Monday, June 26, 2006

Tired of feeling guilty

So my niece and her 4 week old daughter are thriving. Little One is growing and gaining well, sleeps easily and is a great nurser. My niece's swelled boobs are a testament to that. So after spending part of an afternoon with them, my negative voices come back in full force. In response I read blogs and do a lot of thinking. This is what I've come up with:

(a) Maybe my daughter was so needy her first five months because I needed her to be.

(b) Maybe her lack of perceivable movement in utero was just her and not me.

(c) I need to remember to embrace her for who she is, not who I want her to be, not how I expect her to be.

Why do I always have to take things so personally? In regards to

(a): I still find myself thinking I did something wrong. Constantly the voices in my head tell me (i) she wasn't getting enough to eat and so she was still hungry. Maybe this is true since she's been on the low side of the growth curve - but I certainly nursed her every time she cried - how can you make a "snacker" eat more efficiently? I tried distracting her and spacing out the feedings to 90 minutes like the LC suggested, I offered her formula and she wouldn't take it unless we tried really hard. BUT since she was a snacker she needed me often; she needed me to sleep with her the first two months. As a result, her early babyhood was different from what I expected, different from many other moms/babies I know. But I have tender memories along with the stressed out ones. Just because they're different doesn't make them wrong. They are OUR memories and I need to stop seeing other peaceful, chubby, sleeping babies and instantly think I did something wrong. (ii) I was too stressed out during my pregnancy and so she was colicky. Maybe this is true, which then cycles me back to:
(b): I blocked out what was going on with my body. Why was I so afraid to acknowledge this pregnancy? I didn't really talk to her, rub my belly, encourage her to move. When she did move, it would take me by surprise and she would settle back in rather than moving again. So there were no daddy moments. No kicking back and watching the show. No "talking" to me. I didn't walk around with my hand on my tummy and a smile on my face. I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant unless I had to - and when I did, I waited until I absolutely had to tell. It's like I was ashamed - the kind of shame an unwed teenage mother is supposed to feel, even though I didn't feel that way when I was an unwed, pregnant teenager. I didn't want anyone talking to me about it either. I spent 14 years justifying to myself (and anyone else who had the nerve to ask why I had no children) how full my life could be without a baby, now I was a hypocrite. Right? God forbid someone changes her mind. Why am I so hard on myself? I see now that my world was black and white because that's the only way I could see it. Part of me was so afraid of embracing the pregnancy - the more I thought about it the more I was afraid of all the things that could go wrong. And I just felt so undeserving still. I didn't deserve to be a mother, I wasn't supposed to be a mother, etc.
(c): I cried when I found out she was a girl. Went onto have my first conversation about how this baby was teaching me that she was her own person.

So I need to replace the negative voices with the mantra "She is her own person" and recognize that I can do all the right things but she is going to be who she is - a girl who was colicky, who is petite, who is wonderful. That she didn't move is not a reflection on me and my neuroses. That my tiny boobs never swelled to Dolly Parton porportions ... or anywhere near that doesn't mean I haven't adequately nursed her. Sure, Jennifer Garner and Kate Hudson's small chests are/were ample during nursing, but they have/had better/different nursers. She is a beautiful, happy, loving, and intelligent baby. I love her and she loves me. That's all I need to think about. And perhaps I should relent and love myself a little for a change instead of being my biggest and constant critic.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Bonding Worries

I still feel a disconnect with my daughter. I have no doubt that I love her. I dote on her and I love every minute of taking care of her including changing her diapers, waking in the middle of the night for a feeding, helping her learn it's okay to take an afternoon nap, figuring out what tastes yummy and watching her face when she discovers how horrible carrots are. I am grateful for every chance I have to hold her, see her smile, discover a new texture, etc. But I don't feel like all of me is really experiencing it.

