Mother’s Day Molotovs

Why not do everything with a bang? I surely didn’t expect Mother’s Day to end with a bare soul conversation between my parents, sisters, and I…but it did. And I really can’t say that it was for the better other than getting some much needed heat off our chests. The entire thing was draining and long. My youngest sister kept her mouth shut. I knew why she didn’t verbalize on what was bothering her because she knew our mother well enough to know that whatever she said in Mom’s disfavor would rear its head later on. But I had not qualms about saying my peace and neither did my other sister.

At last, there were multiple accountings of some of the crap we’d had to deal with and grow around. The look on my dad’s face was one of discomfort, pain, and realization. Still he remained the ever steadfast husband and tried to mediate what turned out to be a situation that wasn’t going to get better with time. He actually mentioned counseling and I just raised my eyebrow at him. There’s no point with all of us in the process of putting distance between us.

All the yelling, screaming, and recounting of events needed to happen. It put so many things in perspective and made me realize how very important it is for me to parent with love and awareness. This just made me more determined to get out of this funky rut that I’ve been in for months. I’ve had to deal with a lot of skeletons this past few months…unwillingly at times. My health, Maxton’s adoption, my relationship with my daughter, and the parallel with the relationships that I’ve allowed to fester with my mother and my youngest aunt.

I don’t want to get 20 years down the road and look back in delusion thinking that the things that come out of my mouth or my actions don’t have a direct impact on how my children develop. People tell me that I’m a good mother, but that doesn’t mean anything if I am not meeting my own expectations. I’m my own worst critic, but it scares the hell out of me to think I can have a negative impact on another human being that could affect every important relationship she develops throughout her adolescence and adulthood.

Parenting is major–no, this isn’t a new realization, but I am now considering the adoption and the current status of my relationship with my mother in a new way. No one is perfect. And I’m sure many kids had way worse parents to deal with by various opinion. But I got a very good schematic on what NOT to do. Not everyone has that fortune. My dad is wonderful, yet also imperfect. I have two guidebooks in parenting that are absolutely golden….I know what things help, hurt, nurture, hinder, and rot a budding human being. To not use that knowledge to best cater to the needs and demands of my two children at home would be negligent.

I can keep making my past experiences with my mother/family a bad thing…or I can develop it into a positive. I guess some bombs do have their target and their benefit.

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Reality Check

Finding that you’re just pushing through each day just trying to get to a Friday or past a Monday is a sad thing. It means you’ll eventually find yourself hundreds of Fridays and Mondays down the road wondering where precious moments in between have gone and what you could have done with them.

I still haven’t gotten an update from the A-parents. I’m afraid to ask questions at this point. It’s been important for me to be the one to reply and not instigate because of how it could be interpreted. Invasive, impatient, still too attached–I don’t want them to think anything negative at all about communicating with me about the baby.

“The baby” I say. He’s not Maxton, anymore. By all accounts, he only was Max by legal definition. And I only type his given name when addressing his new parents because it’s a sore issue for me, still. He’s not my baby anymore and he’s the namesake of a monster I have spent a few years trying to forget existed.

I’m not forced to think of any of these things as often as I had been before. Hormones have gone back to normal. My fitness kick has put my body back in place. Schedules have gone back into a recognizable rhythm. Then someone who saw my swollen belly months ago ventures to ask, “How’s the baby?”

“Good,” I say with a smile.

I assume this to be 100% true. He’s fine. I’ve never felt like I was lying when I respond that way. But I do feel like my very carefully constructed walls are being beaten on. I don’t like to be asked. It’s a reminder, and the only reminders I want are photos and excerpts from the people raising him. That, I can handle. Other reminders are so unwanted that I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes. But it’s also not good to bottle myself in fantasy…to steer from reality to cope.

Perhaps I need those uncomfortable brushes with reality more often.

He’s SO Cute!

This weeble-wobble of emotions varying from contentment, agony, jealousy, anger, and happiness is nauseating.

My current state is a mix of agony and jealousy. I am wondering if an open adoption (as it stands with just photos and e-mail) is a good idea. It provides me with just enough contact to feel like I’m missing parts of Max’s life and keeps me just enough at bay to feel like an outsider being granted access that I inherently feel entitled to. I’m so thankful that he is a happy, healthy, BEAUTIFUL baby. When I share photos with my friends and family, there’s no doubt that he’s the chubby cheeked epitome of adorable.

“He is SO cute!” they say.

I know such comments are made about him in my absense. Since people tell me all the time that I look “just” like my [step] father when I’m introduced as his daughter that I know people look at Max’s A-parents and crow the same opinion….and being that people now say such things on social media where my biological father can see, I understand his perspective of his thunder being stolen. I look just like my biological father. People compliment me. Yet my step-father is the man everyone knows as my father and is granted that moment.

