August 19, 2010 12:08 pm – The day my life changed, forever.
I am asleep in my studio apartment, which is only big enough to hold my bed (a futon) and my tv. My best friend is sleeping beside me. At 5:00am I am suddenly awoken; my water has broken. We rush around the room grabbing towels and changing clothes. We race to her car and start out on our 2 hour drive to the hospital. I call my doctor to let him know we are on the way.
My story is not unlike many others. Girl meets boy, girl falls for boy, girl gets pregnant, boy leaves girl. Although my story of my son’s birthfather can only be compared to one found in a Lifetime movie, this story is not about him. Everyone makes their own choices; and for one reason or another he made his.
The day I found out I was pregnant was full of mixed emotions. I found myself asking questions like, “How did I get myself here” and “where do I go now” Pregnancy is something that had never entered my mind let alone the options that go along with an unplanned pregnancy. While I am pro-choice, abortion did not feel right in my heart. That left me with two options: raise him myself, or place him for adoption.
The months passed and my belly grew. These months were a whirlwind of emotion: equal parts pain and joy, weakness and strength, fear and bravery, despair and hope. I desperately wanted to keep my son, but I was alone, broken and scared. I was barely supporting myself; how could I support a child?
As I went to meetings to gather information on programs to help single parents, I was also learning about the world of adoption (which scared me more than anything). My insecurities were crushing me. I was so wrong about the type of person his father was, how could I possibly be sure the couple I chose to be his parents would indeed be good people. I struggled with this for MONTHS. Every profile I came across I found something, usually small, to deter me.
Then I discovered my guardian angel. Although I’d known him my entire life, I never knew the impact this man would make. I moved back to Iowa and decided the only doctor I wanted to help me through this was the man who delivered me as a baby; the man who had been my doctor my entire life. Little did I know, this decision would drastically change the course of my journey.
A few weeks before my due date, my doctor mentioned a family he knew looking to adopt and asked if I would like to see their profile. I reluctantly said, “yes”, but knew I would feel the same as the previous profiles. The following week I came back for my weekly appointment and my doctor handed me their profile. As I looked through it, I realized something was different about them. Maybe I was just comforted by the fact that my doctor knew them or maybe it was something else entirely but I couldn’t find anything that made me feel uneasy about them, trust me I tried.
I wish I could tell you I remember the day I met them with such extraordinary detail that you could feel like you were sitting there with us. Was it sunny? What was I wearing? None of this I can tell you; however, I do remember the look in their eyes and the love they had for each other. The way they beamed when talking about the son they already had and how comfortable I felt with them. Somehow after only meeting them once I knew they were supposed to be my sons parents.
And then he was born. A beautiful big eyed baby boy. Everything about him was perfect. The first time I handed Wilhelm to his parents I puffed up with pride and my eyes filled with tears. I could see how much they loved him already and that comforted me. They respected my short time in the hospital with him and only visited shortly during the days. I clung to those 72 hours for dear life.
Three days…...72 hours….. That is the amount of time you are allowed to stay at the hospital and that is the amount of time I was allowed to stay with my son. For three precious days I was his mom and he was my son and for me, for those three days, that was how it was going to be.
The next few days were a blur. I wanted to soak up every ounce of him while I could. I smiled from ear to ear showing him off to all his visitors, but could only bare to let them hold him for a few minutes before I wanted him back. It was selfish but I didn’t care. In between my smiles, I often cried. Mostly silent tears. I wanted him to feel my happiness for him and make sure he felt my love. I did not want him to feel my sadness but the tears would sneak back into my eyes and for brief moments, I could not control the sadness that would take over.
On the third day my world stopped. As I handed him to his adoptive parents and watched them walk out the door, it’s weird to say, I felt such joy for him but I also felt an undeniable pain so powerful, so crippling. I collapsed to the floor. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. All I could do was cry. In an instant my world turned dark and empty. When you love someone unconditionally, you do what is best for them, not yourself. It was hardest lesson I have ever learned. I loved him enough to choose life for him but I had to love him even more to give him a life he deserved.
I spent the next week sleeping. My heart hurt so badly, I often hoped I would fall asleep and my broken heart would not allow me to wake again. My family respected my silence. I had to feel my heart break in order to piece it back together. I have never felt so empty or alone. It physically hurt to not be able to hold him. When I finally left my home I walked down the street- it was so beautiful it hurt. I passed strangers who smiled at me unknowing of the trauma I had just gone through and at that moment, I realized how tough this was going to be. I had just went through childbirth, but no one would know by looking at me. I had a beautiful baby boy who I was proud of and I loved more than anything and no one would know. Everywhere I went, I was constantly reminded that I didn’t get to hold my newborn or see his face, and no one would know. I was going through a pain so immense but so invisible to the outside world and no one knew.
The next few years were difficult. Along my path of healing, I discovered who I wanted to become. I found myself in being broken down and my son saved my life. He made me take a path that inevitably shaped who I am today. It’s been six years and I am still healing and it’s been a long road traveled to get to a place where I am finally at peace with myself and I like who I am becoming.
I still grieve the loss of my son but my heart is full. Although I am not with him every day, he still knows who I am. I am blessed to have found such an amazing family who shares their love of him with me and allows me to be a part of his life. I am blessed to have felt a grief so strong it can drive you to your knees and still come away with a love so strong it keeps you moving forward. Even through all of this pain, I gained more than I lost and I am blessed to be a mother, to be Wilhelm’s mothers.