Friday, September 19, 2014

Community



I've been reminded once again how God puts all kinds of people in our lives if we will allow it. I was with a friend yesterday, someone with whom I have built a relationship for years and years. In fact, it's hard for me to pinpoint exactly a time when she wasn't in my life!

But I do remember the way we met. She was a graduate student in marriage and family therapy. I was working as the client care director at a pregnancy center. She wanted to come and intern with me in order to get her clinical hours to graduate. I wasn't the least bit interested in investing in her. And truth be told, she wasn't that interested in the pregnancy center as a placement site.

In the end, though, we each accepted the challenge. And here we are ten? twelve years later? Still friends, we both have children of our own and we're both homeschooling. We actually have some important things in common even though our backgrounds are vastly different.

Kind of reminds me of the BirthMom Buds community. There is no way I would have the pleasure of knowing so many of you were it not for this group. Some of us are so different from each other  that we would never cross paths. Yet, here we are bonded together by a common experience. And I'm so thankful to have this group that knows what it's like. You guys get something about me that no one else on the planet can understand. And for that, I am thankful.





Photo credit


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Hospital Experience


When I was pregnant and going through my adoption plan the one thing that scared me the most was the hospital stay. First of all, I had never given birth before and I had no idea what to expect. I obviously knew it was going to be extremely painful but no matter how many videos you watch, classes you attend or personal stories you hear, you will never be prepared. I was also terrified, as most of you are, of what happens after the birth.

 
I had decided to let the adoptive parents in the room while I gave birth. This was an important moment for me, but I felt like it was also important for them. They had lost two babies at 21 weeks and so I knew that their experiences with birth were filled with trauma and so I wanted them to have this amazing birth experience with me. I know that this is not possible for every birth mother and I understand that some women want the moment to be private and I totally get it. I just loved the feeling of having everyone in the room who loved her and were going to love her forever, while she came into the world. 

 I had to be induced and for any woman who has been induced you will understand my pain. I had preeclampsia and my doctor said there was no way around the induction. The pain was extremely intense and and I convinced myself that I wasn’t progressing all night. Until about 1 am when I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I went to the bathroom and felt like I had to push, but I just thought it was a bowel movement. I pushed and nothing happened and eventually that urge to push went away, so I went back into bed. The nurse came in and checked on me and all of a sudden I felt the oh so familiar urge to push, and when I told the nurse that I had to go try and make a bowel movement because I needed to push I remember her look of panic. It all went pretty quick after that and when she checked me I was at 9 ½ centimeters. They had checked me a two or three hours before and I was still only at a 4. It came quick and at 2:09 am my little girl came into the world.

It was a close one and my best friend and I still joke that she could have been a toilet baby, which honestly would have been the most terrifying thing I could imagine at that point. I can’t believe I ddidn'trecognize that urge to push from all of those videos I had seen. And of course after all the pain what they tell you is true, it was all worth it. I would go through it again and again just to bring that little girl in the world. And quite honestly once you see your baby, you would have died if it meant bringing that little baby into this world.

I got to spend the next two days with her in the hospital. If you feel as though you want to and are able to  I highly recommend caring for your child in the hospital. I had decided toward the end of my second trimester that I wanted to take care of her in the hospital but before then I wasn't sure because I was scared I would change my mind. I didn't think about the fact that if you want to change your mind you can. As a mother you have every right to change your mind and make the choice you believe is best for your child. Never let anyone talk you into signing the papers and don’t let anyone change your decision. This has to be up to you.



I decided to take care of her in the hospital because I wanted that time with her.  I knew I wasn't going to change my mind and so I wanted every minute with her that I could. The adoptive parents were there with me and the birth father for the first several hours.  They bought me jack in the box because it was 2 in the morning and I couldn’t remember the last time I ate. I was scared that when they held her I would feel jealousy and hate them for being there. You never know how you are going to feel.

When I saw the adoptive parents holding her, I felt so much love for all of them. They looked like a family that was finally complete. You could just see how much they already loved her, and it made my decision more clear. After two days I signed the paper work to release her into their custody and we were able to all walk out together. We got into our separate cars and I cried the whole way home. I was so lucky to have the birth father with me and my best friend. When I got home my family was there to make sure I was okay. That night I slept like I have never slept before.

If at all possible with your adoption plan I recommend setting up some kind of immediate post placement contact with the parents, if you feel you are able to handle it. I requested at the hospital that they message me when they arrived home and 2 days later after they took her to her first checkup, being able to have that peace of mind that she was okay, healthy and safe at home was a big relief.

