backlit

October 31, 2012 § 3 Comments

This blog knows me only as a birth mother. So I’m going to talk about myself, which is nothing new. I make myself quite emotionally vulnerable here, but only about my adoption experience. And I’d like to be more than that to anyone who happens to read this.

I live in downtown SLC, a welcome relief from the suburbs I grew up in. My studio apartment bankrupts me, but I love living alone too much to seek cheaper arrangements that involve roommates. Been there, done that, hated it. I have trust complexes, and I’m close with maybe two people. I truly believe I’ll be single for the rest of my life, although the prospect makes me sad. I’m a Capricorn, which tells you more about me than I ever could. Comedy is not my forte, although I am occasionally funny on accident, in a dry sardonic way.  I lived in the Pacific Northwest until sixth grade. I miss it there. My favorite color is purple and my apartment makes that obvious. It seems like everything I own is purple. I’m majoring in biology. I work at a clothing store. I’m very conscious of style and appearances, although I rarely wear makeup. I look the same with it on or off. I like selling men’s wear more than women’s, particularly suits. I’m obsessed with suits. Like most people my age, I love tattoos and piercings. I have 2 tattoos (hip and ribcage) and 3 non-ear piercings (nape, navel, lip). I take out my lip ring to appear professional at my job.

I love exercise and sweating. I love challenges. I’m happy I had my baby naturally–I think episiotomies, epidurals, Demerol, cesareans, Pitocin, IVs, and all the rest are totally horrifying. I love animals. I love cooking, cleaning, doing the dishes, and organizing things. I like being productive. I make to-do lists. I’m always honest, and abrasively so. I like going to the dentist. I’m a film snob, and I have a weakness for the horror genre and for French films. I listen to music of all kinds. I’m terrible at dancing, but I do it whenever I’m alone. I read and write constantly, and in fact I’m participating in NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow. I love literary classics and poetry.

I don’t like that my extended family considers me the  black sheep. I don’t like cold mornings. I’m afraid of heights. I don’t like the way guys typically perceive and relate to women. Examples: friend-zone (wanting to be friends is such an insult!), my ex is crazy (because you made her that way?), pick-up artistry (epitome of douchebaggery), asking me what a girl means by something (newsflash, there is no universal female language), wondering why girls like jerks and not nice guys (being nice does not make you desirable on its own), so on and so forth. I don’t like dogs. I know I said I love animals, but dogs gross me out. I like some dogs, at times. I don’t like when people misread my name as April. I don’t like being unestablished in life; I honestly wish I was in a career and married with kids. I don’t like automatic transmissions, Byzantine art, bad manners, video stores being replaced by Netflix and RedBox, or bookstores suffering because of Kindle.

I smoke weed on most evenings. I regretfully smoke cigarettes–I quit when I found out I was pregnant, but started again two weeks after giving birth. I still want to quit. I love drinking 2-3 drinks, but despise drinking to the point of drunkenness. I’m very much a loner and I don’t know or care to know many people, and thus I go to like 2 parties in a year. The exception was my raver phase when I was 19, during which I partied every day for a few months. Another example of how mellow I am (and perhaps how much of a loser I am) is that I think sex is for love, or at least significant feelings and strong attraction. My bedpost notches add up to 6, and I regret 3 of them, but I’m still the only college-age girl I know who does not have a number in the teens. I’m glad I don’t. Does it matter? No. Does it matter to me? Yes. Do I judge other people who are more casual about it? Sometimes.

It may be obvious, but I suffer from depression. I function well and I have an unrelated tendency to brood, so no one notices. The truth is that I’m simply accustomed to dealing with it. Illness, at least mine, can be managed and controlled. Nothing has helped lately, because this is not just illness. Ever since…like 4 weeks after walking away from my baby, when I realized that the pain would never abate, I have very seriously contemplated/planned suicide every day.

I’m sorry to bring up such a taboo subject. I simply don’t foresee life being okay again, after having a baby and losing him. I try to avoid “what if” but once the thoughts are there, you can’t go back. I can’t imagine liking myself again, even a little. I can’t control the flashbacks and the memories that bring on tears and horrific anxiety, out of nowhere. This is beyond any realm of “dealing with it.” I can’t turn it off, and I can’t change the past.

I’m not going to die so don’t waste your time worrying. I don’t want to hurt my parents. And this may sound strange, but I don’t want my kitty to miss me. I may hate my life, but they all have good lives and they are happy, and I don’t want to take that away. I guess I still have a certain level of misguided hope that wants to wait and see if everything turns out alright, even if the rest of me certainly has no desire to stick around for the train wreck. That’s why I am alive and merely wishing for death. I have no chance of being happy.

