Monday, May 21, 2012

A Little Chinese

Over a year ago K was born and what a year it has been. As her birth mom's graduation from high school began to near, I tried to think of what to get her as a gift. I asked my husband and we could not come up with anything that we felt would be special enough. Then it came to my attention that over the past year, we have been able to share in so many memories with K and we should share more of those with others. I have a share site for K that we post pictures and milestones on, but I wanted K's birth mom to have something all her own. Something she could take to college with her and look at on days that were hard or days that she missed her family and friends. I remember having a few of those types of days in college and thought that K's cute little sweet face in pictures might just do the trick to make those long, hard days just a little bit easier. I took some of our favorite pictures from across the year and turned them into a book for her. I added special quotes about children and babies that I had found, as well as a few songs lyrics that relate to our unique situation. I had just finished K's baby book from her first year of life and so I used some of the ideas that I put in our own book into her birth mom's book as well. When it arrived in the mail, all bound together as a book, I could hardly wait to open the package. When I did, I realized what a difference a year makes! Never in a million years would I ever have thought that we would have the type of relationship with a birth family like we have. I remember when we first started talking about adoption, I didn't know if I could handle an open adoption. It just seemed odd and not realistic. It sounded painful and full of emotions. But over time, as I learned more about what an open adoption entailed, I figured out that any type of adoption would be painful for all involved and always would be full of emotions, so why not do what research says is best for children and have it be open? The number one question we get about adoption from people is if we ever see or talk to K's birth parents. You can see their faces change to a puzzled look when we tell them that yes, we see them every couple of months and we have been at some pretty major events together as one big extended family. I think some people think it's odd or weird, but to us it has become our new normal. Never, ever will I be sorry or apologize for forming a bond with them because the one who will really benefit from that relationship will be K. She will never have to wonder where she came from, if her birth parents loved her, and she will get to see that we were all there for the most important events in our family's lives, all together as one unit. I am proud to say that her birth mom and I have a bond. I know that things will change as we all grow and time passes, but I am happy to call her my friend. I don't expect people to understand that. I wouldn't have gotten it and really understood what it was like before our adoption either. I get why people are curious and I love to brag about K and her birth mom to anyone that will listen! When thinking about the past year and making the graduation gift, I remembered something interesting that happen almost a year ago. I don't really ever believe in those silly fortunes that come in the cookies at all Chinese places, but last summer we took K out to eat very early on after she was born. My fortune in my cookie that night said "The current year will bring you much happiness". I kept that little slip in my billfold all year and pulled it out on K's birthday to show to my husband. Pretty darn accurate if you ask me! The slip is a little dirty and worn, just like me, but still says the wonderful happy words that it did a year ago. Everytime I've had a bad day, I pull that little slip out and look at it to remind me of all good that has happened. Hopefully K's birth mom will use the book we made her in the very same way and she will have lots to smile about too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pumpkins & Peanuts

Why has it been 8 months since I have posted on this blog? Well too many reasons to explain here, but mostly because our little peanut has been keeping us quite busy.

Being the parent of a 9 month old is all I expected it to be and more. While most days I truly feel blessed for all that I have in my life, there are definitely days that I am exhausted and wonder what happened to my previous life. Where did the days go that I felt sure of myself and knew what each day would bring? What happened to the girl who had time to fix her hair and who didn't forget simple everyday things like mailing in the bills on time? I love being a mom so very much, but there is still part of me that wasn't quite prepared for the role and wasn't ready to give up adult Melissa to become mommy Melissa.

Our little pumpkin brings so much joy to our lives, something that we will forever be grateful for. She also brings a whole new aspect to things like not having any time to ourselves to just be a married couple or time to focus on our own adult lives. While it comes with the territory and we welcome all that comes with being a parent, part of us (or me at least) is sad to leave some things behind.

Leaving things behind seems to be the theme of many things in my life. I have such a hard time with it and it's something that just never gets any easier. When we decided to adopt, I was happy to have something positive to focus on. I didn't want to think about our failed IVF procedures anymore and was looking forward to having something happy come into our lives. When we met our birthfamily and everything seemed to click in place so naturally, it was a dream come true. We had been through so much at that point and the tide started to turn. I was ready to leave all the pain of infertility behind and move on.

Moving on is not always so easy though. Peanut is the best thing to happen to us and never once has our adopting her felt unnatural. It feels as though she is our child and belongs in our family. The past 9 months have just been plain magical and so much more than I would have ever expected. Pumpkin is such a joy, our relationship with our birthfamily has continued to be wonderful, and our family finally feels whole.

So now when the old feelings of grief and frustration about our infertility diagnosis creep up I feel super guilty. I thought I had let all of that go until everyone around me started to get pregnant AGAIN! As anyone that has dealt with infertility or has had trouble getting pregnant can tell you, there is this weird phenomenon that happens to you. Just as you are struggling with your feelings and emotions about all you are going through, suddenly everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) around you starts to announce they are pregnant.

Now that we have our little peanut, I don't mind as much when people tell me they are expecting a baby. I can finally share in their joy and all that is to come for them. I can finally relate to them and can sometimes even give baby advice. Lately though, I have found myself getting upset and emotional again when I am around the friends and coworkers that are currently pregnant. Discussions about ultrasounds, breastfeeding, babies kicking or moving around, etc. seem to be all that I hear. I try to focus on everything positive in my life and of course I feel so lucky to have been able to adopt, but once again, I find myself grieving the things that I did not get to experience with Pumpkin. I did not get to feel her kick inside me or bond with her while breastfeeding. I did not get to experience what it feels like to be in labor with her or feel what it's like to have your body change when a life is growing inside of you.

All of those things I hope to someday still experience, but I don't know that I ever will. Will I ever feel like I measure up to other moms and women in my life that did give birth to their own children? Probably not. Do I feel like less of a mom because we adopted and my friends and coworkers did not? Yes, every day. Do I think these are things that are normal to feel? Yes, but it still is very hard.

While many things in life are hard and I know that, one thing I know that is easy is loving our little peanut. While I may not have given birth to her and now have to deal with the feelings that come post adoption, that doesn't change how much I love her. I love her more than I ever thought humanly possible. She has changed my life and made it so much more meaningful. While I am still sad about what we went through on our journey to becoming parents, I honestly wouldn't change any of it because if I did then we wouldn't have Pumpkin in our life now.