what could’ve been and what will never be

September 26, 2012 § 3 Comments

I entertain countless fantasies about what it would be like to have you and all the things we would do together. I can’t live in the present or care about it. Everything I’m missing out on with you is infinitely better than anything in my daily life.

The following fantasies are ones I would trade everything for.

+ Holding you all the time, whenever I want, just holding you.

+ Walking around everywhere with you in a baby wrap, like kangaroos!

+ Seeing your relationship with your daddy develop, and watching his controlled exterior turn into gleeful joy as he holds you and talks to you. David would make such a good father.

+ Setting you down in your bouncer with your toy mobile, and watching you bounce and play while I cook or fold laundry.

+ Breastfeeding.

+ Bathing you in the sink.

+ Just spending time with you at home and taking care of you.

+ Seeing you grow and change, day by day.

+ Taking you out in the wintertime and getting you all bundled up, in a bonnet and booties and mittens.

+ Everyone who passes us exclaiming how adorable you are.

+ Buying cute onesies!

+ Jogging in the park with you in your stroller.

+ Having professional photos taken of you, and all three of us together, throughout the years.

+ Hanging out at the playground and talking to other moms.

+ Reading to you, and later, with you.

+ Tucking you in at night.

+ Telling you I love you every day.

+ Teaching you about the world and answering all your questions.

+ Getting a handmade card on Mother’s Day that lives forever in my nightstand.

+ Playing board games.

+ Playing other games, like frisbee and hide n seek.

+ Seeing your excitement on Christmas Eve.

+ Dressing you up in costume and taking you trick-or-treating.

+ Hunting for Easter eggs.

+ Packing you lunch in the morning before school.

+ Dropping you off at school, then driving excitedly to pick you up.

+ Dressing you in fancy little boy clothes. Sometimes I see nicely dressed little boys, in button-up collared shirts, and it’s so adorable.

+ Watching Disney movies.

+ Going out for ice cream cones.

+ Taking you and your friends out to romp around and play together.

+ Seeing you come home grass-stained and muddy and gleeful.

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reasons

September 26, 2012 § 5 Comments

This is what I wrote on May 21 in the questionnaire packet the adoption agency gave me, under “Additional Information.” I felt the need to list my official reasons.

I want to place my baby for adoption for many of the same reasons that I’m sure most people have. I’m not finished with college and I live on my own in a studio apartment on a minimal income from my part-time job. I’m not married. My boyfriend and I were together for 3 years and we loved each other very much, but we’re no longer together. I’m only 23 and am in no way stable enough or supported enough by anyone else to raise a child. I don’t have the time or money or, honestly, the desire to.

I winced at the last sentence. I hate myself.

Being in college is no reason. I could have kept going. Many of my classmates are mothers. Being poor and living on my own is no reason. I could have moved in with my parents, or possibly even have kept my apartment with their help. Being unmarried is no reason. I doubted my ability to be a single mother, but I would’ve surprised myself. Being 23 is no reason. It’s not too young. Time, money, stability–those could all have been achieved.

I feel most guilty about the reasons I had that I didn’t write about.

Not wanting to be a young single mother who is looked down upon. Fearing judgment by family, friends, society, and ultimately myself. Wanting to just make this nightmare go away and move on with my life. Fearing change and disruption. Feeling undeserving. Feeling irresponsible. Not wanting to struggle. Not wanting to lose my independence and freedom. Not wanting to deal with diapers, tantrums, and sleeplessness. Thinking I’d be able to handle my own grief, that it wouldn’t be so bad. Not knowing anything about babies or young kids. Being afraid of failing at parenting. Not wanting to commit to 18 years. Not wanting to deny myself future relationships with guys who wouldn’t want a girl with a child. Not wanting to deal with requesting child support from David, and the ensuing guilt of putting financial strain on him. Feeling reassured that the adoptive parents would cover my hospital bills and maternity leave. Being too proud to ask my parents for help. Not wanting to have kids, ever. Not wanting to have a child who reminds me of David and my broken heart. Thinking David would not want a baby with me. Believing he would never help out or be present in his son’s life. Wanting so desperately to do the right thing. Wanting to please everybody. Wanting to be told how strong and mature I am. Fearing people would think I was weak if I changed my mind or even questioned my adoption plan.

I make myself sick.

dream

September 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

You are in my dreams every night. Your age varies–sometimes I’m older and I have a young boy holding my hand, sometimes you are still a newborn, occasionally you are not there but I have you in the dream, you’re just at home or something. It is torture. Often I have dreams without any visual images, just a deep feeling of sadness. Whether the dream is happy or sad, it’s always torture. I wake up crying and longing for you.