Yes, wanting credit for an attractive, healthy, or smart child is desired. It’s one of the many superficial and sentimental reasons people are drawn to the idea of parenting. I am filled with pride when my eight and seven year old are lauded for different attributes and accomplishments. However, I’m just as proud when they are both just being goofy, silly children. And I’m not allowed either with Max. I can already tell from the bright awareness in Max’s eyes that he will be intelligent. Genetics wont be the factor people attribute this to…it will be his rearing.

It feels petty to feel slighted for certain things yet having made the decision to place him. It’s a double edged sword for doing what I knew to be best and feeling like I’ve copped out for doing so. The contradiction is as annoying as knowing that the reasons I find to be aggravated are small-minded. Chastising myself gets old, but I’m going to always see this gorgeous little boy in photos and see a reflection that he wont cognitively connect to himself….

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 Grounding Myself

No internet surfing for a month; longer, if it helps me stop torturing myself.

The reading I have been doing is not helping–it’s driving me batty. I’m a “fresh” birthmother. Less than eight weeks post-relinquishment. I’m already on a very negative path for the choice that I’ve made. And since it was a choice, I feel even worse about the multitude of feelings that are now swirling within me.

I entrusted my friends to help me find happy birthmother blogs and happy adoptee blogs….I’ll update as soon as I receive something. I really hate to ask, but I must wonder: if the adoption industry has changed so much from the “scoop” era, then why haven’t birthmothers’ perspective shifted?

As of right now, I feel like I have shamefully bowed out of a path in my life that would have been temporarily difficult, but would not have guaranteed myself emotionally infinite potholes dotting it. That fact is harrowing. I have 100% guaranteed myself pain, whether it lessens or grows, for the duration of my life. And judging by the blogs I’ve read, I’m not sure what I’ve guaranteed Max other than two things: I’ve guaranteed him a life and adoptive parents that are happy to have a baby. Whether it was my baby or another baby, they’d be as happy as they are now. Wish granted. Prayer answered. Life complete (./?) 

 
I swallowed gallons of self and socially imposed kool-aid and am slightly nauseous. Any process that develops into an industry is bound to have flaws. Nothing is perfect. When a $0-2,000 dollar service (via the state) becomes a $2,000-30,000 service (via a private agency), processes will develop to protect profit/interest of the organization and the organization’s customer. And while carrying the child, a birthmother may feel like a customer, but that is untrue and will become clear upon the birth of the child. It’s sad to consider where birthmothers can fall if involved with a for-profit…within that chain of product>service>transaction. Birthmothers need to consider what happens to caseworkers’, counselors’, and adoptive parents’ perspectives when there’s something they invest time, money, and emotions into….they’ll protect tactically.

I feel like a chicken that the farmer stuck red glasses on. What is implied to birthmothers weighing the option of adoption is that the baby will automatically be happy and healthy with the family they (the agency) represent. What is promoted is both the happiness of the child and the adoptive parents. Every negative was, in my case, left for me to discover on my own. Why would a business hurt their chances of sealing a transaction? I’d done research for coping with my choice. I’m beating myself blue figuratively for not seeking accounting from adoptees and birthmothers more beforehand.

I’m grounding myself from web surfing because while my choice was initially difficult, at the time I was closer to solace with that decision than I am now. I’m grounding myself in a way that a totally unaware person takes an aspirin for terminally ill related pain… for the pure placebo. Even if I hate myself for this choice, I have to make myself OK for the two loving, well-rounded children I do have with me. That is not an option. I will do that. I cannot make my grief for Max an issue of parenting for kids that are well within the age range and cognizance of remembering and reasoning.

I’m going to ground myself to make the best of a decision I was previously convinced was good. I must have faith that there was something in those months of deciding that have more validity than the few weeks of scaring myself to death. I can’t undo myself over something that cannot be undone. I have no choice but to try to, in whatever way, make this as good and rose colored as humanly possible.

Little Reminders

It’s been six weeks since giving birth. It seems like longer in some ways and in other ways it seems like it just happened. Time has flown by in the way that it seems like the scent of Max’s hair, the feeling of his perfect baby skin, or the way his eyes had yet to settle in color are engrained in my memory. Since my time in the hospital after giving birth was all the time I had to spend with him, I don’t have much to cling to mentally. It’s a matter of debate to say whether or not clinging to memories is a good or bad thing, but in the instance of motherhood keeping memories in tact is the world–to a birth mother it’s truly everything.

I’m hitting phases of emotions that I sometimes feel capable of handling and other times I feel too angry to even sleep a full night from thinking so much. I now have the time to think through the small incidental actions (of the adoptive parents, Max’s father, the agency, my family, peers, etc.) and things I noticed and really sort through them.  Along with the hundreds of little “clues” I feel like I should have picked up on and questioned I must deal with peers. People obviously knew I was pregnant on sight in my last trimester, but they didn’t know I was seeking adoption. I wish I’d have just openly mentioned the decision then instead of keeping it to myself, because now I have to explain why I had no baby with me.

“Yes, I had the baby…I had a little boy…Well, he lives in south Texas now. I put him up for adoption….”

