I have terrible vision. Really, I do. I have to pay an extra heavy prescription fee at the optometrist. Even with my thick glasses and expensive contacts, it still can’t quite be corrected. But my hindsight? That’s 20/20. Looking back at my pregnancy and placing my birth daughter, I have a lot of regrets. Here is a list of my shoulda/woulda/couldas.

I shoulda been more grateful. While I was pregnant, I spent far too much time focusing on the negatives. I was all alone, and so uncomfortable, and I was going through all this misery just so someone else could have a baby. What I wish I had focused on was the incredible ability my body had to create life. That this little girl relied totally, completely on me, and no one could do for her what I could. My pregnancy was beautiful, and I didn’t take the time to appreciate it.

I coulda been less selfish. I am independent to a fault. My decision was, of course, what I felt was best for my birth daughter. And I fully stand by that. But at the time, I did not consider the feelings of or accept input from other people whose lives would be changed, including baby R’s birth father, and my own family. My decision would have been the same, but I could have treated the people around me better.

I woulda asked for more alone time with my birth daughter in the hospital, had I known what a special memory it would be. I had some time, here and there, but most of my hospital stay I was surrounded by friends and family. I love them all so, so dearly, but I wish I had taken more time to snuggle with her alone. I wish I had sung to her, and told her how much I loved her, and cuddled her all by myself. There is nothing better than lying skin to skin in a quiet room with a life you have created. I should have asked for more of that.

I shoulda let myself grieve. For the first several months after I placed baby R, I went numb. I didn’t allow myself to feel any kind of emotion; I didn’t feel capable of handling it. It was just too much for me. In some respects, my numbness was worse than pain. The grief was always looming over me, I was just pushing it off for a more convenient time. But I couldn’t fend off my emotions forever. Eventually, the grief and pain overcame me all at once, and I didn’t have the skills necessary to cope in a healthy way. Had I allowed myself to feel the loss in pieces as it was happening, I feel that I would have been able to handle it better.

I coulda made better choices when I was hurting. Grief can really mess with your mind, and I made a lot of decisions that I now regret, trying to numb the pain. If I had used the tools and resources I knew were available to me, I could have worked through the grief instead of making stupid choices to cover up the hurt.

I woulda placed again if I had to do it all over. I may have a lot of regrets, but placement is not one of them. Seeing baby R thrive with her beautiful family gives a purpose to all my pain and tears. I love to see the little girl with my blue eyes look up at her mama and daddy and know she is safe. I helped make a family, and even if I developed a cure for nearsightedness, being a birth mother will always be my greatest achievement.