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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bye Bye, 2011.

Good riddance! I'd say it was nice knowing ya, but really, it wasn't all that grand.

Okay, so my baby girl did turn one this year, we got to Skype with her, and I did cut off 99.8% of communication with her birthdad, so those are two things to celebrate.

The rest of it, though...the quitting of my job due to the stress, the gaining weight (also due to stress), my mom being sick and needing surgery, as well as a handful of other smaller things...can kiss my butt. I'll be happy to never look back on those things!

Friday, December 30, 2011

I want to make 2012 my year. I never make new years resolutions, because if you want to vow to do or change something about yourself, you can and should do that any day of the year. Maybe it's coincidental that all of my recent revelations have come about at the end of the year, I don't know. But I've realized a few things over the past few days, and it overwhelms me to even think about some of these things, but if I run from what's right in front of me, I'll never get anywhere. I've been sick with some gross bug since Tuesday night, so I've had all the time in the world to lie in my bed and sleep. Sleep off and on, that is. When sleep is "off," my mind is on, and that's when the wheels start turning. There was nothing to distract me from my thoughts for the past few days, however.

Realization #1: I am, and have been, in total control of any weight loss that I want to tackle. I found myself googling whether or not the HcG diet works (evidently, it doesn't), and calculating the cost of diet programs in the area. Then, I realized something - it's not as if I eat healthy, exercise, drink plenty of water and still can't lose weight. I've yet to even dedicate myself to trying those things. I don't need to join a dieting program or anything like that, what I need to do starts from home and is free. In fact, it will end up costing me less than I already spend on food and drinks now. My issue is this: soda. The calories in liquid pile on a million times faster than the calories in food because you don't even realize how much you are consuming. I don't even eat a lot throughout the day, and when I do, I have generally small meals. I do, however, drink at least a half of a 2-liter of mountain dew every day. HELLO!? If I could gain the self-control I needed to stop that, I probably wouldn't even need to change any eating habits, and I could simply incorporate 20 minutes to a half hour of walking into my day every day and I would see results. No personal trainer necessary. This is a no-brainer. But this leads me to another realization of mine: I am definitely an emotional eater. Yes, I've become one of the girls who sit at the 'girls who eat their feelings' table in Mean Girls - the table no girl ever wants to have to sit at. Actually, I've sat at a lot of hypothetical tables that I never thought I would be found sitting at in the past couple of years. Anyway, I used to be the exact opposite of what I am now, when it comes to my emotions and eating. For the first 22 years of my life, when I got upset, I refused to eat. Maybe even for days. My first memory of this happening was in the third grade, when I came home from school to find out that one of my rabbits had died. After I cried for an hour or two, my mom made spaghetti for dinner and put a plate in front of me. The smell of the food (which was my favorite dinner) made me feel nauseous and the thought of eating it, when my rabbit was dead and could never eat again overwhelmed me with guilt (oh, the logistics of a nine-year-old). I can also remember, over the years, when I'd have an argument with my mother, I wouldn't want to come out of my room and eat. This intensified a thousand-fold during my relationship with G. Whenever I had that gut feeling that he was lying to me about something or he was keeping something from me, the thought of food repulsed me. Whenever we would fight, I would come home, go right to bed, and even if I hadn't eaten at all that entire day, my stomach wouldn't even feel hungry. It was like I zoned in on feeling upset and could concentrate on nothing but that until that sick feeling I had in the pit of my stomach passed. I did this every. single. time. we had an argument. Which, for a year and a half, we had none. After that, we had a few. Maybe once every couple of months. Then once every couple of weeks. Then once a week, then a few times a week. It wasn't healthy (not only for my body but my mind), but what I do now isn't either. Ever since the adoption, I've put on more weight than I ever have in my life. I weigh more now than I did when I was pregnant, and mind you - I lost nearly 40lbs between having my daughter and then having my gallbladder surgery. So I've gained that back, and then some. I've created the most vicious of cycles - I feel sad (for obvious reasons), I feel lonely (for even more obvious reasons) and I'm bored, so I eat. It makes me feel better for the five minutes that I have a bowl of ice cream in front of me. Then, I look in the mirror or just plain feel uncomfortable in my own skin, and get upset with myself all over again for eating. So, to cure that feeling of sadness that I just created for myself all over again, I eat again. I'm not even hungry! I do this to myself. I know it, because when I'm at work, or out with friends, or just plain busy in any way, I don't even think about food. I honestly don't.
I don't know where I'll go from here, but at least I've recognized and admitted what I'm doing wrong and what I need to do to fix it. I know I would drop the weight like magic if I stopped drinking so much soda and iced tea. I have to somehow commit to drinking only water for a long time. I don't even dislike water; but why would I choose water when I could have something that makes me feel 'happy?' I put the word happy in quotes because I know it's purely psychological. I tell myself that food makes me happy so I can fill a void, but in reality, it doesn't do anything but make me feel worse and the void is still there afterwards. Food will not replace my child, no matter how hard I try to make it happen. My child will still be with her family, and the only change will be in the size of my jeans.

Realization #2: I was begging, begging, BEGGING for a dog for Christmas. Not even necessarily a puppy, even a one or two year old dog from a rescue shelter would be nice. Actually, that would have been even better. I've heard it said that those dogs appreciate you more and you can just tell that they adore you, even more than a puppy you've raised, because they sense that you have 'saved' them. I believe it. Anyway, for the longest time, I've wanted a blue-nose American Staffordshire Terrier. Maybe my fascination with them occurred after watching Pit Boss for months on end, I don't know, but nevertheless, I was dying for one. Working in a veterinary hospital, I know the work required to care for a dog. I know the time, dedication, and love it takes to care for a dog, and while I know it's not the same, I've realized that it's similar to the dedication, time, and commitment it takes to raise a child properly. Again, I know it's different. We're talking about the quality of life of a canine versus the quality of life, finances, education and family for a human being. But what it comes down to is this: I realized that I wanted something to take care of. I wanted something that would depend on me, and only me, to feed it, walk it, and spend time with it. I needed something to project all of these pent up motherly instincts I've held inside me for the past year and two months, since my little girl was born. I can't fill that void with a dog. In fact, it would only make it worse, I'm sure. I would probably treat my dog like royalty because of this strong need I seem to have to bond with something that will love me back and need me, but at the end of the day, a cute little four-legged creature who relies on me is not the same as my beautiful, two-legged daughter who does not rely on me, and thus will not make me feel any happier. I still want a dog, don't get me wrong. But I want to wait until it's the right time. I want to get a dog purely because I want the dog, not because there's some underlying need to nurture anything that needs nurturing just because I have an overload of it in my system right now.

Realization #3: This one is sort of the bow on the box that I've wrapped those last two realizations up in. This wasn't some shocking idea that came into my head or anything like that, rather it was something I've known all along. My daughter deserves the world, she deserves the best of the best, and I wouldn't stand for her having any less. The reason I am writing this one down is because, while I obviously knew that, or I wouldn't have placed, I seem to forget it during my moments of selfishness and jealousy and regret. I don't regret the adoption. Not even for one second. But saying that doesn't mean I've picked up the pieces of my life and moved on and I am happy as can be. One big thing that 'outsiders' (people who have never placed, or people who are not involved in the adoption world in any way) don't seem to realize is that being a birth mom is like riding on the world's biggest, fastest, scariest roller coaster ride that exists. Think of the scariest ride at Six Flags, and magnify it 99 times. That's the ride I'm on right now. It's contradictory in every way possible.
Yes, I go out with my friends and I laugh and I have a genuinely good time, but that doesn't mean I'm "over it." Inside, do I feel guilty that I am not at home, caring for my child, changing her diaper and feeding her? Yes. But that doesn't mean I "regret it." This is impossible to explain. I feel like all I do is confuse people. Sometimes I think that if I could see peoples thoughts across a board the way you see the airplane takeoff and landing times at an airport, I would see 'why is she so moody and upset today, she was fine and laughing all night last night,' or 'why has she been so quiet...it's been a year...it can't still be her baby making her feel sad, can it?,' or 'wow, she's happy for someone who doesn't raise her child.'
I've worn many masks over the past year, and that's not to say I'm proud of it. I don't know what else to do. I can't talk directly about the adoption without breaking down into tears. If someone asks, I can somehow turn my emotions off like a robot and answer with a few words, but that's it. As soon as I open my mouth to say anything else, it's as if the floodgates open and I have to use all the strength I've got to keep the tears behind my eyeballs rather than pouring out from under them. Then there are times where I'm beaming with pride over her and want to acknowledge her and talk about her and show my friends photos of her.
When I'm alone, I force myself to process these thoughts and feelings, but I can't. I can't even cry. Like I said, I don't regret the adoption. But lately I have felt so downright angry about it that I've become immune to it. I'm not angry at her parents, not angry at my parents, not angry at myself or even G - just angry at the idea of the entire situation. Angry that I don't get to decide what my daughter wears for the day, or where she goes or who she spends time with. Angry that I don't get to take pictures of her whenever I want and send them to my friends who don't live locally. That's why I need to remind myself of the fact that she is happy, loved, well-taken care of, and has everything I wanted her to have and then some. When I feel angry, the happiness can't help but crack through the surface when I think of how happy she is. How can I be constantly sad or constantly bitter and angry when there's a little life, a little part of me living and breathing out there and she is happy?

