Walk Slow and Silent

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Through all of this – what ever life has brought to your doorstep so far and will bring to you in the future – my one true prayer is you find your Eternal I.

Much love and belief –

M.

THE OLD WISDOM

“When the night wind makes the pine trees creak
And the pale clouds glide across the dark sky,
Go out, my child, go out and seek
Your soul: the Eternal I.

“Blue Night Sky” by James Wheeler (Creative Commons)

For all the grasses rustling at your feet
And every flaming star that glitters high
Above you, close up and meet
In you: the Eternal I.

“Passing By” by Jason E. Jenkins (Creatives Commons)

Yes, my child, go out into the world; walk slow
And silent, comprehending all, and by and by
Your soul, the Universe, will know
Itself: the Eternal I.”

– Jane Goodall (B. 1934)

“The Absent are Ever Present”

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

Way back in junior high school, I learned a really cool trick from my home economics teacher (do they even teach that class any more? What is it called nowadays, anyway? Certainly not home economics – that phrase must have gone out of a favor for something more politically correct by now, yes?)

The cool trick? Crushed up candies melt in the middle of sugar cookies.  (These pictures are from a year or two ago – I forgot to get the camera out this year!!!)

bighearts_2They’ve never failed me yet – these are cherry Life Savers and some flavor of Jolly Ranchers. Year in and year out I can trust them to deliver gorgeous results. And the sugar cookie recipe I have is to DIE FOR, but I promised my niece I would never share it because it is the one she developed for her business, Snickety Snacks.

bighearts_5I’ve remained faithful and never shared it, even with the darling 12-year old who wanted it from me today!

bighearts_3Today has been a good day – lots of sugar cookies with the small ones and then a party with other home-schooling families from church. Tomorrow I head to University of Alabama to visit the pain management clinic there to see what they can do to help me…well, manage the pain caused by this craptastic medical device I have inside of me. (Thirteen weeks until it comes out, yahoo!!!)

lifesaverheartAnyhoooooo, as I wandered through today, I couldn’t help but think of you. I hope your mom helped you build family traditions, whether it be baking sugar cookies every Valentine’s Day or something else, like making Valentine cards for all of your older relatives. I am sure she did things like that. Well…at this point, I have to choose to believe she did – it’s my own version of fairy-dust and adoption-mythology, as it were. This fairy-dust is the only way I can endure a day full of Matthew, Luke, and Poppy laughing and giggling and carrying on like siblings do. It is on days like this that your absence in our lives is so noticeable to me.

Much love –

M.

A Letter I Wish I’d Gotten

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I came across this letter this morning, written by Coco over at “Grown in My Heart.” It comes too late for us, but maybe it will reach some mother who might be considering making an adoption plan irrevocable mistake because she has been convinced by her culture and religious leaders that she will never be a good enough mother to her child.

http://www.growninmyheart.com/a-letter-i-wish-id-gotten

Much love,

M.

http://www.growninmyheart.com/a-letter-i-wish-id-gotten

Take the Gift and Say Thank You

(Note: I wrote this on 30 April but am only getting around to posting it this morning. Please excuse my tardiness – I had a rough weekend.)

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

It has been too long since I have written, but as I have said in the past, it isn’t because I am not thinking of you. In fact, these past few weeks have been consumed with thoughts of you, of me, of this new little one and how all of this came to be how it now is. My other excuse is that I went for a couple of days without a computer because I knocked over my water bottle onto my laptop keyboard and spilled about 2 cups of water into it. Fortunately, a quick acting husband and several days of drying while propped upside down have rendered it usable again so hopefully I can get back to writing.

Today I went to the ObGyn for my weekly checkup. Blood pressure is 85/62, weight is up 1 lb. (woohoo! and I mean this seriously – it has been a struggle for me to gain weight this pregnancy), heart rate is 59, no protein in my urine, baby sounds great, everything is going along swimmingly.  She commended me for all my laying around and lounging about I have been doing for the past 3 weeks and reminded me that in the grand scheme of life, this time I am spending on bedrest is nothing. And she’s right. It really is nothing compared to having a healthy baby in 11 days.

So there I am, lounging about on the exam table (because frankly if someone wants to talk with me, they have to do it while I am laying down because sitting sucks. Period.) My doctor starts talking to me about the upcoming c/section (did I mention its in 11 more days?) and some of my concerns as it is sooooooooooo not my typical way of birthing – I am much more the water birth/midwife kind of woman. In addition to the normal fears, I also told her how worried I was that I was going to have a complete come-apart there on the OR table. I told her of my struggles I have been having and how this new baby is causing me to really confront what I have spent the last 17+ years avoiding: losing you to adoption. Thus ensued one of the most open, honest, and compassionate conversations I have ever had with a health care professional about adoption and adoption grief.

There was no judgment of me. There was no reaching for the prescription pad to write me an Rx for an antidepressant because my emotions were making her uncomfortable. There were no “There, there now, you just need to let go and move on” comments. There was only genuine compassion for my plight as a woman who had lost a child and never been given the permission to grieve that loss. There were tears, both hers and mine, as I unfolded our story. There was horror and repulsion at how I was treated. There was understanding at my need to reconcile my faith with my experience. There was a willingness to accept that adoption isn’t a win-win-win for everyone involved. There was the ability to see that the successes I have cobbled together in my life are in spite of the fact I relinquished you for adoption, not because of it.

Through all of this, I explained that because of this unresolved grief, I have had a difficult time accepting this pregnancy. It still feels like a dream to me and I have not really connected with this new little spirit who is coming to our family. I am afraid to because what if God decides I don’t deserve to be her mother either? What if He takes her from me? What if, what if, what if?

