I’m Still Learning

It seems like “everyone” is pregnant right now. My oldest friend (we were best friends the very first day of kindergarten) had her baby shower a couple of days ago. Upon arrival to the shower, I realized the hostess was also pregnant. I honestly didn’t even question whether I was in a good place to go through with this event, but it was once I was seated between two happily pregnant women and holding a stack of newborn diapers for the first party game that I had an “oh sh*t” moment.

I sat there staring at the little Huggies diaper thinking of what to write on it as directed. Then I was caught up in the idea of Max being across my lap needing a change. Then I was acutely aware that he was a good-sized baby at birth and would by now be out of newborn sized diapers. All of these things crossed my mind as I subconsciously focus on the buzz of conversation going on outside my emotional bubble.

Finally, I zoned back out and was able to write cute things on my stack of diapers. Then the onesie came around to be signed and I explicitly denied myself the fantasy of buttoning one onto Max. I didn’t try to be creative with my message, I scribbled something and passed it along quickly. After that, we engaged in about two hours worth of birthing and baby stories which was surprisingly really good for me. I have been writing a lot about how I feel and what happens, but I so very rarely open my mouth and verbalize on anything baby related that it was relieving. My friend Alison was the only one there who knew what I’d recently done and was also one of the few people outside of immediate family who visited me and Max in the hospital. A couple times I caught her looking at me to see if I was fine. Luckily, I was.

Then one of her extended mothers asked me how many children I had.

Boy, being caught off guard sucks. Royally. But I should have expected to be asked after volunteering stories on hospital staff and experiences. She was a very sweet woman and I knew that she wasn’t prying. “I have two at home and I recently placed one for adoption,” I told her quietly.

She didn’t bat an eye. She smiled and replied almost immediately, “Oh, how wonderful. Three babies!”

I was shocked, relieved, and could have hugged her neck off. I have never been more relieved to have been stuck in a room talking about babies…but it was the good fortune that Alison makes such genuinely good friends. Everyone there was sweet, unassuming, and gave wise and funny parenting advice. There was a lot of love and affection in the room and in the spirit of her first child, I was glad to be able to finally get my feet wet in the ‘baby subject’. While I’d congratulated her on her news of the baby’s arrival, I’d distanced myself…and I told her that as we were leaving. She wasn’t shocked at all. Pangs did come as I realized just how well suited all the people were around me to have children whenever. Everyone had homes with extra rooms that could be converted into nurseries. Everyone was happily married. And most of them had killed their career paths with precision. I briefly felt derailed for that…I no longer fit those categories. The feeling of being ill-prepared and insufficient is not one I’m used to and am inwardly desperate to get rid of.

Through this numerically short, but emotionally vast period I have gone through phases that made me feel borderline crazy. I’m not used to not being in full control. I’m not used to feeling like my life is in chaos. I’m not used to missing anyone. I’ve always lived life precisely. I’ve always known what I could and would do and how to handle what came at me. I’ve always had everyone I needed nearby.

Alison’s pregnancy was a shock to most people. No one thought she would be able to conceive. Then she stepped up to the plate and hit us all with the proclamation that she would be delivering naturally with a midwife at a birth center. She really knew how to keep us on our toes. And after becoming pregnant there was fear that she would have a hard pregnancy. Everything seems to be going great. Against all her odds she has always made the best of it and approached her difficulties with a WILL DO attitude. She doesn’t bother with CAN…she just will.

She reminded me with her news how I can manage this situation. First I was wrecking my brain trying to figure out how I would “get over” this with Max, but there’s no getting over relinquishing a child. You manage it. You cope with it. You deal as best you can. And I’m too soon in to tell you how that’s going. Reading back through the published writings over the last few weeks leaves me wondering if I should do more active work to cope with my situation. The extremes are very disconcerting. Either I’m mostly fine or I’m mostly not. And even when I think I’m in the middle, I’m not…I’m still extremely mad or extremely sad about some detail of this process. I was acquainted with the term Ancora Imparo by a wonderful person…it loosely means “I am still learning”. Well, I’m coming to terms with what I do and didn’t know about myself. I knew that I have an issue with repetition; I hate it. Repeatedly coping? Yay…..

Alison and I bonded over our love for our dads and our sticky relationships with our mothers. The only difference is that my dad was the man my mom married when I was five years old. There is no biological connection between us, but he has never been anything but wonderful to me. It only recently occurred to me that adoption didn’t particularly frighten me before Max was born because I knew how blood didn’t necessarily deter love. If my dad loves me so much, Max is not lacking. A lot of this rush to make the decision was so absolute in my mind…no real doubts hit until after he was born, which was something else that plays against my control issues. I was not only pressured by the relationship I’d built with the a-parents to go through with it, but myself. I’d made the decision and I couldn’t fathom changing my mind after getting people involved and letting it be known that I’d made such a decision. The latest breakthrough has been realizing my biggest hurdle is me. Not the agency (that I’m still irked with), not the parents (that I have been taking cheap shots at mentally), and not anyone around me.

I can’t make myself feel less sad, but I can make myself see the good  of this entire thing… and in that the possibilities are endless. I could continue to be mad at myself and make myself pay with endless “what ifs” or I can choose to think of what blessings there are ahead. Who knew that being ok with the decision would be the most illusive thing….ancora imparo.

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