self(LESS) – A Birthmother’s Pain

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Over the past eight months, I have struggled to find a reason to write happy posts or find humor in the small things. At the beginning of December my boyfriend and I found out that we were pregnant. I had just started a new job after being laid off twice over the course of two months, and was freaking out when I learned I was pregnant.

You see, I was not suppose to even get pregnant. When I was 18 I had cysts burst in both of my ovaries and the doctor told me after surgery to remove the cysts that I did not have any viable eggs left. I also have endometriosis, and earlier in October of 2015 my boyfriend and I were in talks with my gynecologist about getting a hysterectomy because the pain was just getting to be unbearable. I believed I was infertile anyways so why carry around an organ that was only causing me pain? Regardless of my infertility, I was still on the pill because of the pain, and he was still using condoms because sex can be messy and gross. So just to tally everything up, we were using contraceptives, I have a disease that makes pregnancy very hard to attain, and I was suppose to be infertile. So when I found out I was pregnant, I immediately went to the emergency room, because pregnancy could be dangerous with all the problems I had leading up to that point.

Once at the emergency room I called my best friend, my sister, and my boyfriend. I did not know what to do as the time ticked by waiting for a doctor to confirm my greatest fear. I had three different tests done, first your regular urine test, positive, then the blood test, also positive, so the doctor sat me down and said that we needed to check where the baby was because with my medical history it would likely be an ectopic pregnancy. I sat there, and I hate to admit it, but I was hoping it was ectopic because then I would not have a choice but to terminate the pregnancy.

My family growing up was the family outside the abortion clinic shaming women for being pro-choice or not seeing adoption or being a parent as the best option. Up until the moment the I became pregnant I was also pro-life, but I was personally pro-life and I did not believe it was my place to tell people what to do with their bodies especially since I did not believe I would ever understand their position. When the doctor came into the room to tell me that it was not ectopic, I became pro-choice, because I wanted to choose myself. I was already having a hard time with morning sickness and had missed a couple of days of work. I asked everyone that knew to just not say anything to anyone, especially my parents, because I wanted to terminate my pregnancy in privacy and not have other people “live with my decision.” I told my boyfriend that if there was not a heartbeat that we could see or hear that I wanted to terminate the pregnancy, and he supported the decision because it was what would be best for both of us at that time. My sister would not let that happen though, and she told my parents that night that I was considering abortion. My parents consistently called me and the guilt became so overwhelming that I cancelled all appointments in regards to even learning about the option of termination.

My boyfriend and I decided that adoption was the best option at that point. Just a month prior we were planning on never having kids, and neither of us were prepared to be parents. We were both living with our parents, and neither of us had much in savings, and I was not even able to keep a job, consistently getting laid off. Financially we just were not ready to support having a child (I even got laid-off at six months pregnant too, which made things even harder), emotionally we were not there, and mentally I was still in disbelief that I could even get pregnant. Luckily for my sanity my boyfriend suggested that we move in together and work together through this entire pregnancy.

I began setting up appointments and reading about what could and would happen during my pregnancy. I progressively became more and more sick during my pregnancy. I went in for an appointment, and the doctor noticed that I was losing weight rather than gaining weight. My doctor asked me about my diet and I told her about how sick I was and how I was unable to keep anything down. On my best days I was throwing up five times a day, and on my bad days I was throwing up more than twelve times in a day. She told me that I had hyperemesis and that usually it went away by week sixteen. It did not, and my esophagus became so damaged during my pregnancy that I will have to get it repaired some point in the near future. I did not end up gaining any weight until the seventh month of my pregnancy where I then put on forty-five pounds in two months. I had every symptom of preeclampsia, but none of the tests came back positive.

My pregnancy was unbelievably difficult and every ultrasound I had put the baby at larger than average, and if the baby were anything like me they would be huge and come early. I broke my mother’s tail-bone and dislodged her pelvis when I came out, and I was terrified that the same would happen to me. The baby was also constantly active, and she kicked a ligament so many times that it was bruised and bulging right from under my rib cage. I was just constantly in pain.

The only solace that I had aside from my boyfriend was the amazing couple that we had found for the baby. They are a lot like us in a lot of different ways, only financially stable and they have been trying to have kids but could not have them on their own. We liked them so much that after they visited us we knew we were lucky to have found them. They both cried when we showed them ultrasound pictures and told them we would be having a girl, and they kept us up to date with the nursery and what they were doing to get ready for her arrival.