I remember meeting my son for the first time and how he far exceeded my expectations. I couldn't believe something perfect actually came out of my body. I instantly felt love and amazement. I also felt like he was this person inside a baby's body. Maybe it was because I knew I was giving him up and I projected that onto him. With my daughter, I feel like she is "just" a baby and I get to take care of her like she was a living baby doll, that the person she will become has yet to arrive. Sure, she has her own personality but it's just different. Maybe that's me not wanting to rush things. And maybe it's because some of the mystery is gone for me. In addition to having been through a pregnancy and birth before, the technology available today takes a lot of the "wow" out of it. Not only did I know she was a girl, I saw her body in one of those 3-D ultrasounds (she wouldn't show her face, though) and her legs really did look exactly the same when she was born. But the first time I was pregnant, we couldn't even tell (despite two ultrasounds) what the gender was until he was born. Everything was new to me.

I can't help but wonder how much of this disconnect is due to my age, the fact that I've had a baby before, or the loss of my son. Or maybe it's just that being a mommy really takes a lot out of a person and for the past 14+ years I had a version of motherhood in my mind that isn't reality. There's so much to do all the time, so much to think about as far as what is needed, what I need to do to get ready for the next outing or the next day, plus remembering things like how long it has been since she's had a bath, etc. that there just isn't the time to bask in her babyhood, to feel truly connected with her.

Maybe I just need something to worry about. Or perhaps part of me still feels like I don't deserve to be a mother, that I'm not good enough.

I get to spend more time with her than most mothers I know. I only leave her with a sitter when I have to work, and I have a flex schedule so it's not too bad. I've been breastfeeding her and part of me feels that my desire to do so stems not so much from the fact that it's the best thing for her, but from that fact that I am the only person who can do that for her. And the breastfeeding journey hasn't been an easy one because she's a "snacker" so keeping her well fed means feeding her often to make sure she's getting enough.

And maybe part of me knows that she is a person who will grow and one day leave. I've had enough experiences with people in general to know that you can't count on anyone sticking around for the long haul. So while it's a good thing to recognize your child is an independent creature, I am bothered that I don't feel closer to her than I do right now.

When she is awake and playing I want to stop everything I'm doing and just play with her. I love carrying her around and pointing things out to her. I love to hear her voice making it's syllables and nonsensical chatter. And when she sleeps, I peek in at her peaceful poses and hope that she is having good dreams. But I know that a day will come when she is too big to pick up, too old to kiss and nuzzle, too mature to giggle and squeal, too busy to spend time with me. But why can't I realize that these are not good enough reasons to not just live full throttle right now with her?

Why am I anticipating loss? Is it normal/common to feel this way with a baby you have after you've lost one to adoption? Will these feelings go away at some point or just get more intense?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Inferences, assumptions and fantasy

What if he doesn't want to meet me ... ever? I've spent all these years ASSuming at some point he would want to meet me.

I could infer that not wanting to meet me means he is perfectly content with his adoptive family, and for that I am happy for him. I want him to be happy, well adjusted and loved.

Perhaps he feels he knows enough about me through the letters I've sent his adoptive mother and the few pictures she has of me. if so, then that double edged sword has cut me. I wanted him to know me, to know I thought of him often and loved him. But if that has produced a one-way street of communication and love, it disappoints and hurts.

A few years ago I read that adopted girls have much more of a desire to search out their birthmothers than boys. This upset and depressed me for a period of time. It still nags at me.

I really wanted to meet him as a boy. I wanted to see what he was like at that partially shaped point in his life. Now he is a teenager and I've always felt awkward around teenagers.

And I've always had this fantasy of being invited to their home, seeing the place where he grew up, looking at photo albums together and watching home videos. And eating up every moment of it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Expectations PS

The other thing she said about expectations was that it only sets you up for disappointment.

So true. And yet, how can one really not have expectations?

Thursday, June 15, 2006


I was having lunch with a co-worker earlier this week and we were complaining about our husbands. She pointed out that the problem we have is that we have expectations that they don't and won't ever meet. She went onto say that the problem in all relationships stems from expectations, and she's right. She implied that we should just not have them. I think that's impossible.

