiful prayer and poem were said by a counselor we had known.  I only remember how beautiful it was because I had looked over it before it was said.  While this woman was reading it, my face was against Noah's sobbing.  I knew Noah deserved a family and they were the most amazing people.  I placed him in their arms then actually calmed down.  I talked with the A parents for 20 minutes like we were old friends then left.

I am so glad that I left Noah's room feeling like that instead of crying.  I knew how happy Noah was going to be, and that gave me so much peace.

Lots of Love,

Erin


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The "What Ifs"

      I am approaching a milestone (at least in my eyes).  My birth daughter is going to be turning 5 next month.   That is 5 years of watching her grow up from afar, and 5 years of missing out on things.   It also marks 5 years of a wonderful friendship with her adoptive family, and five whole years of growth for me.

     If you can't tell, the month before my birth daughters birthday always leaves me feeling a bit sentimental.  This year in particular though, I am really focusing on the "what ifs."  You know what they are.  Thinking about if things could have been different.

     In the beginning, I often wondered what life would have been like had I not made an adoption plan.  I often dreamed of ways that I could have made it work as a single mom coming out of an abusive relationship with a toddler and a newborn.  I thought of things that I should have done, and things that I could have done differently.  Especially in the month between my daughter's birth and the court date that terminated my parental rights, the “what ifs” were very strong.


     Now, though, 5 years past my adoption placement, I have a different set of “what ifs.”  Now, when I think about what life would have been like if I hadn't placed, I am saddened.  Not because of my placement, but because I can't picture my life being any more perfect than it is right now.  If I had never placed, there's no saying that my husband would be my husband.  He is a wonderful man who took on the responsibility of raising my young daughter, when he absolutely didn't have to.   However, I wonder if taking on the responsibility of a toddler and a newborn, all while still forging a new relationship would have been too much for us.

     I also wonder if I would have been given the employment opportunities that I have had.  I worked full time for several years after my placement, and was referred to the company by my birth daughter's dad who also works there. It provided me with financial security, which I had not had for several years.   It gave us the funds necessary to pay for our wedding, and then purchase our first home.

      I do suppose that everything could have worked out exactly as it did had I not placed, but I am doubtful of that.  My adoption placement served as a springboard that led to many amazing things happening in my life.  So for this birthday, instead of focusing on the incredible sadness that was my hospital experience and the weeks following it, I am going to think of all the ways that my life went right after I placed.   I am going to think of my youngest daughter, and how if it weren't for my adoption decision, she likely would not exist.   I am going to think of the wonderful experiences that my oldest daughter has been able to have, that I likely wouldn't have been able to afford if I hadn't placed my middle child.  And I am going to think of my marriage and how God blessed me with the exact man that I needed at the exact same time that I wasn't expecting to need him.

What have been some of your “what if” thoughts, and how have you been able to get past them?



Photo Credit    

Monday, February 8, 2016

Quote of the Week: Butterfly


"Just when the caterpillar
thought the world was over, 
she became a butterfly." 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Preparation

I was prepared. I was ready for everything that I have encountered in the last several years, from my placement, to my wedding, to my pregnancy after my placement. I researched, I reflected, I weighed the pros versus the. cons in every decision that I made. I knew that I would be sad, and I knew that I would feel fulfilled, and I knew that in the end I would have happiness.

Until I wasn't prepared.

The hard thing about life is that no matter how ready you think you are for something, reality smacks you in the face. This reality came to me after my youngest child was born. My husband and I had planned her from the beginning. She had a beautiful room in the house that we had purchased, our families were ecstatic, and I could hardly wait to finally have a baby that I would be able to bring home. The weeks flew (OK, they dragged) by and before we knew it we were at the hospital getting ready to have a baby.

My enthusiasm gave way to exhaustion somewhere around hour 17 of a 24 hour labor, but when it came time to deliver my daughter, I was able to complete the task. We were elated and completely in love. Life was wonderful.

Until it wasn't.