My due date was July 29, 2016, but on July 10 I became incredibly sick as the baby became incredibly active. I called the after hours line Monday evening and they told me it sounded more like food poisoning than anything. Tuesday morning when talking with the doctor again I threw up blood in the middle of a sentence. The doctor told me to get to the hospital, and while I waited for my boyfriend to get home from work to take me to the hospital I gathered our hospital bags just in case.

When I got to the hospital they put the monitors on me and I found out I was in labor, and probably had been the past three days. I thought the baby was just excessively active because she had been the entire pregnancy, and my water never broke. Luckily I went in when I did because my contractions we already three to two minutes apart. I had planned on having a c-section, and my doctor and I had actually discussed having my tubes tied because of how hard this pregnancy had been and because I never wanted kids anyways. I decided against it in the last-minute just because of all the pain and the additional recovery time it would take for me.

We let the adoptive parents know that I was going to be getting the c-section, and they packed their things and headed up to be with us in the hospital, and they would be there the next day. My baby was born July 12, 2016 at 3:36pm.

After my c-section we stayed in a post-op room with the baby for a couple of hours, and that was the first time I held my baby. She has a full head of hair, is exceptionally squirmy when she is awake, but also quiet, and when she sleeps she hardly moves which is actually terrifying because you get up to check that she is still alive. After I held her for a little while, I asked my boyfriend if he wanted to hold her while the nurse came and pressed down on my uterus. After the nurse came and checked on me, I looked over at my boyfriend and the baby we had made together, and all of a sudden I was feeling something I never knew I was capable of feeling. In a moment I had fallen deeper in love with my boyfriend and completely in love with a brand new, tiny human. He looked so soft, and all I wanted was to call off everything in that moment. I wanted to tell the adoptive parents not to come, to say that I had changed my mind, that everything had changed, because it had.

Our own parents came to the hospital that night and met the baby and told us they supported us, but would also help out in any way the could if we changed our minds. Neither of us knew that we actually had both changed our minds though. We kept reassuring one another that we were making the best decision for our daughter, and that her new parents were better for her than we were presently.

Our daughter deserves every opportunity that life has to offer, and logically her adoptive parents have all that she would need. They have a beautiful, big house – we live in a one bedroom apartment, they have stable jobs – I do not even have a job, and we both want to go back to school for different jobs, they are married and have committed the rest of their lives to each other – we went from seeing each other on the weekends to suddenly living together and do not really know who we are as a couple anymore because for the past nine months it has been about getting to this point, the point beyond the pregnancy.

When you get a c-section the hospital typically keeps you there for 72 hours to monitor the wound from the surgery, check for infection, and make sure you are not clotting internally. Every three hours someone was there with pills, a shot, or something else, but for the most part, I had an amazing nursing staff who really went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable and they also listened. Never forget to thank your nurses, because they are the empathy in the hospital. They also made sure to bring the baby in early in the morning, and take her late at night so I could get every moment I could with her in the hospital.

On day two of being in the hospital, my wound started to develop puss and got infected, and rather than think that something bad might be happening all I could think was thank goodness because it meant I would be in the hospital longer with my baby who would not be discharged until I was discharged. I saw it as a blessing, as more time, and I was grateful to have an infection. Any moment her new parents were not in the room either my boyfriend or I were holding her, calling ourselves mom and dad because for a short while that is what we would be for her.

Finally I broke and told my boyfriend how I was feeling. I did not feel as though I could go through with the adoption. I knew we were not ready. We did not even have a car seat for her or anything at home, but I wanted to keep her, to love her, to see her every single day and be there for her. While I love and trust her new parents to send us updates and to some day let her know about us, I did not want to miss anything with her, and I was freaking out. He let me know that he was feeling the same way the day before, but reminded me that we were not ready to take her home, and that logically we were not in the same position that her new parents were for her to have the best life possible now. I knew he was right, and I begged myself to see reason, but I just could not do it. I was in agony.

That internal agony must have manifested itself physically, because by late afternoon, I was in so much pain that the doctor ordered more of my narcotic medication. I eventually felt stoned and like I could not think clearly. I called the social worker at the hospital and let her know what I was going through, and she set us up with a local agency who sent a woman who helped us and went through our options with us while the adoptive parents took the baby outside the room. We told her everything, and I mean everything, from not wanting to be parents, to having our whole world flipped upside down. She told us about a cooperative contact agreement that we could work out with her and the new parents, and I finally came around to that being the best possible solution for our current situation. She would come by the next morning, and we would work it out then since she did not have the paperwork she needed at the time, plus she did not want to bombard the new parents who still did not know how we were feeling.