Happy Halloween! It doesn’t feel remotely like Halloween, probably because I have not done anything nor will I tonight.

contrast and compare

October 20, 2012 § 18 Comments

Shortly after I started writing on wordpress, I began searching all over the internet, hellbent on finding someone with my same exact story. But that never happened, and I felt just as isolated as I did before. Of course we are all as unique as can be, but I guess I wanted to find someone who had screwed up in all the same ways. Maybe if I found that person, they could tell me exactly how I could feel better. On both counts, I was bound to be disappointed.

I did find a girl who also found out she was pregnant at 27 weeks, so I felt like less of an idiot about finding out so late. I found many who were disillusioned and in denial and never thought about life after placement. I found many who had complicated, painful relationships with the birth father. The themes of loss, missing your baby, questioning your motherhood, feeling misunderstood, and being changed forever were all prevalent.

After reading so many blogs, I became jealous of certain aspects of some birth mom’s situations. I’m not proud of that, but it’s difficult not to compare.

For example, most were opposed to abortion, while that was my first reaction to finding out I was pregnant. I was just too far along in my pregnancy to get one. That makes me feel like shit now; I’m glad my son is in the world. I envy those who had the full nine months to decide. I had three months, and I panicked. Some had good relationships with the birth father before and/or after placement. I’m definitely jealous of that.

Some have very open arrangements with the adoptive parents, and I wish I had that too. I don’t need to hang out with them every weekend. But they live so far away that visits are out of the question. Mostly, I wish we could correspond by e-mail or be friends on facebook. I wish I hadn’t agreed to 6-month updates. I didn’t realize how long six months is when it’s your baby and you think about him at nearly every moment. It’s been two and half months, and I’m on the verge of exploding. I just want to know everything! I have so many questions. I want to see new pictures of him all the time, instead of looking at the same old pictures of his first two days of life. Babies grow and change so quickly.

I wish the agency wasn’t mediating our contact, too. That really irritates me. But I know I’d sound like a serial killer if I asked for direct contact. It’s so insulting. I trusted them with my baby, but I’m not trusted with their e-mail or home addresses? Or their last name? I found everything with one Google search! L has a wikipedia page due to his career. Honestly, I had no idea that it was mediated, up until that shattering moment when David and I wheeled the bassinet down the hall. Before leaving, I mentioned to C and L that I’d written letters I wanted them to have, but I forgot to bring them to the hospital. Their caseworker said, “Just send them to us, we’ll send those to them.” My heart sank.

I never sent those letters I wrote while pregnant. Partly because I no longer mean anything I said at the time. Partly because I’m uncomfortable with the agency reading them (I’ve heard they do, so they can black out last names and other identifiers). And partly because I doubt C and L care about anything I have to say. If they do, they can say so, but they don’t.

Time goes so slowly now. Probably because I am so much more aware of it. Every Tuesday, I know it’s been one more week. Every day feels like a week.

I digress. Most bloggers I’ve read chose adoption because it was their only choice, while I had a family who would’ve helped me. I just didn’t understand at the time that keeping him would not have ruined my life. Losing a baby has done far more to that end. So in a way, I envy those birth moms who did it because they had to. I don’t envy their situations that led to having to make such a hard decision. But I envy their knowledge that they looked at every possible angle, contemplated parenting, and decided adoption was best. I didn’t even try. I just gave up.

That’s why I don’t stick to using “positive adoption language.” Why sugarcoat it? I say I gave up my baby, because that’s the truth.

Some are religious (often Mormon) and that seems to help, as they believe God is always with them or whatever. I don’t have that comfort. A few times I tried praying, as well as telling myself that this life doesn’t matter, and my son will be with me again. But I didn’t buy it, I don’t believe in afterlife or God. I think of the stars and the rocks and the vast time scale, and try to convince myself of my life’s insignificance in that way, too. That has helped me through past suffering. But it’s still my life, and it’s the only one I have. Knowing how small it is doesn’t take the hurt away.

I feel that most birth moms are stronger than I am. I don’t doubt that their pain is the same as mine or greater, but sometimes I berate myself, thinking that other birth moms deal with it better. I deal with pain, but it’s a facade. I can hold myself together and be normal, but I can’t claim to be truly happy. Not at this point in my life anyway. I don’t doubt I’m capable of being happy again. And we all grieve differently.

