Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy (Almost) Birthday to My Daughter!

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This time of year is always rough for me. Well, I'm only two years into this journey, so maybe the word always is a little dramatic, but you get the idea! Halloween is a tough holiday for me now. It's difficult to have a holiday centered so much around little kids so close to her birthday.

It's 8:19pm (my time) right now. Two years ago at this exact time, I was pacing around my house, trying to move my labor along, while the last few trick-or-treaters came by. I remember, oddly enough, that "Knocked Up" was on TBS while I was walking from the living room to my bedroom and back. I had laid down to take a little nap when my back started really hurting. I had been having contractions throughout the day, but suddenly they were like waves of fire down and across my back. My mother and I began timing them, and before I know it, around 11:30pm on Halloween night, I was headed to the hospital.
My labor was fairly long, and when I got there, I was only about 4cm dilated. They decided to keep me, and I remember realizing that I was in for a long journey if this was how much pain I was in at 4cm. I could not imagine getting to 10cm. I couldn't even think about it. The next day and a half are a blur to me now, so thankfully I have them written in my personal journal because I know one day I'll need to remember, or my daughter may want to know. Those are questions that only I can answer for her, and I want to be able to answer them honestly.

I remember around 11pm on November 1st (after I had been there for almost 24 hours), my doctor came in and started discussing a c-section. He said he would wait until noon the next day (November 2nd), and if I hadn't given birth by then, then we would have to seriously consider it. Luckily, around 4 a.m., my water broke and woke me out of a drug-induced sleep (probably due in part to my epidural). About two hours later, the pressure became unbearable and I buzzed the nurse in. She said she was going to "check me," and she lifted up my gown. Without even touching me, she said "oh my God," and paged my doctor. I distinctly remember saying to her immediately after, "will I have my baby sometime today?" She replied, "honey, you're going to have a baby in about 30 minutes." And sure enough, little Arianna was born at 6:31 a.m. Could my nurse have been more amazing?

Last year, I don't remember her birthday being so hard. I think I was expecting it to be extremely painful for me, so when it really wasn't, I was almost relieved. This year, though, I think I felt more brave. I think I figured that since I handled the first birthday (what I thought would be the hardest), I could definitely handle her first birthday. However, for some reason, this year it seems much harder. Maybe because she's no longer a longer just lying around or crawling around. No longer stumbling around learning how to walk, or babbling as she learns how to talk. Now she's a toddler. She's not only walking around, but running. Not only talking, but articulately calling herself by name, and someone else "mama." The magnitude of what I've lost has really sunk in in these past few days alone. I didn't just place my baby to be raised by another family. I placed my toddler, my little kid, my young adult, my adult.

I've found myself wishing I could go back in time. Wishing I could rewind the clock back two years, so I could be pregnant again at this very moment, unaware that I would get to meet my baby in less than 36 hours. Unaware of whether she would look like me or her birth father. Unaware of how much I would love her the very second I laid eyes on her curly head of hair and heard her cry for the first time. I would give anything to be that naive again. I would give anything to go back and have the chance to leave the hospital with her. That's not to say I regret my choice - but it's definitely not easy. And definitely not at this time of the year. 

How do you cope when birthdays roll around? Especially if you don't have visits with your child on or around their birthday, just like I don't?


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Quote of the Week: Tolerance

"Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert Green Ingersoll

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Thursday, October 25, 2012


Since I home school my children, I am learning some history lessons over again. Actually, I think some of them I'm learning for the first time. Recently in Roman history, for example, I learned the historical context of Jesus' birth. Did you know he was born during a time of peace known as the Pax Romana? I didn't even though I've been in church my whole life.

Context is everything. It's always been important to me that those around me get to know me and my story, not just that I got pregnant in high school. Know what I mean?

Now it's one thing to be speaking to a group of anonymous people. Nothing you can do there. It's like opening yourself up and hoping no one mortally wounds you.

But for personal friends, I feel like I protect myself by letting them get to know me while learning about my story. That while the context of my situation doesn't offer any kind of justification, it does offer more of an understanding than simple facts can provide.

