About Me

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I placed my daughter in an open adoption in 2002. I started this blog in 2004 as a place to journal and eventually I became part of a community. The community has moved on, but I have decided to come back.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Thanksgiving

Well I'm home and mostly rested (I haven't been able to feel really rested for months now.)

The trip was good.

I left Thanksgiving morning around 10:30. I called first and was informed that a lot more people were coming this year. That got my nerves on edge a bit but I started off solo anyway anxious for the holiday tradition.

Traffic was wonderfully light. It's usually a four hour drive and it took me....about four hours. It was pouring when I left and pouring when I arrived, but thankfully nice for the entire middle. Driving in the rain makes me nervous so I was very grateful.

My daughter ran to give me a big hug when I arrived. Her hair has (finally) grown out a bit and there's a little flip in the back. She was all dressed up in a purple plaid jumper and looked absolutely adorable.

The afternoon passed uneventfully. Her cousins were there so she was playing with them all afternoon. She adores them and they are wonderful with her. It makes me so happy that she has that. It was a little weird. If I was visiting my sister's kids I wouldn't have thought twice about plopping on the floor to play with the kids or lifting one of my nieces or nephews up to spin them around or give them a big squeeze from their auntie, but with my daughter I always hold back. So I sat with the adults and chatted about random things.

By the time dinner was served my daughter was tired from not having her nap. She didn't sit with us for dinner though after we were done she came to sit on my lap for a precious half hour. After that she left to play with her cousins again. They helped her put her jammies on and they all sat on the couch and read books. Not knowing where to go, I sat on the floor to try to (finally) get some pictures. For some reason, her mom didn't take any pictures this year so I felt a little weird snapping away.

The rest of the family left and it was time for my daughter to go to bed. We sat on the couch for a bit and I rubbed her back. When I stopped she grabbed my hand and asked for more. Her mom told her to pick two books for me to read to her. I couldn't hide my surprise- I guess she's going to make it a tradition for me to put her to bed when I visit. I was so grateful for the time with her.

When we went upstairs she pointed out some books and said "You gave these to me." My heart did a little dance. I bring her a book every time I visit (though I didn't this time- maybe I should mail one?). She picked out one of the books I gave her and one other. We gathered her blanket and bunny and settled in for the stories. She really does get involved with the books.

When the stories were done she didn't want to go in her crib. She didn't really want to cuddle up with me either. She stretched herself across my lap and kept trying to get comfortable (not easy because she's quite a bit longer than my lap and her arms and legs kept falling into the spaces between me and the chair edges.) She stayed like this for about twenty minutes. I loved the time but I kept worrying that her mom would come in wondering why she wasn't in bed yet. Finally, when she could barely keep her eyes open she agreed to go to sleep. She curled up into my shoulder and I carried her to bed and covered her up. She looked so peaceful. I gave her an extra kiss and regained my composure before heading downstairs.

It was only 9:30 so I was prepared to just drive home. I'm a super homebody. I have a very hard time staying in people's homes, I hate parties and social events. Her parents insisted I stay. The only reason I did is because I get to see my daughter so rarely and I didn't want to regret it later.

I slept fine. At one point I woke up to the sounds of my daughter crying for her daddy. In the morning he said she asked if I was sleeping. Who knows how she knew I was still there. I'm not really sure that she did but it was weird anyway.

She slept really late. When she did get up and her mom told her I was there, she started yelling for me so I went up to her room. We had breakfast. During breakfast, she suddenly seemed a little disoriented that I was there. She did ask that I come along for every activity they had planned for the weekend. She also asked where everyone else (from Thanksgiving) was.

Her mom took her up to get dressed so we could play outside before I left. She insisted that I come again. As she took off her pajamas, her mom told her to show me how she can take off her pajama pants all by herself. She got all proud while she did so, but then ran into trouble when they got stuck at her ankles. She immediately flipped out. She wouldn't let her mom walk out but she also woulkdn't let her pick her up. She wouldn't say what was wrong. Eventually her dad came up and she calmed down. Her mom left to go downstairs, but when I tried to follow she yelled for me to stay. At times like those, you really wish they had the words to verbalize what they're thinking and feeling.

We played outside for a little bit but she was cold so we came back in. This time she cried for her mom. I picked her up and we went to sit down. She stopped crying, but she was still sad. She wanted to watch TV so we saw the end of Sesame Street while her parents got ready for their day- they were off to pick out the Christmas tree. She got all excited about Elmo and talked to the TV.

Then we all left. She gave me a big hug goodbye and for the first time volunteered a kiss. Later, when I took my exit, she waved from the car window. It was a good trip.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Court

I go to court tomorrow.

I filed a lawsuit against my former employer for discrimination due to pregnancy (which was really due to the fact that I placed my daughter instead of parenting her).

Before I get hate comments, I've read "Drawing the Line" and agree with the author. I hate lawsuits. I did not take the decision to file one lightly.

That being said, I'm a little nervous. Thinking about the time of my pregnancy and the months following her birth always make me teary-eyed.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Wow

That's the only way to describe it.

My daughter's mom offered to let me stay there Thanksgiving night.

I have a lot of thinking to do.

I don't think I will, but it feels so good that they offered. My mom has often wondered why they never did. It's a four hour drive for me and most times I make the trip both ways in one day. Still, I never thought they'd offer. It's a little weird.

But I feel so good about where our relationship is headed.

After a month of no contact, I get this. Life never ceases to amaze me.

Bittersweet

I just got off the phone with my daughter.

