Wednesday, February 29, 2012

belly pictures

I'm aware that there are certain things that many women do to acknowledge pregnancy. Especially a first pregnancy.

Some keep the pee stick. Others take belly shots monthly. Some write letters to their unborn child. And many frame ultrasound pictures.

My pee stick went in the trash. No monthly pictures happening over here. No letter writing. And ultrasound pics are somewhere deep in a drawer.

That said. I still am aware enough to know that in the future I will likely want to have certain things in my possession for this new baby. The most important pregnancy remembrance I desired were some tasteful and relaxed pictures of me and this belly.

No naked belly shots. No pictures of D with his arms around me. No hands on belly. And for sure no heart shaped fingers surrounding my belly button.

Please hear me when I say that there is nothing wrong with those pictures. They just aren't me.

I wanted pictures taken of me in a relaxed if I was having coffee with a friend and the images captured my part of the story. 

And that is exactly what I got. 

I have an amazingly talented and creative friend who understood the sort of pictures I wanted and actually would have been less then thrilled had I bared my belly. She captured me. A me that happened to be 6 months pregnant.

Thank you my dear friend for beautiful images that one day will be shared with my daughter. And thank you for a lovely afternoon that was just as much about our friendship as it was about me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

to celebrate pregnancy

The idea of what it means to celebrate pregnancy is a value. All who do become pregnant will experience this in different ways.

I come into this pregnancy with certain life circumstance that many pregnant women will never experience. I have a history of infertility. Never even once considered assisted reproductive technology. A history with adoption. And I was never pregnant (until now of course) no miscarriages etc.

Beyond what the end result of being pregnant was, I did not feel this great need to be pregnant. I did not feel less of a woman by not experiencing this rite of passage. I had difficulty dealing with those who were pregnant around me because I wanted what they would have at the end of 9 months. I seriously just wanted to be a mom.

I have also worked with pregnant women and babies for most of my career. I have seen and chatted with more pregnant women then I could ever begin to count. And I have held babies over and over again. To see a pregnant woman and baby at this point in my life are very common place. I don't gush over the bellies or babies. They just are what they are.

Also, the lack of high fives and ooing/awing over the belly is just who I am. I have never -- even before we started trying to conceive -- wanted to touch bellies or know all the intimate details about being pregnant. I have been genuinely interested in my friends and their pregnancies but still don't need to spend gobs of time on the topic. And never would I initiate a conversation with a stranger and their belly, unless we were already engaged in conversation and I felt it was appropriate.

I also approach this pregnancy as someone who spoke with a pregnant woman two years ago about potentially parenting her child, and then watched that same woman place her baby in my arms. I think about her pregnancy experience and that perhaps it was not one to celebrate. I think about her in the grocery store with her older daughter and a swollen belly and wonder what strangers may have said to her.

And I do think there is something different about a stranger making a curious comment about a due date when appropriate versus an acquaintance or friend saying "I thought you couldn't get pregnant" or making other assumptions without truly listening to what is felt by the woman at the time.

People worry that I'm missing out on some sort of feeling or experience during this pregnancy...something that they themselves may have felt during pregnancy. Again, what a pregnancy celebration means and looks like is a value. I don't need others to put their values about pregnancy on me. I am truly not concerned about my lack of celebration. I have yet to move into full acceptance of this pregnancy and the end result. Most of the time I still can't believe that I'm pregnant in the first place, and I know enough about myself to know that belief and acceptance will only come after birth. Once there really is a baby to care for and to love on. I am not concerned or worried that bonding and attachment won't happen. I'm just not sure how it will happen, and this again is different for every woman, no matter her pregnancy experience.

If those around me want to celebrate my pregnancy, go for it. Just don't try to make me feel like I have to follow suit or feel what they felt during the same experience.

In this blog space I am being completely honest about my emotions and process. And this may make people uncomfortable. I could perhaps ignore my own feelings and appear as though pregnancy and another child is now the best possible thing to happen to me and I wouldn't want it any other way. That may make those around me more comfortable, but I do know that I would be worse off for not feeling what I feel and being honest about the process.

After my father passed away and people didn't know what to say to me, I ended up saying things to help make them feel better and take them off the hook per say. Those moments were hard for me. I was in the depths of despair but took energy away from processing this loss in my life by caring for others. I'm certainly all for being a caring person -- and those who know me well know that I am not coldhearted -- but I was struggling with life and grieving and needed support. I didn't need full understanding because I am very aware that unless one has walked the road of similar grief it's difficult to empathize, but to just listen to my hurting heart and to be okay with where I was in that moment.

