Missing Pieces

Growing up, I always knew I was adopted. There was never any real pain, or strong emotion connected to my status as an adoptee. I mean, of course, there were the underlying abandonment issues, but I didnt really understand those feelings, or where they came from until I was older. In high school, I worried my best friends would find new best friends, so I’d push and push and push to see how much they could take. In college and beyond, I worried my boyfriends would leave me, so I left them before they had the chance. But that’s really a topic worthy of it’s own blog post.

I had so much love at home, and my family was amazing, but I always felt like I was missing something.  From the outside, it is hard for anyone to understand why it would matter, but I missed having a blood relative.  I had my family, but I was still alone.  I looked enough like the rest of my family to “pass” and nobody would ever even guess I was adopted, but I always yearned to have a biological connection. I couldn’t wait until I had a child of my own to finally have someone who was a part of me. Someone I shared DNA with.

Then, I got pregnant.

I knew I was pregnant, right away. I also knew, with 100% certainty, that I was having a girl. It was the most incredible  feeling, knowing I’d have finally have that blood connection.

I’d wanted to be a mother for as long as I could remember. It was really the only thing I was ever completely sure of in my life. I wanted to be a mom. And I embraced my pregnancy, and while I didn’t love being pregnant, I LOVED the idea of being a mother.

I wondered every day about my biological mother. What was pregnancy like for her?  I could only imagine how difficult it must have been for her, knowing she wouldn’t leave the hospital with me. Even if it was the best decision for her, even if she was confident in her choice, even if she did not want to be a mom, after carrying a baby for 9 months, letting them go has got to be impossibly difficult.

I felt sad that she had missed out on my entire life. I wondered if she ever had any other children. If she ever WANTED children at all. I also felt so blessed that I would have a child. A daughter. And I swore that I’d never miss out on any part of her life.

When I went into labor I felt nothing but excitement and joy.  I don’t remember even feeling nervous, I just couldn’t wait to meet my daughter. MY DAUGHTER. My Blood.

Once in the hospital though, things changed. From the very beginning, our plans went off the rails when the triage doctor felt that my blood pressure was “Too high” and they’d need to induce me, without discussing my options with me.

As a first timer, I trusted the doctors. What did I know?  They were the experts. I didn’t think my blood pressure was high, I didn’t want to be induced, but they were the experts.

Things continued to go wrong. My epidural didn’t work. Nobody believed me. My pain level was intolerable. Nobody listened to me. I screamed. I cried. I begged for it all to just stop. Just make it stop. Please.

I dug deep, I summoned every ounce of strength I had in me, and I pushed that baby out. Four pushes. I tore my body apart to get that baby out of me. Just get it out.

That Baby.

It.

Not my daughter. Not my precious girl. Not Avery. Just a baby. Just it.

They put that baby on my chest, a moment I expected to be the most beautiful perfect moment. A moment I had played over in my head a thousand times. The moment I met my daughter. My Blood.

I looked at that baby and in that moment, the only  thing I could think was “Thank God this is over. The pain is over”

The trauma of her birth destroyed me. It destroyed what should have been the greatest moment of my life. The trauma stole the bonding experience from me and set in motion years of depression and anxiety.

When I’ve shared my story, the response is often “But you had a healthy baby, that’s all that matters”  And yes, she was healthy, perfectly healthy. But that is not all that matters. A healthy baby does not always mean a healthy mom. Because of my birth experience, I was not a healthy mom. Far from it. And my healthy baby deserved a healthy mom.

I needed things to go right. I needed to have that amazing, miraculous bonding experience with my daughter…my blood. I didn’t get that. And it crushed me.

I know there is so much more to my story, and why I suffered from postpartum depression, anxiety and PTSD, but I know that my being adopted played a very significant role, just as it has played a significant role in ALL of my relationships.

Of course, I did love her. I love her so deeply. And I did everything I could to be the perfect mother for her. From torturing myself physically and emotionally in trying to breastfeed. Something that I now know, was never an option for me. I lost sleep with worry about her safety. I was on fire with the thought of her being sick, or being hurt, or something terrible happening to her, all day, every day. And again I felt alone.

I felt that nobody could possibly understand the way I was feeling. My husband couldn’t, He’d obviously never had a child before. My mom couldn’t, her experience as an adoptive mom was so different from mine. My friends couldn’t, even the ones who had kids wouldn’t understand my experience as an adoptee.  Again, I was alone.

With time, I let people in. I got beyond my fears, the anxiety started to let go, and eventually the happy days outnumbered the very very hard ones.

I often feel guilty that Avery’s life started off with trauma. I know that my start at life wounded me on a very deep and primal level, and I am sad to think of her feeling the impact of that. But I also know that neither of  those wounds, those traumas, are my fault. And I know that my love for Avery, and the bond we have can heal any wound.

5 comments

  1. Autumn | It's Autumn's Life says:

    Wow Sarah! A good friend of mine from high school is adopted and I know it was hard for him. There are so many deep issues related to that and it is really hard for people to understand. I know you love Avery more than life for sure. I also want to be a mother very badly. A traumatic birth experience is really a hard thing – anyone would suffer especially from the experience that you had!
    Autumn | It’s Autumn’s Life recently posted…Inspired Korea in IndianaMy Profile

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  2. Jen says:

    Sarah, I’m so glad to hear you tell your story and to get the word out there that post-partum depression and/or anxiety and PTSD exist! If I may, there is a local social worker, Karen R. Kleiman, who provides treatment to those going through what your experience was like. Please take it out if you’d like (no offense taken if you do!), but she has written many books which can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Karen-R.-Kleiman/e/B001ILHFVM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1451507640&sr=8-1 . This is not an ad for her (I’ve never met her), but rather a resource for those who need it. Your post and the others you’ve written must be helping hundreds of women realize that they aren’t “crazy” but that this can be a normal part of pregnancy and birthing, as well as parenting for some women. While I can’t relate to your experiences. I can hear in your posts the longing for a blood connection and the abandonment issues (I can relate to those!) and can only say that your post is bound to be far-reaching and letting women know that it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. I admire your bravery, dear friend.

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