These are several segments I wrote separately throughout the first few days and weeks following my daughter’s birth – somewhat raw reactions. Here, I just did a little rearranging and cutting to make them flow better.
When I attended a birth moms’ support group in my last trimester, I received a lot of advice and wisdom from ladies who were anywhere from two to twenty years past their initial adoption process. A lot of what they told me was simply their experience, especially focused on the immediately after moments. This is some of what I was told:
You will cry for days.
Being alone right after the birth is really difficult.
You will end up lashing out at someone.
It’s normal to feel empty and angry.
You should eat and do and say whatever you want in that time.
They also all agreed on one thing: not a single one of them regretted their choice to let someone else parent their child.
I was grateful to hear about their experiences, but I couldn’t help wondering if some of their rather absolute statements would really ring true for me. In the end, several of them didn’t. Three days after giving birth, I looked at the list of things the other birth moms had told me, and I wrote this:
“I don’t regret it. I cried last night for the first time, but I sort of made myself do it, and I wasn’t really crying about the adoption itself. I’ve been alone, and while it certainly gives you a lot of time to think, it wasn’t really bad. Sometimes, I wanted to be alone so I could nap. I haven’t lashed out at anyone, nor felt the desire to. I do feel a little empty, physically and emotionally, but not angry at all. I’m eating and doing whatever I want, but with the addition of all the things I’m supposed to be eating and doing for optimal recovery. I never say whatever I want, but I suppose that I replace that by writing whatever I want.”
One day, you’re pregnant, and the next, you’re not. One day, your whole life is focused on your pregnancy, and the next day, it’s over. And if there’s no baby to switch your focus to, it’s kind of hard to move on. Not hard like sobbing every night or breaking down in the middle of Walmart. You just think about it sometimes. The sudden change. “Oh my gracious, just two weeks ago, I had a baby inside me, and now, I don’t.” It’s weird. You almost want to be pregnant again even though you hated it the whole time because, after so long, it just seems like how things are supposed to be.
There is definitely a feeling of loss, but I don’t know that I would say it’s at all compounded by the adoption situation. I think even if I had kept my baby in a “normal” birth experience, these feelings would remain. For nine months, it’s been all about you. Not only is there now a feeling of emptiness physically, but there is also a shift in everyone’s focus. You move to the side now so your baby can be the star.
I was the key player, and then, just when the game was reaching it’s climax, I was removed from it. Now, I’m standing on the sidelines watching it go on.
I wasn’t ready. I mean, I was prepared, but I wasn’t really ready.
I have a short attention span and problems committing, which is why I have moved around and changed jobs so often in the last six years. Generally, after six months, I get bored with where I am and what I’m doing, and I actively seek change. I chase it. I’m not satisfied until my life is on a different route. Case in point: when a year of working at Disney World was crushing my soul, I bought a plane ticket to Iceland.
Now, there was a lot of change within my nine-month pregnancy. The first two months were on a ship. Then I was living with my sister for another month or two, then finding my own apartment. I ended up working four different jobs in the course of my second and third trimesters. So maybe that helped, I don’t know. But despite how much I didn’t want to be pregnant in the first place, despite the fact that I didn’t enjoy the pregnancy itself (it never really stopped being weird to me to be growing a human inside me), and despite the annoyance that comes with the last weeks of pregnancy when everything you do is uncomfortable, I feel like I wasn’t actually ready for it to end.
I remember a point somewhere in month eight when I really wanted to be done. I was ready to move on, excited for what was coming next. It’s probably right about the time that I was getting truly “big” and mobility was becoming stunted. It was short-lived though. I adjusted to the new body weight and size and kept going with life, and I don’t remember ever thinking that again. About a week after birth, I realized that I hadn’t been restlessly awaiting a change in my life like I normally do. I had been pretty comfortable in my uncomfortable state.
Logically, I would say this is because I wasn’t ready to deal with the realities that would hit post-birth. As long as my baby was inside me, the parents were just some great people I hung out with now and then, and she was mine. Similar to that idea that I have now been set on the sidelines of the game, there is the feeling that as long as she was inside me, the icky stuff wasn’t too bad because I was avoiding the emotionally icky stuff that was to come after. There’s no avoiding anymore. It happened, it’s over, we are done. I just wasn’t ready.