My dream today was the worst one yet. I fell asleep during the day, at around 2pm. In my dream I was going about life as usual, accompanied by the crushing sadness that follows me everywhere. I was walking along and encountered my family. They parked the car and started walking over, and I saw my sister taking you out of a car seat and carrying you. My heart leaped into my throat. I instantly took you into my arms and held you close, laughing and crying as I pressed my face against yours. I couldn’t do anything but that for a few minutes, and finally I asked what happened. My dad said that the adoption had been overturned, it was somehow legally invalid. I was so happy, I was crying tears of pure joy. You were happy too. You remembered me, you were smiling.

When I woke up, the pain of not having you there was so intense I thought I’d die. My breathing lurched and sputtered, tears streamed down my face. The dream felt so real. I’m sure a part of me knew that it was not. But the way it had taken place in present time, with you six weeks older than I’d seen you last, was overpowering. I could see and hear everything, especially you, so vividly. I could feel you against my body as I held you. I could smell your soft skin as I tearfully covered your face in kisses. And the way you responded to my voice and my touch. And the way you were able to coo and gurgle and smile at me, unlike when you were brand-new. And the notion that I had gotten you back somehow, that I would have my sweet little boy forever. It was almost worth the brief moment of happiness it brought me.

But I gave you up. You are not mine. Not for an intermittent period of time. Not as a reversible mistake. You are not part of my life and never will be, at least not as my child. The thought overwhelms me. I can’t process it on some days. Instead I look at my phone’s background picture, you with your perfect sweet face, and pretend I still have you somehow.

Holding you close to my body is one of the strongest ways I miss you. I crave it at every moment. I always want it so much. This lingering feeling, of just wanting to run home and hold you, is unreal! Not even my knowledge of the biological reasons behind it make me feel better. I try to tell myself that it doesn’t matter, that I am just wired to feel this way about my baby. But it does matter. I’m not above millions of years of evolution. I can’t feel good about my decision, no matter how I spin it, no matter how I try to be objective.

People exalt adoption as “loving and selfless,” but they have no idea. If I was an abusive psycho or a crackhead, relinquishment would be loving. But I’m not. Keeping you would have been far more loving and selfless. Of course I had a lot of concern for your future and your needs, and I thought of that, but I would say that far more selfishness went into my decision. I was so upset that I was pregnant. How could this happen to my perfect little life? I used to worry that the third trimester would be unpleasant, that giving birth would be painful, that my vagina might stay loose, that I might not lose the extra weight afterwards, that I’d have to buy new shoes because my feet grew during pregnancy. All of that evaporated once you were born. Suddenly, I couldn’t have cared less about me. I was willing to be poor, to spend all my time and energy on you, to wake up every two hours and feed you, to change diapers and get peed on and stay home all day and be fat and flabby and only have conversations in minute-long increments. I would have done it all happily.

No, giving you up was selfish. I should have accepted my fate in life when I found out I was pregnant, but I didn’t know then what being a mother does to you. It’s like having your brain taken over by an alien. I was stupid to think I was so different from every other woman who has a baby.

And furthermore, why is anyone expected to be “selfless” when it comes to their baby? Of course I’m selfish. Of course I want to care for my own baby. It is not my job to provide infertile couples with children. I am not and will never be that selfless. It’s hardly enough for me that I gave them so much happiness at the expense of my own. I am not reassured that someone else’s dreams came true, and my heart and soul and body are used up and dead. Your parents are great, but they had such a happy, full life before you. And I’m supposed to believe that they are somehow entitled to my baby just because they cannot have their own?

What am I even saying? This was my choice, albeit a stupid choice made during a crisis. And for that, I deserve whatever I get. I have no right to feel sorry for myself. I am clearly not worthy of you.

I just hope you know, nothing I do is nearly as good as having you. I go through the day not caring about any of it. I don’t want to be careless and free. I want to be turn back time, I want to be with you, I want to be your mother.

so much regret

September 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

At the time I was choosing your parents, I felt so worthless and insecure and guilty. All I wanted was to fix my mistake, to redeem myself as better than an irresponsible girl who got knocked up. I had known about my pregnancy for a couple weeks when I went to the adoption agency. And here I was, looking at all these people who wanted children, who were successful and happy and in a loving marriage and seemed better than me, more deserving, in every way. I had held the belief for a long time that I did not want children and that I would make a bad parent. I was cold, distant, selfish, impatient, stingy, and needed too much time to myself. Only afterwards did it come to me, as in a montage of flashbacks, all the instances in which I had displayed enormous emotional maturity and given everything of myself to those I loved, without expecting anything. I did it because I wanted to. I had been so hard on myself I was blind to my real qualities. I know now I would be a generous, loving, affectionate mother.

