(Note: I wrote this on 30 April but am only getting around to posting it this morning. Please excuse my tardiness – I had a rough weekend.)
Dear Ms. Feverfew –
It has been too long since I have written, but as I have said in the past, it isn’t because I am not thinking of you. In fact, these past few weeks have been consumed with thoughts of you, of me, of this new little one and how all of this came to be how it now is. My other excuse is that I went for a couple of days without a computer because I knocked over my water bottle onto my laptop keyboard and spilled about 2 cups of water into it. Fortunately, a quick acting husband and several days of drying while propped upside down have rendered it usable again so hopefully I can get back to writing.
Today I went to the ObGyn for my weekly checkup. Blood pressure is 85/62, weight is up 1 lb. (woohoo! and I mean this seriously – it has been a struggle for me to gain weight this pregnancy), heart rate is 59, no protein in my urine, baby sounds great, everything is going along swimmingly. She commended me for all my laying around and lounging about I have been doing for the past 3 weeks and reminded me that in the grand scheme of life, this time I am spending on bedrest is nothing. And she’s right. It really is nothing compared to having a healthy baby in 11 days.
So there I am, lounging about on the exam table (because frankly if someone wants to talk with me, they have to do it while I am laying down because sitting sucks. Period.) My doctor starts talking to me about the upcoming c/section (did I mention its in 11 more days?) and some of my concerns as it is sooooooooooo not my typical way of birthing – I am much more the water birth/midwife kind of woman. In addition to the normal fears, I also told her how worried I was that I was going to have a complete come-apart there on the OR table. I told her of my struggles I have been having and how this new baby is causing me to really confront what I have spent the last 17+ years avoiding: losing you to adoption. Thus ensued one of the most open, honest, and compassionate conversations I have ever had with a health care professional about adoption and adoption grief.
There was no judgment of me. There was no reaching for the prescription pad to write me an Rx for an antidepressant because my emotions were making her uncomfortable. There were no “There, there now, you just need to let go and move on” comments. There was only genuine compassion for my plight as a woman who had lost a child and never been given the permission to grieve that loss. There were tears, both hers and mine, as I unfolded our story. There was horror and repulsion at how I was treated. There was understanding at my need to reconcile my faith with my experience. There was a willingness to accept that adoption isn’t a win-win-win for everyone involved. There was the ability to see that the successes I have cobbled together in my life are in spite of the fact I relinquished you for adoption, not because of it.
Through all of this, I explained that because of this unresolved grief, I have had a difficult time accepting this pregnancy. It still feels like a dream to me and I have not really connected with this new little spirit who is coming to our family. I am afraid to because what if God decides I don’t deserve to be her mother either? What if He takes her from me? What if, what if, what if?
For some reason, I have been able to subvert/ignore/stuff those feelings while parenting my two boys. I never struggled with any of these emotions when I was pregnant with them. By that point I knew I was a damn good mother and no one could ever tell me otherwise, even my stinky ex-husband and his “perfect” stay-at-home wife who wanted me to relinquish custody of Captain Knuckle because I was now single and they were now married. Even my mother who urged me to do the same thing, to just “let him go” and “move on in peace” with my life. I didn’t listen to them because I knew I was a good mother to my very core and the my children deserved to be with me. More importantly, I deserved to be with them.
Why this pregnancy is so soul-shattering different, I don’t know. I think it might be because it is a girl. I think it might be because she is arriving so close to your birthday. I think it might be because I was pregnant through the fall, winter, and spring like I was with you. I think it is because you are turning 18 in 6 weeks. I think, I think, I think. Perhaps I am over-thinking things.
So back to my doctor. After spending a good 50 minutes blubbering to her about you, she said, “You know, perhaps this pregnancy is a gift because it is forcing you to confront all of these fears and concerns you have. It is forcing you to examine more carefully what happened back then and to find ways to resolve those feelings of loss and grief.”
And she is right. This pregnancy is doing/has done all of those things and I am certain little Penelope Rose will continue to challenge me in ways I didn’t know that I needed to be challenged as she grows. Each birthday, each Christmas, each family pictures, each dance lesson, each piano lesson, each soccer game, each school dance, each date, there will always be a searing awareness of you, what I missed, and the big What If.
Is this a gift? I don’t know at this point. I would like to think that it is but I’m guessing it isn’t the black-cocker-spaniel-puppy-with-a-bow-around-her-neck kind of gift. I think it is one of those paradoxical gifts that is going to hurt but help all at the same time, that will expand my ability to love and to accept life as it unfolds.
Needless to say, I am swiftly running out of time to get as much of this figured out as possible. Did I mention I only have 11 more days?