Of course I immediately thought of my expectations of M&P. I expected them to write more, send more pictures. I expected my son to want to meet me when he was around 8. Why 8? Because when I was in fourth grade a little boy in my class (who actually had the same first name as the one M&P gave my son) told all of us that he was adopted. He told us this information because we were doing a unit where each child brought in a poster about himself/herself and told the class about it before it was hung up on the wall. Every day two or three kids did this. Anyway ... the boy seemed perfectly fine with being adopted. He didn't seem to feel rejected, nor did he seem to feel overly special. I never talked with him about it, though, and my family moved away from that town a little over a year later.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Okay ... again ... for now.

Well, I'm back to the space where I feel like everything is okay. We'll see how long it lasts.

Monday, June 12, 2006


So I sent the letter. It's done. We'll see what happens.

I wrote it. I added to it. I edited it. I let it sit for a few days. I went back and revised. In other words ... the usual with any letter I write to M&P. But I put it out there - how did she want things to continue? We'll see if she answers. If she does, we'll see what she has to say.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Whenever I am in public without my daughter and there is another baby or small child present I become totally distracted and can't think about anything except how long until I see her again, how long until I hold her and kiss the top of her head. I finally figured out today that this is because, for so many years, every time I saw a child my son's age (at the time - whether it was 2, 4, 6, etc.), I would imagine, daydream really, what it would be like if he were with me at that moment. If I was at a tourist attraction, would he be enjoying it? If it's the women's restroom, how old would it be before I let him go in the men's room? If it's in a store, how would he behave? What would it be like to pick him up and hug him?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

How Are You?

That was the first thing P said to me when I called and it made all the difference. There I was 19 and pregnant, living with my on again, off again boyfriend and knowing in my heart that I would give my child up for adoption. I was only 10 weeks along but I wanted to start the search. I had remembered seeing ads by prospective adoptive parents in USA Today during social studies classes when we were using the newspapers for class assignments. So I bought a paper and called a few of the numbers. I had been mulling over in my mind the types of things I wanted for my child besides a father. I wanted my baby to have a large extended family and to grow up going to church. It was also important that my baby live in a certain area of the country that I was familiar with and that the mom plan to stay home for at least a little while. So I asked the people I called about their families, their religion, their location and childcare plans. One woman upon hearing how early I was in m pregnancy was not very warm at all, was particularly uncomfortable with the religion questions, and kept referring me to her attorney. But then I called P (of M&P) and rather than immediately asking me how far along I was or anything else about the pregnancy, he asked about me. He asked, "How are you?". That made all the difference. As I talked with him and then M, I felt really comfortable. They asked me to call their attorney also, which I did the next day. We had several more conversations and then agreed to meet for lunch. They were a wonderful couple and I remember that I was touched when I saw them kiss briefly but affectionately after the lunch as one went back to work and the other walked a couple of blocks with me. They'd been married 15 years and been through a lot together and yet still took the time to be genuinely affectionate with one another. I took this as a good sign for my baby - that their home would be one of love.

Monday, June 05, 2006

My Daughter

It's nearing my son's birthday and I'm pretty much my normal basketcase right now. So I thought I would focus a little on my baby daughter. She really is a blessing to me. Before all the emotional baggage of The Birthday came on, I was feeling a sense of fulfillment and happiness that I couldn't remember ever having. But now I feel that guarded feeling of disconnectedness, a feeling that made me turn to blogs in the first place because I was wondering/worrying if I am not bonding as close with my daughter because of the loss of my son. And lately I've spent a lot of time wondering how he was at this age, what things he did first, how fast or slow he grew.

When I had her, people would tell me she was beautiful and it amazed me how many people would say things like, "She's a keeper!" or "You'll keep that one!". Where does this phrase come from? NONE of these people know about my son - I think this must be some kind of generational or regional phrase?! But boy did it make my antennae go up every time I heard it!

My daughter is a keeper. So was my son, I just didn't keep him. If it wasn't for my son, I wouldn't have my daughter. That doesn't really change the way I feel, though. I am still missing him terribly right now. I think part of this range of emotions I am currently experiencing is that she is moving past the newborn infant stage, a stage I've lived the past 15 years with my son (in my head), it's like I'm losing my baby again. At first I thought, oh this is what "regular" moms talk about when their babies grow. Maybe it is.