I know I confuse people with my emotions. But guess what! I confuse myself, too. I've been confused since I found out I was pregnant, and it's only gotten worse since then. So please, bear with me. This robot version of me, who finds happiness in next to nothing other than thinking about my child, is not really who I am. I will find happiness in the things I used to again, it will just take time. Right now, I can barely see a shadow cast from the light at the end of this tunnel, let alone the light itself, but I trust that it's there. Everyone grieves differently and at their own pace, and I am only just beginning my journey. Grief and I will develop a very familial relationship before I'm done with it, I think.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Time and a Place

So, the holidays are almost over, and I've made it through the toughest part. The holiday spirit is still in the air and usually is until New Years Eve, which is nice. I had hoped to make 2011 my "fresh start," after ridding myself of G (for the most part) and trying to start over for myself and my daughter, but it didn't work out quite as I had expected. I've never been one to make corny new years resolutions (or any at all, for that matter), but what better time than now to try and start over? I want to lose weight (at least back to the weight I was at last Christmas, and even then some), further my education and find a steady job that will pay the bills. I realize that I have to put in 99% of the work myself to get these things to happen, and finally, I've had the wake-up call that I need to actually put these things into action.

Christmas was tense yesterday. There were tears in my eyes when I woke up and they were hiding right under the surface for the rest of the day. I tried to simply think of it as another day, not as one of the happiest days of the year. My parents told me this is what it means to 'be an adult. it starts to feel less and less like Christmas each year that you get older,' but I know it was so much more than that. Knowing that she is now old enough to open her own gifts, with help, and play with them and be excited on Christmas morning, while also knowing that I'm missing all of that, was really hard. Next year, she'll be 2 - even harder. I tried to comfort myself by telling myself that her parents must be so, so, so excited on Christmas, watching their two children playing with their gifts and smiling for pictures by the tree, but it really didn't help. Call me selfish, but it actually just made me jealous, which made me feel worse. I even let a pretty nasty thought cross my mind...I was checking, hoping, and checking some more for an email throughout the day, with even just one picture of my little girl or a note about how much she liked my gifts to her. Every time I checked...nothing. So I started to think about how they must be busy, they must be doing family Christmas things and watching their children open gifts. That's when I thought - my sacrifice is the reason they are so busy. My child is the one they are watching play with her gifts, can't they at least send me a quick text? Email? Anything? This holiday is all about family, and the most important part of my family is missing because she is now their family.

Then I snapped out of it and realized how childish and selfish I was being. It's one day out of the year! They deserve the happiness they shared with our daughter (mine & theirs) on Christmas because they are raising her and loving her and being the mom and dad that G and I couldn't be. They are there with her through the not-so-pleasant times (expenses, times she's up all night, or sick, etc.), so they deserve every second they get to spend with her, especially the ones when she is awake, laughing, and talking to them. It was that thought, though, that made me cry. It was my crying that led my mother tell me that "there is a time and a place, and this is not the time nor the place." REALLY? There is a time and a place to miss your child? There is a time and a place to cry over the fact your entire family is together, minus part of your own flesh and blood? Huh.

Don't get me wrong - I love my mom and she did her best to make this Christmas special for me. She made me laugh when I was about to cry, and put a lot of thought into my gifts and I will always appreciate that. But, really? A time and a place. I know how much she loves kids. I know she wishes more than anything that her granddaughter were here to celebrate with us and make a mess of all the wrapping paper. But she's not, and my mother played a bigger part in that decision than I've ever discussed on here (maybe I will someday). And no matter how you slice it, it's not the same. Parting with a grandchild is not the same as parting with a child. Not, not, not. So I get unreasonably angry when she tries to liken her loss to mine. I know she's sad, I know it hurts, I know it just flat-out sucks. But don't compare it, because it's not the same.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My four-legged Christmas Cards :)

The outfits . . .






I did this today, just for fun (oh, the benefits of finals being over and not having a full-time job!). Hahaha. I'm pretty happy with the way they came out, especially since I just used my Sony point-and-shoot and only lightly edited a few of them. I have a Canon eos 5d - which I'm ashamed to admit, is collecting dust as we speak - that I may take out tomorrow or the next day and try to get some sharper images. I've learned one thing, though - I could never be a pet photographer. There were some choice words strewn about my room this afternoon when this or that little thing would mange to ruin 78% of my pictures. Hahaha.

I can't help but wish that I was able to take photos of my little girl in her Christmas outfit, or even take her to Sears or Toys 'R Us and have them take professional pictures of her for me. Everyone (and I mean everyone)'s Facebook pictures consist of professional pictures of their kids sitting beside the Christmas tree or sitting in a pile of fake glittery snow. I'm trying not to let these things turn me into a holiday Grinch, but it's a fight I seem to be losing.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

In a Rut

I know I have been MIA lately. I've been crazy between studying for finals and my job search, and I haven't really had much to write about. I wouldn't call it a 'writer's block,' though...more like 'writer's repetition.' I sound like a broken record in my head sometimes, I really do. I have a feeling I'll be in this rut til after the holidays. This month has been really hard so far, and I think it may get worse before it gets better. So, on a happier note, Arianna's and her adoptive brother's gifts are wrapped, packed, and ready to be brought to the post office first thing Monday morning along with my card for her and her parents!

(I know, the quality is awful, I took this with my phone)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Piece of Me

My gifts are all wrapped and ready to go for Miss Arianna. Why it makes me so sad to mail them off, I'll never know. There are obvious reasons, like the fact that I'd like to see her open them with my own eyes, smile at them with my own eyes, and play with them with my own eyes. But I think it has to be more than that; because I've come to accept that as well as I can. I guess it just makes me feel like I'm sending another teeny part of myself to her in the form of her gifts, what I chose for her. That's hard, because I've already sent the biggest part of me to her that I possibly could. Figuratively speaking, my heart was born when she was, and it left my body inside of her and will be with her forever. That's not to say I'll never love anyone else ever again, or love any of my future children (if any) any less, but... I guess I lost track of where I was going with that!

I just re-read that and it sounds so foolish. They're children's toys, how on earth does that represent any part of me? Ah well, I've just been so confused lately. It's why I haven't written much. I don't like to sound negative or whine constantly, so when that's what I think I'll wind up doing, I tend to not write at all (at least not publicly).

In other news, I "got the job," but she said she needed me to start Monday (as in tomorrow, as in four days from the day that she interviewed me). I said that I would love to - but I have my final week of classes this week and finals on top of that. I told her I could *try* to inform my teachers and take my exams during the evening rather than the morning, but I couldn't really make any promises. She told me to email her and let her know, and if it all worked out, Monday would be great. I was never told "you've got the job," but in asking me to rearrange my final exam schedule, I was pretty sure it was a shoe-in. I emailed her Friday afternoon and told her that, lo and behold, since two of my finals are research papers (which can be emailed), my other two teachers were okay with me rescheduling my exams, since I came to them prior to the test rather than after missing it. She never wrote back, so now I have no idea if I am supposed to show up Monday morning or wait for her to call. I think I'll get up super early tomorrow and leave her a voicemail so she gets it as soon as she comes in, and that way, if she wants me to come in, I'll be a little late. If not, then, back to the search!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Looking Up


I've been trying to focus all of my attention on the wonderful things about Christmas, and so far it's going pretty well. I'm putting a lot (maybe too much) thought into what I want to write in Arianna's Christmas card, her brother S's card, and her parents card, but it makes my heart smile to know that I even get the privilege of sending anything to her family at all. I went shopping with a friend last night and bought wrapping paper for their gifts, and tried to find a card, but none were all too fitting. If you had told me last year that this year I'd be shopping for gifts and wrapping paper for my daughter with a friend I would have thought you were out of your mind. This aspect (gift buying) of Christmas last year was awful. I'm 99% sure I was in tears in Target trying to pick out an outfit for her. I like to be alone when doing things like that - I guess I'm weird in that way. I don't even like my mom watching over my shoulder as I order her something online or something. I suppose it's because it's the one way I'm closest to my daughter, and I selfishly want to revel in it all by myself, or something. Anyways, it worked out well, because she helped me choose among the 53 different papers I had to choose from. :)


(If you couldn't tell, I love wrapping gifts. I'm that person at the Christmas party who coordinated the color of the wrapping paper with the gift, bow, and 'to and from' tag...)