 The hospital stay can seem extremely intimidating at first and it is one of the hardest things you will ever go through, but it is also beautiful. There were some of the best days of my life. I got to welcome my little girl into the world and let her know just how much i love her. The pictures i took during this time are something i treasure and look at often. You have options and choices and you have the right to decide what ever you want to when you are in the hospital. Don't let anyone coerce you into doing anything you don't want to. This is your time to make what ever decision you want.


How do you guys feel about your hospital exp[experience? Did it go smoothly or was it a little bumpy? Who was in the room? What would you recommend to girls about to go through this experience?


Monday, September 15, 2014

Music Monday: She Will Be Free by the Josh Abbott Band



"When I look into her eyes, I grow still
How else can I process all these things I feel
And when she smiles, Lord, she knows that shes won
And I come undone"



If you have any suggestions for songs to use, feel free to email me or post a comment!



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Quote of the Week: Stand Tall and Shine Brightly!



"Only by its own roots does a tree stand tall and only by its own light does the sun shine brightly and bring life to our world. So it is with you - only when you're trusting, loving and rooted in your true Self will the life that is your highest potential begin to manifest. Only when you are walking on the path of your highest potential will you ever be able to shine brightly and bring light to the darkness in others."





If you have any suggestions for quotes, feel free to email me or post a comment!





Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Grief Cycle Part 5: Acceptance



A few weeks ago, my son J and his adoptive parents came to visit my parents at their house.  As happens with these visits, his mom went into the kitchen with my mother to help with lunch, his dad went into the living room with my dad to talk about esoteric topics that they actually have in common, and I was left in the dining room alone with my son.  He was eating crackers out of a little bowl my mother had given him with a pair of child's chopsticks.  I asked him how school was.  He answered the way most four-year-old's would: "Good."  He talked a little about his school.  He asked for a few more crackers.  All in all I'm guessing we had about six minutes alone together.  And it was in those six minutes that I had a thought that I've had for a long time and for the first time felt okay about it, "This kid will never be mine."

Acceptance isn't exactly a nice place to be in as it turns out.  I thought that acceptance would be the moment when the clouds would break and the seas would settle and everything would be just perfect.  Only it's not.  Acceptance is when you finally accept the reality of what you have lost.  It's when you stop denying the realities, stop being angry about the realities, stop trying to change the realities "some how," and stop always being depressed about the realities.  Acceptance, for me, was looking at my son and saying to myself, "This kid will never be mine.  And that's fine."

I didn't see his first smiles.  I didn't see him roll over the first time.  I didn't see him crawl the first time.  I didn't hear him babble the first time.  I didn't see him take his first steps.   I didn't see him run for the first time and fall.  I didn't dry his tears.  I didn't pick out his toys.  I didn't help him play the piano.  I didn't read him a book at night.  I didn't help him pick flowers for his grandmother.  I didn't get him dressed for his first day of school.  And that's fine.

I'm not saying they don't sting.  I'm not saying that at the moment I realized all of these things it didn't hurt a bit.  It did hurt.  A lot.  But I also realized that it was fine.  I don't have to feel bad about missing all of these things.  His parents saw them all and told me about them.  He knows that he's loved and knows that he's taken care of and that's all I ever wanted for him.  It's just the simple and very painful fact that he couldn't have found that with me.  But that's fine too.

Acceptance is not the moment when the clouds break and everything becomes good and right and beautiful in the world.  Acceptance is the moment when you accept reality and all that happened in it.  And acceptance is when you see all of that and realize that you're fine with all of it.  This was the only way to protect my son and give him the life that he deserved.  People got hurt in the process.  People had to put aside their differences and their opinions and agree.  There will be conversations that I will have to have later in life with my son about all that happened.  But in the end, I don't regret what I had to do.  Not for one second.  And for right now, I'm fine with it.

It takes a long time to get to this point.  It took me four whole years to get to this point.  And I don't doubt that there will be times in the future where I'll go through this again.  If you feel like you should have moved on by now or you should be better by now or anything like that, stop telling yourself that.  And if people tell you that you should be better by now, tell them as politely as you can that you are trying to get through this at your own pace.  That is all that matters in the end.  You need to get through this at your pace and in your time.  I hope you're all doing well today and I hope you have a fantastic weekend.  See you again next week!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

To Claim or Not to Claim?