After she left we knew we had to talk to the adoptive parents about how we were feeling and about the agency that would help us navigate what we were feeling. The new parents came back in the room and we knew we had to just tell them, but my mind also remember that Big Brother was on and for some reason that was important too. We began to tell them what was going on, but I do not know if it was the drugs or me trying to avoid the internal pain of creating fear in her new parents that made me keep turning the show on and off, but needless to say, I was rude and trying to avoid looking them in the eye, which I still feel guilty about. I did not even realize I was doing it until my boyfriend brought it up. It was suppose to be a serious conversation, and I could not even handle that. I felt and still feel terrible about that moment.

I wanted to know why I could not control myself better. I wanted to know why logic was not winning out. I wanted to blame my hormones for the way I felt. I wanted to be able to put all that I was feeling in a box and shove it on a shelf and not deal with it anymore. Mainly, I wanted to be a great mom for that little girl in that bassinet, and I wanted her to know that I loved her more than I knew possible, and that by the way her father looked at her and held her, I knew he loved her too.

Day three arrived and by 5:30am my daughter was in my room and I pulled her bassinet right up to the side of my bed and just stared at her until my room once again filled with nurses to give me shots, to take me to the bathroom and check for clots, and to check my infection. My infection had almost vanished aside from a bit of a rash thanks to some antibiotics, but my nurse still wanted my doctor to come look because the rash was still pretty nasty. Soon the adoptive parents were there and shortly after the woman from the agency was there to go through the contact agreement with us.

It was the hardest conversation we had up to that point, because I could see in the adoptive mother that she wanted to be the “mom” for our daughter, and that it would get hard for her once our daughter knew she was adopted. I had so much empathy for her in that moment because I too wanted our daughter to see me as her mother and love me the way children love their mothers. We kept the conversation going and talked about quarterly updates until they told our daughter about us, then she could reach out, send updates, and contact us however often she desired.

After a long and stressful morning, I finally ordered some food and took a cold shower still uncertain if I was making the right choice. I managed to miss the doctor coming in the first time, but my nurse finally found him for me and he looked me over, and then let me know that I would be discharged within the next hour or two.

 

What…?

 

I had an infection, a rash, was in a lot of pain and I was going to be discharged? That meant that I only had an hour or two left with my daughter. I went into full on hysteria. I began sobbing uncontrollably. I was such a wreck I was scared to even hold my baby. I did not want to say goodbye. I told my boyfriend that I was not ready to say goodbye, and screamed about how this was not fair to us, her new parents, or her, but I needed more time. I cried with the nurse, the social worker, the woman from the agency who all reminded me that I could take her home with me and take more time.

Then I began to question what more time would even do for anyone involved. It would worry her new parents that they would still be without a child, it could give our parents who desperately want to be grandparents the idea that we may be keeping her even though we did not know ourselves, it could cause more agony for my boyfriend and I too because just four days before that we knew what we were doing, we knew that we were making the best choice for this baby, we knew that once we left the hospital we would be able to work on us and figure out who we were in our relationship. We had a plan, and that plan did not involve children. I went back to thinking about how we were not prepared, we were not ready, we were not in the same position that her new parents were in at the moment. They were the better choice, they were the best choice for our baby, and if I truly loved her I would let her be with the best choice. I would let her have the best life. I would let her go, because I was not what was or is best. Logically I knew what to do, but my heart would not let go. I conceded to the logical part of myself, but told my boyfriend that I was not ready to sign any papers, and that we should take the weekend to try to put distance between everything, and see how we felt come the signing of the papers on Monday.

During this breakdown the adoptive parents had gone to lunch nearby and when they came back we sat them down and were finally completely honest with them. We let them know that we were uncertain that we could go through with the adoption and our plan to take the weekend to look into ourselves and at our lives with and without our baby, but we wanted her to stay with them while we did this. I watched as our words shook her new parents and when her new mom began sobbing, I did too. My boyfriend and I left the room to give them a moment and we went and sat outside. All I did was cry, try to breathe, and cry some more. When we came back my nurse was ready with my discharge papers and I was still hurting more than I ever thought imaginable. We packed everything up, and my boyfriend went to get the car. As he did I asked if I could hold her for just a little while, and her new parents stepped out of the room as I held my baby and cried. I cried for myself, for her, for my boyfriend, for our parents, for her new parents, and her new family. I cried for her future, for not being grateful for my pregnancy, for being so angry with how miserable I was during my pregnancy. I cried.

