It has been one year. A whole year.
I am not sure where the time went, but what I can tell you is that it has not been easy since I have said goodbye to my daughter. I have struggled with coming to terms with being a childless mother and even as I write now I am still getting choked up. I love her so much and I miss her.
Her picture is on my desk at work, another one on my nightstand, a different one on my phone background. Sometimes I just stare at them and wonder where she is or what she is doing. From an outsider’s perspective it could look like I am torturing myself day in and day out, but I made a promise when I said goodbye that if I were blessed with the chance to meet my daughter someday in the future that I would be better than I was the last time I saw her. The road has not been easy, I am not sure it will ever be easy, but I am finding that I can be okay – I just have to remember to breathe.
As for what has happened over the past year I have a “quick” timeline to catch you up with since I am hoping to find the rhythm of what Cantankerous and Gregarious used to be about.
August 2016 – this month sucked, but I was dumping all my energy into finding a job and had discovered a show called Critical Role toward the end of my pregnancy which I watched constantly (and strongly recommend to everyone). I immersed myself in Dungeons and Dragons to help pass the time. I also watched a bunch of Parks and Rec (by a bunch I mean literally all of it… unemployment gives you a lot of time for TV). I put on a bunch of weight after the pregnancy and I couldn’t play Pokémon Go because cankles are a very real, very painful consequence of pregnancy.
September 2016 – I finally got a job in my field that I actually have experience with and I was elated. I could also see my office from my apartment 3 miles away, so I was determined to bike to work and get back into shape. Biking lasted a week before I was all about the NOPE! on that. I hate biking. I would rather walk than take a bike because I am a terrible bicyclist. I am the kind of biker that I get super bad road rage about when I am in the cities. STAY IN YOUR LANE. I became better at silently crying, which is saying a lot, because I am fairly confident I am in the top 10 on the planet for ugly crying. Worse than Kim K. When you are lying in bed next to someone who is sound asleep though, you perfect crying “politely.”
October 2016 – My relationship was improving and it was like we were dating again. We were talking more and started a D&D campaign together with a bunch of his friends and he introduced me to another group in the cities to play with and D&D became all-consuming of my free time. I think just being out of the house was helping too. I was still crying at least once every other day, and broke down at work in front of my colleague when the 12th rolled around realizing it had been 3 months. I explained to our boss what was going on and ended up taking a half day just so I could learn how to breathe again.
November 2016 – My boyfriend let me know that he did not see a future with me, and left while I met with a friend to see Fantastic Beasts while drinking a lot of tequila. I came home to his important things being gone, and spent the night sobbing in our bed alone. I didn’t think I was going to make it to Thanksgiving. I stopped eating. Stopped talking to everyone. I put D&D on hold. I did not want to be alive and alone to deal with being a childless parent. I caught up on Critical Role during this time as I just laid on my futon mattress on my bedroom floor. I moved all of his stuff into the living room and confined myself to the bedroom so not to look at everything that reminded me of him. I drank a lot during this time. I may not have been eating, but I went through a couple hundred dollars worth of cheap wine. I also found that I am not good at being alone. I spent the holidays alone aside from stopping by my parents house for a little over an hour. I was still so mad at my family and I really did not want to spend more time than obligated with them. My depression carried over into work, and my relationships there became strained as I was the overemotional new person on the team. I was a hot mess. Toward the end of the month I saw a commercial for Jockey where a man was standing holding a baby in his underpants talking about how without a birthmother he could never have become this happy. What the hell? You are going to use possibly the worst day in one person’s life, the greatest blessing in another person’s life TO SELL UNDERWEAR? I hated this commercial, and if I ever go into acting I will use it to bring rage and frustration into my work.
