I love you

Max, you’re probably walking. Probably have poor L running around the house trying to baby proof and catch your lightning fast hands before you stick something foreign in your pouty little mouth. You probably show signs of my intrusive observation and stubbornness. You probably picked up Nathan’s quiet-unless-aggravated vocal tendency. Your dimple is probably super cute and charming. Your eyes probably lighten when you don’t feel good and darken when you are any extreme emotion. You’re probably physically stronger than anyone would assume a baby should be. Your knowing personality probably takes your a-parents aback from time to time.

I know you’re smart; you’ll bloom into uncanny brilliance. You will be intuitive and good at picking up latent traits. You will probably not be pleasant when not getting your way. You’ll be athletically gifted but feel obligation to pursue sports. You will be disarmingly handsome.

And for all and none of those reasons I love you.

I will love you unconditionally til I am incapable of emotion or thought. I hope that in your lesser moments when you need an invisible pillar of strength that my channel of love is there for you to pick up on.

I love you, Maxton Collier. And one day, I hope you get to hear me say so.

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Egoism of the Control Freak

I’ve had plenty to distract me from my pity party lately. Funny how I feel guilty for having enough going on that I don’t dwell on Max. He’s on my mind all the time, but lately tucked further back than usual. I guess the guilt comes from feeling like I’m prioritizing things ahead of him. That seems crazy.

It’s summer, so the kids come to the office with me in the morning. As I’m getting situated and getting them quietly settled at their own desks to stay out of the way, I notice my daughter has my phone. She was adding stickers to a hospital photo of Max. Appearing deep in thought, I just let her keep the phone and proceeded on with something else. It didn’t take long for her to start asking questions that were undoubtedly on her mind. She wanted to know who had seen his newer photos. Would we be able to visit? I began to wall off after a few questions because they got impossible to answer. I clearly need to make her understand that we have no claim on her little brother. It’s aggravating to me that I didn’t put further thought into their views of this decision.

Being aggravated is truly pointless. What’s done is done. I’m saying that not trying to take the defeated approach, but because there’s literally nothing I can do to make amends. For whatever reasons I chose to go through with it all, it’s irreversible. And even if I could take it back, I’m having trouble accepting all the changes that would have called for. The domino effect of either decision seems to go on infintely. Though the a-parents probably couldn’t imagine having another child in their arms, that’s what would have happened…and they wouldn’t have been able to imagine any other child but that one. Had I kept Max, I wouldn’t have had a vicious cycle of emotional self abuse. But I would still have some emotional battles…guilt, anxiety, and the balm of love. I always come out swinging when I feel bottomed out. But I really don’t know the depth or the adversity that would have arisen with raising a third child alone. I have learned to trust my instincts, but this time it’s always going to pull at me due to the nature of the situation.

The kids seem to bring him up a little less. A little. But when they do, it gets to me in a different way than when Max ambles across my mind. Because it means that they were thinking of him. It means there are things that they dwell on, too. I certainly don’t like the idea of passing on what I feel and have felt to children. The prolonged sense of wonder, I’ve noted before, is a lot to take on for a grown woman. I don’t like that I’ve misguidedly put them in the position to always wonder. But I defintely couldn’t and wouldn’t have lied to them to try to curtail the consequences. That would have made it worse.

This is an ego blow of massive proportions. I feel like I can do damn near anything else I want to do….this is one thing I’m not sure about. Coping. Dealing appropriately. I don’t like not being sure. I hate it. It may be strange to be 29 years old and feel so assured of every other decision I could make, but I do. This puts a chink in my armor. It proves there is a flaw in my process and ability and decision making…which makes everything else wavy. The control freak in me is battered.

Finalization

It’s getting close to Christmas, New Years, and Max’s adoption finalization.

A new family is celebrating their first Christmas with their first child. There will be photos filled with his big brown eyes and chubby cheeked smiles. He’ll have toys coming out of his ears.

I’m wondering what it would have been like to have him propped in my lap as his sister and brother bounced around the living room opening gifts and “helping” him open his.  I’m smiling and nodding through my daughter’s upbeat speculation on what baby boy will be getting from Santa.

Constant bittersweetness is….nauseating. It’s a constant balancing act of wonderful pluses and sorrowful minuses. I happen to have a personality that resents repetition, so this repeated adjusting on perspective of this entire situation is wearing on my being.

The regret and grieving comes and goes. The joy and relief does, too.

Again, I find myself letting my inner circle of friends know that one thing that isn’t advertised about adoption that very much should be is the constant hurt and healing. As much as I harp on those negative feelings, they are getting more manageable. It’s just tough having them repeatedly. It’s a fight I wasn’t fully aware I was going to be warring this way.