One of the things I hear consistently across different chatrooms and blogs is whether, when, and/or how to claim our birthchildren. This is definitely something I have struggled with over the  years. I can remember being at one church many years ago on Mother's Day. The pastor asked all the mothers to stand up and I did. Be it out of defiance or whatever, I stood up with those other ladies and was recognized for being a mother.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Now I have children I parent, a birth child, and a birth grandchild. And I am still trying in some ways to make sense of it all. So last week I did something I've never done before. I claimed it all. And it felt right.

In a brand new Bible study group of 11 women, I introduced myself as a wife, birthmother of one, homeschooling mommy of two and grandmother of one. It felt weird but right as if I had in some way just told the truth for the very first time. I'm sure no one else in the room had any idea what a monumental moment that was for me.

The only noticeable reaction I got was from the leader who was absolutely sure I was not old enough to be a grandmother because she herself was not a grandmother yet. But jealousy aside, the moment passed and now it's out there. Will those ladies remember that about me next week? Maybe not. But I didn't do it for them. I did it for me.





Photo credit

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Friendships Changing Because of Adoption



One thing I did not initially think about when I decided to place my daughter for adoption was how my friends were going to act and the way that friendships evolve and even end because of adoption. 

When I first found out I was pregnant the only person who was really on my side was my best friend Kari. She listened to me and did her best to help me get through one of the hardest choices of my life. Even though she was hesitant of my choice, she was there for me no matter what. Our friendship has grown through the birth of my little girl and we are closer than ever. She was there for me no matter what and continues to be to listen to me whenever I need someone.


There were other friends however weren't as supportive. The little comments of "why would you do this" and "you could make it work" are so heartbreaking to hear during your time of need. Or even in the beginning when friends tell you that continuing the pregnancy is a mistake. Some friends act this way because they are worried for you, but some just flat out think you are wrong for doing this and those are the hardest ones to deal with.

After the birth of my daughter I had a close friend make negative comments about people who chose to have more children post placement. It was her opinion that the child placed for adoption will become extremely jealous of the children that are parented later in life. It was almost as though she felt that people who place should not have any more children in the future. It really upset me that someone so close to me could say such hurtful things about a choice that was so difficult to make. Yes, I want to have more children some day and I do not need anyone around telling me that I am selfish for having more children. 

Since the birth of my daughter I have limited myself from the people who try to put down my decision and my relationship with my best friend has grown through this choice. I have also had other friends who have rose to the occasion and become extremely supportive and love hearing about the updates almost as much as I do. 

It's not always easy to distance yourself from the wrong people though. During this time I felt like I needed these friends and maybe I was in fact making a bad choice. In the end however I had the realization that I was making the best choice for my child and I, and anyone who didn't think so could just go away.

The most important thing I've discovered is to stand up for yourself no matter what. No one can tell
 you how to live your life, and honestly this is your decision and no one else is going to have to live with the aftermath in the same way you will. The one piece of advice you I wish I had heard earlier was to surround yourself with people who want to help. Be with people who love you and are there for you no matter what. Placing a child is no easy task, and having people around who are putting you down only makes it harder. 

Have any of you had friendships grow through the placement of a child? Have you ever had a friendship dwindle or even end? 



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

BMB Reform Blog: Melanie's Thoughts

Hello again everyone!  I'm back with another reform blog.  This time I have another interview, with none other that BirthMom Buds own, Melanie Mosberg.  For those of you who don't know Melanie, she is the retreat coordinator and was BMB's Buddy of the year in 2010! 

Thank you, Melanie, for answering our questions and giving us your take!


Please tell us your name and a brief intro to your story. 
Melanie Mosberg – Open Adoption 2004
Became broken after a short period of time as the family choose to change visits frequency and contact.


Are there any aspects of adoption you would like to see changed?  Legalize open adoption contracts

What does adoption reform mean to you and why do you think it's important? 
What adoption reform means to me – changing the way things have been done historically so that they are adapted to the current state of adoption.  It is very important because the adoption world is forever changing and at times policies, procedures and laws have lacked in keeping up with the times.


Thank you, Melanie, for answering our questions and giving us your take!!

If you or anyone you know would like to be interviewed for this section, or if you have an important reform topic you would like discussed, please feel free to email me!  I look forward to hearing from you!




Monday, September 8, 2014

Music Monday: Let Her Go by Passenger



"Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you'll make a dream last
But dreams come slow, and they go so fast
You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you'll understand why"



If you have any suggestions for songs to use, feel free to email me or post a comment!