December 2016 – I started playing in both D&D groups again as a DM for one, and a player character for another. It was hard seeing my ex, but D&D had become my greatest passion. I was putting weight on once again as I stressed over where I would live next as my lease was up at the end of January. I tried looking with friends who were too busy to actually look with me. I found place after place and went on tour after tour. I got shut out by their busy schedules, and it did nothing to help me move forward physically or emotionally. On top of that, my hope that I would not lose my ex’s friends in the breakup was quickly shattered. Aside from the men I played D&D with I saw none of the people who helped me through my pregnancy, through the hardest time of my life. I became more and more isolated. There was one great blessing this month though, my closest friend had a subleaser stop contributing to the rent and she needed a roommate as soon as possible. I quickly agreed and said I could move in during the month of January and was grateful that I would be able to live with friends. Soon after making these plans mice moved into the apartment, and I moved out faster than anticipated. I do not tolerate rodents. I cleaned the whole place but just before Christmas I went to grab some Cheetos and as my hand went into the bag, a mouse scurried out and up my arm… Hell. NO. I was done. My landlord was not around to take emails because it was the weekend before Christmas, so who is actually going to work? She got back to me a couple of days later reminding me that I had to pay through the end of January. I agreed, but I was gone before the start of the new year.
January – New year, new me! Yeah, noooo… I was super excited to be living with friends, but I was still a hermit most of the month. It had been six months. I had grown anxious about not hearing anything from her family, not know how my daughter was doing. I was a mess, crying more often than not, especially when home alone. About halfway through the month I received an email from her adoptive father with an update and photos, and my emotions consumed me. I was happy to see her smiling, sad that it was not me she was smiling at, frustrated that it took so long, ecstatic that her family did reach out when legally they did not have to… I was feeling too many feelings to be a functional human being. I hid in an AV closet at work and would just cry on my lunch. Feelings suck. Luckily my best friend was there to just listen when I was freaking out. She made me feel strong and safe in my dark and twisted life.
February – Oh, the month of LOVE! I was feeling fat and frustrated at the start of this month. I had only lost 15 pounds since the pregnancy and I was feeling stuck. Enter Groupon for Crossfit Sabertooth. I started my foundations course with two other people and two coaches with another one learning about coaching. It sucked. Anytime one of the coaches demonstrated full depth squats I would stare at them like ‘Really? Look at me.’ But they were patient and worked with me to scale everything back. I started my time at the gym at 298 pounds, unable to get to parallel with squats, using a bar with no weights, and even used these two elevated handles that look like tiny walkers to do burpees. I went to every foundations class, and then when those two weeks were over I went to class almost every day of the week so I could make the most out of my Groupon. I met more people with each class. Some of them made me laugh, others were inspiring, and overall they made me feel like I had somewhere I could belong. During workouts I became too busy, too tired to think about anything other than ‘WORK, LUNGS, I NEED YOU TO WORK!’ There were days that I wanted to quit, where I would cry in the car, not because of pain, because of how weak I felt physically. Then I would remember that while I was getting in shape to be better and stronger for myself I had made a promise to my daughter that the time I spend away from her would be to become better than I was the last time I held her. If she comes back into my life I want her to not only know how much I love her, but I want her to be proud of her birthmother – I want her to see that I did not waste away into bitter-nothingness, but that I made something out of myself.
March – I was in the gym a lot. I started having personal training sessions with one of the coaches who was a part of the Foundations program I went through. We talked about what I wanted moving forward. Weight-loss was a big one, but I didn’t want to drop pounds without making muscular gains. I wanted to get stronger in my upper body and get below parallel in my squats. I came up with a list. I also began a bullet journal to log weight, meals, calories, fat, carb, and protein, and focused on diet and exercise. I had lost some weight the month before but I was much more focused. I was stilling playing a lot of D&D and my ex told me about Roll20 (online D&D) which provided another escape. I was either at work, the gym, or playing Dungeons and Dragons. I was still crying off and on, but I was able to breathe when I cried now. I was able to think about the emotions I was feeling rather than having them consume me. It was still hard. I was still angry. There would be days after playing D&D with my ex that I would just scream and wonder how long he knew he was going leave, when he realized that he “loved me, but was not in love with me.” There was still the ache, missing having someone to lay next to every night, to have someone who laughed at you when you had full discussions with yourself about dungeons and dragons, someone to just sit with and say nothing, someone to embarrass at Target. It felt so good to have someone to do nothing and everything with…
April – I heard from her parents again. I saw her growing, a pic of her laughing, a pic of her crying (she was wearing Kansas City Chiefs gear, so I understand why she was crying), her in sunglasses, and her just being adorable. I got these pictures as well as an update, and my first emotion wasn’t sadness. I laughed. The pictures were so goofy and adorable and I finally felt a sense of warmth. I cried later that afternoon. I showed my roommates they gushed about her. I felt a sense of pride showing people I was close to these pictures of my daughter and how happy she was with her parents. I went out for drinks with someone people at the gym after a workout one day, and started to open up about my past sharing the adoption and breakup with them. One of them had recently became a foster mom and it was a quick but meaningful exchange. People have a concern with birthmothers about whether or not we will be okay around their children. We might be, we might not be, there are some moments where I see her with her son and my heart breaks, but there are even more moments where I see this unending love that knows no boundaries, that love is not created or given because of blood, but because a parent’s love is limitless. This baby is also adorable beyond words and easy to love with dimples and a smile that does not quit! I feel like I was put at this gym for a reason, that I ended up moving to where I was, and seeking out opportunities to grow and I found a place could help me in more ways than one. I get to see a baby happy, a baby loved, a baby cherished regardless of DNA. This baby’s parents are an inspiration and a reminder that not only can my daughter grow up well, but that she can grow up loved.