I set her back in her bassinet and let her new parents know I was going to leave. I grabbed all our things, and pushed the cart toward the elevator. My nurse joined me, and as the elevator doors shut, I cried even more. We got out to the car, my boyfriend and the nurse loaded it up as I sat down in the passenger seat to go home. I was not crying as we drove down the streets to get to the interstate, I was trying to become numb. Then we got on the interstate and hit traffic, so I cried. I screamed that I wanted to go back and get my baby. Hit the dashboard in a fit of rage. None of what was happening was fair or right. But her new parents were what was best for her, I reminded myself as I looked in the backseat that did not have a car seat. I had to tell myself and my boyfriend to keep going.

We got to the pharmacy, and then my boyfriend and I went to dinner where we made mindless small talk and talked a little about what was next for us. I talked about how I would be able to start looking for work and get back to the people who had emailed me while I was in the hospital. He talked about getting back to his own job and focusing on school. We both talked about getting into shape since this pregnancy took a toll on the both of us. We then went home to drop everything off, and went and saw the Secret Life of Pets, which made us laugh and was a brief escape. Then we went home, and tried to fall asleep. I was still up every three hours to take my pills, and around 4:00am my breast milk came in… It was like my boobs grew three sizes in the three hours I had been asleep, I was leaking, and I was suddenly in a lot of pain. I sat in the bathroom and cried again.

I cried because I was biologically designed to care for this baby that was no longer in my arms. I cried because there would be no bassinet coming to my room with my baby in it. I cried because I felt I had let her down by not being ready to be her mom. I sat in my bathroom and cried. Once I finally calmed down enough, I went back to my room and tried to fall asleep again. Saturday we had a lazy day around the house after picking up a bit. I kept getting up to pick up something and put it away because I needed to keep myself distracted. Sometimes it worked for a few minutes, other times it did nothing at all as I cried walking around my apartment.

Sunday morning came, and all I wanted was to talk open and honestly with my boyfriend and tell him the pain I was in, and ask if he felt even slightly the same. I wanted to know if he wanted to go get our baby as much as I did, and if he was struggling as much as I was with this whole process. I sat down on the couch and just asked him what would happen if we went and got her, and I begged him to be open and honest with me. He let me know that while he had thought about it, that he still believed that she was with the better parents. He told me about how they were in a strong relationship, and told me how there were times in our relationship he thought he may be better off single or that he did not know if he saw this as a forever relationship. He asked me if I had ever felt that same way, and honestly, I had not felt that way, and it was soul-crushing to hear that he had. He then reminded me that keeping the baby was my decision and he would support me no matter what, but that we were in for a long, tough road and so was she if we kept her.

I could not help but think that our daughter deserves best, and I could not provide that to her as a single mother, and I would hate myself for making my boyfriend feel tethered to me because we had a child together. You see, everyone sits there and tells you that this is your choice, but you will always carry the weight of how your choice impacts other people. I love my daughter, and I love my boyfriend, and I did not want, and do not want either of them to be stuck with me out of obligation or because I chose myself and my own feelings.

As the day went on the tension did not leave in the apartment. I cried more, and kept flip-flopping with wanting to be the mother to my daughter and telling myself what was logical. My boyfriend knew where I was with wanting to keep her, and he kept telling me he supported me, and finally by the end of the day I was crazy with emotion and just wanted to see my daughter. I talked with my boyfriend and we decided to ask the adoptive parents if we could see her and have her for a couple of days just for closure. We did not know what that closure would be, but I needed to see my daughter. They asked for a few minutes to gather their thoughts, and I just laid in bed waiting for their call. I must have cried myself to sleep, because I woke to the phone ringing a few hours later. Her new parents let me know that they did not think it was a good idea and that their lawyers did not either. The baby needed time to bond with her parents, and by the end of the phone call I was not getting my daughter back. I sobbed, panicked, and after my boyfriend had gone to bed for the night, I debated on calling the police. My daughter was essentially being kidnapped, and every minute that ticked by I became more and more enraged.

I was pissed. I was pissed at my boyfriend for not seeing a future with me. I was pissed at the adoptive parents for not letting me see my daughter. I was pissed at myself for not just calling the police and demanding my daughter be returned to my arms. I was so angry, and that anger quickly turned to despair.