And today at 7 months pregnant I am okay with where I'm at. Contrary to popular belief, I do not sit around and constantly bemoan this pregnancy. At the same time I am still very real and authentic with where I'm at in this journey. I have done as much work processing my new life path as I can do right now. The next part which includes full acceptance and moving forward with love and joy will occur after birth. And I know the rest of my processing time will not happen immediately.

In the meantime, the words I write on this blog are but a glimpse into my current life state. It is mostly the hard stuff I've been thinking about that I write here. I don't write about preparing the baby room, or buying all the cute tiny pink clothes, or watching T hear the heartbeat. All these things are a part of my life as well, I just don't "celebrate" them in the same way as another pregnant woman would.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

ears to hear

A few of the comments to my post "I thought you couldn't get pregnant..." were of this nature, written by Anonymous*:

The content of the question is intrusive and can feel violating, but at its heart it would seem that it is friendly curiosity, or delighted astonishment...a chance to celebrate what to the other might seem a miracle. I think it's great to educate people to have them understand how they come across...but my hunch is that if you let them know how rude they seemed to you, they would be surprised as that would be the farthest from their intent...I wonder if it doesn't make sense to hear, "blah blah blah" and see the joy in their eyes and acknowledge the love therein.

This is not the first time others have let me know that most people aren't vindictive and mean well enough with their curious questions. I agree that many of the questions I get make sense when thinking about either our adoption or pregnancy situations.

However, that doesn't make it right or fair for people to ask the questions or make the comments.

Remember that I always have little ears with me who hear. Those ears will hear all comments and questions and will not be able to discern whether they were made in good will. It is those ears that are my first priority. It isn't just about me dealing with rude and inappropriate comments, it's about me always putting my child(ren) first.

While a comment directed towards my "miracle" pregnancy may seem benign enough to the average person, it speaks volumes to me and the little boy sitting beside me. They are comments that I will have to explain to him and then help him understand why people say the things they do. 

So. No. I can't completely acknowledge the love in the eyes of someone who makes comments related to adoption or pregnancy and see it as friendly curiosity, no matter how innocent it may be. I can't just give people the benefit of the doubt and I can't just let it go.

My role is that of mama bear. To know that my child(ren) have ears that will hear all. And then to be aware of constructive ways to deal with all comments and questions that protect my child(ren).

*Please know that I have no issue with people disagreeing with my take on things, but an anonymous comment is up for using how I desire.

Monday, February 6, 2012

the complication of bonding and attachment

In the adoption world we speak at great lengths about bonding and attachment. Most of us have at least one book on our shelves related to this topic.

When D and I became parents to baby T we were in shock. Two months after our hellish summer and knowing about T for three days we were now a mommy and daddy. It was surreal. It didn't take us long to fall in love with T, but it took me quite some time to bond and attach in that "I am your mommy" kind of way.

There are many experiences I was unable to have with T. I did not carry him for 9 months, I did not birth him, and I was not the first significant person to hold and welcome him into the world. I recognize that we have been blessed to experience parenting T since he was 2 days old...but none of those first few wee moments were ours to experience.

I will experience all these first moments with this new baby. All the parts of T's history that I wish were mine to share with him, will be mine to share with new baby. When T asks me about his womb and birth experience, I will essentially have nothing to say. When new baby asks, I will have much to share.

I sometimes wonder if some of my resistance to this pregnancy -- beyond the shock and real desire to have one child -- has to do with bonding and attachment. Perhaps my subconscious doesn't want to fully engage and experience what I was unable too with T. Perhaps fully acknowledging pregnancy and then birth will make me "less" of a mom to T. I struggled for a long time feeling that J had much more legitimate reason to claim the title of mom than I did because she did have that history with T.

I can hear your argument...of course you will never be anything but mom to T...this experience will never take any of your love, bonding, attachment, etc. away from him. This I all know and believe. However, what this blog space does for me is allow honest processing. And that is what this post is about. Being honest with myself and others about what is running through my head. To contemplate motherhood through adoption and then through birth has many layers and for me requires much intentional thought and processing.

I also acknowledge that if I am unable to experience some bonding or at least positive energy while pregnant, this baby will miss out. I choose to believe that, although faced with some tough decisions, J loved on T while he shared her womb and those first moments in the hospital when it was just the two of them. I pray and hope that someday T will be able to hear about that experience from J. If I can't share moments of love during pregnancy with new baby no one else will ever be able to fill in those shoes. This I know, but as I've said many times and will continue to say...I can't feel what I don't feel.

Lastly, I am also very aware that many women do not bond instantly with their newborn child. This can be a process and growing experience. So because of this, I am not concerned about my ambivalence towards this pregnancy and what might occur after birth in regards to bonding. I experienced ambivalence in my understanding of what it meant to become a mom in 3 days after signing a piece of paper. I worked through that time well enough to come out on the other side fully engaged and aware. I can do that again.