What I most envy, however, is that so few birth mom bloggers regret their decision. So if you’re wondering why I don’t buck up, go read another blog. Most of them are cheerier. Without exception, they all say it was hard and that they love their child, but many of them speak of the “joys” along with the challenges, and their faith in having done the right thing, and how the parents they chose are better than they would’ve been. I wonder if I will ever get to claim joy in this adoption thing. Maybe. In some ways C and L are better than me. Certainly they were better prepared to be parents, but they aren’t superior in every way. I know I will always regret. No matter how happy I am in the future, I know I won’t look back on this and say it was the right thing to do.

I don’t want to come across as immature or like I believe everyone should think like me. That’s not it at all. In trying to find common ground, I’ve realized we all are unique people leading different lives, and if anything, that should give me confidence to feel validated in who I am and how I feel. It helps to know I’m not alone.

I hate him

October 16, 2012 § 8 Comments

“I only held him for like 5 minutes, he’s not that important to me.”

– actual quote tonight from David

This was in addition to telling me I shouldn’t be sad because he’s not sad, we did the right thing and I’m basically stupid for wishing I’d done differently. He also told me he hates when either of us broaches the subject because I “go off the deep end” on it. He then said that my grief was a burden on him because he could see how certain things affected me and he couldn’t stand it. Not like he couldn’t stand it, as in, he’s such a caring person, he can’t bear to see me in pain. He meant, he couldn’t stand my grief because it annoyed him.

Every time I think he’s done everything possible to hurt me already, he proves me wrong. The one person who should understand my pain, and he doesn’t. And he is angry with me for my emotions. Which, by the way, I have never forced on him. We never talk about it. I don’t ask for support or comfort, even when I need it desperately. The only place I talk about it is here. I know he doesn’t want to think about it or talk about it, so we don’t. In the two months since your birth, I’ve only mentioned it a couple of times, and we didn’t talk for more than a few minutes.

I take back everything I’ve said about loving him or missing him, or how he would make a good father.

I agree with him in the sense that I shouldn’t regret what can’t be changed, but in this case, that’s a thousand times easier said than done. I want to and I will strive to be at peace with this. But sweetheart, I know what you mean to me. I don’t talk about you incessantly or even occasionally. But you are in my heart and I have you there always. No one has a right to say I shouldn’t.

Sometimes I wish I was like David and I could just not care. It must be nice to have so little emotion. Then I remember my heart is only broken because it once felt something splendid.

reforms

October 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

Two of my friends are pregnant now. They’re due around the same time. I can say honestly that I am excited and happy for them, especially as both pregnancies were very wanted and intended. It hurts though, just like it hurts every time I see families, pregnant women, babies, and children, especially cute little boys.

One of my pregnant friends was talking to me about how she is still pro-choice, but she can understand the other side now. She never could before. I agree completely. I’m pro-choice for many reasons, and I think having access to abortion is fantastic. Gestation and birth is such an enormous responsibility that choice doesn’t seem like an appropriate word, though. And when the baby is born, choice has nothing to do with it. The connection to that baby is not a choice. It is there and so powerful. The mother-child bond is the basis of life.

Among other things, I wish someone had attempted to explain this to me. Signing away your parental rights should never be seen as a good option. It’s not some simple “choice” you can make. And it should rarely be considered a solution to problems. There are better ways to handle the problems posed by an unintended pregnancy. Abortion is one of them, but it’s not the only one. Finding social support, applying for aid, and figuring out how to make things work as a parent may be difficult, but I can assure anyone that losing a child to adoption is worse. If it’s too hard, there is letting relatives help, and even temporary guardianship.

An adoption plan shouldn’t be made before birth. It’s so hard to know how to feel about the baby while pregnant. You were an abstract concept I couldn’t understand. And when I decided on adoption, I was treated as if I was already a birth mother by the agency and by the prospective parents. I saw myself as one, too, even if I wasn’t yet. Both parties court you relentlessly. Your parents sent me flowers. The agency ladies took me out to lunch all the time and seemed like they cared about me.

I think even if adoption seems necessary, the mother should make a plan to bring her baby home and try to parent and see how it goes. I felt so alone when I was pregnant, but when I had you I was amazed by the support that suddenly popped up and all the people who adored you. I never knew I had anyone willing to help me. I never even guessed.

I realize that the reason adoption isn’t treated this way, as something harmful that should be discouraged as much as possible, is because it’s a huge industry. Their clients are hopeful parents and that’s who they serve. Scared girls who are pregnant with healthy white babies are what they make money from. As much as they pretend to care, their clients are prospective adoptive parents who pay them a lot and agencies act in their interest, not the mother’s. Our culture also tends to overstate the important of material goods and a child “deserves better” than young single mothers without much money. But once I saw how much you needed me, I knew separating you from me was not what was right and best.