While it may sound nutty, I still have sensitivity surrounding this part of my life and maybe, just maybe, I want others to tread carefully while they are gathering facts and forming an opinion. Are you open to sharing your story or do you wait for them to get to know you better?

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Diving Back Into Therapy

A few weeks ago, I woke up one morning and realized that I needed to go back to therapy. I know revelations such as those rarely come "overnight," but for me, this one did. You see, I was not provided with any therapy prior to placing my daughter (which I now realize is a big no-no, but at the time, I was so overcome with emotions that it never crossed my mind that I should be alarmed by the fact that my adoption counselor never suggested pre-placement therapy), and while I did give it a try after placement, it was short lived. I essentially went for two reasons: (1) the agency I went through would pay for 6 months of therapy and (2) my mother essentially forced it on me. If I've learned anything, it's that forcing something on someone will generally render the results opposite to those that the person is looking for. Especially when it comes to adoption and anything relating to adoption. So, I went, but it was against my will, and therefore did no good whatsoever. I also only went for one month before I had to have my gallbladder removed with little notice. After I recovered from my surgery, I went back to work and tried to convince myself that I was strong enough, on my own, to deal with my emotions. I was too proud to want any help, and I felt that they would just end up drugging me, and I wanted to feel the pain. I knew that those few months after placement were the crucial months, and I wanted to work through my emotions on my own and allow myself to feel them. I didn't want to numb the pain, only to be smacked in the face with it a year, two years, or three years down the line.

Well, I wound up doing the opposite. I attempted therapy again around this time last year (so one year after my first attempt), again, at my mother's will. She noticed that I was basically going to work, coming home, and retreating to my room as soon as possible, and only coming out to shower. She made me feel as if I had to go, and I'm a stubborn person. I went, but I didn't let it do me any good. I listened, and I talked to my therapist, but I felt like we weren't a good match. Looking back, I wonder if we really weren't a good match, or if it was just me subconsciously making us a match.

So, fast forward to this past September. I woke up one morning and realized that I didn't want to feel the way I had been feeling. This came after another important realization: I wasn't happy. I was able to fake it pretty well (around everyone, with the exception of my daughter's birth father. He can see right through me, still.), and I had done such a good job of "faking" it, that I had started to believe it myself. I believed I was happy. I missed my daughter, and I got sad when I thought of how much she's changed and grown, and I got upset and frustrated when updates didn't come on time, but for the most part, I was "happy." But I was just going through the motions. Being able to get up in the morning doesn't mean you're happy. Being able to go out and laugh with friends doesn't mean you are happy. That's all I was doing. Work, home, shower, dinner, bed. Next morning: repeat. And I was struggling to get out of bed when I wasn't even tired. So, I took the first step (always the hardest) and set up an appointment.

I've only had three appointments so far, but they have been good. I feel like this therapist and I "clicked" very well from the beginning. She asked me if I thought I was depressed, and I said no. I told her I'm not sad, but I'm not happy...I'm just existing. She replied by telling me that she thinks that I have been depressed for so long that it's become normal for the point where I don't think anything is wrong. I suppose she's right.
This time around, it has already been a much more positive experience for me, because I made the decision to do it. I knew that in order for it to work for me, I had to want it for myself. I couldn't go because I thought it was expected of me, I couldn't go because someone else thought that I should....I had to realize, within myself, that I needed it.

What has your experience with therapy been like? Have you coped on your own without it, has it helped you immensely, or anything in between?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Quote of the Week: Help Others

"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others, and if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." - Dalai Lama

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Emotional Preparation

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It’s that time of year again. Though I love the holidays and will always try to concentrate on the positive, I’m dreading the emotional roller coaster as well.

You see, November 10th is my daughter’s birthday. As much as I adore Halloween, I dread celebrating it as well because it’s pretty close to that day. Fortunately this year, Nick and I are scheduled for a visit on the 17th, so perhaps the anticipation of seeing our daughter and her parents will lessen the anxiety and grief surrounding her actual birthday. I’ve already planned to ask for her birthday off work so I don’t have to interact with coworkers and strangers all day and act happy. I might be okay on the actual day and I might not. There’s no guarantee that it’ll be an emotional roller coaster of a day, but there’s no guarantee that it won’t be either.