We were meeting with the lawyer in the morning to sign the papers. Everything was happening too quickly, and I was making everyone’s life harder. I was making things harder for my family, because I had told them I was second guessing everything. I was making things harder for my boyfriend because he was sitting through my hysteria, absorbing my emotional turmoil himself. I was making things harder for my daughter’s new parents who were barely able to understand me through my sobs, but could clearly hear how I yearned for my daughter. I was the one making things difficult, and for a moment, a brief moment but a huge one at the same time, I told myself that it would be a whole lot easier if I was no longer in the picture. I actually contemplated suicide, because I was tired of my own pain, and I was even more exhausted from being the cause of other people’s suffering.

My despair deepened as I thought about it. My daughter deserves parents who are stable, not one who just thought about killing herself. My daughter deserves better than what I can give her. I just wanted her to know that I loved her so much. As I finally was able to quiet my crying I tried to sleep for a few hours before the lawyer’s appointment. I knew I was not going to sign any papers. I just needed to see my daughter.

That morning my boyfriend and I sat and talked again. He apologized for how things came across the day before and how it had been months of him holding things in because he did not want me to hurt more than I already was. He also confessed that he was feeling terrible about everything that was happening. He told me that the one thing a man is suppose to be able to do is provide for his family and he could not do that and it was tearing him apart. I began crying once again because I was having such a hard time seeing through my pain that I did not see that his pain had been welling up. For a moment we both just sat there crying, disappointed in ourselves for not being at the point that many of our peers were who had children and who had established themselves, their relationships, their jobs, who had their lives together essentially. It was hard to sit there in that moment when all you feel is worthless and you cannot help the person you love feel any better. I let him know that I still needed time with our daughter, and he apologized once again for thinking that this was mainly hormones then let me know that I needed to do what I felt was right.

My lawyer soon called and asked me how I was feeling and I was honest with her. I told her I needed time with my daughter. I told her about wanting to keep our daughter for a couple of days, at least until Wednesday, because I just could not let her go. My boyfriend and I went to get the essentials (car seat, food, clothes, blankets, etc.), and as it was financially adding up, I became overwhelmed, even with returning things it was going to cost a lot for us. My fear started getting to me again. Once we got to the lawyer’s office I was still having a hard time with everything, but I had actually exchanged my fear for excitement since I was about to see my daughter again.

I gave the lawyer the additional paperwork that had been requested while I was in the hospital, and she then brought in the adoptive parents who had been on the phone with their lawyers letting them know what was going on. Then I saw my daughter.

Her hair had gotten longer and darker, and her eyes were also getting darker. I forgot about everyone in the room for a minute, and just saw the person who I needed to love.

As her new mom handed her to me, my mood, my brain, and my heart shifted. Here was this woman who wanted to be a mom more than anything in the world, and she was so understanding of what I needed in that moment, that I began to understand her unconditional love for my child. I became more confident in the decision for adoption. I still wanted to spend time with my daughter, but there were new feelings now. I knew she would be loved wholly, regardless of where she was or who she was with.

As we left with our daughter I felt that adoption could be the right choice again. I also knew that I was not going to take a minute of time with my daughter for granted over the next two days.

We first went to find something to eat because (aside from part of a burger and fries both Friday and Saturday) I had not eaten anything since Thursday afternoon. I had eaten very little since the week before my daughter was born since I had been sick previously, and been too emotional to eat throughout and beyond my stay in the hospital.

We went to a local Culver’s and as I was eating she became a little fussy. I took her out of her car seat and fed her. While I was trying to burp her an elderly man came up to me and said, “Uh oh, your pride is showing.” I was confused to what he meant, he then told me that when a parent has a child they are so proud of they radiate with that pride. He told me he could tell it was my first because he could also see the exhaustion on me through the overwhelming happiness. I smiled and told him he was right and as he walked away he told me to be careful because before I knew it she would be grown-up and having her own moments of pride. I started to cry when he was gone knowing that I would miss all of her growing up. Once again my heart was breaking inside of my chest.

My boyfriend joined me inside after talking to his mom about everything that was going on, and we sat and had lunch. She became fussy again, so I took her to get changed since men’s bathrooms still do not have changing tables. As I was changing her an employee was in the bathroom and she began talking to me. She mentioned how she could tell this was my first and that I was radiating with happiness. She asked me how old the baby was and I told her just six days, and she laughed and said that she looked closer to six months than six days. I just looked at my daughter, noticing how beautiful and big she was… and I sat in the bathroom after the lady left and just stared at my daughter wondering how I gave birth to such a beautiful and perfect person.