The laws should be different. In Utah, you are given 24 hours after birth until you can sign away your parental rights. David and I signed the papers about 27 hours after you were born. 27 hours that I had spent in my hospital bed, exhausted, full of emotions, people going in and out of my room, no time to myself and my own thoughts. Is 27 hours enough time to make a decision that will affect the rest of my life forever? Some states have a waiting period of 72 hours. I know that if I had been given 72 hours, I would have decided to trust my emotion and I never would have let you leave my arms. Some states have a revocation period. In Utah there is none, and the adoption is effective once signed. If there was any such thing, I would have changed my mind immediately.

And for everyone who would call me selfish for thinking of myself instead of being happy that you have a two-parent middle-class home, adoption is a loss for the baby too. I hope with all my heart that you don’t miss me as much as I miss you. But I know a baby would not want to be separated from his mother and given to strangers. It is my voice and smell and heartbeat that you knew when you were born. When I read about the trauma caused to infants when they’re separated from their mother and adopted, I’m wracked with guilt. I never wanted you to feel abandoned. You deserve so much better than this. If you hate me I understand.

The easiest way to explain the emptiness I feel is to describe a recurring dream I’ve had. I’m standing in front of a full-length mirror, and the image reflected to me is that of myself holding you. But I’m the only one standing there. You are in my own self-image, now and forever, not something that happened in my past. I don’t know who I am without you. I’m no longer complete. I feel the same way with David, that you should be there but you are missing. We are only two of a solid triangle.

There are times it hurts to look at him because his face reminds me of you. I wonder if he’s ever reminded of you when he looks at me. I don’t know because we’ve only spoken about you a few times.

I regret that in the hospital we spent so little time together, just the three of us. My family, Sara, Sara’s family, the ladies from the agency, and your parents were constantly there. I should have spoken up and told them to get out of my face. Not to mention the continual presence of hospital staff, fussing over me, taking my vitals, checking my bleeding, bringing me food. We weren’t alone until I was discharged from the hospital and we were about to take you to C and L, and we stayed in the room for a few minutes. It was just the three of us together, so that we could said goodbye. David was holding you and I laid in his lap sobbing, and we both told you we loved you and how happy we wanted you to be. It was horrible how nice it felt, just the three of us together. And how fleeting the moment would be. I wish we’d at least asked for some time alone before signing relinquishment papers, and talked it over to make sure that was what we wanted. I think we were both in denial and I think we both assumed it was what the other person wanted.

Our culture views adoption so favorably, as if this was Brave New World and it doesn’t matter who you raise or who raises you. But David and I were not your egg and sperm donors and my uterus wasn’t an incubator. You aren’t just some baby to me. My love for you is not just emotion, hormonal reactions that are subordinate to reason and doing the “right” thing. I love you and that is all that’s real to me. I wish I could hold you right now and tell you how much I love you. I wish you could feel that.

the bitter end

October 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day 2011

My relationship with David has been more tumultuous and rocky than I feel like describing here and it ended long before you were born, early this year. Recently, I made a conscious decision to move on. It’s been really hard for me, to face the reality that it’s over between us. For him, it’s easy. He’s been over me for a long time. He was never as depressed as I was about it. I’m horribly in love…or pathetic.

It’s painful to realize that we will never be together, we will never have any more children, I’m not always going to be in his life and he’s not always going to be in mine. If he had made some kind of effort, any at all, I would’ve married him at that moment. But he didn’t. I can’t make him love me. He is done, so I have to be done too. But it makes me so sad. I created life with a man and he’s gone, and we’ll never do something so beautiful together again. You are the only child conceived between us, the only remnant of our love. And you’re gone too.

If David were a drunken one-night stand, I wouldn’t care, but we loved each other for a long time. He is gorgeous and amazing. I wouldn’t want to have a baby with anyone else. I miss him, but I know he doesn’t want to be with me. In that way it is for the best.