And as the season of togetherness and family settles in, it’s a different kind of poison on my heart. To see how tall and beautiful my daughter has gotten this year. Seeing my oldest son has  grown unimaginably handsome. The progress I’ve seen my eldest children take has made it hard to realize that I will only see such change in Max through distant snapshots of his life as it’s already passed.

I try really hard not to overanalyze and not to be exceedingly critical. My eyes zoom in on cute shots and see ill fitting car seat restraints and car keys lying too close to his eager little hands. Things that are probably circumstantial, but as any mom knows can become problematic in an instant…and who am I, now, to say anything? It’s so hard not knowing what is while IT IS. It’s always going to be in past tense for me.

I love him more each month that passes. I wish the best for him more and more each day. And each day he’s closer to [legally] being the child of another mother and father. This six month period after relinquishment is one where you feel the tugs of “your baby” being lessened as “their baby” begins tolling like church bells in your head.

Mommy Issues & Help [Right Over a Cliff]

I’m a young mother. My mother became a mother young. My daughter has a higher risk of becoming a mother young, but I’m doing what I can to decrease that risk.

Going through the hell of relinquishing an unplanned child for adoption reduces the likelihood of my reproducing before I choose to significantly. There’s a specific statistic that, I think, puts this percentage in the low to mid seventies. I found it disconcerting that birthmothers’ reproductive habits were more highly impacted than mothers that had aborted. Consequences of actions are weighed in a completely different manner.

One manner is trust. For some reason, society has designed men’s role in reproduction to be subjective. Women are supposed to ward off advances, think on behalf of both parties, and make decisions based off circumstances that the other party voluntarily or involuntarily contribute to. Being that things are this way, after coming to terms with consequences that are life, death, agony, grief, loss, struggle, and maybe bittersweet joy of course family planning takes a predominant role in a woman’s life. We are conditioned at that point not to trust everyone just because they sweetly ask us to, yet to let a politician work us over much the same way…total chaos.

But those are all patterns that have been influenced by relationships and interactions that we didn’t always have complete control of. Don’t get me wrong…I believe as adults that we are accountable for OUR actions. But we cannot be held accountable for the actions of the adults who molded us or made manipulative impacts on our lives. From the way things seem to be going, it’s no wonder why fear is such a commodity in media today. We fear from lack of trust. We fear from difference. We fear what we don’t know and understand. And those fears also contribute to our decisions.

My family was not happy with my choice to give my child up for adoption. They were actually very supportive of the idea of me keeping Maxton. However, I knew [some of] their support to be a double edged sword. I grew up knowing that some people did things, not out of kindness, but because they’re investing for the sole purpose of a return. I’m quite careful about who I owe things. And while my dad was sincere in his desire to help with baby 3, I didn’t want my responsibility to be his burden because he does so much to help everyone else. He helps to the point of enabling, actually. And I didn’t feel like I was in a parenting position to be able to totally commit to my role for Max. My other children get what I think to be “just enough” of me. It wouldn’t have been fair to deny any of them time, love, affection, or ability. I had seen how frustrations from parenting made my mother with the three of us girls. I had seen how it translated into a sense of fault to us. That was NOT going to happen again.

So, while mother and trust issues played into the decisions and consequences surrounding Max, I was looking at many other things. It stung to be considered so petty that my mother would accuse me of placing him for adoption to spite her stance. It stung because I so outwardly and sincerely love my children that someone would have to be intentionally blind or delusional to make such a claim on my character. I knew that I COULD have raised Maxton. I knew even more that I shouldn’t. Not just as I am and where I am in my life. Between family and society giving and taking from the scope of ability and accountability to fit whatever stance they had on a given day on the subject of being a woman, a mother, a child, and a human, it just seemed like what I wanted was/is being shuttered out from selfish opinion.

After my second child had surgery two days ago, I was in a really strange place again. I had family trying to force “help” down my throat and was berated with questions of why I wouldn’t accept said “help.” I didn’t want or need it. At the same token, I knew I’d need help to raise Max…preferably from a loving father figure…but I did what I had to to keep the lack of at my hand from impacting his life. Changing tires, playing nurse, being career oriented, and being a hobbit are simple. I get this overwhelming sense that people want to help me now because I’m getting into a position to be able to help them…and that just seems disgustingly shady.