Other aspects of my life have been looking up lately, also. I've been sleeping a thousand times better with the Ambien, and I hope to not have to take it for too much longer, but for now, it's doing the trick. I'm going to continue to take it at least through the end of the semester (which, by the way, I cannot wait for).

I got a call this morning to schedule an interview with a company I sent my resume to on Monday! It's not necessarily in line with my major and/or something I want to make a career of, necessarily, but it's a nice job with good pay in an office setting, which is more than I could ask for nowadays. If this falls through, I think I'm just going to apply for seasonal work in retail (the thought of which makes me cringe, because I've been there before and the holidays in retail are NOT pretty, but I can't be picky). I've also set up an interview for a few days before Christmas with an advisor at the Harvard Extension School (or, Harvard night school). It has much, much lower standards than Harvard University and a much lower price tag, but the programs that they have are perfect for what I want to do and the classes - while being double the cost of the ones where I go to school now - are still affordable with a small loan. I have two or three classes I have to wrap up at school in the Spring semester, so I won't be attending whatever school it is that I transfer to until the Fall of 2012. But I'm still on track to have my Bachelor's by the time miss Arianna turns four, which is a little promise I made to her and to myself.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Tradition

Our tree is officially up and decorated to it's full potential! I can't stress enough how much I love the holidays. Now that Arianna is one, I think this Christmas might be harder than last (although I do hope not), and I think I've already shared my thoughts on this before. It's just, last Christmas, she was a teeny tiny baby, sleeping all the time. Now she'll be walking, laughing, talking, opening her own gifts. The holidays are still beautiful to me, but just the thought of not being able to see her face light up as she looks into the colored lights on the tree and points to them and smiles makes my heart break in two.

Last year, one of my gifts was a glass baby rattle, that read 'Baby's First Christmas 2010.' I put it on the tree on Christmas day, and then when we took the tree down, I put it in her keepsake box with all of her things from the hospital. This year, I took it out and hung it on the tree again. I think I'll start a new tradition this year. I'll hang it up on my tree every year, in honor of her. I thought about maybe getting an ornament every year for her but hanging it on my own tree as a way to celebrate *with* her, but I think I like this idea better.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Go away, survey

I got an email from Babies 'R' Us, asking me to participate in a survey based on my recent experience of buying online and picking up in the store. I was fine with it, and I decided to do it because I did have a good experience and I am very happy with the tea set and VERY excited to send it to little miss A. Going in the store to pick up the toy was hard, because it wasn't a Toys 'R' Us, but a Babies 'R' Us, so I had to walk by the baby registry with the expectant couples filling out their lists, etc. I just turned my tunnel vision on, bee lined it to the customer service booth, got what I wanted and left. Anyways, I was going about my way, filling out the survey and all was going well. That is, until the end, when it said "What kind of toy did you purchase?" Fisher-Price. Next question: "What are the age groups of children living in your home with you?" And you had to choose from "0-2," "3-5," "6-10," "11-17," or "there are no children under 18 living in my home." I wanted to choose the last one, because in all fairness, that's true...but I didn't, I clicked "0-2" and moved on. It's such a silly thing to put a kink in my mood, but it did. I don't expect everything in life, for the rest of my life, to be so broad-spectrum as to include answers that would suit a birth mom or a parent who isn't with his or her child for whatever reason. I can't imagine being a mom on earth to a baby in heaven and buying a gift for a niece or nephew and having to read that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

24 days 'til the most magical day of the year!

Time for a picture post! I feel a little odd posting pictures of my daughter's gifts before she even gets to see them (hahaha) but I want to have this to look back on and remember what I got her and when. And I'm so excited that I have to share it with someone now, and while the next three weeks will fly by, I don't have the patience to hold it all in.

I tried to keep her Christmas gifts on a smaller scale than her birthday gifts, and I planned to get her three things like I did for her first Christmas last year. Well, that didn't go quite as planned, because I took my mom to a doctor's appointment this afternoon and while waiting, I went across the road to the shoppes and went into Barnes & Noble. But let me save the best for last...

This is what I gave her last year: two outfits and an ornament from the Disney store. I love Tinkerbell, so this ornament was special to me and her adoptive mom emailed me the same day they got the package and the ornament was on the tree. My heart nearly burst.


And, this is what I'm sending this year!:
This picture totally does an injustice to this jacket. It's an adorable shade of pink.

The tea pot sings when you open it, and the different shaped cakes are to help her learn her shapes!

I LOVE this hat. I wish they made one in adult-size.

Today, I got this for her adoptive big brother S:

And lastly, my favorite gift of all. I planned on getting the pea coat and white fluffy hat on Black Friday as well as the toy tea set for her. This was totally spur of the moment, and it's true that that's the way the best gifts come to you.

I'm so excited to record this book. Even if it goes in her room and isn't read to her right away, at least I'll know she has it. I think it's such an amazing book. The story inside is even better, because it doesn't give the child the impression that I'm just gone away on a trip or that I've passed away or anything dramatic like that. It just sends the message that the person who gave it to you misses you when they're far away from you, but that they aren't too sad because every day that they miss you is a day closer to seeing you again.

Do you think I should ask her birth dad if he wants to record it with me? I'm sure he would, if I asked. His "immaturity" aside, it might be nice for her to get to hear both of our voices. But then again, I'm not sure if that's more trouble than it's worth.

So, those are her gifts in a nutshell. She'll be 13 months tomorrow. Unreal. I know she'll only be just shy of 14 months on Christmas, but I hope she adores these gifts. Hopefully this year, she can do some more unwrapping on her own, unassisted. Last year, she could barely hold her head up on her own at Christmas, so this year will be so wonderful for her and her family (and me when I get my update)!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Second post of the day: combustion

I was in such good spirits today. I knew we were going to decorate the Christmas tree tonight, and I live for that. That's what I love about Christmas...the lights outside, decorating the tree, the snow, and buying people gifts and that giddy feeling you get when you know they've just going to love it. Last Christmas was tough, but I think I was still fairly numb. Arianna was less than two months old, and I was still settling into the fact that I had been pregnant AND the fact that I was now a birth mom. I got an email from her adoptive parents on Christmas day, and that also helped more than they'll ever know. All in all it was okay, aside from when my mom and grandma were sitting at the kitchen table with me and we were doing some sort of puzzle and I burst into tears and ran into my room. Other than that, honestly, it was nice. This year, though, I feel like it's expected of me to be 'better.' I feel like if I have a crying spell in the middle of Christmas dinner or tear up as I'm tearing gifts open, I'll make everyone uncomfortable. That pressure alone, that fear alone, is enough to build the tears up as it is. Honestly, I'm scared.
I've been irritable lately. I feel like I'm a ticking time bomb, ready to go off at any minute. Don't get me wrong, when I smile or laugh, I'm not faking it. It's just like there's this 'elephant in the room' wherever I am; there's this obvious reminder that something (someone) is missing. It's hard to explain to my friends when they say 'cheer up,' or try and get me out of the house. It helps, temporarily. I hate to sound cliche, but it's so hard to convey the fact that I feel sick on the inside. I don't have a headache, or a stomach ache, or a cough, or any other ailment that would stop someone from wanting to go out and have fun. I have those things on the inside, and no one can see them. I can barely make sense of them. I feel bitchy or antisocial, but the mere thought of getting in the car and heading out for the night, even to go watch a movie, drains me. And when I try to explain that, it just comes out all wrong. I get it, none of my 'real life' friends have lost a child to adoption, and most have not had a child at all yet. I'm sure they've experienced some form of depression at some point, but I'm not one to say 'oh, pity me.' That's why I write here. I write because I'm not talking to one specific person, so it's easier to not feel like I'm whining quite as much as if I were to say this directly to someone. I guess what it is is depression, yes. Depression, anxiety, irritability, and no motivation to do anything but be in my bed, where I know if I burst into tears, I can just go under my covers rather than have to run and find a place to be alone like I would if I were in public. Nothing makes me feel truly, truly happy besides seeing an email from C. And that can't be healthy, can it?
This all came about this afternoon, when I was getting in the car to go visit my grandfather with my mother. We were walking out to the car, and I had a recent picture from A's birthday party in my hand. I was excited to show it to him, because he hasn't seen any pictures of his great-granddaughter since September. As I opened the passenger door, it came flooding over me all at once. It was like hot lava. My face started burning up and I wanted to smash in the window of the Jeep. There I was, holding a 1/1000th inch thick piece of paper between my fingers, rather than a tangible, real child. I should have been walking over to the backseat, with her walking that bouncy walk that all babies do before they master walking, and opening her door for her to put her in her car seat. Instead of a paper thin photograph, I should have had her hand in mine. I could literally feel her little fingers, grasping onto my hand for dear life as she walked in tandem with me - but not in tandem, because her little legs would take three steps to each one of mine. I could feel the pull of her arm as she tried to balance herself, and I could almost feel her weight against my chest as I lifted her into her car seat. I lost it. Instead of her, all I had in my hands was a picture. Nothing separating me from the car but air; no child between us, no one squeezing my fingers til hers turned white at the ends, no one making little grunting noises for me to pick her up and put her in the car. It's not to say I realized what I lost, in that moment, it's more to say it hit me all over again, in a way that it hasn't in a while. How different my life would have been...harder, but happier. I got so angry that I decided not to give him the picture at all, because I was scared that I would start crying all over again. Call me selfish, but he didn't know it was coming to him today, and I'll give it to him another day this week.
I should focus on the positive...I should be thankful I had that photo in my hand at all. Some birth moms aren't even afforded that gift. But this is the truth, this is how I feel right now: how can I be grateful for a photograph when it's given to me in place of my beautiful, breathing daughter? How am I supposed to say I wouldn't prefer the latter? Of course I would, I can't think of anyone who wouldn't.