Our daughter had a doctor’s appointment already scheduled for her locally, and we told the adoptive parents that they were welcome at the appointment as well. We all crammed into a tiny room as our daughter was examined, and I became overwhelmed once again thinking of a lifetime of appointments that she would have, and part of me wanted to be there for each and every one of them, and another part of me thought of the obligation of time and money for these appointments. She was still healthy, but the doctor suggest that she eat more often which we made sure to do over the next two days.

When we left we went straight to Build-a-Bear Workshop and built her and myself matching bears. Teddy bears are a tradition of sorts in my family, and I wanted her to know that she had a bear with a twin that would be with me. No matter where she went, we would always be connected through these bears. She slept the entire time we were at the mall, which baffled me and I kept poking her to see if she was alive. The mall is super loud after all, but she just slept through the entire thing. She continued sleeping when we got home and we kept waking her up to feed her all evening. We took turns holding her, and then my parents arrived with a crib for us for while the baby was with us.

I had to keep telling them that we were choosing adoption, but taking a few days to say goodbye and just be more present in the moments we had with her. My parents then asked if it was okay that my sister who told them about this pregnancy in the beginning see her that night. I had told them as well as my other sister no repeatedly throughout the day because a large part of me blamed her for the pain I was in, while the other part of me resented her for breaking trust that we had between each other which would become the catalyst to losing all trust over the next nine months with all my family members. The pressure kept coming, and finally they told me that she was on her way over. I told them I did not want to see her, but conceded that they could take my daughter down to the lobby see her. My mom took my daughter, and my dad stayed in the apartment with me as I raged out. My boyfriend had left to pick up food for my parents, so it was just my dad and I sitting there as I got more and more frustrated that I was still being ignored by my family.

This pattern had played out my entire pregnancy, and was the reason my boyfriend and I had moved in with each other to begin with because he felt so awful hearing me crying because of what my family had said or done that he just wanted me to feel safe and give me time to think for myself, so the fact that in my last days with my daughter I was still being ignored, I was livid. My family kept (and keeps) telling me that I needed to forgive her and move on, and while I know that she believes what she was doing by telling my parents was right (and I can even respect that) the trust broken is not something that I can forgive especially since I had been spending every single day getting more and more damaged by that broken trust. Just play the chorus of Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks on repeat and you will find where I am at with my sister.

Soon my boyfriend was back and shortly after my youngest sister, mom, and daughter returned to our apartment. I would later find out that both my sisters had posted to their snapchats about how they were aunts which would also  infuriate me. During my pregnancy and even after the baby was born I had to tell my family that they were not my daughter’s family. That while my boyfriend and I were her parents, that my family would never be anything more than that. They would not have contact with her, and while we would send them pictures and updates that we got, we were not going to let them know the full names of the parents, where they exactly were, or where this baby would be, because my family is relentless with making people feel guilty.

Finally my family left, and my boyfriend and I got to spend some quiet time with our baby. We watched Tarzan and Pokemon, and before long it was already 1:00am. She had spent almost all her time sleeping during the day, so we thought that it would continue into the night. We were so wrong. She spent most of the night crying and we could not figure out why. Then we realized we let her sleep all day and she just wanted to be held while she was awake. I stayed up with her until around 5:00am when she finally dozed off, so I set her down in the crib and instantly fell asleep only to wake up a half hour later to her crying and I started crying myself. My boyfriend took over and told me to sleep and that he would handle everything. I was so grateful as I rolled back over and fell asleep. I woke up a couple of hours later to take my medications, and could not fall back asleep.

I went out into the living room to find my boyfriend holding our daughter and I smiled to myself just taking the moment to let it in. He then let me know he needed to go to the store to get coffee, and I took over with holding the baby. She did not leave our arms that entire day besides when we changed her. She threw up all over my boyfriend at one point and it took me back to the second time he held her when she farted so loud that I honestly blamed him at first. When I found out it was her that had farted I honestly believe I would have peed myself if I did not have the catheter in. We did keep her awake that evening though by walking around with her and constantly talking to her. We also fed her more food more often as the doctor suggested. By 11:00pm we were beyond tired. My alarms were still set for every three hours though I found it hard to sleep with my daughter in her crib beside me. I would fall asleep and wake up a half hour later and just stare at her, occasionally getting out of bed to check and make sure she was still alive because she was so silent and still while she slept. She woke up twice during the night. I took the first shift and my boyfriend took the second one, but we both actually got some sleep.