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Quote of the Week: Find Yourself







"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."








If you have any suggestions for quotes, feel free to email me or post a comment!














Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Grief Cycle Part 4: Depression


If I was honest, I'd say that I've been struggling with depression on and off since age 13.  It's hereditary in my family.  And my life hasn't been a cake walk.  Granted, no one's is.  But when one is already genetically predisposed to this condition, it doesn't take much to trigger it.

So you would think that having been through it before, I would know when I was in the middle of it and how to get out of it again.  And you and I would be wrong.  I didn't figure out that I was sunk hip deep in the middle of a depression until I was sitting in a room with about twenty other birthmothers staring at a simple diagram of the grief cycle in May of 2013.  But it did make me realize what had now been going on for the past five months.

So now I drove back to Georgia with the knowledge that I was hip deep in a depression and not sure what to do about it.  I'd tried counseling.  It's worked for me in the past.  But now money and health insurance and one friend who is a psychologist trying out a few until I found the right one just discouraged me.  I do still think that counseling is a very good way to understand and cope and should definitely be utilized.  I just lost patience.  So I decided to take the summer and just drop into the thick of it.  If I was going to be depressed, fine then, I would be depressed.  I went to work every day on time.  I wrote a few things here and there.  I watched a good bit of Netflix and YouTube.  I drifted rather listlessly through life not really trying to do anything other than keep breathing and keep walking, always trying to believe that sooner or later the way out would reveal itself.

I would talk to various friends online.  But I didn't really have any friends in the city that I hung out with on a regular basis or really even knew.  I had a few friends and acquaintances from work.  But most of them were married or older than me.  Not really the people you call at ten o'clock at night hoping to go out for a pint.  And for some reason I was paranoid that I would have to cut ties and leave this city just as quickly as I had left Columbus when I was pregnant.  I had no basis for this thought in the rational world.  It was just my own paranoid brain making up something so I wouldn't have to deal with anyone and wouldn't have the chance to find friends just to lose them.  Most of all, I didn't want anyone new to have to be exposed to this half-human version of myself that I was at the time.  But sometimes the universe has other ideas.

I had met a guy in June.  His name is Rob.  I didn't speak to him again until August.  And a year ago this week I ended up spending almost all week with him at various functions and parties.  He became my first friend in Athens outside of work.  With him came others.  People that he introduced me to.  One of whom is named Kristin.  When the three of us met, we were all recovering from terrible points in our lives for a variety of different reasons.  I can honestly say that this time last year was the turning point for me.  This was the moment where I found people I could relate to; people who didn't mind where I had been or what I had done; people who understood depression and understood sinking into that ugly blackness in order to get to the root of it all and understand why it was there.

Rob pulled me into the writer's group that we are both members of.  And because of that, I started writing more.  I started writing more stories and more poetry.  One of his friends was the reason I went to the open mic poetry reading where I found my son and his adoptive parents that wild night in October.  My son's adoptive father is the leader of that poetry group and I still attend every week to read and listen to more and more poetry and hear what others have to say.

Because I was writing so much, it was only natural that eventually I would start to write about my son and what I had just been through.  I began to take Ernest Hemingway's advice to heart: "Write hard and clear about what hurts."  I wrote blistering and blazing poems that described in gory detail just how much I hurt.  And it was luck that the few times the poems were said in public, either Rob or Kristin were there to hold me after saying everything that there was to say about what was wrong.  They didn't question or judge.  And I am forever grateful that they have been there.

Writing, it seemed, was my path out.  When I wrote, I finally released everything in my chest that I had stored up there.  I was starting to understand the root of it all.  While what I had done was something good, something that I should have done, something that I shouldn't be ashamed of, and something that was the best decision for my son, what I had done was incredibly painful.  I had given birth to a son and then placed him in the arms of others.  I had given birth to a son and then sent him away.  I had given birth to my first child, and now he was gone from me.  In my attempts to try to settle with what I had done, I had never quite acknowledged the pain that I was in.  The pain that, of course, anyone would be in after having to do something like that for the sake of one's child having a better life.  And finally, finally, I was venting that pain and wrapping bandages around the wounds and coming out of the dark.  I had finally gotten to the point that I didn't want to be in the dark anymore.  I was finally starting to climb out towards the light.