Her one year scrapbook is complete!

I finished my baby girl's scrapbook this past weekend. I started it last December, and sort of made myself a blueprint to do a page a month, aligned with her age that month. I stayed pretty on-track! I spent way more money than I should have on stickers and specialty paper, but how could I not? They have stickers for all of the first holidays, first steps, first tooth, first birthday, and anything baby-related under the sun. I don't even want to know the actual amount of money I put into this book. I am happy with the way it turned out, though, so that's all that matters. It was a good hobby to keep me busy and feel close with my little girl. I couldn't sleep last night, so I took it out and looked at it in bed. I can't believe I've filled all the pages, I can't believe the difference between the nakey little screaming baby on her birthday in the hospital and the little mini adult in her fairy costume on her birthday this year. It brought me to tears. She has changed so much. I feel like I haven't changed much, or as much as I would have liked to, but progress is a tall mountain to climb when it comes to adoption. I've never been more proud of anything or anyone in my life as I am of that little girl. (ETA: if anyone wants to see the pages from my scrapbook, and is on Facebook, I have a private album there that you can see. I'd much rather post them there than here, where anyone in the world [literally] could see them, and I wouldn't know. There's a little more sense of control on Facebook, although not much).

Arianna's birthdad and I met up yesterday to 'discuss' Christmas gifts. I told him what I got her; a really adorable pink plaid pea coat ($15 during Old Navy's Thanksgiving weekend sale), an even cuter white furry winter hat with two puffy balls at the top and strings with balls on them that tie at the neck, and a talking tea set with little cookies from Toys R Us. Actually, I ordered that online yesterday because they had a cyber Monday sale, and I get to go pick it up this afternoon. I'll post pictures tomorrow! Anywho, he wants to get her a necklace. He said he wanted it to be somewhat like the one I have (a silver chain with 5 tiny charms on it: her birthstone, my birthstone, a pearl just for decoration, and 2 hearts. One heart has an 'a' on it for her name and an 'e' on it for mine. I've worn it every single day since I got it last Christmas). He wants it to be similar to that, but not quite like that, and wants to get it engraved. Apparently, he's saved up a few hundred dollars for this. Unless he gets it engraved at Tiffany's, he won't need anywhere near that much, but it's one of the first kind efforts he's made for her in a long time, so I'm not complaining. We talked about the possibility of doing a joint gift, or, if the necklace he picks out is an exorbitant amount of money for some reason, we might go half on it. I'm not sure on that yet, because like I said, I've already gotten her 3 things. I would be nice if this one 'big' thing was from him, and him alone. We'll see, though. It's in his hands, and he is going to mail it through the agency. I put my foot down once and for all and said I will not be the one to hand out their address (for it is not mine to hand out), and I won't meet up with him again to get it from him to send it with my gifts. He was okay with that, and for once, we didn't argue and I wasn't sad to part ways with him. Granted, it was awkward, especially when he wanted to get a closer look at my necklace. He walked towards me and said he wasn't trying to "get in my bubble or anything" but he wanted to look at it. In comparison to how close we used to be...how we used to be so much closer physically than that every day, how we used to hug and kiss each other hello and goodbye...it was weird for him to almost apologize for standing so close to me. It was just a stark example of how much has changed between us. It's for the best, though.

So, I'm off to go pick up what I ordered!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Little Unnerved

I have had two of the strangest dreams that I can ever remember having last night and the night before. I'm certain they have a meaning; it's barely even a guess. You don't have to be a dream analyst to see that something is eating at me (or a few things).

Dreams are so weird to explain to someone who didn't experience them themselves and even harder to convey with concrete words over the internet! So, Saturday night, I went to bed at a decent hour. I felt a little 'off' all day and somewhat nauseous, but I blamed it on the fact that I hadn't eaten anything at all until dinner at 6. Anyways. The dream started off with me in this little room (about the size of your average bathroom, or maybe two beside each other) that had walls made of wooden slats. You could see through the little cracks between the pieces of wood, but you could only see black. Turns out it was some kind of haphazard musician's store that sold only underground music. The light inside was very dull and it was sort of hard to see. I don't know how I got in there, but I noticed a little 'door' that you could walk out of. I looked at it, and it was less than a half a foot wide. I thought for sure I wouldn't fit through it, and I felt claustrophobic at the mere thought of squeezing through it. When I peeked through, I caught glimpse of the inside of the second floor of a house that was evidently attached to this "store." It was the house of G's ex/girlfriend/ex/girlfriend (not sure what they are now)/mother of his older daughter. As soon as I saw it I freaked out, and went to look out the only teeny 8" x 10" window that was really high up on the wall. I saw his green car, her black car, and her sister's black car. I then realized that there was no way I was leaving through the front door of their house, and there was no way for me to leave this "store" without going through the house. So, I went for it. I squeezed through the opening and tried to sneak to the top of their stairs to see who was awake and if anyone would see me. I saw that there was someone watching TV, so I turned around and headed back to the little store. On the way, the floor creaked SO loudly and she came running up the stairs to see who was there. She started yelling at me and as she was yelling, a door opened to a little room and G was inside and his daughter was sleeping in the bed beside him. He asked me what I was doing and if I had Arianna with me. I remember being so scared that I was shaking, afraid I'd get arrested for trespassing or breaking in, when all I was trying to do was get out of the little dark room that was attached to the house. All of a sudden, he closed the door and was texting me from inside the room, while the mother of his other kid was sitting there talking and laughing with me. I was still very reserved, but she was acting like we were old friends. SO WEIRD.

I think this dream stemmed from a little argument we had over text last weekend. She started it, started asking questions, and I was friendly to her. I don't know what she is to him at the moment, other than his child's mother. The conversation ended (on my part) when she said something about how she's 'better than me because she raises her beautiful daughter that she sees and holds every night.' At this point, I called G and told him that I didn't know where he was or where she was, but to call her and tell her to stop communicating with me. He didn't even know she had, and according to him, didn't know why she had. Also, according to him, she's psychotic and 'crazy, man.' Uh, okay.