We were meeting with the lawyer at 10:00am, and I was dragging my feet getting ready. I still was not ready to say goodbye. I felt my heart ripping open again. I just stared at my daughter wanting her to know that I was making the best logical choice for her, and that I was making it because I love her more than I love myself. When we got to the office I was crying, and I did not stop crying the entire time I was there. The lawyer came in and spoke briefly with my boyfriend and I, and our daughter started to cry during that time. I fed her while our lawyer was talking to us, and she gave us a moment while she finished gathering up the paperwork. I asked my boyfriend if he wanted to hold her, and he said yes, and as I put her in his arms he began to cry as well. I kept reminding myself that this is what was best for our daughter, that this is what was best for everyone. My heart continued to break.

Our lawyer’s legal aid came in and explained the paperwork more thoroughly with us as we filled it out. Our daughter cried again, this time to be changed. While we were changing her, the legal aid went and got witnesses and a notary for the part of the meeting where we would sign our daughter away. Each signature hurt more than the last. I became more sick with every passing minute. Suddenly the choice was becoming unclear again. I kept thinking that if I just grab our daughter, these papers, and ran away that I could end the pain I was feeling inside and be happy with our daughter. Then I reminded myself of how hard it was growing up in a financially unstable home, how parents’ relationships affect the children, how I wanted to go to law school and how difficult that would be as a mother and while going to work at a job I did not yet have. I kept telling myself I was not ready, I was not as worthy of being her mom as the beautiful couple sitting a room over.

Finally we were done signing everything and my boyfriend and I took turns holding her. I just kept crying. Her new parents walked in and we placed her in her new moms arms after shortly talking with them. They had cards for us, but they would bring little solace to the pain we were feeling. I do not know if I will ever know or understand what my boyfriend was feeling over the past couple of weeks, as much as I wish I did, but in the moment they walked out of the room with our daughter I could feel a large part of us leave too.

As we carried the empty car seat back to the car I started to feel numb, empty, defeated, broken… In a moment I became a mother who lost her child.

We went and got lunch, caught some Pokemon, but the moment we got home I went straight for the bed praying for sleep to come wash over me, and it did. I woke up a couple of hours later because I was sweating profusely. We only have air conditioning in one room and of course it has stopped working once the temperature rose above 90 degrees with a heat index of 115 degrees. I went out into the living room again and watched Bojack Horseman with my boyfriend as we tried to distract ourselves from what was going on. It then went on to hit way too close to home by the end of first season, so we stopped watching that and went back to watching Pokemon. We spent the next day at the mall catching Pokemon and just being somewhere cooler than our apartment, and then went to see the new Ghostbusters which was also a welcomed distraction. I randomly would get choked up throughout the day, but did not start sobbing until later that night in the bathroom. I was exhausted from walking around so much and from trying to hold everything in all day.

I wanted to spend the day with my daughter. I wanted to send my written letter to the lawyers saying I want my daughter back, which I am given 10 business days to do before that is closed to me entirely. I wanted to just be with my daughter and her father and for us to be happy together.

I had to remind myself that I still did not have a job, that I was still not ready to be a mom, that I could still not provide as good of a life as her new parents could, that I do not know where my relationship will be a year from now and that she deserves two parents who are there for her completely while also being there for each other. I had to remind myself that I was less than she deserved…

People tell you adoption is the most selfless thing that you can do for people who are not able to conceive on their own. They make you out to be a hero, to be someone with such a large heart. They do not know what really goes on. During my pregnancy I saw adoption as being selfish. I wanted the life I wanted and that did not include having children. After my pregnancy I have to see myself as less than her adoptive parents. As less than my friends and peers who have children, jobs, a home, and a future planned out. I have to tell myself day in and day out that I am not worthy of being my daughter’s mother. I also have to remind myself that I may never be able to have children again now that my uterus is even more damaged than before, but I do not think I could emotionally ever be okay with having another child either.

I keep reading online that this pain will never go away from other birthmothers. That even when those who were lucky enough to meet their children finally do, they are still heartbroken because they will never be called mom by their child. They will never be loved in the same way. I will never be loved by my child the way she loves her new mom, my boyfriend will never be loved by his daughter the way she will love her new dad… we will never know that love, and we will have to live every day with this pain.

Please, stop telling me that I am selfless, that what I did was provide someone with a miracle, that I am brave and how big my heart must be to know what is best for my daughter even though it must be painful.

I will live the rest of my life in regret. I will always feel like a part of me is missing, like I am a failure, like I have let the person I love most in the world down in the biggest possible way. I will always feel that I am worth less than her parents, loved less, thought of less. I will spend the rest of my life being less, not selfless, just less, but I will just keep reminding myself that it is what is best.

