Fears About Motherhood As An Adoptee
A little over one year ago (near the end of December), I began to suspect that I was pregnant. The twins were about 7 months old at the time. And because we adopted them, I didn't know the first thing about being pregnant.
Even though I've watched my friends through their pregnancies, for most, it wasn't their first, and pregnancy seemed to come naturally to them. They might talk about having trouble swallowing their vitamins or the pain of varicose veins. We'd laugh about cravings and mood swings. But my role was always helper - I never really pictured myself in their shoes.
Even when my sister and I were little, she would "pretend" pregnancy and I'd be playing doctor or building a crib for the baby. I loved playing mommy and taking my babies to the store or teaching them their lessons, but pregnancy was never really on my radar.
Over the next few weeks, I started to think about what it meant that I was now pregnant. Suddenly, I realized I was terrified.
A mother and her child
I remember the first time I learned that what the mother does during her pregnancy affects the baby in her womb. I was at a foster parenting class with my parents and they were preparing us for the different kinds of trauma children can experience. Besides substance abuse and physical abuse in the womb, they explained that even stress can affect the unborn baby, as cortisol passes from the mother to the child.
When I learned that, everything suddenly fell into place. Over and over again I'd been told by teachers, doctors, friends to "stop stressing out." I didn't know I was ... and being told to stop didn't mean I knew how to. I'd learned that when she was pregnant with me, my birth mother hid it from her family until close to delivery. I didn't realize that this could, and probably did, affect me ... can you imagine the stress she must have gone through?
The thought of my own pregnancy, of caring for and nurturing a baby inside of me, scared me - what if I ended up hurting my child? And on a deeper level - would I be able to love him/her? I was more than prepared to love a child in need ... multiple children in fact. But if the woman connected to me by blood didn't want me ... could I love a baby conceived inside of me?
Perhaps it sounds a little foolish. The logical side of me was quick to point that out. I even reminded myself that most people wonder if they can love a child who doesn't have their DNA, not the other way around. But after talking it out with Matt, I realized I wasn't being completely idiotic. For one thing, I'd carried this fear with me since I was a child and never spoken about it with anyone. It had never been dealt with or argued against, so there wasn't a great deal of maturity behind it. And two, the separation of mother and child is one of the most unnatural things in this life to happen. It's not surprising that it would be woven into my fears.
Sadly, the baby miscarried in early January and I experienced grief and physical pain in a way I never expected. However, I was thankful for my twins and prayed God would lift the depression for their sakes - so I could be the mother I needed to be for them. I was also thankful for the experience. I would never have had to tackle that fear or share it with Matt if it hadn't happened.
One Year Later
A week into this new year, I started having pregnancy symptoms. Almost immediately, I remembered the fears I'd struggled through a year ago. But praise God, it was a completely different experience this time around.
Even though I knew there was a high probability we would miscarry, I was excited at the thought of being pregnant and having a baby. I was happy for the twins too - they have shown a lot of interest in "babies" (though I still think of them as my babies) and I can imagine them being the best of big sisters. I decided that no matter what happened, I wanted to enjoy every minute.
My fears had consumed my whole pregnancy the last time (the little of it there was) and it wasn't until after the miscarriage that I had even realized there was a little one inside of me.
We miscarried again a little over a week ago.
Emotionally and physically it was painful. At one point I even had a sit-down with Matt to carefully go over everything he should do to care for the girls if anything were to happen to me. (I think a miscarriage is one of the closest experiences women have to their own death, so it makes us more aware of our mortality ... and for me, I felt the urgency to know that my family would be able to carry on and thrive even without me.)
In spite of the pain, I was glad that I hadn't spent those weeks being afraid. Instead, I'd rejoiced at thought of a little one forming inside of me and anticipated welcoming a baby into our family.
For my daughters
It's taken a couple tries to write this out, but I'm glad this will be here to share with my daughters someday. It was shortly after the first miscarriage that I decided to blog on Steemit. I realized there was so much that I wanted my girls to know - about the joys we've shared and the challenges I've had as an adoptee mother of adoptive children.
I hope they don't have the same fears ... or at least won't leave them buried as long as I did ... but I want them to know that we shouldn't run from painful experiences, even when they show us the fears inside of us and take us to hard places. Not only will those experiences help us appreciate the happy times, but they can also help us conquer our fear ... and find joy in the midst of suffering.