Last night, my dream was even worse. It wasn't scary, but I don't even think 'heart wrenching' would cover it. I don't remember how it started or ended, all I remember was my daughter was a little baby again, and she was in my bedroom in a bassinet. When I asked my friend (who was there with me) why she was there, she said that her parents had dropped her off for me to babysit. I was confused, to say the least. I was supposed to work that day, and didn't want to miss out on any time with her, so I called out. I spent the day and night with her with no word from her adoptive parents. The next day, I still hadn't heard anything, but was happy to get to spend time with her. My friend then told me that her parents would be coming to get her between 4 and 5 that evening (still not sure why my friend knew all of this information, but in my dream, I didn't question it at all) and I was supposed to go into work at 4. I called work and asked if I could come in a little late, because I didn't want to not be home when her mom came to get her. I waited and waited, and they never came. Then, I walked back into my room and there was a note tied to her bassinet that said "poor girls, sometimes the parents end up not being able to handle the baby, so they bring the baby back to her mother." I was confused, to say the LEAST, and also relieved that they weren't coming back at all. I was scared, because I still didn't have the resources to raise her the way she deserved to be, but figured this was a sin that I should give it a chance. Then I woke up.
That one startled me to my core. There was an eerie atmosphere in the dream, and when I woke up, I could still feel it in real life. I really, really, really don't get this one. My first one, I can sort of understand. Clearly I am feeling like I don't belong in G's life as much as the mother of his other child does because their child is physically with them, or something. That's another story. But this one...is beyond strange, for a few reasons. (1) my daughter is a year old now, walking, talking, and has a bunch of teeth. She is far from the swaddled little baby I held in the hospital. (2) I don't want her back, I mean of course on some level I will always wish she were here and wish I could have raised her myself. But at this point in time, I can honestly say, that doesn't really cross my mind. If anything, I wish things had been different fron the start (and even that, only sometimes). I would never dream of disrupting her life in such a way and I don't have any problems or regrets as far as her family goes. And (3), Where would such a note have come from?! It's so strange.

I wish I knew the meaning, but maybe it's not meant to be understood. It was just a dream, after all. But one of the things I fear most when I go to sleep is having a dream where I am with my daughter again. When I wake up from those dreams, it's like my heart shatters all over again when I realize that it was all in my head. It drives me crazy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grief

"No, I don't think it (goes away). Not for me, it hasn't - has gone on for eleven years. But it changes though...the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and... carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you... you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and - there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be awful - but not all the time. It's kinda... not that you'd like it exactly, but it's what you've got instead of your child. So, you carry it around. And... it doesn't go away."

~ Rabbit Hole

Saturday, November 19, 2011

National Adoption Day

Today is National Adoption Day! This is a day that I never ever would have thought would be a part of my life at all, and now here it is, such a huge part of who I am today. Not a day goes by that adoption doesn't affect me in one way or another, good or bad. Likewise, not a day goes by that I don't think about my daughter or her family. Thinking about her family brings on pain, happiness, and gratefulness, all at once. I am so grateful that adoption has given my daughter the gift of the love of not just one mother, but two. That it has given her not two families (mine and G's), but four families plus God knows how many extended families.

Adoption is definitely a double-edged sword. There are days where I feel like I'm being twisted from the inside out because of it; and there are days where I can't help but smile to myself, knowing that my daughter has so much more than I could have given her. But what I do know is this: without adoption, my daughter would have grown up without a stable father figure (this is my assumption, anyway. Maybe he would have proven us all wrong, but I doubt it). and a struggling mother. Because of adoption, she is a mere one year old and already a daddy's girl, and has a mother who did everything right and in order before having a child. I love her family as an extension of my own, and I have faith that they feel the same about me.

It's hard to hear my daughter's mom tell me how she wants to take them to the park this weekend or that weekend, how she took her to her 6 month check-up, how she has to send out a 'quick hello' because our daughter is getting ready for bath time. It's hard to fight off the instinctual feeling that I would give my right arm to be the one doing those things for her when I read that kind of stuff. But then her mom tells me that she was snuggling our daughter in bed that night with tears in her eyes as she thought of all that she has brought to their world, or she tells me that I am always in their thoughts and that they can't thank me enough for the gift of love that I gave to them. There are the times that she tells me that she will always encourage a relationship between Arianna and I, and even G and Arianna, and that this beautiful little girl brings a smile to the face of everyone in her family, from here to California and where ever else they've traveled with her. The way my heart bursts with love, pride, and happiness when I hear those things so greatly overpowers the hurt I feel by not being by her side day in and day out. I trust that she will always know, no matter what, that she lives in my heart and I in hers.

So, Happy National Adoption Day to all birth moms, birth dads, adoptive moms, adoptive dads, adopted children, fostered children, foster moms and dads, and any and everyone else touched by adoption in any way.

Friday, November 18, 2011

One Year Reflections

Around a year ago or so, I wrote down a list of everything that was on my mind in regards to little A. I never published it to my blog but rather emailed it to myself, so I could look back on it later. Honestly, I had forgotten about it until this morning, when I was cleaning out my inbox and I came across something from "me" mixed in with all the other emails. I opened it, and thus, the discovery of the list. I'll post it here, without editing it or removing anything. Keep in mind, I wrote this about a week or so after I had officially signed, so there's a lot of gut-reaction feelings in it (I hope that's what they are). I sort of did a side-by-side comparison...what I wrote last year is in purple, and how I feel about it now is in bold type...

I hate seeing women with babies in their carriages in the supermarket. Agree.
I hate seeing pregnant women. Agree.
I am jealous of any friends or friends of friends who have babies or are pregnant. Agree, but I'm coming to terms with realizing that I can't blame anyone else for my situation or be jealous of anyone else's happiness.
I am jealous of everyone on Facebook who has an ultrasound as their profile picture. Sort of agree.
I am angry. Agree
I want my little girl back. Disagree. She is where she belongs and is SO happy.
Sometimes I wish I hadn't signed the papers. Disagree.
I wish I had never been with her father. Disagree.
I wish I had never met her father. Disagree. I wish I hadn't said this, it's like saying I wish she had never been born. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I wish everyone around me would hold off from getting pregnant for about 5 to 10 years. Wow. This one was a little immature (okay, a lot).
I have serious trust issues now. Agree.
I have so many regrets that I don't even know what's what anymore. Disagree.
I wish it was the beginning of Fall again, so I could feel her kicking around inside of me. Agree!
I wish I could hold her. Agree.
I wish I could kiss her. Agree.
I wish I could call her mine. Hmm...agree and disagree. She still is mine, and always will be, just like she will always be C's, too.
I wish she had G's last name...I wish we were a real family. Sometimes, I like to wish this had been the way it turned out...like a fairy tale. But it didn't, and every time I see him, it solidifies the fact that she deserved so much better than his last name. His last name didn't come with a daddy attached.
I wish he hadn't been so selfish. Agree.
I wish I hadn't been so selfish. Agree.
I hope my daughter never thinks I didn't want her. AGREE
I wish I could either go back in time or fast forward time. Sometimes.
I wish I was 18 again, so I could go back to the day I met him and walk away. Nope.
I wish I hadn't ignored all of the signs that he was lying and that he was no good for me. Yes and no. I wish I hadn't been hurt but I'm glad I learned a lesson. Let me get back to this one next year.
I wish I had never had to make this decision. Disagree. To take myself out of the position of having to choose between adoption and parenting would mean my little girl was never a part of this world. So, no.

I've come a long way in a year...longer than I thought I had (judging by my spontaneous thoughts this year and last). Maybe I'll sit down later on and do the same thing again - just type whatever comes to my mind when I think about A, G, our relationship, and her family.

I'd recommend doing this to anyone who is struggling or having a tough time with anything in their lives right now. Sometimes written 'proof' of your honest, raw feelings can be a good thing to reflect on 6 months or a year down the road. It could make you feel just a little bit better when you come across it in the future.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project

It's finally time for the Open Adoption Interview Project 2011! I was paired up with Karen, an adoptive mom who blogs at The Spinning Goth. I enjoyed reading her posts; while she blogs about adoption, her posts are not limited to this subject, which gives you a good dynamic view of the parts of her life she so chooses to share. Her posts are well-written and fun to read. Consider me a "daily reader" from now on!

1. In one of your posts, I read that your adoption would have opened a lot more slowly had it not been for your child's birth mother. Mind if I ask what it is that she said to move towards openness so quickly?

I don't know if it was anything she said, exactly.  It was more what she did.  When I brought my 2 month update to our agency (which was almost immediately after we were placed - long story), there was a packet of stuff from M.  A high school graduation announcement, some pictures from when Anabel was in the hospital that had her whole family and S (her first father), and her last name, address and phone number.  After that it was a matter of fighting what our social worker was saying, what our extended family was saying, and my own insecurities as a parent.  Also moving from supervised to unsupervised visits, which happened fairly quickly.

2. If I'm doing the math correctly, your daughter is almost 10 years old. Has the dynamic of your visits with her birth mom changed over the years? If so, how?