Several hours after her birth nurses discovered that my daughter wasn't doing as well as we had thought. This led to an emergency ambulance transport, a NICU stay, and me leaving the hospital with empty arms, yet again.

I think this is where it started for me, the anxiety. It got worse when my daughter got home. All I could think about was losing her. I was overwhelmed by a crippling fear of something terrible happening and losing my motherhood all over again. I would hardly sleep, spending my nights watching over her, making sure that she never missed a breath. When my daughter would cry, I would tremble, clenching my hands, and pacing through the room. I would do my best to please her as quickly as possible, but at times it just seemed impossible. I would find myself in the middle of a room, crying, hyperventilating, knowing what to do, but being unable to do it.

I realized that I had a problem when I quit leaving my house. I would take my baby to the grocery store when it was absolutely necessary, and I found myself wrapping her tightly to my chest in a baby carrier, never willing to risk a disaster, regardless of how small the gamble was. I was on constant alert, viewing the world as one dangerous situation after another.

After a particularly rough week, I made an appointment with a psychologist. When I left my first meeting with her, I brought something with me; a diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I was shocked. I have never been to war, I have never seen death, I have never been a victim of sexual assault, I don't fit the mold of someone who would suffer from PTSD. At least that's what I thought until she told me that many birth mothers suffer from this, usually after it is triggered by a life event (like the birth of a child). I have an incredible open adoption, and I have never once regretted my decision. However, the experience of placing a child was most definitely a trauma and I've come to see that it will continue to influence me for the duration of my life.


The great news is that PTSD is can be treated quite effectively with talk therapy. During my sessions (and outside of them), I worked hard with my therapist to rewire the way that my brain perceived things. It was difficult and it took a lot of work, but as time went by I became more outgoing and less fearful. After “graduating” from counseling I have been able to resume all of my previous activities. I enjoy going out to places and no longer view the world as one enormous accident waiting to happen.

I guess that what I'm trying to say by sharing this, is that if you ever are feeling like I felt, it is not your fault. It doesn't mean that you made the wrong choice by choosing adoption and it certainly doesn't mean that you did something faulty. I worry that other birth moms feel the way that I felt and don't get the help that they need. Adoption can be a wonderful thing for some, but it is also overwhelmingly difficult, and there is no shame in needing help, no matter how long ago your placement was. I received counseling for PTSD over 3 years after my adoption. I had no signs prior to the birth of my youngest child. I was secure in my decision, and happy with my life. I had everything going for me, and was ready for anything that life was going to throw at me.

Until I wasn't.


 Has adoption affected you in ways that you never anticipated? What are they, and how have you been able to work through them?   

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

My Labor Experience

I gave birth to Noah on November 23, 2014 at 11:10 p.m. 

I was 23 so I was not too young, but I hadn't fully accepted the fact that I pregnant.  Although I was 23, I was still sheltered growing up so I never thought something like this would happen to me unless I was ready.  Let me back that up with saying that having Noah is the best thing I have ever done, but I wish I was under different circumstances when I had him.

My mom was in critical condition in the hospital for 2 months while I was pregnant, then was in the hospital for another 2 months learning how to walk again, so my mind was elsewhere and I didn't have much time to really soak in the idea that I was going to be having a baby boy in just a couple months.

Because Noah was such a chub, we ended up scheduling for me to be induced at 40 weeks with pitocin.  I asked my dad not to be in the room because I didn't want him to see me in labor.  My dad was so supportive throughout my pregnancy and the decision of adoption, but I knew that I had disappointed him getting pregnant before being married.  I love my dad but I didn't want him to see the vulnerability of me going through the process of pushing my baby out.  Honestly, I even had my mom leave the room when I began having contractions because I just wanted to be alone.  At this point, I wasn't sad, mad, or anything really.  I was numb because I did not take the time to truly bond with my sweet boy while I was pregnant.  I had mapped out a perfect plan previous to him being born so that I would not be on the same floor as him because I knew it would be too difficult.  I went all routes to ensure I would not feel pain (what did I know?).

