Sharing the News

Friday morning, I sat in the Wal-Mart parking lot, watching a little bird in an evergreen tree and telling my mother that we are expecting a girl. She said “Oh,” and then told me that the crew that cleaned their carpets hadn’t done a very good job. Only an hour earlier, I had told my husband that I wasn’t going to tell her for awhile, that I really wanted this to be the thing that would get her excited about the grandkid, and that I was worried that even this wouldn’t be enough to get her to emotionally invest.

Shortly after placing Cricket, I showed my mom some patterns for knitted Moses basket linings, and asked her if, when the time came, she would make one for her first raised grandchild—I told her that it was important to me, and she agreed. I brought it up again when I told her that I was pregnant with this little bird, and it’s taken me a few months to realize that it ain’t gonna happen. It’s a silly thing to get hung up on, of course, but a friend recently offered to knit something for the baby and I thought of it again. I had a Moses basket when I was a baby—does anyone do that anymore? Perhaps my mom is just embarrassed by how behind the times I am.

Several people have told me that everyone gets tested for STDs and drugs, and that I should maybe chill out a little. Fair enough: I was, I think, sensitized by a couple of other things that happened at the visit. One is a thing that has happened before—I tell them that I don’t smoke, they are politely skeptical, and then (in this case) the midwife listened to my lungs and said with obvious surprise, “Oh! You don’t smoke!” But the thing that put me most on my guard was a conversation that started when she asked whether I was still breastfeeding my firstborn. My general philosophy on this one is that if they’re going to be jerks about it, I need to know, so I just said “I actually placed my first child for adoption” in a neutral sort of way and waited. It was a bit awkward, but she didn’t seem hostile—just a bit flustered—and she did ask whether it was an open or a closed adoption. Guess I live in a pretty progressive area.

I look seriously pregnant now. I keep thinking about adding one of those dorky Lilypie tickers to the blog—shamefully, I have one on my home page. But at almost eighteen weeks, I definitely look more pregnant that I did at this point last time. I’m also having more back pain that I did last time, but some of that might be circumstantial; we have a futon but no bed, and I have no desk, so I sit or lie on the floor to use my computer. We are hoping to get a bed before the little bird is born, but we’ll have to see how things go.

I Did See

Well, I had the big appointment—blood drawn, apparently drug and STD tests (eyeroll! I get it, I’m a low-income pregnant lady. But wow, holy grim assumptions, Batman), peed in a cup, heard the heartbeat, got some delicious glucose to drink for next time, a referral for an ultrasound at the hospital and . . . a quickie ultrasound in the office. 😀 The midwife says that she’s 80 percent sure it’s a girl, and that “I certainly don’t see any sign of a penis or testicles.” She was also rocking out like crazy in utero, so I’m not nuts–I have been feeling her move. I really wish the Mister had been able to go along on this appointment; I’ve got to be sure to schedule the really official ultrasound for a time when he’s not working. When I was walking out of the office, I thought I’m going to have a daughter, and I was so excited that I started to cry. Then I realized that people might get the wrong impression from seeing a weeping pregnant lady, and I pulled myself together.

Appointed

Not much today because I’m trying to get out the door to a midwives’ appointment—I just finished a work assignment and am running a bit behind. But I wish that the Mister could come with me, as does he. Before he left for work this morning, my husband asked what will happen at the appointment today. “They’ll draw blood, I’ll get to hear the wah-wah noise, and probably they’ll feel me up.” Good times for sure.

What Are the Odds?

Many thanks to blog reader Gretchen for sending not only three gorgeous wraps but two swaddling blankets that her mother made for her. I can’t wait to explain to the little bird where all of these things came from, their history and the women who sent them.

Well, my husband won the bet (and chose a box of maple cream cookies from Trader Joe’s); I got an email from Ruth. It was thoughtful and careful and I suspect that she’s had a chance to talk to someone at the good agency in between that last email and this one (they’ve kept in touch with their social worker, who is apparently a gem). She mentioned that they might have to cancel the visit because of Nora’s work, and for whatever reason this left me able to genuinely say that we’ll find a time, and they should come when they can. Cricket has apparently started stringing two words together into sensible sentences, which scares the crap out of me—he is a little dude now, and not a baby at all. Maybe we’ll see in a week and a half. Maybe not.

But since they might still be coming (from the way she phrased it, it sounds like they are probably still coming), I need to figure out my connection homework. I am going to make graham crackers shaped like animal crackers and just put them out like bridge mix and let that be whatever it will be (I put out fruit and nuts last time they visited, so this isn’t totally out of nowhere in terms of the way we entertain), but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count—because if it does count, I’m going to be invested in whether he gets to eat one or not, and that’s not a good mental space for me to hang out in. My best idea so far isn’t a great one, but here it is: I pulled a toddler toy out of the hope chest and assembled it, and might try to play with the kid with that. It’s a little Fisher-Price fire station (I removed the batteries as my step one: silent toys, best toys), and it reminds me of a Fisher-Price garage they had at the church nursery where I worked as a kid. I also showed Mr. Book the toddler stuff I’d pulled together to entertain Cricket on the upcoming visit; he told me to tell the blog that he’s been playing with the ball.