I can't believe how well she talks. The sound of her voice is just so sweet.

She had just gotten out of the bath and she told me she was going to go downstairs and watch TV on the couch. I imagined her curled up on the couch with her mom and dad and it just made me so sad. I'll also curl up to watch TV tonight, but my daughter will be far away from me.

I'm so happy for her and for them. She has exactly the kind of life I wanted for her but couldn't give. It soothes me to know how loved she is and how much attention she gets.

But it still hurts. It cuts through me and makes me weary. The loss never goes away.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Labor

It was a Tuesday night and Kelly Clarkson was battling Justin Guarini for the title of American Idol. The final performances of the first season. It was the one thing I battled fatigue for. Having been disowned by most of my family and friends, I spent many nights alone in a too hot apartment rubbing my belly and wondering just how early I'd go to bed that night. My pregnancy fatigue never faded and most nights found me in bed at 6.

I always stayed up for American Idol. Some days, I'd imagine that I was up there singing. Maybe then I wouldn't be pregnant. Maybe then I never would have visited that other country for Christmas. Maybe then I wouldn't be another statistic.

This Tuesday found me pacing. Every so often I would pull out the pregnancy books and pamphlets trying to figure out if I really was in labor. I even tallied my contractions. But I wasn't due for two more weeks and it was my first pregnancy.

Eventually my mother called and after a bit I admitted that I wasn't feeling well. Within seconds of hanging up the phone, one of my sisters called- the only one of us four who had given birth (five times actually). Although we'd barely spoken in over a year, she was a blessing that night.

After American Idol, I tried to go to bed. Pain. I tried again. More pain. Must be labor.

I hesitated to call my stepmother. Due to difficult laws in my state, I had arranged to give birth somewhere else. I didn't want to call in the middle of the night, drive three hours, and then be told it wasn't the real thing.

I paced some more. Then I called. Um, I think I'm in labor.

While I waited, I put together the going-to-the-hospital bag I'd been meaning to put together all summer. I took a shower (against medical advice because I was alone) and put on blue sweatpants and a cartoon T-shirt.

My stepmother picked me up. We traveled in the dark.

The traffic was nonexistent and my stepmother was getting nervous as we drove. I'm surprised I didn't break off every handle in the car from gripping them so tightly through the pain.

Midway through, I called the people who would become my daughter's parents. We had agreed that they would be there for the birth. At 1 AM, they began what would be a five hour trip.

As we got closer to the hospital, my stepmother sped up. Flashing lights. We got ourselves a police escort.

I hadn't called the hospital ahead. When we arrived, no one expected me. I was hooked up to a monitor and left while the midwives and doctors performed an emergency C-section nearby. My records hadn't made it either. I had only been here once. They hadn't expected an early delivery either.

The pain was intense. I paced the halls and wondered aloud how women could endure childbirth more than once. I looked all of 16 although I was 25, but the nurses, after getting over their surprise, were nothing but kind.

We ordered breakfast at some point, but never ate it. When it arrived, I was pushing. I was in a great place- no meds, waterbirth, doula, midwives, etc. I would do it exactly the same if I had to do it again. ( My daughter was healthy and so was I, requiring no stiches. I would find out later that I was the first woman on either side of my family in at least three generations to have a complication-free first birth. Every other first-born in my family had needed immediate emergency care.)

Nobody pressured me to push. Instead, the doula held my head up above the water while I slept between contractions (yes you can fall asleep during labor). Eventually I was ready to push through the pain. A whole football team could have been there and it wouldn't have mattered. I'm known for my extreme modesty about my body, but in those moments I did not care.

On Wednesday morning, my daughter was born. She was placed immediately into my arms. I held her in awe and confusion. She was crying and I did not know what to do. At the same time I marvelled at the perfect being that had come from my body. She was perfect. Later the midwife would tell my stepmother how moved she was at my reaction to the birth- she had never seen anything like it.

My daughter had skin missing on her hand from where she had sucked while in the womb. Her head was covered in hair. Her face was perfectly round. After a moment, I handed her to the woman who would be her mother. I could barely look at her.

The rest of the day passed in a blur. After her checkup, my daughter was brought to me again. We laid in a hospital bed, my nakedness covered by sheets and blankets, and we examined each other. Even in her first hours, she made faces. The pictures I have of those moments are some of my most precious. She fit so perfectly in my arms.

I slept away most of the remainder of the day. In fact, I chose not to see her again until that evening. I was spent. Weak from labor, from nine months of decision-making. Overwhelmed by the feelings of motherhood I thought I could never have, the irresistable urge to protect my daughter at all costs- my heart at war with my head- dreading the thought of saying goodbye.

It was all true. There was absolutely nothing that could have prepared me for this (or as I would learn later, every emotion that was to follow).

Around dinner, I answered and made phone calls while my daughter lay in my lap. American Idol came on. The end of season one. Kelly Clarkson sang a song. The words could have been all of us: me, my daughter, her parents - for me, they will always mean that.

Some people do wait a lifetime.

My pregnancy was over. The goodbyes would follow soon.

An email

I'm happy.

I got the email I've been waiting for. And pictures.

She's been busy.

It was worth the wait.

Now I can look forward to my annual Thanksgiving visit. Unfortunately, this year I'm going alone. My sister usually joins me, but she made plans this year. I'm debating whether or not to fly my mom in. I haven't seen her since my daughter was born and she would love to see how her granddaughter has grown. If I can figure out a place for her to stay, maybe I will.

If not, the good news is that Thanksgiving is a small, intimate affair at their house.

I can't wait.