I spent all day on the 23rd watching Netflix and sneaking in some goldfish.  I couldn't help it! How did they expect a hormonal pregnant woman to not eat for THAT long?! Haha.  Around me being 4 cm dilated, I gave it up and got the epidural.  By the way...best invention ever.  Not long after, they measured me and I was dilated 6 inches.  Things were going well!  Unfortunately, I didn't dilate much after 5 hours so my OBGYN recommended a C section.  While this was all going in, the A parents were on their way in from out of town (going through a tornado on the way...stressful much?).  They actually got into the hospital 10 minutes before I was rolled into the surgery room.  I know they were so scared and nervous!  I had told my mom going in that her job was the photographer and not to worry about me.  I wanted to make sure that the adoptive parents had a ton of photos to look at and felt like they were there.  I would have allowed the A mom into the delivery room if they allowed two, but unfortunately most hospitals only allow one..and I needed my mom.

So I won't give you all the details of the C section besides me having a minor anxiety attack before Noah was born.  I was just so scared and nervous with all these doctors hovering over me and just wanted to make sure Noah was going to be okay.  So at 11:10, Noah was born!! He didn't cry immediately...10 hours later (20 seconds) he finally cried! Sweetest sound I had ever heard.  My mom brought him over but I told her I didn't want to see him yet because I was drifting in and out (I think the sedation had me going in and out of consciousness).  I wanted to remember that precious moment forever.  Five long minutes later, my mom brought him over and we looked at each other for the first time.  He was stretching those lungs but when my mom brought him over and he touched my chest, he stopped crying completely and smiled.  Never have I felt love like that!!  He is and forever will be the light of my life.


Lots of Love,

Erin
   **Next week comes part 2: The Hospital Experience (After Labor)**


Monday, February 1, 2016

Quote of the Week: Hope Whispers

"Whenever we begin to feel as if we can no longer go on, hope whispers in our ear to remind us that we are strong." 
- Robert M. Hensel

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Birthfather's Family

When Noah and I first locked eyes
(To this day I have never felt love like that)
I found out a couple months ago that Noah's birthfather was going to have another child with his girlfriend.  My thoughts? Shock, anger, curiosity, and most of all...I feel helpless.  I do not even know if his girlfriend knows about Noah.  Will their child grow up not knowing that she has a half sibling just 1 state away?

These unanswered questions are so tough.  I cope with them by not allowing myself to get to involved mentally.  I did tell the A-parents, only because I wanted Noah to know if he ever asked them.  I still don't know if I should send them a picture when she (its a girl) is born.  The birthfather has no relationship with the A -parents so I feel like my role is the messenger...which is not okay.

Adoption is a complicated, beautiful, sad, joyous thing.  There are two sides.  Each side includes all of these emotions.  I hope Noah grows up and eventually has a relationship with his half siblings (both on mine and the birthfather's side).  I have to accept that I can only do so much, which is a very hard thing to accept because I love my son more than I thought I could love anyone or anything.

Ending with a fun fact...I found out that our sweet baby's fingerprints were created by them tapping (or hitting) our wombs while we were pregnant.  How cool is that?!



Making Different Normal

It's a Saturday morning. I stand quietly at the window holding my daughter while we watch her sister play in the freshly fallen snow. My husband is by the door, piling on winter gear as he prepares to snow blow the driveway for the fourth time this week. To a passerby we look like we are living the American Dream. They don't know that we're different, and honestly, even I sometimes forget.

Most people hold all of their children, and kiss them all goodnight. The majority of Moms see their kids off to their first day of school, & most people don't cry in the toy aisle at Christmas time because they don't even know what their child likes (I'm guilty of this, I'll admit it). I suppose, you could say that makes us different.

     Most children have to worry about their siblings taking their toys from their room and borrowing their clothes. “Normal” sisters get to share secrets in the darkness, long after their parents have gone to bed. Most 7 year old's don't have to wonder who they should add to their family tree for their school project. I guess some people would say that makes my children different.
When looking at life as a birthmom, it can be really easy to see ways that we are different. In the past, I have often struggled with the differences, wondering if I sacrificed my normalcy the same time I placed my child. In a way, I guess you could say I did.

