Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two steps back

My best friend asked me how I was doing the other night. She had moved to Europe about a month or so after Arianna was born...a month in which she reached out to me time and time again and all I wanted to do was stay curled up in my bed. I hadn't gone back to work yet, and I had just gotten news that I would have to get my gallbladder out in the middle of December, so I had no place to be and all the time in the world to be there. She came to the hospital to see my little angel and she held her and it was just wonderful. I had only wanted certain people there; my parents, her father, and the person who would have been her "auntie," had I taken her home. She saw how I was in the hospital, and she knew how I was when I left, and despite the fact that I turned down almost every invite down to her house to say 'goodbye' before she moved, she still told me that no matter what she was there for me and just wanted to let me know she was always a phone call away, but didn't want to smother me when she knew I was at my lowest. Can a friend get better than that? When my other friends didn't know quite what to say around me, she would ask how I was and give me a huge hug. Anyways, she's home now for a bit, and that was how the question of my well-being came up. I told her the truth, and the conversation evolved more into becoming a conversation about her birth father because he played such a huge role in my decision making, despite the fact that he told me not to think of him and to only think of myself and my daughter. Ha. Very funny. Of course I had to think of him - it was he who would be arguing with me every other weekend, he who would argue with me over who was paying for dance class, etc, etc. But, back a few days before I signed the papers, when I was dead set on parenting, I asked him if he would sign away his paternal rights (therefore not having to pay child support or anything but losing any legal rights to see his daughter, so neither she nor I would have had to deal with him) he said no. Part of me was annoyed that he wouldn't just give us that peace, but part of me was relieved to know that he wanted to be involved, at least in a minimal way. But that's neither here nor there at this point in time, anyways. I'm going off on a tangent.

Remember how ecstatic I was a month ago this very day? It was July 4th, and since the 1st I had had a steady, ongoing email conversation with her adoptive parents which included photo after photo, and finally a group of photos that was so large, she had to condense it into a PDF to send them. I haven't gotten any photos since - but that's not really the point (right now, anyway.)

The point is, I remember being so truly happy that day...the day I went to sleep right after getting a photo of my little girl wearing the sneakers I had just sent to her...the day I woke up to a photo sent to my cell phone of her in a wagon, waving two American flags around. Seeing her actually grasp things and hold onto them blew my mind. It seems like such a small thing, but the last update and set of photos I had gotten of her only showed her grabbing onto things that were permanently fixated to other things - like the dangling things on her mobile, or those bendy plastic toys in her bouncy chair. Holding onto the flags seemed like it was a much bigger advancement, because they could fall at any moment. But she was holding on tight. Coincidentally, that's what I'm trying to do right now - hold on tight. Hold on to the reasons why I did this, and hold on to the fact that I cut ties with her father because I am better off without him. I can't lose sight of that, I can't lose sight of my degree, I can't lose sight of bettering myself so she will be proud of me.

It's just that lately, I've been miserable. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but I can feel myself slipping. I don't know if it's because she just turned 9 months old and 9 months is the amount of time you're pregnant for. She was fully, completely MINE for 9 months, and now for the past 9 months she's been C's.
It hit me when my friend asked me how I was. I told her the truth, and saying it out loud only validated it. I know there's no timeline for grieving this, and I refuse to set myself one, but I feel in my heart that the way I feel now is the way I should have felt six or seven months ago. I was in denial. The only way to not sob at my ultrasounds...the only way to not sob all over the relinquishment papers until they were so soggy they were illegible...was to pretend it wasn't happening to me. I think I must have pretended it was happening to someone else, but I was the one living it. I put on a smile when I returned to work, I put on a smile when I saw my friends, all because I was terrified and on the edge of tears at every moment. So, I faked it. I faked it around my family, I faked it everywhere I went, so I wouldn't lose it. Those were the only two options in my mind at the time: fake it or lose it completely. I got so good at it that I even started convincing myself. I remember feeling really guilty one day a couple months ago because I thought to myself, "I'm doing really well with this. I feel like I should be more sad, but I'm actually okay..." Wrong. Truthfully, I haven't been 'okay' since I found out I was pregnant. How can you be okay, happy, content, knowing you have to make such life-altering decisions? Knowing that you want your baby to have the best of the best, but knowing that giving her that means you may not see her again for ten, even twenty years?

