It’s the untold story of how to survive. As a birth mother, I’ve heard it countless times: “I could never do that.” They don’t mean it in vile. They don’t mean it to be condescending. They truly believe they “could never do that.” People can’t comprehend how to handle not raising the child you carried. If I’m being completely honest, I can’t comprehend it, either. Some days, I feel at peace with my decision to place my son. Other days, peace is the furthest thing from my mind. Those are the days that I need to revisit how I survived the first year of my son’s life without me. That first year is the hardest, and you either learn how to handle grief or you don’t. There are so many different techniques for the “hard days,” so I asked a few different birth mothers how they handle those days and grouped the similar suggestions into four sections. Here is what I found:
1. Working Out.
Seriously. Hit the gym, go for a run, buy one of those balloons with rubber bands on the end and hit it over and over. You’re building up anxiety, and it needs to be released. Some girls lift weights, some run on the treadmill, others will go to a local park and swing. It’s healthy to get out of the house and release those endorphins. It won’t make the pain go away, but the energy released while you’re doing this will help organize your thoughts. If nothing else comes from it, at least you have the good feeling of knowing you accomplished one thing that day.
2. Keep a Journal/Scrap Booking.
This helps put the adoption in perspective. I love scrap booking. I put together pages of the day the adoption went through. Seeing my son, his parents, and the judge all standing together with smiles on their faces is so rewarding. Sometimes I will come across pictures of his first Christmas, or his first day of school. It’s a reminder of what I sacrificed. My pain is justified because of the good that came out of it.
3. Cry It Out.
Sometimes, you just need a good cry. So grab your favorite chick flick (or any movie), a blanket, and stay in your pajamas. I hope there’s a box of tissues nearby because once you get started, don’t expect to stop. It’s exhausting, but when it’s over, you will feel so much better. My favorite movie to cry to is “Marley and Me.” It’s still a feel-good movie, but it can cause a couple of tears. When the movie is over, when my tears are done, I feel like I’ve been able to release some emotions I’ve held onto for far too long. Even if I wasn’t thinking about the adoption, it just helps me to have released whatever form of frustration I’m holding onto.
4. Spoil Yourself.
I use this one when I’m in between the “can’t get out of bed” phase and the “I feel 100% okay today” phase. I like to take an extra $20, and find a good deal on a pair of shoes. Other birth mothers I know like to treat themselves to a movie (with popcorn). Another suggestion is to go out for a spa day. You can choose whatever you feel is going to spoil yourself. There’s one birth mother I know who loves to vacation, so she has a separate fund for her vacations and when she has a hard day, she starts planning her next big trip. You did a very unselfish act, time to think about you for just a minute.
These aren’t genius or hard to do. But hopefully, they are something that can be helpful. Life is hard. Being a birth mother can be extremely difficult. However, the reality of what you’ve done for another human being is unbelievable. You deserve to be treated. You deserve to be happy. It can be hard to be happy sometimes, so survive the hard times and enjoy the happy ones.