May – It was a month of hit or miss when it came to controlling my feelings, but I had also found a routine. I was spending time with close friends again, and my birthday happened with people coming that I had not seen in a while and new friends as well. In case it has not been noted enough throughout my posts, I am an extrovert. I thrive at parties and in large groups. I have a childish ego problem, and love to be the center of attention. My birthday let me have that and I was in a state of happiness. I was grateful to everyone who came, and while I did notice some people not being there, it did not bother me as much as it could have years previous. When you go through loss, true loss, it becomes harder to justify being sad over lesser things. The people who were there made it all worthwhile. Note to self: do not fall asleep near the fire, your lungs will hate you. I was in the gym more and more, eating better, doing alright for the start of the month, and then Mother’s Day happened (the day after my birthday). I started off the day angry not wanting to talk to anyone. I was laying on the couch watching Critical Role when my roommate and closest friend came up and set a flower in a vase next to me with just a smile and let me know that she was going to be visiting her mother’s grave and then a friend’s mom as well, but that she would be back later if I needed her. The moment she left, I cried – no I bawled. I am crying just thinking about it now. She is a motherless child, and I am a childless mother. We are two sides of a coin of loss. Mother’s day is probably the worst day of the year for me. A smack in the face of what I was not able to be for my daughter. A day where I see women celebrated and know that this is another woman’s day for my daughter. It pisses me off, and I do not feel bad about being angry on Mother’s Day. You can continue to use it to celebrate, that does not bother me in the slightest, but please do not try to minimize anger, sadness, and loss because it is “suppose to be a happy day.” You do not know what I am going through just as I do not know what my best friend is going through on that day. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can also be painful reminders for people around you.
June – I hit a plateau at the gym and was injured the month prior coming out of a couch stretch weird. I was frustrated with myself because it wasn’t even that I hit a plateau, my injuries were making it harder to workout – I was falling backward – regressing, not progressing. Fortunately I had coaches to help me through it and listen to me cry after workouts as well as people at the gym who have also gone through the ups and downs. The community, the sense that I was not alone, it made it easier. The pain started in the most embarrassing part of my body. I literally had a pain in my ass preventing me from moving forward. I was convinced by fellow gym members (mainly coaches) to go see our chiropractor that was literally on site. I went back and forth on it because it is embarrassing to walk up to a stranger and be like “please fix my butt.” Finally after a sneeze at cub foods that caused me to collapse, I knew I needed help. (Clean up in front of the butcher counter! Have I mentioned that I am a mess?) Physical therapy sucked. Having my knots and muscles pummeled into submission sucked. Constant gasps of pain and being reminded to breathe over and over again as I clenched through the pain – not a fan. Two days later I felt so much better, but when it happened? I wanted to kick the doc in the face, but I could not move my leg because of the pain in my butt. After going through ideas to combat the pain I started doing little things on the side to make the pain less or at least manageable. I would fall while sneezing 6 more times during the month. One thing I did start this month was asking myself ‘why not?’ instead of asking why or just not doing things. Dragon Boat Racing? Why not? Taking a drive on a Sunday out of town? Why not? I could almost always come up with answers to why not, but I could find better arguments to why I should just go out and do new things or get myself to the gym when the only reason to skip it would be to go home and watch crap reality TV. I listened to Shone Rhimes “Year of Yes” and I was inspired, but I never really had a difficult time saying yes to things that I could plan for – my true problem is with spontaneity. When someone calls me up last-minute to go do something I almost always say no. If it was not a part of my agenda for the day or week… no. Now when I get these calls or texts – why not? It has helped. I went out more in June than I had previously and while my wallet was not a fan, my energy was up and my friends began to remember that I am not a hermit.
