For one reason or another, pregnancy seems to invite conversation from strangers, whether invited or univited by the pregnant woman. If you've ever been in this situation, you may have felt a kind of dread when in public, you catch a stranger gleaming at your growing belly, ready to snap the hundreds of questions to which answers they somehow feel entitled. This usually is not an uncomfortable situation for me. I am as open of a book as they come. A little too much so for most, I harbor no clear barrier for privacy, and I welcome closeness with almost anybody. But that made this situation all the more difficult for me.
For example, standing in line at the grocery store, a sweet elderly lady (it's always the grandmother aged ladies, amiright? They can NOT resist the temptation to impart their wisdom) will ask all the normal questions "boy or girl?", or "when are you due? Oh, that's lovely, my daughter is due the month after" or some sort like that. Where it gets tricky for me is, what I've learned about most of the public is, they want to be satisfied with short, sweet answers, so they can go about their day and wistfully daydream some well wishes towards that "sweet, glowing mother" they met at the store. So it's difficult because as birthmothers, our answers are never short and sweet. Our stories are not expected, our lives are not simple. In fact, it's all quite the opposite, and depending on what time of day it is in our ever changing emotional cycle, those simple questions could tailspin us directly into a full fledged cry fest in our car, with our groceries still in the cart next to us (not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything). So being the ever honest and open being that I am, I try to stick to direct answers, and I try to smile. "Late August, early September" and "it's a girl". And after eyeing my super cute almost 3 year old son in the front of the cart, with delight, they'd always exclaim "oh how wonderful, you get one of each!"
I can barely even type that statement without getting teary eyed. If only I could be so lucky. If only I had chosen career over men in my early years, if only I'd not followed my stupid heart down the wrong path too many times, if only I were financially stable enough... If only I had the capacity to keep at least one of my two precious daughters.
So I read people. Most who ask these questions don't have the time or interest to hear my entire sob story (as it inevitably becomes a literal story with sobbing) so I brace myself with the strongest, most brave smile I can muster and reply "yep, one of each". But once in a while, I have a chance meeting with a stranger who I read as genuinely interested, and with relief, I impart most of the truth of the story, politely holding it together as best as I can. The reply going something like this "well, actually, I'm happily placing this one into an open adoption. When I was pregnant with my son, life was going very well and I had many possibilities in front of me for personal success, as well as overall success for my family. Due to unfortunate circumstances surrounding my current financial and relationship status, it's in the best interest of this unborn girl, and the best interest of myself and my son, to place this child into a loving home with two paren ts who are settled and stable enough to raise this child properly." And with such well-intent, the question that almost always follows "well, won't it be hard to give one up after already experiencing the joy of having one of your own?" And my reply, with such hopeful optimism "it actually won't be as hard as you'd imagine. This will be my second time going through this. My first child was a girl I placed for adoption 11 years ago when I was fresh out of high school. It's an open adoption and I still maintain a great relationship with her and the adoptive mother to this day. It's a beautiful blessing, and I'm happy to provide that happiness again to a new family."
Saying all this out loud was therapeutic for me. And I really believed it. What I didn't account for was something I'd always kind of known but never applied to my own experience. Every pregnancy, every relationship between mother and child, every relationship, open or closed, with the adoptive parents, is different. For very different reasons, I never experienced that deep emotional depression that is named "postpartum depression" after giving birth to either of my first two. So when anyone, friends, family, or strangers asked if I expected to go through it, or kindly asked how I was preparing myself for it, I'd shrug it off. I'm tough. I've been through this before. I'll be just fine. Little did I know...
So now, a few weeks out from that day, August 29th, 2016, the day I delivered my third and final child, a perfect little girl, I feel myself crushed by the immense weight of postpartum depression. I find myself consumed by this helpless feeling of bottomless emptiness, this aching sorrow. One piece of comfort cuts through the grief; she is safe and loved right now in the arms of her adoptive family. For this, my gratitude will be unending, and I am sure that peace will find me soon.