Oh hell yes. :D We spend a lot more time hanging back and letting them have their time together than when she was younger.  It's a lot more relaxed than our visits used to be, which is good.  When Anabel was younger, there was a lot more visiting with the adults than now. 

3. On that note, how has your daughters curiousness and/or questions about adoption evolved over the years?

Anabel's a lot more comfortable with adoption than she had been.  She does ask some questions that are difficult for us to answer; such as why she was placed (we really don't know that one, although I can guess now that I know M's family better), her birth story, why she doesn't have visits with S.  I've always encouraged her to talk to M, because she has those answers.  At least all but the last one. 



She also brings up other kids at her school who are adopted.  She's had the choice to talk about her adoption or not when she's on her own, and has had since she was in kindergarten.  She did have the dreaded "family tree" assignment in 1st grade.  I spoke to her teacher about it and learned that her mother (teacher's) was adopted as well.  Her teacher also mentioned that she would let the kids choose whether or not they wanted to share their trees with the class.  I was proud that Anabel decided she would share with her class.  She said that her teacher didn't allow questions from the class for anybody's tree, which was fine by me.

4. Are any other members of your family adopted?

A few members of my family are adopted.  My mother is an only child, so all of our "cousins" were her first cousins.  I think 3 of her cousins adopted children; 2 were adopted as infants, 1 was adopted from foster care when she was...4?  I think it was 4.  There was also a kinship adoption in her family as well, back in the 1920s or '30s.

5. I read in another post that you are not surprised that your daughter is a wonderful writer, because her birth mom is a very good writer. In your experience, do your daughter's hobbies seem to reflect more on her "nature" or her "nurture" (from you and your family)?


I think most of her hobbies and interests are "nature".  She's an amazing writer like M, she's musical like the majority of M's family, she's really good at math like M and S.  Pretty much the only things she's gotten from Keith and I are knitting and crocheting and video gaming.

The End!

I learned a lot more than I thought I would from this interview project! Karen's answer to my last question has me very intrigued (as you know, I wrote one of my research/reflection papers on nature vs. nurture this semester, and I included some of my daughter's adoption story within it) and even more excited to see my little girl's ever-developing personality as she grows.

It was nice to "meet" you, Karen!

To read more interviews, check out the list of interviewers & interviewees at Production Not Reproduction.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A "The Playboy Club" actress speaks out in an adoption article

I was in a funk today (and that's putting it lightly). I think it was the combination of my daughter's birth father acting like a complete and total jacka*s and my therapist only being able to see me for a half hour session today (I had lots to talk about, doctor!), and the fact that I had to go to a wake. Those are always rough, no matter how close you were to the person or their family. Loss is loss, and it seems all too familiar lately.

It's almost bedtime, so tomorrow is a new day.

Anyways, the point of me mentioning this weird attitude is this: my dear friend came over this afternoon and we went out to get our nails done. She paid, which was much appreciated due to my lack of a job these days and because it was just plain nice of her. As my nails were drying, a magazine on the table in front of me caught my eye. One of the cover stories said "I Found the Long-Lost Sister I'd Never Met."
I was curious to see if it was adoption-related, and sure enough, it was. It was about an actress (Leah Renee Cudmore) from The Playboy Club, and while I know nothing about what that is, I have heard of it in passing. It's in the December issue of Glamour magazine, if anyone's interested.

The article was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I suppose legalities would stop me from summarizing the entire thing, but basically, Leah asked her mom why she always got sad around a certain time of year (more specifically the date of the sister she was unaware of's birthday) and her mom told her that she and her father had had another baby that they placed for adoption. Apparently her daughter then became determined to locate and meet her older (adopted) sister, while her mother warned her against it and told her that her sister was being raised in a nice, happy home, and that they shouldn't intrude on her life with her family. Leah hunted her down anyway, via the internet, and the two met and it was one of the happiest moments of each of their lives. She said that they looked alike, acted alike, and that she felt so complete. Her mom was still apprehensive, but eventually they reunited as well.

I gathered from the article that it was a closed adoption, but who knows. It hurt my heart a little to hear that the mother seemed to afraid of the two sisters meeting, but I couldn't help but smile when I read the conclusion and how happy each person involved was (they didn't mention the adoptive parents in the article, which I wish they had). I hope in the future, that my daughter won't have to search out and discover her biological older half-sister nor do I hope it's the other way around. I know my daughter's family is open to her knowing about and meeting her entire biological family, I just hope that my daughter's birth dad stays in the picture enough to make a beautiful connection such as this happen. While she is my child's half-sister, I have no relation to her whatsoever, and for all I know, he could very easily never tell her about her little sister. She is only five now, and our daughter is only one, so there's time to let that work itself out. I just hope that they each want to get to know each other, and I hope that they can form a beautiful friendship one day. My relationship with my daughter's father, my relationship with his other child's mother, and his relationship with his other child's mother should not affect a relationship between sisters. I hope neither of them lose out on a beautiful meeting and a lifelong friendship, should they both so desire. I know that is out of my hands, and in reality, it's out of his hands, too. It's all in my adoptive daughter's family's hands, and those two innocent little girl's hands.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Broken Record

"i signed the papers on wednesday. the 10th. looking back on it, i don't know how i physically pulled myself together enough to do it. her father is signing next tuesday.
thursday, which was the 11th, i saw her for the last time. i changed her diaper, for the last time, and i fed her a bottle for the last time. i'm crying now as i write this, so it probably won't be long. i can barely see. i kissed her on the cheek and told her i loved her and i said "daddy loves you, too" because i know he does love her. deep down i know what kind of person he is and i know he loves her. his actions are immature, but that's a story for another day.

her adoptive parents gave me a card and a necklace with her birthstone. in the card, they explained that she has one too, that is exactly the same, so we will both have one and understand the meaning when she (and the necklaces) meet again.

i miss her so much already. this hurts worse than anything i have ever felt in my entire life. i had so many second thoughts, so many ideas to make it work....but i know they were just my emotions speaking. none of my circumstances had changed, the only thing that changed was i actually MET her and fell even more in love with her. i had no more money than i had when i made the decision, he and i had no better of a relationship, her future was no more guaranteed...... i knew it would be even harder after she was born, but i didn't realize how much harder.

but, if this pain is what i have to feel to give her the best life possible, then i will do it. i will suffer every day for the rest of my life over this if i have to, if it means she will be happy and have an amazing life. it's a small sacrifice if i look at the big picture. if i think of my daughter. i want to take away all of her pain not just now but forever and if this is my first step in doing so, then i am happy with it.

i would like to change it, i would like to have her with me, but i know it can't be - it's not in her best interest. mine is not of concern to me at the moment, because if it were, she would be in my arms as we speak.

i have faith that i will make it, it's just a matter of how long it will take, when it will happen
"
One year later, it still hasn't really happened. I have taken many steps closer to making it happen, but I'm not there yet. I don't think I'll be completely at peace until I've become someone that she can be proud of...until I've finished my education (and 'finished' might mean obtained a PhD for the field I want to go into) and until I've become all of the things I wasn't when she was born. She was far too good for the "me" that I was last year and she'll be far too good for this "me" whether she's a year old or thirty years old, if I don't get my act together. If that's not motivation, I don't know what is.

last fall . . .

Friday, November 11, 2011

Would you like to try my shoes on?