I weighed in this morning at 248. Down 65lbs total from my heaviest weight post-pregnancy. 50lbs since I started at the gym. My squats are at full depth most of the time except for when my butt is yelling at me. I no longer need a walker for burpees (but they are still a struggle – burpees are awful, thrusters are worse). Physically, I am better than I was a year ago.
When I first woke up this morning, I cried for a little while before leaving bed. I have had my eyes fill up, because I truly miss my daughter. At this time a year ago I was just getting to the hospital having a nurse tell me my contractions were less than two minutes apart. I had just thrown up blood, and I would soon be hold the greatest person I had ever loved and would hate to let go of… knowing the headspace I was in during labor I would never have guessed that I would be where I am currently. Financially okay, physically better, mentally and emotionally – a mixed ball and not always in control. Some days I am okay – I spend the day at work content, sometimes in fits of laughter depending on what happens, then go to the gym, crack jokes and then relearn how to run or breathe, then come home watch people play D&D on the internet, silly anime, or crap reality TV and some evenings I go out with people at the gym or visit a roommate at work if I don’t want to be alone. Night always comes and not a night passes where I do not wonder about her. What is her personality like? What does her laugh sound like? Has she unintentionally flipped someone off yet? Is she strong? Is she happy? What is she learning how to do? What is she struggling with? Different questions on different nights and they seem endless. Sometimes I cry, and I will cry hard holding the Build-A-Bear twin from the set my ex and I had made for her. Other nights I just lay with idle curiosity.
Being a birthmother is not easy. I will never recommend it, because I will never have the strength to tell another person to give their heart away. I give it a 3 out of 10, never being willing to do it again, and only a 3 because 3 people were blessed, and because 30% of the time, my heart does not ache for my daughter but is instead happy for her.
I am better than I was a year ago. I am better than I was 6 months ago. I may be sad sometimes and laughing at other times. I am a hot mess a lot of the time, still learning how to walk and not trip everywhere. Most of the time I am in control, but sometimes I just do not want to be a real person, just a lump of blankets and tissues.
If I could let my daughter know anything, it would be that it is okay to be sad, it is okay to get stuck, it is okay if life does not always move forward – sometimes it goes sideways, backwards, upside down, round and round… there is strength in being vulnerable. Life sucks, it really fucking sucks at times, but it makes you appreciate the laughs that come from the bottom of your belly that much more. I have never been more appreciative of the little things that people do to make someone’s day just a little bit brighter. I am more grateful for the friends who were with me through it all than I could ever express to them.
Lastly, I want my daughter to know that she is loved beyond measure. Your grandparents miss you dearly. I miss you. I hope that I am one year closer to seeing you. I will love you forever.
This is not easy, breathing may be easier most days, but just because it is easier does not make it easy. Crossfit has taught me this, D&D has taught me this, my daughter has taught me this. I am stronger, but there are still times where I wonder if I am strong enough. Without my friends, both new and old, I do not believe I would have been strong enough to get through the past 12 months. So to you, those of you who made it to the end of this, those of you who have given your support when I am too proud to ask for it and when I am pleading for it, thank you so much. I cannot forget how amazing you have been for me, and I do not know that I can ever repay you for all you have done for me.
In another year’s time I hope I can look back at this post breathing easier, being more spontaneous, being physically stronger, making my way up the corporate ladder, and becoming a mother that a daughter could love and celebrate.
Happy 1st birthday to the greatest piece of me.