October 28th, 2008 was not only the day that I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen, but it was also a day that changed my life forever. It is a day that I hold very sacred and dear to my heart, and I will forever remember it as what made me the person I am today.
This day at 5:17 p.m., with my mom on one side and the adoptive couple, Dustin and Andrea, on the other, I saw her for the first time. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes. She was so tiny and her cry filled the room. I couldn’t fathom how this beautiful little infant had grown inside me for the last nine months. It was something I had known, but didn’t understand completely until this moment.
As they laid her on my lap and she cried, I just stared in complete amazement. The love I had felt for her from the moment I saw the word Pregnant and through the past nine months somehow seemed to quadruple itself within seconds. How was it possible to love someone so much? I honestly couldn’t believe that one person could experience this much love. How could my heart hold it? I felt like it was ready to burst.
As I held her in my arms with tears carrying complete astonishment and love streaming down my face, I looked up, remembering that there were other people around me. The first person I saw was Andrea and that’s when the pain entered my heart. It wasn’t what I expected, though. It was only sadness for myself. Sadness that I wasn’t the one that was meant to be her mom and no matter how badly I wanted it, It wasn’t my turn.
Andrea was the mother of this perfect human that I was holding in my arms. I had known that without a doubt the moment I met her. The pain in my heart was there and I could feel it now, but it was, without a doubt, being outshined by this immense love. SO much love. Love that I had never felt before in my entire life.
The entire time I was in the hospital, I was consumed by this love. There was love surrounding me by everyone and everything in this hospital. On top of that, there was no doubt that there were angels surrounding me, carrying unbearable amounts of love with them. The minute a nurse walked in the room, the look on each of their faces made it clear that they felt this love as well.
I even felt love for the birth father the day he visited. He had not been around through the entire pregnancy and had made motions to put a stop to the adoption at one point. Before she was born, all I felt for the birth father was hurt and anger. But when he walked in to the hospital room, there were no room for those feelings. I only felt love for him. Love that he was letting this adoption happen. Love that he cared for this beautiful baby girl enough to want to come to the hospital and meet her. Love that he was so respectful to the adoptive parents.
The day I signed the relinquishment papers was the day I felt the most pain. That pain, though, was only there because of the love. I was signing these papers because of how much I loved her. I had my mom and dad by my side and this beautiful perfect infant in my arms as I signed each line and heard those agonizing words being read out loud. I was overwhelmed by support and love as I left the hospital and continued to feel it throughout the proceeding childless days. The nights I couldn’t sleep because I wanted more than anything to cuddle or feed my sweet baby were still bearable because of the love I felt.
As the days and weeks went on, the pain became more and more apparent. Even though I still loved her just as much as the day she was born, the love and support from everyone around me began to fade. Not because they didn’t love or support me anymore, but simply because they had their own lives that they needed to focus on. They had others things they had to do, and I was the only one still focused on this.
It was around this time that I felt I needed a way to express my emotions. I needed an outlet for my feelings. I needed somewhere to write it all down, so I created a blog. As I used my blog as my outlet for pain, I was able to focus more on going back to school and on my future. The pain lessened significantly and things got better. I began dating again. Summer came and I was able to be a careless teenager again. I went out with friends every night and focused on trying to enjoy life. But as the leaves began to transition from green to orange, red, and yellow, as the air changed from hot to brisk and cool, as October drew closer, my emotions resurfaced and became unbearable.
When October 2009 finally arrived, I felt the emotions I felt then, but they were different. They lacked the support and love that I had felt so much back in 2008. They lacked the immense Spirit that I had with me in 2008 when she was born. I was left feeling nostalgic, but the pain and heartache were severe. Those feelings cloaked me like a blanket and I became depressed. This moment, one year after her birth, was when I realized just how difficult it was going to be.
This was when I really dove into finding good, effective, and healthy ways to cope. Some didn’t work, others worked significantly better than expected. Fast forward almost 8 years later, and I have been able to come up with a list of techniques and ways to cope every time the bittersweet month of October rolls around.
Talk About It
I am one that wears my emotions on my sleeve, so this technique was not a hard one for me. The moment I begin to feel that cool air on my face and my emotions beginning to change, I start talking about it. Whether it be with my husband, sister, aunt, or parents, I talk about it. I find that even just reminiscing and talking about my baby girl helps, sharing her milestones, her likes and dislikes, and her personality.
As the years have gone by, I find myself feeling less and less like I need to visit her all of the time. That doesn’t meant that it’s because I love her less, it only means that I’m feeling more at ease with everything. I know that she is where she needs to be. So when October comes around and I begin feeling that pain, I head on over for a visit. it’s always comforting and puts my emotions at ease. Visiting her always reminds me why I chose adoption for her in the first place. She is happy, healthy, thriving, and has everything I want for her and more.
Writing it Down
As I mentioned, I created a blog to help me with the pain initially. I created it just a couple of months after she was born and it was a saving grace. I was able to share my deepest feelings and emotions and it really helped me handle the pain and heartache healthily. I was able to figure out my real emotions when I wrote them down. I learned multiple times that if I was feeling a certain way, writing it down would help me not only organize my thoughts, but more often than not I would be able to determine the exact reason I was feeling so emotional. It was such an incredible way to heal and was an amazing opportunity to not only share my experiences but to also use that platform to educate others on adoption. I met so many incredible people through blogging and received massive amounts of support from all around the world.
Having a 3rd party to talk to that isn’t personally affected by your placement creates a different type of healing because they can see things from a different perspective. There are many religion-based agencies that offer free birth mother counseling, even if they do not necessarily provide adoption services. These include Bethany Christian Services and LDS Family Services. Counseling is something that I believe is helpful off and on for many years following the birth. New emotions, for me anyway, come up every year and it’s so much easier to express them when I have a third party there to listen and help me see things more clearly.
Going on Vacation
Taking a break from the other stresses in life can help you to sort through the emotions you are experiencing during your child’s birthday. When you don’t have work, school, kids, or whatever it is you stress about, you’ll have space to deal with the emotions of your child’s birthday. I have an aunt who took me to Hawaii a few weeks following the birth, and it was the most relaxing vacation filled with healing and SO much talking. It’s a trip that I will never forget.
When it all comes down to it, there is never going to be a way for you to completely avoid the emotions that come with your child’s birthday every year, but there are ways that you can deal with them that are healthy. It is vital that we make sure we are dealing with these struggles effectively because if we don’t, we can end up making negative choices to cover up these emotions, choices that could impact the future seriously and significantly.