The conversation often pauses there long enough for the look of shock and/or pity to cross their faces; that’s about when the tears start stinging my eyes and my throat wants to close up. First of all, people are not acclimated to seeing me get emotional. At all. So this starts a process of slight freaking out on their part and a fight to get my face back under control of my brain and not my heart.

“It’s OK! I’m all right….He has a great new family that I like a lot.”

At this point, I’ve reeled in the watering eyes and have managed not to get mascara and eyeliner running down my face and people are either anxious to remove themselves from the uncomfortable situation OR worse….the pep rally starts.

I cannot begin to describe the anguish it creates in my chest for people to tell me what a good thing I’d done in choosing to place my son for adoption. A lot of words of approval get tossed into the atmosphere around my head and I’m left fighting the urge to roll my eyes or get irritated by the processions of “brave” and “wonderful” and “selfless”. It may be different for other birth moms, but these little approval cheers tend to grate my nerves because I feel guilty for having been in the situation at all. As people tell you their opinions of your choice they’re not able to factor in the less than favorable circumstances surrounding the decision.  I’m far more surprised that I can get through the praise than I can the explanations of these highly undesirable conversations. I’ve wondered a million times whether I’d be happier if someone berated me for my decision. It’s almost as if I want to have to defend my choice out loud so that I don’t keep cycling through these god-awful feelings of regret.

And those feelings are mostly what have been eating me. I know Max is loved. I know that he is safe. I know that he will never be without material needs. I know that he feels all the love he’s given because I’ve quite honestly never seen a newborn smile in so many photos! All that and yet I feel the motherly pang of regret. I’d fought to better my situation so that I could raise my first two children, why did it seem that I was giving up on this one? Feeling that way immediately triggers a sense of selfishness. Then I go through the entire cycle of feeling as if I shouldn’t feel selfish for feeling something so natural. However, I get gut-check moments from others sometimes. I was speaking with my social worker from the agency and as I mentioned getting photos from the adoptive parents she said, “So how are your kids?”

Your? The world should have stopped turning in that moment. It may have been harmless, but the way it slapped me in the face I couldn’t process it that way for the life of me. But I answered her the way she wanted and pretended like I didn’t want to yell. Amazing how “your” and mere suggestion of separation of how I classify Max from my two children at home angered me. I consider them siblings. They consider Max their little brother. Is that wrong? Because that “your” and the other ways she (either on her own or by procedure) found little ways of telling me that Max was not mine really got to me. I wanted to remind her that she was there as I signed my relinquishment…she saw my tears and heard my sobs as I read the document–I obviously comprehended the gravity of it all. I knew that Max was legally no longer my child and that I had no further claim on him.

Tell that to my body, though. Mother nature herself had been quick to remind me that I am the mother of a newborn child. Lactating (still!), contracting, hormonal swings, and PAIN all rolled through me full tilt. It took this situation to make me realize that taking care of a newborn during this period is what helps it go by much faster. Instead I felt every pop of my hips and pelvis, every crick in my back, and every gory sensation that is expected after giving birth…but it seemed specifically extended and poignant in Max’s absence. Nine months of pregnancy and I’m supposed to snap to because ink dried? …cute, lady!

I will never, ever be so nearsighted as to tell a birth mother that the child she bore is not hers. Even if she is the type of birth mother to have happily washed her hands of the entire situation. Don’t they teach diplomatic response to these people who work with women in these situations? Although I’d always acknowledged Max’s adoptive parents as his parents and had no problem accepting them as mommy and daddy to him, I still had the natural connection to him as my biological son. I care about him, I love him, and I want the best for him. There’s no amount of corporate or social training in the world to make a mother less cognizant of the fact that her child is a direct part of her….so why not just avoid causing that type of pain? Especially in a person who has made every attempt to show support to the child and the new parents! Especially if post-partum counseling has been forgone or forgotten by the agency. I can tell any agency worker or adoptive parent (from all those little incidents I previously mentioned) that you should do more to not act like the baby is your investment that you are staking claim in or that the birth mother should be leashed. No bueno.

I have NEVER used terms of possession in regard to Max when communicating with his mom. I know how insulting and/or threatening that could be. I know to be courteous of her love for him. Why would a professional not know to show the same courtesy to the woman who gave birth to the child?

As I continue to churn through the expected roller coaster that comes for birth moms after the baby has gone home with its family, I am also churning through normal single parent frustrations. School uniforms, supplies, lunch items, snacks, homework, bedtime, and my own school admission process has been a welcome distraction from all the the things my body, my peers, and my social worker hint at, scream, or say. Funny how you get “friendly” little reminders of your situation even if you’re the first to acknowledge it. C’est la vie.

 

 

For other birth mothers out there, I’m including a poll asking about your experiences with your agency, worker, and the adoptive family. I’d love to get feedback (and comments) on what others are dealing with or simply feedback from someone who found themselves here in passing 🙂