Today marks one year since I've seen my baby girl in person. I feel like, since October, the only two words out of my mouth have been "one" and "year," so I apologize for being so redundant. It's just hard to stop and think about what I was doing one week ago, one month ago, and especially one year ago, when I'm not completely moving forward. I hope that this gets easier with time. I don't believe I'll be sitting here dwelling on what happened two years ago or five years ago or ten years ago...but one year is like the tippity-top of a giant mountain for me. A mountain I've been climbing since, well, a year ago. Being 11/11/11, I've heard and seen so many people saying 'make a wish' today. I wish I could be with my daughter. I wish I could have given her what the W's give her. But the truth is, I couldn't then and I can't now. I can't dwell on that "what-if's?," they drive me insane.
I received a message today that stung, really badly. It screamed of ignorance and at first I thought I could try to educate the girl who sent it to me, but after one message back to her, I realized that it was a lost cause. Maybe she didn't mean to hurt me, maybe she did, I'm not sure. Let me start from the beginning. I worked with this girl at a financial services building, and there were five or six of us packed into little cubicles. We all got to know one another, but not extremely intricately. We were more than acquaintances, but would never spend time together outside of work. Anyways, that was in late 2009. We all got laid off in early 2010 (when I had just gotten pregnant and didn't even know it), so while she knew about my daughter's bio father, she knew nothing of my pregnancy or the adoption (because, at the time, I clearly didn't either). Let me also clarify what I mean by "she knew about my daughter's bio father" - she knew he existed, knew I was in a relationship with him. She knew nothing else, no one there did. She didn't know that that was just around when we started constantly arguing...she didn't know that he was the reason why I'd disappear into the conference room with my phone and come out with tears running down my cheeks at least one day a week.
I'm getting off track. What I'm trying to say is, while this girl knew me, she also didn't know me at all. Knew my face but barely knew the first thing about me. She friended me on facebook way back when, and we've been friends ever since, until today. I posted a status about my daughter today, saying something about how I can't believe it's been a year since I've seen her in person and that missing her never gets easier. Looking back on it, I guess I did it as sort of a 'warning' to my friends. I've been in a mood for the past week or so, and they either try to cheer me up (much appreciated) or just leave me alone. I planned wholeheartedly to just be anti-social today and stay in bed and watch sappy movies, and I didn't want anyone to think I was annoyed with them and/or ignoring them. So I sort of made a PSA about something I probably should have sent in a text message to the 3 or 4 friends who I talk to on a daily basis. Shoulda, coulda, woulda...isn't that what I was just saying I can't dwell on? Right.
So within 3 minutes I get a private message from the girl mentioned above. She may or may not read this, I don't know, and I don't care. The following is our conversation:

Her: Hey girl I know I'm being wicked nosey but I can't help but reading ur status's and seeing how much pain ur in and how much u miss ur baby why did you give her up?

(side note: just reading the phrase 'give her up' went through me like a rusty nail, but I looked past that because I would have used the same wording two years ago, before I had this experience. I wasn't going to answer at all, but if you know me, you know I have a hard time letting things go)

Me: Because although I knew it would kill me but I'd rather be upset so she can be happy. It wasn't necessarily what I wanted for me but I had to put her first and she needed and deserved more than her father and I. She is extremely well taken care of and will always know me.

Her: I don't have much I'm unemployed I live in public housing and can't go out every weekend with them or anything but I'm happy cause I have them and they are happy with what they have, I think without my boys I would literally be dead by now they changed my life around for the better I just don't understand and I don't mean this in any wrong way but my heart breaks when I read ur status i have been in shelters and slept in my car with my son but as long as we were together everything was ok and we stuck in there and now we have a roof over our head

Me: I guess I can't explain it to you. I could have done the same thing with her and I don't mean this in a bad way either but I didn't want her going through that because she didn't ask to be born to someone with an unstable job and an unstable relationship. Going into a shelter with her and waiting for housing crossed my mind many times but I couldn't stand the thought of her going through that with me when she could have so much better. She would have been happy with me and more than loved and taken care of but wouldn't have had all that she deserved

Her: OK But my son does not even remember any of that he was 3 weeks old and his father is not around but my 10 month olds dad is but right now at this very moment I do it all myself I'm a single mother of a 4 year old and a 10 month old and we get by we may not have it all but we have eachother. I just don't think I would understand if my mom did that u know? Don't you know all babies want and deserve there mother?

ARGH! (I won't even go into the their/there error, although I want to) can you believe this? Who is she to make me feel like scum? Worse, why am I letting her? I let it go after that and didn't say anything. I was nicer than I should have been. What I wanted to tell her was: You, as a mother, should be familiar with the feeling of wanting your child to have the best of everything life has to offer him or her. If you think that living out of a car and having a dad come in and out of his or her life is what's in your child's best interest and what your child deserves, then more power to you. I, on the other hand, wanted my daughter to have so much more and knew she deserved so much more. I could have done it and yes, she would have been happy. She would have known no different. There are millions of young, single moms who do it everyday, and I look up to them for being so strong. It's a personal choice, and I don't think you have any right to tell me one way is better than another. You chose your path and I have chosen mine, and they are both difficult roads to travel. We are both mothers who did and are doing what we think is best for our children whether they are with us or not. Lastly, I know my daughter deserves her mother, and she has her mother - the woman who loves her as her own and raises her is her mother. In fact, she has two mothers who love her to the ends of the earth and would do anything possible to keep her safe and happy. Which is what I did and what her mother continues to do.

I have never, ever, ever been one to put myself on a pedestal, and that is far from what I'm doing right now. I'm not being self-righteous and saying that adoption is the only way to go if you can't provide your child with a solid gold training potty and a Mercedes for their 16th birthday. I did what was best for me and for my daughter at the time, and I would do it again for her in a heartbeat if I knew she would be happier and more stable. Keeping my child and doing what this girl is doing would have been the easier thing to do. It may have been a struggle every day, but it would have been a million times easier on my heart.

I would never and have never messaged this girl when her status' were about fighting with her son's dad or needing food stamp money. Never once, because (a) I'm not judging her and (b) you couldn't pay me to be that rude to someone. I understand that she has not been through it and is not a birth mom herself, and it's hard for anyone who hasn't worn these shoes to try them on even for a second. But it's because of this that she should have realized to keep her mouth shut. If she meant to be consoling or helpful to me in any way, all she succeeded in was the opposite.

It offended me to the core and hurt, a lot. Again, I guess it's hard to be on the side of the fence you have to stand on when you defend the statement, "I did what I did because I loved her to death," because that sentiment is rarely understood by the majority of people. Most think, if you loved her so much, how could you be without her? I can't tell you how. It's hell sometimes. I can't tell you how I get up out of bed every day and live my life without her because most of the time I don't know how I do it. I just know why I do it, and that is because I need to be someone she is proud of someday. I did what I did all for her and I do what I do now all because of her.

This girl acted as if I elected to get pregnant and walked down the yellow brick road that is adoption and happily signed away my rights to my daughter. She also acts as if I just dropped her off on the sidewalk and hoped someone who was qualified to be a parent picked her up and took her home. I think this got under my skin more than it normally would simply because today is the one year mark. It's 8:18 right now . . . I walked out of the house without her at 8:30 on this day last year. It's hard. It sucks, and it hurts, but I'm not going to throw a pity party, so excuse my language, but fuck you for making me feel even worse on a day that was already a living hell for me (which she knew, due to said status that sparked this entire dialogue). I started out wanting to explain to her the amount of love it takes to be a birth mom. I wanted to explain to her that I love my daughter just as much as she loves her sons. I wanted to explain that I understand that your son won't remember the first few tough weeks of his life, but that her conscience had to have known it wasn't fair to him.

It just brought all of the 'what-if's?' to the surface, yet again, which is why at the beginning of this post, I vowed to try and stop that way of thinking. There's really only one 'what-if,' anyway. Whether or not I could have done it is not a question, if I could have given her enough love is not a question, if she would have had food and a roof over her head is not a question, if she would have been happy is not a question (and just in case they are, the answer is yes). The only 'what-if?' is what if I had taken her home with me. I will always wonder how each of our lives would have played out had I done that. But I didn't, so I'll never know. I'll only get to see one outcome, and the chances of her being successful and stable are 99% higher at the end of the road I chose for her than they would have been had I chosen the opposite path. That's the truth that I don't need to justify to anyone but myself and my little girl.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

'Even if you cannot hear my voice, I'll be right beside you dear...'

I can't believe this day has come. Already. I can't believe my baby girl has six teeth and is walking with ease, and just a year ago she weighed a mere 8 something pounds.

One year ago today, I signed those god awful papers. Those papers that I was given a copy of to take home with me. As if I wanted a copy of those, as if I needed a reminder of those. Today, I'm sad beyond belief.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Everything's different. . . . or is it?

I wrote this in my first journal, on 11/08/10: "going to go get her. i need to go get her, right now. i need to find a car seat, and a crib, and a changing table. diapers. then i can bring her home."

(What I really needed to find: a finished education, a stable career, steady income, and a father worthy of calling himself her daddy)

So much has changed in the past year. Or has it? Sometimes I wish I could be that girl again; I wish I could trade places with my former self, the one who was sitting in front of this very same laptop one year ago, facing the inevitable and avoiding writing her signature on a piece of paper for fear of the impending certain heartbreak that was sure to follow. That girl still had a choice. That girl could still get in the car and, if nothing else, at least visit her daughter at her will. I'm not saying I regret my choice to choose a family for my daughter, because deep down, I don't regret it. I have days where I miss her so much that my whole body hurts and I would give anything to be able to hold her again, but that doesn't mean I regret it. I feel as though a lot of people get that mixed up or simply can't understand it, but I have to forgive that because these are people who haven't been through it. At times, when I'm just rambling on, I get looks that might as well be screaming "why'd you do it if you miss her so much, or wanted to be with her so badly?" Well, my friends, it's not as simple as that. I knew my heart would be crushed to pieces and stomped on, I knew I'd always have a hole in my heart from the day I signed forward, and I knew I'd always miss her and wonder about her. It hurts, it stings, it downright kills. But it's a small price to pay in return for having my daughter be not only safe, loved, and happy, but secure and in the family structure that she deserves. My only hope and prayer is that one day she understands my reasoning, too. I hope she will.