Anyways, after that conversation with my friend, I realized I need to snap out of this. I need to let myself be miserable, I need to stop being afraid to feel things and let myself be sad. I know it's a little late, but better late than never. Better now than when she's three or four years old. Everyone says it gets easier, time will heal me. blah blah blah, but this is coming from people who have never been in my shoes. I know it will get harder before it gets easier. These past few months, she's just been a baby. How hard will it be when she starts talking (real words)? Or when I find out I've missed her first steps? Obviously, I know I'm going to miss her first steps, but I mean, how hard will it be to hear it? What about when she develops her own little personality? How will I cope with not knowing how her voice sounds, or if she laughs like me or her dad? The harder parts are yet to come, and I need to know how to deal with them.

So, for the past few days, I have not wanted to get out of bed. The thought of going to work makes me physically ill. The idea of knowing I don't have a 'safe place' to run to if I want to cry (like my bed) makes me anxious. I'm looking out my bedroom window at this very moment, and seeing the clear blue sky and hearing the happy little birds chirping is making me irate. I can't sleep. I just want to lay in bed and stare at the ceiling and remember how it felt to feel the weight of her in my arms. All 8 pounds, 14 ounces of her. If I think about it enough, I can still feel the starchiness of the hospital blankets on my cheek as I would snuggle her against me. I can still feel her squeezing my finger when I put it against hers. I remember how all four of her fingers, horizontally, were as long as my pointer finger. I remember looking at her fingernails, her toenails, her eyelashes, and watching her move...and being in awe that I made her. I remember lying beside her the last night in the hospital, just watching her breathe, and not being able to wrap my head around the fact that her lungs were created inside me. I created a life, another human being who would grow up to be someone someday. Of course, she already was someone to me - she was everything to me.

People tell me how strong I am. How people like me deserve so much credit for being the most selfless people on the planet. So why do I feel so selfish? I feel like I'm being selfish to everyone around me by locking myself up in my room and barely talking to anyone. I'm pushing everyone away; I can feel it. I just want to get better. My wish is for my daughter to have the happiest, most amazing life she can, and for myself to have as happy and productive a life as I can, even though she's not by my side. I can move on from this, I know I can. I know I will always feel sad from time to time, I've learned to accept that, and I don't think it's too much to ask. But I can tell you one thing for sure... I don't want to feel like this for the rest of my life. Not the way I feel now. Stuck in a rut. This is not doing anything or anyone any good - not myself, not my school work, not my job, not anyone around me, and most importantly, not my daughter. When she and I meet again, I want to be successful and independent. Do I want to be married? I don't know - that's not something that's even on my mind at the moment. All I know is I do not want to be struggling, I do not want to have some odd number of college credits that don't really amount to anything, and most of all, I don't want to be so depressed that I need to depend on medication, or anything else for that matter. I want to be strong, I want to be someone she admires and maybe, just maybe, can look up to. I want to be there for her without taking the place of her mom, I want to be her best friend. How can I even dream of that when I'm not even my own best friend? I love her more than anything in the world, but I feel like I can't love her as much as I should when I'm struggling to love myself.


  1. I KNOW it gets harder before it gets easier, but it does. There will ALWAYS be days when your missing of your daughter grabs hold of you and won't let go. I have friends that are also bmoms who tell me that the missing her weeks will turn into days and pretty soon hours, but they will never completely go away. So let yourself grieve. And don't give yourself a grieving time-line. Yes, you want to make it through the ENTIRE grieving process (and denial is a part of the grieving process) and come out the other side. But that doesn't mean that you can't allow yourself to grieve at your own speed. Be honest with yourself and with others during this time, and believe that you have friends (even if only in cyberspace) that KNOW exactly where you are because they've been there too. *hugs*

  2. I'm here for you <3 I know I haven't been through what you're going through, and can't imagine how tough it must be, but I have a good pair of ears, ready to listen. xoxo