Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I am average looking, with two adorable toe-headed boys. I am college-educated, reared with Midwest-family values. I shop at Nordstrom, Target and HEB. I live in a nice house. I have a wonderful husband. I get to stay at home with my kids. We go to storytimes, church, ballgames, restaurants and music festivals just like any other Austin parents.
I am also a birthmother.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this particular title could or would ever be attached to my name. I spent my teens and much of my early 20s holding onto my virginity like a badge of honor. When my dad got sick, I could no longer remember why I was hanging on to this badge and in a weak moment, decided I wasn't getting married anytime soon. When the birthmother word first came into my lexicon, I had just spent 4 years working my way up the ladder working as a TV producer, and had decided that I wanted to get out of TV and move to Chicago to be closer to my grandparents. I was dating a guy pretty seriously and he followed me to Chicago from North Carolina where we met. I was having a tough time finding a PR job in Chicago, but rooming with a friend's sister and working as a bartender part-time.
Wham. All of a sudden I couldn't remember when I had gotten my last period. I was never horribly organized about it in that way of a normal 25 year-old. Was it recently? Since I had no job, I wasn't seeing an OB regularly. Hmmm, maybe I'll walk across the street to get a pregnancy test from CVS. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was like a slow sequence from an after-school special that I never envisioned myself in. It was positive. My boyfriend at the time freaked out. Since we had been dating for a while, I thought he'd get down on one knee immediately, but he wasn't sure.
There are flagship moments in one's life where the line defining before and after is vivid. There was the line defining the phone call when my parents told me my dad had terminal cancer. Before that line, I was innocent. After that line, an adult. This time the line came from that pregnancy test. Before that line, I was a normal, if not slightly less sexually active 20-something. Now, I was either going to be an abortionist, a single parent or a birthmother. I couldn't believe I had been so stupid to let something like this happen to me. I had graduated from college! Gotten good grades! Up until now, I hadn't done anything (well, besides trying to have a party in high school) to make my parents anything but proud of me. Now, I had messed up my life big time and nice girls in this country just don't do that.
To return to the story, things got complicated with the boyfriend and we started fighting all the time. I had to tell my recently-widowed mother on the phone that her firstborn, previously non-trouble causing daughter was in fact, knocked up with no plans to wed. It was fall in Chicago, dark and cold already. Mom encouraged me to move to Austin and move in with her. Sunny and warm and filled with family love sounded good to me who was cold, lonely and hopeless in Chicago, so I came home, tail between my legs. Actually, that is an exaggeration. I was completely broken. I couldn't believe I had been so stupid.
The decision to place my child for adoption was not an easy one. It is something that I struggle with to this day. I knew that my heart and soul couldn't handle having an abortion. After having a dad who was amazing as mine was, I just couldn't see how I was going to make being a single parent work on my own at 26. I knew that my family would help me, but at that time, I had a sister in high school, a mom working a full-time teaching job and a brother in college. My heart just kept coming back to the fact that I couldn't see raising a child on my own. So I called an adoption agency. And found an amazing family who mirrored the life that I wanted for my child. It happened in a blur. My family was amazingly supportive of my decision. It was physically and emotionally the most painful thing in my life. I could go on about how it felt to hold my baby in the hospital. I could go on about how it felt to leave the hospital without him, but it's really hard for me to go there. It was like tearing my own heart out. The weeks and months following were extremely painful. It still hurts me to think about so I'm not going to get into that now.
Although it was horrible and painful like no pain I have felt before or since, I have to tell you, blog reader, that whereas I wonder and worry about my birthson feeling abandoned and that I didn't want him, I felt God's Holy Spirit guiding me through this process. When I thought about raising this child on my own, I felt confused. When I met the family who would adopt my child, I felt a strange peace like some cosmic thing pulling me in that direction. I must tell you that this family has not let me down. The first year, they sent me no less than 10 letters with thousands of pictures of my birthson, chronicalling every smile, coo, expression and milestone. To this day, they always remember me on his birthday, my birthday, Christmas and Mother's Day. Every letter I receive is at least eight pages long. I have so many pictures of him that I don't know how to store all of them. And, I must say that my birthson is having a pretty incredible life.
Not a day passes that I don't think about him and pray for him. More than anything, I pray that he doesn't feel abandoned. Realistically, I know that as wonderful as his parents are, it is very normal for adopted children to feel unwanted and I hate this. Even I don't have the words to explain why I did what I did. It is a complicated situation. You may read this and judge me and I suppose that is fair. All I can say is that I made my decision with prayer, with my heart broken in a million pieces and based on faith. Faith in God and faith in this family that I chose. I pray that I made the right decision.
Why am I writing this, now, eight years later?
1. Being a birthmother and talking about being one are rare things in this country. If you've happened upon my blog and saw that I had labeled myself a birthmother, I want you to know that you can be okay if you consider the adoption-alternative. It is not the easiest road, but you can be okay.