Calm Down, lady…

The last couple of weeks have been a ride for me, but nothing that I don’t think I can handle. Though stress of certain impacts has made it harder and harder to get decent rest through the night, I was sent a treasure trove of photos of Max by his a-mom 🙂

I was sitting in the parking lot of the hospital (my uncle has been in for the last couple of weeks with a degenerative muscle condition) about to go upstairs and was thinking that I hadn’t long left this place….Max in one car and me in another. Right around the moment I thought I was going to tear up, my phone alarmed and I got an e-mail! I squealed and made a guy sitting two cars over in a convertible jerk in surprise. They had never sent so many photos at once and I was so excited.

He was dressed in a pumpkin outfit, a crazy full on rock star costume complete with hair, and so many other wonderful candid shots. As I’ve noted before, I’ve never seen a newborn smile so much! He looks so unbelievably happy and from the message she sent me, they are both so  happy as well.

It seems just around the time I want to get upset from a void in contact, she comes through. I have to understand that she’s not used to keeping up with a baby…much less one that now is used to being held all the time. I was briefly concerned that Max would never get put down and would become spoiled, but I think he’ll be just right.

So, for once the baby was a piece of news recieved that brought serious joy above a little turmoil happening around me. The days are getting easier, but last night I had a little bit of a breakdown. I bounced back, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that this will happen now and then. That even though I know Max is SO loved, I’m still sad that I wont be an active part of his life and routine.

I’m trying to get a handle on my impatience. I need people around me sometimes to tell me to calm the heck down…that things get better.

Time & Salt

Max hit his two month old mark. Cade turned seven a week later. Both of my boys had milestones and I went into compensation mode for the son I actually have with me.

A day before Cade’s birthday he, my daughter, and I made a trip to Dallas. He had a pre-surgery appointment at Children’s which added salt to my cut over missing a baby moment. While the surgery is explained to be totally routine, I’m still a mom…I’m freaked out internally but dutifully smothered my brave face on to keep my child from being scared. I’m not in a good place to deal witih any potential complications. But I’m going to enforce mind over matter here: my son will be fine! After the appointment I wanted to take the kids somewhere cool. We all have a love of cars and I thought Cade would be excited to eat at Gas Monkey. But as luck would have it, his interest was in the bikes parked outside and not much else. My daughter flipped out in joy, though. lol it figures.

So, as we wait on what turned out to be really good food, I began prodding Cade for gift ideas. At seven, he still doesn’t know his birthday and Christmas are not interchangeable on gift quantity! In his sweet little voice he prattles off expected things and I feel confident I could make him smile when he got his gifts. I wasn’t so sure I’d be able to keep from thinking of what I might have done for Max on his seventh birthday.

Everything has a parallel where I briefly think of the baby and wonder “what if?”… I’m thankful I no longer spend hours inside of a day pining, but I’m acutely aware that missing Max’s milestones will make me compensate and go further to make my home sprouts’ milestones better. My mind toyed with ridiculousness ranging from bounce houses to Halloween themed ghoul fests, but I reeled it in quickly. A Hershey’s cake and a trove of must-have gifts.

It was as he opened his toys and video games that I realized that he’s at an age that he’s so innocently easy to please. I felt a pang of guilt for thinking I needed to spend more to make him happier. He’s the one who’s happy with a Hot Wheels car and a toss up in my arms. Cade didn’t care about those “awesome” toys for more than three days. He carries the cheap new Hot Wheels in his pockets like lifelines, however lol… the talking, interactive, projectile toys are on the dresser getting little attention.

I don’t need or have to go beyond what they are happy with to make myself feel like less of a weakling. My oldest two are very aware that I miss the baby. My daughter makes an effort not to talk about cute University of Texas gear she knew I’d have put him in when we are in the store. She will glance at displays and pout a bit…not because she wants for herself, but for a distant baby brother. These instances add even more salt.

I firmly believed I was making a decision that made Cade and my daughter more secure. That I wouldn’t have to make them “go without” because mommy made a mistake. The irony!! Being down a sibling is definitely going without. How idiotic of me. They both could care less about the material things I thought they needed and wanted more than an expensive, garbling baby brother. Again, how idiotic! This wasn’t my only reason for my choice, but it was one of what I deemed most definitive.

Milestones come with time. I was raised to have a powerful sense of blood bond and family. That, coupled with two totally sentimental and intelligent kids is hard to hurdle. What has eaten me about missing “week old”, “month old”, “six weeks old”, and “two months old” is that I’m seeing that missing them are wholly on me. I’m missing time because I made a lifelong decision under circumstances that are deemed duress under every other scenario outside of adoption.

I’m at least glad Max has a very loving family. No matter what, that’s a great thing. But no matter what, I have to realize that what I’m missing is not compensatory or because of anyone else. That’s quite a pill to down.

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.