     If you looked at everyone closely though, I mean really looked, wouldn't we all be different? Doesn't everyone have something in their lives that makes them stand out from the crowd? Whether that has to do with their lifestyle choices, their careers, past mistakes, or their current relationships, I think deep inside, there's no such thing as “normal”.

     So, this year, instead of focusing on the things that make us different, I'm going to focus on the things that make us just as “normal” as every other family. We all have people that we love, jobs that we go to, pets to take care of, and driveways to snow blow. We all have walked paths that have changed us completely, and we all have had struggles, no matter what the kind. What are some other ways that we are all the same, and what are some other things that you think make us unique?  

Photo Credit

Monday, January 25, 2016

Quote of the Week:The One Reason it Will





"Forget all the reasons it won't work. 
And believe the one reason it will." 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

New Year, New What?

As the new year begins, we once again look at our lives and our new year and try to make it better than the year that came before.  Often that means looking at our lives and deciding what needs to be changed.  For me, that's going to include attempting to come to terms with certain parts of myself.

If you're wondering why this launch into self-discovery, it's because I've found out that my son has inherited some of my qualities and conditions I'd rather he hadn't.  Thus far, he has shown signs of anxiety and problems with sensory overload.  My father had these problems as did I.  My son's adoptive parents are getting him an occupational therapist and getting him the help and care that my father and I never got.  For that, I am glad.

I wasn't sure why the school suggested they get him a therapist at first.  After all, my father and I had gotten along just fine without one.  But looking back I realize that both I and my father could have benefitted from help like that.  This past year has proven to me unequivocally that I am not done learning how to handle my problems.  And I think that finally addressing them now will help me help my son's adoptive parents and my son as well.

I've already formed a plan and will be putting that into action soon.  I won't lie and say I'm looking forward to this.  Examining one's self is often a painful and frightening expedition.  But I have been down this road before.  And as this will help my son, I'm determined to go through with this.

I hope you are all having a good day and stay safe!


Friday, January 22, 2016

2016 BirthMom Buds Retreat


For additional information about the 2016 BirthMom Buds Retreat please visit this webpage.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Birthmom Story-Amber

Hi! My name is Amber, and I am so excited to be a new blogger for the BirthMom Buds Blog! I am a stay at home mom, an awesome wife, a mediocre cook, and an enthusiastic student! My husband and I are living the American Dream in the suburbs with our two kids and our favorite senior citizen, our dog Sadie. I feel passionately about adoption, and am ready to bring you some awesome reading material.  But first, let's start with my adoption story! 

In 2010, I was 20 and pregnant with my second child. I had recently ended a relationship with my kids’ Dad, which had been plagued by abuse. While trying to heal from that, I was working part time in a restaurant, going to college, and battling to not only pay my bills, but also raise my two year old with no help from her father. I first visited an adoption agency when I was 14 weeks into my pregnancy. 


In December of 2010, I began looking at profiles of couples waiting to adopt. In total, I believe I may have saw nine of them. From there, I was able to narrow my daughter’s parents down to two couples. I brought these books home and examined every inch of their profiles. Choosing someone that you trust enough to raise your child, based on photo’s in a book is NOT an easy task! Finally though, I did it. We met in January of 2011 and I hit it off with my daughters family immediately. I felt like I had known them for years even though it has only been minutes.

On March 23rd, I had my beautiful daughter. Her adoptive Mom was in the delivery room, cut the umbilical cord, and was a great support. I left the hospital 24 hours after giving birth which was, without a doubt, the hardest thing I have ever done. I remember getting home from the hospital and feeling like the biggest failure. I felt like I had abandoned my daughter, and all I could picture was my infant laying in the nursery crying, with no one to take care of her (even though I knew that wasn’t the case). Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that first night. Or the second night.