2. Without this happening to me, I would have never met my wonderful amazing husband, nor had the life that I do now. My life is amazingly blessed. I would have been MISERABLE getting married to my son's birthfather. Miserable! Dear God, as horrible and hard as this was for me thank you thank you THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES FOR MICHAEL!!!!!! I got relocated to Austin, a city that I love (sometimes not so much when it's 100 degrees for 100 plus days, but I digress). My brother, sister and mom are all here. I met Michael, about a year after this happened and he loves me, sometimes more than I deserve. And, now we have the boys. I get to be the mom that I wanted to be with my birthson. I hope that I make all of my kids proud.
For the record, this might be something new you are reading about me. I don't consider this part of my life a big secret that is not to be discussed. It is part of who I am. I will talk about it openly and blog about it. It is not my favorite topic, as there are so many hurts attached, but I am okay with it eight years later.
I have a picture in my room of my birthson and JM asked me about it one time. I told him that it was a picture of a very special boy who also grew in mama's tummy, who is his half-brother. He looked at me like I was nuts and went back to playing with his garbage truck. I pray someday when he and Noah can understand, that I will have the right words.
3. I hope these words serve a purpose for whomever is reading them, now, whether it be trusting in God's plan for your life, hope for your future, consideration of a birthmother role, or likewise. Peace!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
As I grow please . . .
Understand that I am growing up and changing very fast.
It must be difficult to keep pace with me, but please try.
Listen to me and give me brief, clear answers to my questions.
Then I will keep sharing my thoughts and feelings.
Reward me for telling the truth.
Then I am not frightened into lying.
Tell me when you make mistakes and what you learned from them.
Then I can accept that I am OK, even when I blunder.
Pay attention to me, and spend time with me.
Then I can believe that I am important and worthwhile.
Do the things you want me to do.
Then I have a good positive model.
Trust and respect me.
Even though I am smaller than you, I have feelings and needs just like you.
Compliment and appreciate me.
Then I'll feel good, and I'll want to continue to please you.
Help me explore my unique interests, talents, and potential.
In order for me to be happy, I need to be me, and not someone you want me to be.
Be an individual and create your own happiness.
Then you can teach me the same, and I can live a happy, successful and fulfilling life.
Thank you for hearing me.
I Love You.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I covered up his sleeping body with the blankets, looked gently at his sweet face lost in dreamland, kissed him and said, "I love you, sweet boy."
Much to my surprise, he responded in a muffled, sleepy voice, "I love you, too."
Do you go in and look at your sleeping children or did you, if they are grown? It is one of the best parts of my day. This was the first time I actually got a response!
Monday, August 22, 2011
Last week I was totally gangbusters on the idea. We went out to the park there one morning and I chatted with a nice stay at home mom about how much she loves it. We went through a few houses and found one we liked, but not enough to put an offer in, so were feeling hopeful we'd find something out there.
Then, we went back on Saturday night. Mike thought we should go to their community back to school picnic and see what it would be like if we lived there, which was a great idea.
Although I loved seeing JM have a blast with the other gazillion kids, seeing the sense of community including the high school drill team and band and getting an overall sense of life out there, I had recently watched an episode of Oprah Season 25 Behind the Scenes where one of the producers was talking about the importance of trusting your gut. And, my gut says a big no to Steiner Ranch. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but whereas it seems a utopia with so many amenities and beautiful, to boot, it just seems far in both proximity and in mindset from our current life in the Austin I know. I love the idea of the kids and having a bigger house, but I don't love it enough to want Michael to have to sit in traffic for 45 minutes to get there twice a day (versus his current commute of 15 minutes). Having a media room would be nice, but I'm just not feeling it.
So we’re back to square one on the house hunt. Sigh. Our realtor is going to think we are nuts. She is trying so hard to make us happy and help us find something. I have no idea if other people are as all over the board as we are in their househunting. I hope so. This is definitely a process for us. I'm willing to be patient and praying for direction. And, whereas I am tired of not having any kids around here during the week for JM to play with, it wouldn't be the worst to stay here for a while.
Anyway, we had a lot of fun this weekend.
We drove down to my mom’s and celebrated Art’s birthday. Seeing the boys play piano with cousin Madeleine reminded me of playing the piano for hours on end with my cousins at my grandparents’ house in Chicago.
We took the boys to Mike's work event at the Round Rock Express game. They loved their first baseball game, especially going in the bounce houses before the game, then conning strangers into giving them cotton candy. For the record, it was about 108 degrees when the game started at 6pm. Standing outside waiting for JM to go down the slide was like standing on the surface of the sun.
Today we are catching up and getting back to normal. I'm starting to think that my boys think that with every outing we get to eat hot dogs and red velvet cake and go on giant waterslides, rock walls and bounce houses. They got spoiled this weekend!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
My life has changed.
This week Noah started dropping his morning naps, rendering JM and I free as birds to do whatever we please in the morning hours for the first time in hmm, a year. A year!
This morning we looked at the kiddie calendar of events and saw that they had a storytime and petting zoo at our awesome, independent downtown local bookstore, BookPeople. Apparently, about 50 other moms also looked at the same calendar, because it was both literally and figuratively, a zoo.