Then again, there are days where I'm glad to be out of that "in between" stage that I foolishly put myself in. I'm glad I realized what I needed to do for her, and did it. I didn't like the idea of her being with an agency-appointed 'foster mom' for the six days she was there. I wanted her to (and knew she had to) be bonding with her mother (be it myself or C). November 4th to the 10th were the hardest few days of my life. It's so hard to know what you need to do, but also know that it will be tremendously painful. Looking back, I feel selfish that I took that long to make my final decision. It's like I was putting off the pain. I can't change it now, but at times, I wish I had just signed on the last day in the hospital. I took a week away from my daughter and her adoptive parents, and I caused myself more pain in the end. I should have rolled it all into one day, rather than spread it over a week. But it's in the past now, and part of me is glad that that tiny little chapter is over. I know I did the right thing. I just miss her so much. I'm jealous of the 'old me' that just decided, on the night of the 9th, to just get in the car and go see her. Hold her, hug her, change her diaper, kiss her. I'm also glad that a few minutes after I signed, even though all of my parental authority was officially gone, I asked if I could be there the next night when they went to pick her up and take her home. I'm even more glad I was greeted with an excited 'YES!' from her adoptive mom.

I'm not sure where I was going with this post, nor am I sure if it even makes any sense. (I also apologize for any horrendous grammatical errors).

One last thing . . . please pray for my family. Aside from the toll the adoption has taken not only on myself but on my parents, as well, they both are dealing with some tough stuff individually. If you have an extra minute, my grandpa needs all the prayers he can get as well. Thank you.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

'We Are All Lucky'

It's taken me a few days to get around to writing this post, because I have no words for the joy I felt seeing my baby girl walking on the screen in front of my very own eyes. I've seen her in pictures, monthly, since last November...but seeing her actually moving gave me a whole new sense of peace. In some of the pictures I've gotten, she's been making silly faces and whatnot, but that's all I've gotten to see. A stillframe of her. I've seen her giant smiles, but up until last Thursday, I hadn't seen them forming across her face. Like I said, I really don't have words. I never thought I'd get to witness some of the very first steps she ever took. She is even more beautiful "in person" than she is in pictures. Her mom told us all about her (how she now has six teeth, hates vegetables, is very independent and persistent, and is a little diva in the making), and we stayed on the call for well over 45 minutes. That was about 35 minutes more than I had anticipated, and I will cherish every second of it. I got to see her do so many things, from finishing her dinner, to walking all around the room and also pulling herself up to self-feeding herself some of those little Gerber "puffs," and even all the way to seeing her press all the keys on the laptop and also knock the camera off it's little stand. Hahaha. She's so rambunctious. I just watched in awe as she walked around, laughing, babbling, and clapping her hands together. She has the sweetest little voice, and I realize how blessed I am to have been able to hear it. I couldn't and still can't believe that exactly one year ago to the day that we were Skyping, she was a teeny baby all swaddled up in her pink and blue hospital blanket. It's unreal.

I know a lot of people (birth moms and dads) get the opportunity to have visits; but I truly don't feel that it's right for us at this time. Of course I would give anything to hold her in my arms forever, but I could barely handle hanging up from the Skype call. I don't know that I could handle seeing her. And while so many others do have face-to-face visits, I can't think about that or compare myself, because everyone's story is different. I feel infinitely blessed to have been able to have this Skype video call with them, and even more blessed that it was her mom's suggestion and not my own.

Her mom was telling me about how much they cherish and love her to pieces, and how when her dad is around, she's basically chopped liver, because the baby wants to be around him all the time. She was laughing about it, but inside I was secretly beaming. This is just what I wanted for her: her to be a daddy's girl. She would never have had this amazing relationship with G, even if (or even though, I don't know which word to use) he was a stand-up, loving father, he wouldn't be a constant in her life. He wouldn't be who she deserved. She told me a bit more about our little one's daily life and about her birthday party, which was that past weekend. I said, "she's lucky!," and her mom replied with "no, we're lucky. We are so lucky." and I said, "we're all lucky." I almost cried when she looked right at the screen, my little girl under her right arm and her little container of puffs in the other and said "we are all lucky." It's so true. This little life has touched so many people; not just me and her birth dad or her adoptive mom and dad and big brother, but two entire families and beyond. We are all lucky. Anyone who has her in their life is lucky. (Do I sound like one of those bragging mothers? Haha,) 

I was walking on air for the rest of the night (we started the call right at 6:30 and ended it around 7:20) and the next morning, too. Coincidentally, the next morning was November 4th, which was the day I left the hospital after giving birth to her. The day I left the hospital with so much less than I walked in there with; most importantly, I left without my heart. This year, November 4th was probably one of the hardest days while simultaneously being one of the best days. My heart was broken replaying last year in my head over and over, but at the same time, my heart was swollen with pride and love after seeing my daughter (albeit it, it was on the computer, but she may as well have been right in front of me!), walking and being so grown up.

I suppose I don't have much else more to say...I'm not looking forward to the 'anniversaries' that are coming up in the next few days, but I don't want to dwell on it, and I'm still overjoyed thinking about our call. I don't think I'll ever forget a detail of it.

Reading my birthday card...look at that smile! (I pixelated her mom's face, just to protect her privacy. I don't think any of you guys are creep-o's, but you never know who reads these).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy First Birthday!

Happy 1st Birthday, baby girl!
I can't believe the day has finally come. I think last night was harder for me than today was. Today wasn't as brutal as I thought it was going to be, but was still rough. I kept thinking about how, on this day last year, I still had two more entire days with her, plus a visit to her foster-adopt home and one more visit the night she went home with her family (11/11/10). Also, knowing that her actual birthday party was last Saturday lessened the blow a little. Part of my sadness was over missing her party..so it helped that I didn't have that on my shoulders today, too.
I headed to bed around eleven, and I slept with her little hospital hat in my hands the whole night. I just kept replaying last 11/01 over and over in my head, til finally I fell asleep. I woke up, wide awake, at 6:28 a.m., and stared at the clock until 6:31 (the time she was born). It was like I was back in that hospital room again...I could hear the nurses voice as clear as a bell, I remembered the lighting and the smells in the room and the fetal heart beat monitor beep beep beeping and thump thump thumping. I could even feel the starchy hospital gown on my arms.
Words cannot express how proud I am of my baby girl, nor can they express how much I love and miss her. So I'm going to keep this short. I just wanted to let you all know (and for a reminder to myself) that it is Arianna's adoptive mom who made this day so bearable. I woke up to an email from her, telling me all about how much our daughter loved her party (and 'knew' the spot light was on her...that's my girl!), loved ripping her presents open and loved our generous and amazing gifts to her. She promised to send pictures of her in her pj's and on her Disney ride-on that I sent to her. She also told me that she unexpectedly had to work a longer day than usual today, so she would have to postpone the phone call. BUT, she made it up to me a thousand-fold: she asked me, if it was okay with me, could we do a Skype call tomorrow night instead? Hmm...YES, in fact, that would be fine with me! hahaha. So, all in all, I'm surviving the day. I know it's not over yet, but I have that Skype call to look forward to now (and I am SO looking forward to it). I'm sure I'll post tomorrow afterwards, and maybe get some screen shots if possible. Oh, and, she also told me she's officially walking! She just started going long distances (as in, across a room) this past week! That was part of the reason why she wanted to Skype, also, so I could see her walking. I love her family more than words can say.
Happy Birthday, my little princess! I may not be celebrating your day of birth by your side, but I celebrate it in my heart every single day...and today especially. I can still hear your first cry in my head as if it happened five seconds ago, I can still feel your silky jet black hair and hear you breathing beside me. I love you with all of my heart and my soul, and I thank you for all the ways you have helped me in your one year on earth. Some I will be able to tell you about, others you may never quite understand, but they are important nonetheless. You will always be my firstborn and my princess, and the biggest piece of my heart will always be yours. Happy Birthday, my love.