As the nights passed though, things got easier. I continued my counseling, and I focused on being the best Mom I could be for my daughter. I saw my birth daughter once a week for a while, then once every two weeks, and now we get together as much as possible My birth daughter is growing up in a wonderful home, with wonderful people, and a wonderful extended family…and I am at peace with that.

Photo Creidt


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Walking on Eggshells

I have a great relationship with Noah's A-mom. However, that doesn't mean I am always comfortable and don't say "what if" every now and then.  Noah is with her, not me.  She has the control.

She is God's gift to both myself and Noah but I re-read texts I send her and spend hours searching for the "perfect Christmas gift/Mothers Day gift" for her.  I have thought about why I do this and I believe it is because sometimes I am looking for confirmation that she does approve of my existence in Noah's life.  Not only that, but I want to have a great, healthy relationship with her.  
                                                                                 

Have you ever felt you had to get confirmation that you ARE good enough?  I think it's so important for us all to remember that we are.  We did what we thought was best for our babies at that time, and that decision gained me not only a son, but a second family.

I wrote two letters when Noah was born, one to him and one to myself.  I knew I was going to be struggling and wanted to have a letter to read to reaffirm why I made the decision I did. Lets face it, hormones after birth...yeah.  This letter contained every reason I made the decision I did and it was one of the best decisions I have made.  However, this "walking on eggshells" habit is something I need to break.  I AM GOOD ENOUGH.  I did not make the decision to place him because I didn't think I would be a good mom, I made it because he wouldn't have an active father.  These little things are worth remembering.

Lots of Love,

Erin

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Therapy and Acceptance


I just wanted to take a minute and reflect on this year.  I am sure you have heard of the milestones or goals that your loved ones have reached.  But what about the milestones YOU reached?



I remember when I first found out I was pregnant, it was in a CVS bathroom with my best friend.  Classy, I know!  I was in serious denial for a long time.  So much so that I literally forgot I was pregnant for two months (even though I was taking prenatal vitamins).  I just never thought about it. When I finally started showing and feeling the precious kicks and turns, I realized that I was going to be placing this baby for adoption soon.  The adoption agency I went to recommended a therapist for me to see who was also a birth mom.  I thought, "why not?"  I had never been to therapy before and went in not expecting to get much out of it.

                                                     
Little did I know, this woman was about to change my life.  In my first session with her, she mostly listened.  I told her I wasn't going to see or hold my baby once he/she was born, I wasn't looking at ultrasounds, and I was going to have a closed adoption.  Basically, I had not accepted this baby's existence at all yet and never wanted to.  She was very gentle in asking my reasons and quickly identified that I needed some perspective on what was to come in my future if these were the decisions I stuck with.  After opening my heart and mind to what she had to say (and after 6 sessions with her), I ended up asking for a legalized open adoption, seeing my baby boy when he was born and doing skin to skin, and still sticking with not looking at the ultrasounds.

It is hard to open yourself up to a stranger in therapy.  However, I would recommend it to anyone going through this process, and also to someone who has placed their child already.  It doesn't even have to be therapy! It can be a best friend or a sibling.  It is very important to have a support system that you can vent to.  I can only speak on my behalf, but I know talking to someone who could relate to my situation helped tremendously.  Going to therapy helped improve my postpartum depression and continued my grieving process.  I was very worried I was going to be in a state of shock for a long time but talking to someone allows me to identify the emotions I am feeling and get those out instead of not feeling at all.

There are many birthmother support groups/sites (such as this one) as well as retreats and in person support groups that are fantastic in the grieving process.  I know that this is a roller coaster but we are in this together.  You are not alone!

Lots of Love,

Erin



Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thinking of You!

We want to take just a minute to wish you and yours a happy, safe, and peaceful Christmas season!  

As birthmoms, we are all aware of how tough this time of year can be so please remember to be kind to yourselves and realize it's okay to reach out for support! If you need to talk, don't hesitate to reach out to us at 1-855-4mybbud.

You are in our thoughts and prayers, today and always.