I don’t think I could ever love again. I don’t trust easily, if at all. I’ve been in two relationships that were over three years long, and I feel like I’ve experienced everything, none of it would be new and exciting. I have changed since the last time I found a boyfriend, at age 19. I’m not fun and sociable and interested in meeting new people. In fact, it’s rare that I like most people enough to spend more than a few minutes with them. Playing the “game” disgusts me now. I don’t have confidence or magnetism, and whenever I am in public, I’m invisible to others. It’s something I perfected in high school. I can’t bear the idea of sharing personal histories. Most guys wouldn’t be okay with my past, that I had a baby and I placed him for adoption. It’s far more likely to have a child and be able to find a partner than attempt to deal with this. Even if someone was okay with it in theory, it would be difficult for him to understand the complexity of emotion surrounding the adoption. How could I have made a choice I regret so deeply? I’m not sure I can explain. No one knows what to say to me because so few people have a clue. It’s not their fault. Being a birth mother is not something that can be easily related to.

Finding love isn’t something I need to worry about right now. But I worry anyway. I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life and I know I might be, and that’s scary. The worst part is, I don’t ever want to try. Why would I? To sit around and laugh about my failures? To prove to myself what I already know, that I could never open up to anyone again? To see just how far below my standards every guy is?

I’m trying not to be angry or depressed or really feel anything about this. But I am angry. It is so easy for David. He spent my pregnancy fucking other girls and getting drunk. He is over me. He loves you very much, but he is content with the adoption. He will have no trouble continuing his life. There is no stigma or shame for him in having a baby that he is not raising. He is charming, unscrupulous, and handsome. He has friends and he makes friends everywhere he goes. And here I am utterly incapable of having a relationship of any kind, of living life happily. It takes everything I have just to exist from moment to moment.

I guess I’ve learned in the past few months that life isn’t fair. I’ve always known this but still somehow assumed that I deserve or that I am guaranteed certain outcomes in life, especially if I try to be a good person. I’m not the only one, either. Even most adults older than me still tend to believe this. And now that I know better, it hasn’t been an easy lesson.

openness

October 3, 2012 § 1 Comment

In the midst of some research, I came across an unsettling statistic. 80% of open adoptions become closed. I’ve seen this statistic in many different places now, but it is never cited or verified. I don’t believe that this is as ubiquitous as the Internet claims; someone probably came up with it and everyone started passing it around. It sounds too high. But still, it filled me with anxiety.

What would I do if your parents cut off contact with us? We have not had any contact since David and I left the hospital. The adoption is “semi-open.” Really, as they say, that means “semi-closed.” Everything is mediated through the agency, so neither of us have identifying information about each other.

This is a bit of a joke to me though, because my son’s adoptive parents are high-profile and a quick Google search revealed their last name, address, phone number, and e-mail. Of course I would not use this information in any way.

Our contact will be so infrequent. Pictures and letters every six months. And that’s all. I never thought about it before until it became a reality. How many pictures will we get? A few of you at six months old, or will I be blessed enough to get dozens of photos depicting all the time in between? And what kind of letter? Would they write to me as an equal, as someone who cares about nothing but your well-being and would die to see you again, or would I receive the equivalent of a family Christmas card? “2012 has been another fantastic year, we were able to squeeze in some traveling, the parade was a great experience, the little one is thriving in his day care, we will be remodeling our home with our much-deserved Christmas bonuses, Happy New Year.”

I couldn’t bear such breezy detachment. I want details of the good, bad, and mundane. My body grew yours and yet I have no more rights to you than a stranger would. In fact, I have less. Strangers can interact with you and your parents, and no one would feel threatened. If I requested more contact than we have, if I admitted my grief and regret, if I came across as anything but grateful for the happy life (I hope) you will have, the results could be cataclysmic. I would be seen as unstable and overstepping boundaries. It could be concluded that maintaining contact with me is not in your best interest. They have all the power. The contact that was agreed upon is not legally enforceable and if they abruptly shut me out forever, there is nothing anyone could do. And even if I had the privilege of seeing you again as an adult, what then? Your parents could have told you that I didn’t love you enough to stay in touch, I dumped you and started a new life for myself. They could impart any number of horrific lies, and you would despise me, and I couldn’t expect to tell the truth and have you believe me. I would never wish to pit you against your parents like that either.

I don’t know anything for certain, except that I cannot take any risks. I’m not allowed to have any expectations. I’ll always be careful with what I say, my love. This is all I have left.

There’s so much I would like to say to your parents. How can you live with yourselves? How can you build your family from someone else’s loss? How can you pretend my baby is yours? Do you ever think of me and David, or were we just the necessary faces to smile at to get what you wanted? Do you even realize? Do you even care?

The basic premise of adoption, of someone else assuming parental rights and responsibilities over another’s child, never seemed strange to me. Now that it has happened to my child, it does. It seems unnatural and wrong. A child who needs a home, I can wrap my mind around that. A home that needs a child, I cannot.

I know I have no right to feel the way I do, but I do.

Where Am I?

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