The way I got out isn't for everyone.  There were some very dark days in the midst of this and there were days that I didn't want to get out.  Like I said before, I have nothing against counseling or psychotherapy or even medications used to treat this.  I've done them all.  Find what works for you and use that to your advantage.  These treatments are tools that you can use to get out of your depression.  So is writing, art, music, and talking with trusted friends or clergy.  Whatever you need to get out, please don't ever be afraid to ask for it and don't ever be afraid of what someone else thinks of you for needing it.  This is your life.  Do what you need to do.


Photo Credit

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Extending Grace

Sometimes I do things that are really stupid. Anyone with me? Just the other day I was running errands early one morning. My family was still asleep at home and I was getting caught up after being away. I went to a store and saw someone I knew there. I'll call her Bobbie Jo because I'm feeling silly today. Anyway, I spotted Bobbie Jo nearby. My first response was a smile and a "hello!"

But when I thought again I started thinking of the way she treated me the last time I saw her. She was rude. She acted like I was invisible. So what did I do? Well I ignored her of course! Because that's the grown-up thing to do.

Fast forward ten minutes and I see her at the next store I go to. What did I do? Did I say "hello!"? Did I act like a grown-up given a second chance? No way! I continued acting like a child and completely ignored her.

Now I seriously doubt Bobbie Jo saw me at either of those two places. And even if she did it's not important. I can't control her. But I sure can control me. And I'm ashamed to say that I did not take the high road and I did not offer her grace. I ignored her and instead of building a bridge I built nothing.

I know women are hard to deal with. But we need each other. This body of birthmoms needs each other. Let's extend grace to each other even if we have received snark in return. Let's smile and hug each other even if our last meeting was not friendly. We are all in this together and whether we like it or not, we are who we are stuck with.

Pep talk done! Next time I will smile and try my best to be a grown-up.




Photo credit

Monday, September 1, 2014

Music Monday: This Angel by Jennifer Nettles



"Can you hear me calling, come let me hold you. 
Naked and falling into my arms 
with every breath in my body, the sweetest surrender 
is losing myself in all that you are."



If you have any suggestions for songs to use, feel free to email me or post a comment!



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Quote of the Week: Dreams





"Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us."








If you have any suggestions for quotes, feel free to email me or post a comment!





Friday, August 29, 2014

The Grief Cycle Part 3: Bargaining

This was the most confusing stage for me; especially since it’s one of the harder stages to correctly define.

When I was sitting in a room with several other birthmothers at the 2013 Birthmom Buds Retreat, we were discussing the grief cycle and when we got to this stage one woman even said out loud, “I've never been sure how this stage works” followed by the agreement of half the room.  What in the world was this bargaining stage and how would we know we were in it if we didn't even know what it was?

“I've always seen it as the 'If I just do this then everything will be fine' kind of mentality,” said our discussion leader.  This statement was followed by even more agreement.  I had been locked into that kind of mentality for months after Halloween.

The tricky part is I knew none of it would bring back my son.  None of it was going to make any real difference to him.  But somehow, it made a difference to me.  I was in grad school at the time.  I was working a full-time job.  I was trying to get myself established as a small business person with my knitted, crocheted, and sewn items.  I kept trying to do everything that I could.  I kept trying more and more things to try to get my life to work like I thought it should.   But I wasn't really sure how it should work.  Wasn't really sure what my life actually working was supposed to look like.  But somehow, if I just got ahead and got things to work, then everything would be fine.

This whole part of the grief cycle, at least to me, often feels like just another round of denial.   You keep yourself busy.  You keep doing everything that you can think of to do.  You keep going and going and going thinking the next thing will make everything better.  I guess my problem was it wasn't going to get better.  Better would mean that I had my son with me.  Better would mean that my ex was with me again.  Better would mean that somehow our lives were actually working like this and we were actually giving our son the life he deserved.  That was my brain’s version of “better.”  And it was an unattainable one.

And just as unfortunately, the only way to break out of that endless cycle, was to realize that I wasn't going to get my son back; I wasn't going to be with my ex again; I wasn't going to get that life that I kept imagining where the three of us were actually making things work.  That realization caused a bone-crunching depression to settle down inside me for the first time in a very long while.  I've had issues with depression since I was a teenager.  But this time it was tougher to deal with than any time before.

I know this entry is a little shorter.  But in truth, this stage I got through the quickest of them all.  I've always been a realist, forever trying to get myself to accept reality and move on to whatever the next step is.  If I had to guess, I probably lingered in this stage for a few months before winter took over and my depression set in.

Since we’re three steps in, I’m wondering what you all think of this and how this in any way lines up with your experiences.  Would love to hear from you!  Hope you’re all having a good weekend!