———————————————

I love you and I miss you, Squirmy, more and more every day.

A special thank you to my wonderful, supportive boyfriend who has been there for me since the very beginning. You are a blessing and I love you.

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3 thoughts on “self(LESS) – A Birthmother’s Pain

  1. Roma says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this rare and beautiful insight into the thinking of a birth mother. Such hard choices on all sides with no right or wrong answers. I’m an adoptive mom and yet I found myself identifying with everything you talked about. You’ve done the absolute best you could, and I hope that all of you in the adoption triad are able to draw strength and support from each other. My best wishes along the journey that is adoption. It’s a lifelong process for everyone in the triad and I hope not for ‘a happy ending’ for you, but instead for ‘a wonderful story’ for you.

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  2. kim says:

    My dear girl, you were in not condition to make any decision let along a longterm decision for you, your baby and your partner. This is why adoptive parents should NOT be allowed near mothers until they decide they do not to keep or cannot keep their own born. If the story of the adopters had not been in your head, and heart, you would have enjoyed your baby and gone through all those feelings Without the moral guilt and distress that the adopters brought to your table. This is your baby and your life. You were not responsible for their inability to have children and yet that IS the reason you catapulted to consent. It is duress and it is emotional manipulation, deliberate or otherwise. Upon you. You and your partner would have gone through the normal transition into parents, the falling in love with your baby (which you have) and the setting up of your new future together. How sad for you that your parents chose to punish you and withhold support (that in itself is manipulation) and sibling dynamics would have it that a sister would not support you but sabotage you. When you are pregnant your baby is an abstract idea, to you and your family, and a lot of problems and fears and adjustment. But when your baby is born, you, your family, your sisters, are proud aunts and you are mum and you can’t imagine it any other way. This is a NORMAL transition and it is what should be allowed. Adoption is only meant for children who do not have loving parents, because it creates great injury to the infant and the mother and father and family involved. It is NOT set up to create orphans so to supply babies for those who cannot have children. You have been done a great injustice and a great harm, as has your child. The harm of surrender to adoption has been well documented but no doubt not provided to you, deliberately. The feelings you have having and the sadness and the depression and possibly PTSD are typical symptoms, and are feelings you will have to manage from now on. You lose your beautiful baby and you get a lifetime of grief and sadness. Did no one tell you this? You, and your partner, were not in any state of mine or information to make a decision about surrendering to adoption. You were in shock about your pregnancy, you were isolated by your family and you were having serious health issues. It is wrong for the adopters to be involved before hand. And if they had not been, you would have your baby with you today. That is the truth of the situation. I am very sorry this has happened to you. And to the adoptive parent, NO it is not a wonderful story, that is very patronising to say. But it is a very COMMON story. Because adoption practice in USA is all about maximising the likelihood of surrender and consent, and very little about protecting the mother and the child from coercion and duress and upholding their right to remain together. I wish you all the best, and there are good mother support groups out there who can empower you, but nothing will take away the sadness you feel and the bit of you you have lost. You are a mother without her baby. And nothing will ever change that. And since when has it been an admirable thing to be selfless. For who’s benefit. Certainly not your own nor your own borns.

    Do you think they would have done the same for you? Absolutely not.

    I write this as a mother who has endured the legal entrapment to adoption for 28 years, all because some stranger couldn’t have their own child, and thought they were entitled and superior to me.

    All the best of strength and support to you. xx

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  3. kim says:

    Also this is a group of mothers who do advocate and intervene on mothers and babies behalf, to prevent other mothers and families from permanently losing their babies to adoption. Perhaps they can help you with your loss and your situation. They are all about empowering mothers.

    I am sorry i didnt meet you before you lost your baby to adoption. And i am sorry no one told you that YOU were the perfect mother for your baby and more than anything your baby wanted you, her mother, not a stranger , no matter how nice or kind or wealthy they were or were not. You are your babys mother and you and her were in a symbiotic relationship. She knew your heartbeat, your voic (and your partners), your smell, your rhythms and your feelings. You were her world and life itself. And most of all you were love. And she loved you. Regardless of whether she was planned and regardless of the emotional transitions and thoughts you had in becoming a parent (which all parents go through by the way)

    There are books such as the Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier and others but for now perhaps just contact Lyn and SOS and get some support for you. Support that validates your feelings of wantung to keep.

    Take care xx

    https://m.facebook.com/adoptionSOS/

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