It was fun, though. My boys were too squirrelly to listen to the story, but we did pet a chinchilla. Hopefully, we'll still go downtown and do fun stuff like storytime if we move to Steiner Ranch.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
2. Noah is primarily walking these days!
3. We had a good day with Noah yesterday for the first time in what seems like 3 weeks. He has been SO cranky and miserable. Coincidentally, his upper molar broke through totally on the one side and is almost there on the the other side. I swear I've been keeping the Motrin company in business. Poor little guy. Also coincidentally, John Michael has been especially fun and helpful these days. I feel like he's growing up a little bit all of a sudden (sniff). Thank you, God, for only giving me one grumpy kid at a time!
4. Still obsessing about moving and researching different neighborhoods. We had dinner with our friends who live in Steiner Ranch the other night . She is a really cool mom to 4 boys and if she likes it, then it makes me consider it a little more. I will admit all those amenities are appealing. It's kid heaven out there! They have a boat dock, playscapes everywhere, tons of "secret sidewalks" (nod to my siblings), neighborhood sports, 3 blue ribbon elementary schools. I could go on. Anyway, to you non-Austinites, Steiner is a huge development, suburbia on crack, about 25 minutes from downtown in good traffic and close to the lake.
5. How did it get to be mid-August! JM starts school in two weeks! Remember during our childhood when summer lasted so long?
6. Sit and stand strollers! I mentioned this in a prev post, but all last school year when taking JM to the classroom, I had Noah in a cheapy umbrella stroller and JM would walk and I wound up lugging his lunchbox and water and trying to hold hands and juggle everything. 2 people in our playgroup got the Joovy Ultralite Caboose and my eyes were opened. Now when taking JM to school, I'll put my purse, his lunchbox and water , not to mention both boys in the stroller so I'm not walking around like some crazy pack horse! Who knew?
7. I spent two blissful hours watching Bachelor Pad last night and I'm pretty sure I lost some brain cells doing it, but I love the people they got for this season. Crazy Michelle from Brad Womack's 2nd season! Ames from the most recent one! Love Ames. And, then of course, there's Vienna and Jake. I love Mondays.
8. I want our kids to have both a magical childhood, as well as a spiritual one. Hence, I just ordered The Creative Family and Small Steps for Catholic Moms from Amazon. (see, I read, too!). For the record, I don't mean magical, like Harry Potter, but magical, like doing fun things out of the ordinary. My mom-mentor, Betsy, reco'd the Soule Mama blog I have in my sidebar and this book. Soule Mama is really hippy-dippy and natural and whereas, I don't think I'll be taking up knitting any time soon, I'd love to be more creative like her family. JM is so not interested in doing any art, but I want to try to do more! Maybe it'll inspire him. And, the Small Steps was recommended to me (based on my other selections, you know :) and sounds interesting!
9. After this, I will be cramming about 8 months worth of pictures that I managed to get printed (yay) into albums. I've been meaning to do this for a few months now. Who am I kidding, I probably will not do it. Does anyone besides me hate putting pictures away?
10. It was a good 100 degrees, but last night when I was making dinner, JM wanted to play in the sandbox and Noah wanted to be out there, too. Does anyone have an effective technique for de-sanding kids? We put the "mud" in mudroom around here.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Just returned from heaven on earth.... 2 days in Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park and 6 days in Crested Butte. It was such a great vacation! I was worried that traveling with the boys, it would be more of a trip than a vacation, but it was such a nice balance of together time and alone time. I miss our little bubble in Crested Butte already!
Rocky Mountain Highs
Great plane ride there. JM LOVED it (like daddy, like son)
My new sit-and-stand stroller, the Joovy Ultra Light Caboose! Why, why have I gone this long without this stroller? I love it!
Weather in the 60s and70s
Listening to the rushing stream at night
Hammock laying at night in Estes Park
Rocky Mtn National Park, so gorgeous
Lots of parks for the boys and us
Everywhere you look= mountains
Beer tastes better in the mountains
Cutest cabin in Crested Butte (not big but perfect location!)
Live music in the park and on the mountain in Crested Butte on Mondays and Wednesdays
Walked everywhere in CB (2 blocks to coffee shop, 3 blocks to grocery, 3 blocks to library, 2 blocks to city park, 1 block to main street, 1 block to Catholic church)
2 nights out with babysitter, one day to go mtn biking
Picnic lunch at Rocky Mtn and also Lake Irwin in CB
Naps every day
Great food, including amazing pizza and thai
Stars at night
Horseback riding (MB)
Massage- 90 minutes!!! (MB)
Flowers everywhere- wild and planted
Spending time together
Rocky Mountain Lows
Horrible dinner out at fancy Italian place in EP. Noah screaming. JM running around without shoes and also causing a scene. We paid with a credit card, but should have used cash.
Noah waking at 5am every day
Noah getting his molars and being generally not himself and cranky
Getting stuck in the rain and on all uphill trail mountain biking
Plane ride from hell with tired, screaming and destructive/grabby Noah on way home, read longest one hour and 45 minutes of our lives, as well as everyone else's on plane