I didn’t realize either that who you are before and after becoming a parent is not the same person. The fact of being a mother did not change just because I didn’t raise my child. It was something that happened to me regardless. Adoption is not like abortion, where you are suddenly “un-pregnant,” and that’s how I viewed it. I didn’t understand the emotional gravity of the situation. I didn’t realize how profoundly I would change, everything would change, once you were here.

The 42 hours that I spent with you in the hospital were the best hours of my life, as well as the worst because I knew I would have to say goodbye. I had counseled myself to not be swayed by my emotions in the hospital. Everyone warned me about how frequently that happens. I thought it weak, to change my mind based on emotion. It didn’t occur to me that I had chosen adoption based on emotion, especially fear. I thought I was being strong by ignoring my feelings. I knew I would fall in love with you and it would be hard, but I committed myself to do it and have it done and to not back out. I wanted to back out and I didn’t and I wish I had.

“Reason is, and ought to be, slave to the passions.” How could I have forgotten? In life, logic and reason is nothing compared to the heart. I changed my mind after you were born. And I went ahead and signed the papers anyway. Oh god. I wish so badly I hadn’t. I wish I had told the ladies from the agency to fuck off, I could never leave my baby. I wish I had told my mom to go to the store and buy a car seat for me because I couldn’t leave the hospital empty-handed.

Instead, David and I wheeled your hospital crib down the hallway, where C and L and their caseworker were waiting. We said goodbyes, barely able to look at them. We left the hospital as quickly as we could. Neither of us could believe we had done that. I was crying so hard, like I would never stop. I felt empty and ripped apart.

That was the day after David and I signed the paperwork, which was at 8pm on August 8th. You were a day old. We sat together in my hospital recovery bed and signed everything they handed us. I was quiet the rest of the night after that, trying not to think about everything. When David and my friend Sara fell asleep, I began crying and didn’t stop until long after being discharged from the hospital the next day. I didn’t sleep at all. You cried every hour wanting to nurse, and you would nurse for so long that my arms hurt from holding you. This didn’t bother me. I loved holding you close, seeing your beautiful little face pressed against me. I could smell your sweet baby smell and I watched you fall asleep to the comfort of my heartbeat. I could’ve spent eternity holding you and been happy.

picture taken by Sara at 12:09am

I cried and cried. How could I give you to someone else? You were mine and David’s, and we made you with so much love. You were a part of me and it was me you depended on. The importance of this had never occurred to me. When you were born, I felt silly and incompetent because I had no experience with babies. But throughout that first day, watching my mom and Sara and various nurses swaddle you, change your diaper, burp you, I realized slowly that I could learn all of it. And that night, every time you cried, I didn’t feel scared. I knew exactly what to do, and the conviction grew in me that I would always know what to do. I would always be able to comfort you. My mantra when I was in labor was, as suggested to me, “I am not afraid, I was born to do this.” The realization that I was born to do this too, to be a mother, filled me with ice. I felt sick, holding you, my perfect baby that I had signed away. I had been so stupid, never thinking of what you would mean to me.

When I was pregnant, I prematurely resigned myself to being a mere vessel for bringing you into the world, and only that. And now that I knew I wanted to keep you and was capable, it was too late. All I could do was accept a lifetime of pain and grief, a wound inside that never heals. Never ever feeling understood by anyone, unable to laugh and have fun, thinking that other people’s conversations are trivial and stupid. All I can do now is accept my mistakes, even if I am unable to forgive myself for making them. All I can do is to keep going, keep going to school, going to work, keep holding on, eating and sleeping and waking up, over and over and over. Keep trying my best, smiling, making the effort to treat people with kindness, to leave the world better than I found it. I don’t want to continue to live when all I can think of is dying. But I have to.

I hope I have the opportunity to relive those moments in the hospital and have the outcome be different. I hope I get to be a mom someday soon. But nothing and no one could ever replace you in my memories and my heart. No single being will ever be more special to me. You would have been the one to teach me about love and joy. You would’ve been my love and joy. Oh my beautiful son. You were just so cute. No one could get over what a precious baby you were. I know everyone says that, but it’s true. You were so smart you latched onto me right away and had no trouble nursing. You were alert immediately after birth. And you were so strong for a newborn, and you could practically hold your own head up. Your cries were so adorable. Even my labor and delivery with you went perfectly. I had you naturally without pain relief or any interventions, and you were born perfectly healthy. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Being pregnant with you was a wonderful experience too, aside from the emotional aspect which was awful. I steered clear of all the complications and health problems that are so common. I never even had morning sickness or heartburn, which is almost unheard of. If only I had had a loving partner and happier circumstances, then I would’ve loved being pregnant. I guess you can only have so much.