For some reason, I have been able to subvert/ignore/stuff those feelings while parenting my two boys. I never struggled with any of these emotions when I was pregnant with them. By that point I knew I was a damn good mother and no one could ever tell me otherwise, even my stinky ex-husband and his “perfect” stay-at-home wife who wanted me to relinquish custody of Captain Knuckle because I was now single and they were now married. Even my mother who urged me to do the same thing, to just “let him go” and “move on in peace” with my life. I didn’t listen to them because I knew I was a good mother to my very core and the my children deserved to be with me. More importantly, I deserved to be with them.

Why this pregnancy is so soul-shattering different, I don’t know. I think it might be because it is a girl. I think it might be because she is arriving so close to your birthday. I think it might be because I was pregnant through the fall, winter, and spring like I was with you. I think it is because you are turning 18 in 6 weeks. I think, I think, I think. Perhaps I am over-thinking things.

So back to my doctor. After spending a good 50 minutes blubbering to her about you, she said, “You know, perhaps this pregnancy is a gift because it is forcing you to confront all of these fears and concerns you have. It is forcing you to examine more carefully what happened back then and to find ways to resolve those feelings of loss and grief.”

And she is right. This pregnancy is doing/has done all of those things and I am certain little Penelope Rose will continue to challenge me in ways I didn’t know that I needed to be challenged as she grows. Each birthday, each Christmas, each family pictures, each dance lesson, each piano lesson, each soccer game, each school dance, each date, there will always be a searing awareness of you, what I missed, and the big What If.

Is this a gift? I don’t know at this point. I would like to think that it is but I’m guessing it isn’t the black-cocker-spaniel-puppy-with-a-bow-around-her-neck kind of gift. I think it is one of those paradoxical gifts that is going to hurt but help all at the same time, that will expand my ability to love and to accept life as it unfolds.

Needless to say, I am swiftly running out of time to get as much of this figured out as possible.  Did I mention I only have 11 more days?

Much love,

M.

Have you considered…?

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I was over at the LDS Family Services website a few months ago, trying to see if they had any information/support/services available for post-relinquishment mothers such as myself. While I didn’t find what I was hoping to find, I did find this list of questions. It is intended as a tool to help single mothers who are considering parenting their child think through a wide range of things.  As I read through the list, I started laughing. I actually had to call my mom because I thought it was so funny.

And this is why I found it so hilarious: Why is it perfectly fine for LDS Family Services to ask a woman who is single and considering parenting these kinds of questions but not all those fresh-out of high school, newly married (in the temple, of course), stars-in-their eyes women these same questions? Aren’t they valid questions for any person considering to be a parent? And if they are, where are these questions found on the LDS Family Services website for married women who might be considering parenting? Oh that’s right…they don’t have one of those.

And come on, let’s be honest. What woman between the ages of 18-25 has the financial stability to be a parent, unless she is a trust fund baby herself?  If she is anything like the typical married LDS woman at that age, her husband is still in school (dental or law, of course) and she is most likely working to support him. And what 18-25 year old woman is aware of community resources that could help her unless someone has told her? And how many struggling newlyweds have already started a college fund for their children, especially when they are most likely still in school themselves?  I could go on and on this morning, but I will save that for another post.

I guess what makes me roll my eyes and giggle the most is that both my mother and my mother-in-law would have answered the questions pretty much the same way I did at 19, married or not (just an FYI, they were both married  by the time they were 19 AND had a baby).  In fact, I bet my friends who were married when they were 18/19/20 (and trust me, there are pleeeeeennnnntttttyyy of girls like that in the LDS community) would answer the questions pretty much the same way I would have at that same age. Why they weren’t told to place their babies for adoption because they didn’t know the basics of child development, or have plans, budgets, college savings for their future children, and resources of every kind, I will never know.

So enjoy, Ms. Feverfew, and savor the delicious irony of it all.

Much love,

M.

Have you considered

  • Do you have a strong desire to be a mother right now?
  • Do you have information on all of your options and have you taken time to carefully consider each of them?
  • Do you have realistic expectations about what it would be like to be a single parent?  Would you be the sole caregiver of the baby or would your parents, the father, or other caregivers be involved or even take over?
  • What are your plans for the future? How will raising a child affect those plans?  How will a baby affect your likelihood of going to school or getting a good job?
  • Do you have the financial stability to be a parent?  Have you prepared a budget outlining expenses you should expect in raising a child?  Will your baby have access to regular medical care?
  • Are you prepared to ask others for help?
  • Do you live in a home where you could care for a newborn?  Is it an emotionally and physically safe place for a child?
  • Do you think that the home you provide will be the best one for your baby?
  • Do you know about the basics of child development? Nutrition? Discipline?
  • Are you aware of community resources or programs that could help you?
  • How much time will you be spending at work or at school?  How much spare time would you have?
  • Who would your support system be if you decide to parent? Would that help and support be steady over the next 18 years?
  • What is your relationship with the father?  How involved would he be?  How prepared is he to be a father?  How involved would you like him to be?  Are your expectations for his help realistic given your current situation?  If the father is not involved, are there men in your life that could be a consistent male role model?
  • How would you maintain friendships?
  • Do you plan to get married someday? How will having a child affect those plans?
  • Would you date?  What will your social life be like?  How would you determine when to tell those you date that you have a child?
  • Who would take care of your baby when you are away?
  • How do you plan to discipline your child?
  • Are there a friends or family members you can talk with about their experience as a single parent?
  • Are you ready to put a child’s needs before your own throughout his or her life?
  • Will you be able to save for your child’s future education?
  • Do you effectively manage feelings of anger and frustration? Can you control your emotions so that you don’t take them out on others?
  • Would counseling help you better understand the realities of being a single parent?
  • The more honest you are with yourself, the more likely it is that you will make a solid decision about what is best for you and your baby.