Leaving the hospital....... It's the moment that everyone fears, for good reason. In some cases, months (or days, or perhaps only hours) of counseling and thinking have tried to prepare you for the event, but in reality, no amount of preparation can make you ready for such an occasion. Some birthmothers savor the hospital experience, waiting as long as possible for the end of it, whereas others feel that leaving the hospital expediently is what will work best for them. There is no right answer, and no wrong answer.
I am a pretty open book about my adoption experience. I will tell everyone pretty much anything that they want to know about how I chose adoption, why I decided to have an open adoption, and what our adoption looks like. I however, usually stay pretty quiet in regards to the moment that I left the hospital. They're my moments; they're tragic, painful, and devastatingly traumatic. I feel like they are moments that need to be discussed though, so here I am.
I left the hospital exactly 24 hours after giving birth. I had the option to stay for an additional day, as my baby wasn't able to be discharged for 48 hours, but felt that 24 hours was enough for me. Honestly, I worried that if I put off leaving longer than I had to, then I wouldn't leave alone. I had prepared for the moment, I knew that it would be difficult, but I was not prepared for the crushing magnitude of sadness that befell me at that time. I knew that it had to be done, but every corner of my mind was screaming at me about how I was abandoning my baby (even though I clearly wasn't).
I've read about some birth and adoptive families having loving ceremonies where the birthmom “presents” the baby to their new family. I envy the strength of these women. I remember placing my baby into the arms of her Mom, unable to make eye contact, I was so inconsolable that I couldn't even mutter a word. I handed my baby to her, and quickly exited the room. I walked purposefully down the hall, and left. It wasn't beautiful. It wasn't this amazing, heart warming experience that I'm sure the people around me had been praying for. It was ugly. It hurt. In the midst of my grief, I played that moment over in my head countless time.
Looking back, I wish that it would have been different, but I see that it couldn't have been. I wish that I could have had this amazing, wonderful ceremony where our families came together and we bonded over this wonderful person that we would all love. I wish I would have been able to tell my daughter's Mom how grateful I am that she was willing to give my child everything that I couldn't give to her, and I wish that I would have been able to express how much I appreciate the amazing pregnancy counselor who guided me through my journey, but I just could not. And I've come to realize that that's OK.
What was it like leaving the hospital, or what are you fears about your hospital experience if you are currently pregnant? Did your hospital experience go as planned, or did it change once your baby was born?