I have a gorgeous wooden box in my closet, and I made it a memory box for you. When I get pictures and letters from your parents I’ll put them in there, but so far I have our hospital bands–David’s, mine, and your tiny one–and your footprints, a lock of your hair, and my blood-stained polka dot nightgown I wore at the hospital. There is my birth plan, and the paper from Planned Parenthood confirming my pregnancy, and your hospital crib card. Most painful is the little hat they put on you immediately after you were born, so your head wouldn’t get cold. I didn’t even intend to take it, but when I was unpacking from the hospital it fell out of my bag.

I plan to get a tattoo for you. A stargazer lily, with a bud growing from its stem, about to bloom. I chose that flower because it’s one of my favorites, and recently I read: It is a combination of the finest features of the Oriental and Asiatic lilies from which it is derived, a pleasing result that enfolds the best of both worlds in the hybrid. That seems appropriate. You possess the best qualities of your parent flowers. You are the most perfect little arrangement of atoms.

without

September 15, 2012 § 8 Comments

I made a mistake giving you up. This is my single biggest regret. And it can never be remedied or undone.

All I want is you, my sweet boy. And the worst thing is knowing I could have kept you, I could have raised you, and–this is what I didn’t know when I was pregnant–everything would have been worked out beautifully. Of course I have no way of knowing for sure, but I know that I would’ve made it work. I am currently poor, in college, and single. But it would not have always been so. I chose a very permanent solution to a temporary problem, and I couldn’t be more sorry.

I mean nothing against C and L. I adore them. But having a big house and money and a wedding ring does not necessarily make someone a better parent. I thought so before. I thought being blood-related was not important. I’m not anti-adoption now, but I believe adoption has its place only in extreme cases, as with a drug addict or someone who has a serious lack of support in taking care of a baby. My reasons for it are not good enough. I didn’t ask my parents for help. I didn’t want to move back in with them. I didn’t want to lose my independence and rely on them, especially when they already help me out with money as it is, and I felt it was something I couldn’t and shouldn’t ask of them. They didn’t try to talk me out of adoption or ever question my decision, but they probably would have helped me if I had requested.

I wish more than anything in the world that I could put you back in my belly and do this over. I thought I was doing the right thing, so I turned myself into a stone. I don’t mean that I didn’t love you. When I was pregnant, all I thought about was your well-being, and after you were born I held you and fed you as much as I could. But I never allowed myself to consider parenting. I dismissed it as impossible, as a choice that would destroy my life. How could I have been so wrong? I didn’t know then what I know now. I used to think I knew what I wanted. I used to have focus and a drive for education, for a solid direction, for living life in what I believed to be the “correct way.” School, career, and marriage before reproduction, and even then, I didn’t want to have children. Now that has vanished. Why did that even matter to me? As if I’ve ever managed to live “correctly” before. I know I should look at this as a chance to continue making my life what I want it to be, but my priorities on what I want are so different. I can’t stop being a mother just because you’re not here, and I can’t go on with my life as if nothing happened.

The what-ifs murder me inside. What if I had changed my mind? What if I had considered parenting? What if David and I had still been together when I found out? What if I had done better in college, finished on time, and had a good job by now? What if I had been vigilant about birth control? What if I had figured out I was pregnant sooner and procured an abortion? What if you were here with me? How wonderful would that be. What if I never feel happiness and peace again? What if I never find love that leads to marriage and what if I can never have a family? What if you were it for me?

There is nothing anyone can say to make me feel better. I wish they wouldn’t try. Either they tell me I made the right decision, which makes me so angry–how dare they presume to know what is right, and how dare they suggest my child is better off without me–or they imply that I deserve to suffer because I’m a monster who gave up her own baby. One of my best friends was shocked that I was even sad, because if I made such a choice, why was I sad about it? And no matter what people say, each and every one thinks I’ll be sad for a bit and then get over it. They are wrong. I cannot live with myself. I can’t live without you.

This sadness is unbearable. My entire body feels weak and tired from it, but when I try to rest it follows me into my dreams. I rarely feel hungry and I can barely chew and swallow. I force myself to eat even though food is unappealing. I get lost in my head and I can’t get out of it. Nothing feels real. It’s all a bad dream. It even looks blurry and out of focus. On some days I feel numb. On worse days I cry and cry and cry. My face hurts from crying but the tears are seemingly endless. I don’t pity myself, because I have no one else to blame. I let this happen, I did this to myself.

How could I have said goodbye?

Where Am I?

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