After Mack’s birthday passes, there’s the whirlwind surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course because those two holidays in particular are associated with family and I’m missing such a big piece of mine, it makes them difficult. I’m planning lots of baking and making crafts for various people, including making my BirthMom Buds Secret Sister Stocking. I’m also participating in an ornament exchange as well as making an extra ornament for a charity event, and making ornaments for our own tree. I’m hoping that the fact that I’m keeping myself busy for the holidays will mean I don’t have a lot of time to sit around and wonder what might have been. I also hope that the extra arts and crafts that I’m making will keep me distracted when I’m not participating directly in an event.

It’s interesting to me that while I don’t deny any grief I might feel during the rest of the year, when it comes to the holidays I prepare to live in denial for a few months. Based on my experiences the past two holidays I’m not certain this additional preparation is actually doing me any good. I preach all the time that there’s no way that someone who’s gone through the experience of becoming a birth parent as I have can ever go back to being the person they were before relinquishment. We can and should find a new normal but we cannot approach things the same. I don’t honestly know if this means I should expect to not enjoy the holidays or if I’ll just feel an emptiness that wasn’t there before.

Maybe that’s it. There’s a part of me that’s expecting the holidays to feel exactly the same and another part of me that knows it’s not possible. Then there’s yet another part that’s afraid to let go of the way the holidays used to be because I know that I still want to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m afraid that if I let go of the way that I used to enjoy the holidays that I will never enjoy them again instead of simply finding new ways to enjoy them.

I already find ways to include my daughter in my celebrations like making her an ornament to go on my tree and also lighting candles for her as well. The joy usually associated with inclusion in those holiday traditions is the missing piece. I’m hoping that joy will come with time. If I force the joy then I will never have the true joy that inclusion should bring.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What's in a Generation?

Today's post is a reflection of what makes a generation. We look back now and can clearly see the era of the 50's was defined by rock 'n' roll. And the era of the 60's was defined by flower children and hippies.

And the era of the 80's was remembered for big hair, neon colors and Madonna.

I had a conversation this week that has just been rolling around my head. The lady I was talking with is about the same age as me. In fact, we had our first children in the same year. But she went on to mother and bear other children while I went on to finish high school.

And although we are about the same age, my young children seem to give the impression that I am younger than I am.

So what's in a generation? A general knowledge and understanding of 'how things were'. For example, I didn't have a cell phone growing up. And the first time I had a computer class was in high school.

What I don't have is an understanding of my birthdaughter's generation. Since I went back to my own childhood, I didn't pay attention to hers like a parent would. I don't know if she had computer class in school and how early. I don't know when she got her first cell phone or any of the other 'earmarks' of her generation.

No wonder the old-timers talk about a generation gap. I can see that now. Not only did we not share life, but I don't have an understanding of her formative years and what she experienced.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Quote of the Week: Let Our Light Shine

"As we let our own light shine, we subconsciously give other people permission to do the same." - Marianne Williamson
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Friday, October 12, 2012


Anyone else out there remember the old Heinz ketchup commercial? I can't hear this word without singing the song in my head.

For those of you that don't remember, it was an annoying tune with just a few words. "Anticipation is making me wait." Argh. How true that has been for me recently.

My October has been all planned out for months. A long visit from a relative followed by an out-of-town women's retreat. No wiggle room. No time for anything extra. Just a packed-to-the-gills month that I was SO looking forward to.

But it all went away. Plans fall through, events get postponed. I know all of these things. But my heart is having a hard time catching up. I'm sad. I was mad for a little while. I don't understand.

As a birthmother I can remember the time we were invited to my birthdaughter's wedding. It was such an honor and we were SO excited. That didn't happen either. One thing I've learned about myself is that while I enjoy things like vacations and time with friends, another thing I enjoy almost as much is the anticipation. The planning. The daydreaming. The looking forward to.

I'm recovering. I have allowed myself ample time to wallow this weekend. Now I'm trying to get back up on the horse that is my life and take a look at my calendar - my very empty calendar - and not think of what could have been or should have been but what can be.

How about you? What are you anticipating?

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Quote of the Week: New Day

"Every new day is another chance to change your life." - Unknown

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