Birthmother’s Perspective: My “Why”
The first year is a roller coaster of emotions. The post-pregnancy hormones and emotions are intense. For me, there was a tremendous feeling of relief. I understand that can be misconstrued so let me try to clarify. The relief wasn’t from the absence of the baby. Not at all. It was a relief from the physical exhaustion and discomfort my body was experiencing due to the pregnancy. It was a relief from the stress of the entire process leading up to the signing of the papers. It was a relief from the constant agonizing over whether I could actually place my baby or if I even wanted to. All of that physical, emotional, and mental stress cleared out and made room for new feelings to arrive.
Instead of feeling the physical discomfort of pregnancy, I felt a physical loss of the baby connected to me. The constant agonizing over my decision turned into mental exhaustion and worry that my baby felt abandoned by me.
One question that I get asked often is “Do you regret your decision?” You would think that emotional roller coaster would leave every birth mom with that thought but it wasn’t a worry of mine. I knew beforehand that I would experience loss and grief and I was prepared for it, but I still had many worries and thoughts that I wasn’t expecting.
The first year after placing my daughter, I never knew what to expect. When I thought I would be depressed after seeing pictures of my daughter, I would feel overjoyed and excited that I got them. When I expected the sight of a mother holding her infant to send me barreling down into depression, it wouldn’t. At other times, emotional triggers would jump out of the blue and I would find myself struggling with anger and discontent.
The funny thing about grief is that you really don’t know how it is going to affect you and how you are going to react to it.
I remember one day I was having lunch with a new friend from work and we started talking about kids and I told her that I had placed my daughter for adoption. She looked at me with sadness and concern that was sincere, and she said “I can’t imagine what that would be like. You are a very selfless person to do that.” She followed that with a story about losing her 2-year-old daughter in a car accident and she told me that she could never place a baby for adoption – that it would be harder than losing her child to death.
Honestly, I was parenting 3 older children when I placed my daughter for adoption and the loss of one of those children, for me, would have been so much harder than the loss I experienced in adoption.
But her statement left me thinking about how people cope with different types of loss. How they push themselves to move on and find purpose in life. Depression can pull people down to a place that looks like it has no outlet. We can get lost in there. But like my friend, I had a desire to live life and enjoy it.
So, I kept pushing through the emotional roller coaster and when I felt sad, I cried. When I felt angry, I journaled. I went to therapy and really took in the information that I was given. I received emotional support and love. I reminded myself constantly that if my situation was different, I would have chosen to parent her – but my situation was not different. It was exactly as it was, and I made the choice that felt right.
It wasn’t an easy choice. It wasn’t the ideal or preferred choice. But in my life, at that time, it was the choice that was right.
The first year after was difficult, but I had to remember why. It’s 10 years later now, and my “why” is a constant reminder of what I am doing today. It is my motivation to push forward and make me into someone that I hope she will be proud of.