In my response to Ruth’s email, I did give a couple of pregnancy updates, and put in a “I can stop this if you don’t want to hear it” kind of disclaimer (less gruff than that, I swear!). I don’t know. I usually chat a bit about whatever’s going on with us, and right now that includes a lot of pregnancy stuff. It’s the same sort of stuff I might put on Facebook: I felt movement, we won’t find out the sex for like a hundred years, we did hear a heartbeat. This is complicated, in part because the only examples I’ve seen of how to do it are either Dawn’s way (super close, crazy awesome, not really feasible here) or, well . . . what I talked about in that post on Sunday.

Hey, Little Bird

First off, many thanks to Meghann for approximately 100 pounds of baby clothes; I especially love the Pooh stuff. I actually bought a Pooh crib sheet in a moment of weakness some time ago, and while we’re obviously not going to be going with any kind of nursery theme, I really like classic Pooh. Thanks so much. =)

I think I’ve solved half of my homework! Not the half related to Cricket mind you—I showed my husband the crate of things to set out when and if he visits, and he said “You should play with him! That should be the thing! It’s pretty fun, after all.” I maintain that I need something more concrete and smaller: “Hand Cricket a spoon” or “Don’t flinch when Cricket gets within a foot of me.” But anyway, the progress was on the non-adoption assignment.

Over the weekend, I felt the little bird move. I decided that I wanted to feel more thrashing around, so I ate some ice cream (in my limited experience, cold + sugar = party in the womb!), and sure enough, the little headbanger really got going. And I felt that really big love, the thing I hadn’t felt since Cricket was still just a tiny sleepy newborn, and so I guess I’m not broken, and that I really am connected. And this time I won’t have to cut off that feeling—that’s basically magic. So I’m celebrating the fact that we can communicate now, the little bird and I—me with temperatures, mostly, and the bird with hitting. And later this year, we’ll expand our range; I’ll be able to communicate all sorts of things, and the bird will be able to cry or not cry, and then more and more options will be available.

Since that ice creamy movement, I’ve felt the little bird moving a lot. We could theoretically find out the gender now, but I don’t think we’ll end up getting an ultrasound for another few weeks, which is driving me a bit crazy. With Cricket, we found out at fifteen weeks, so this delay feels somewhat unfair.

Smash the Machine, Win a Prize

This is an angry post; I emailed a friend ranting about this, because I didn’t know whether it was appropriate to talk about it on the blog, but it’s my blog and I don’t want to have places I’m afraid to go herein. In my mind, that’s just a short distance from putting up ads for adoption agencies, and then the inevitable blog death.

There are some obvious problems with the adoption forum I read; recently they’ve started advertising for Sixteen and Pregnant (which I’m comfortable dismissing as exploitative and awful without ever having seen it) in the birthparent sections, for one. And then there was a thread titled “Birthmom is pg again…don’t know what to think,” and I read that and felt rage.  The OP’s child’s birthmother is experiencing a crisis pregnancy six months after the birth of the placed child, and called the adoption attorney who handled that adoption, asking the attorney for options and also asking her not to tell the OP. The attorney’s next call was to the OP, to let her know about the pregnancy/opportunity. Some birth/first mothers did jump in to point at that, wow, this wasn’t the most ethical of moves, and to her credit, the OP agreed (even if she then continued to work with the attorney and benefit from those unethical actions). And then most of the thread just made me want to pick up a hammer and go smash things. Here is my very favorite reply (I’ve cleaned up the grammar but otherwise left it intact):

I haven’t been through this, but I would feel the same as you. I mean, why has she not asked you?? Seriously, wouldn’t she want her bio children being raised together?? I assume my DS’s bmom would ask us first. I would probably say no. I hope to God I am never put in that position but still.

This one charms me at every turn. “How could she not ask me so that I could turn her down and then complain about the position she’d put me in?! God, how selfish of her to not make her crisis pregnancy about me.” —That last, in fact, was an uncomfortably common sentiment. And if this expectant mom who’s made an adoption plan in the past thought that biological ties were the most important thing, you, adoptive mother, wouldn’t be parenting her child, so maybe ease off a little on that particular self-interested point.

One poster mentioned that she’d been in a similar situation, and that she’d gone ahead and asked for the baby, and although her child’s birthmother is now unfortunately parenting this baby, amom has made it clear (to the parenting biological mother) that she’d be happy to take the baby at any time. But don’t worry, this thread has a happy ending: the OP decided to ask for the baby, and the expectant mom has agreed to place with her! Everyone The adoptive parent wins!

You know me, I have nothing against adoptive parents; I know some lovely ones, groovy and ethical people. But they aren’t the adoptive parents on these forums, saying “Wow, I hope she changes her mind and lets you adopt this baby.” It makes total sense to me that the OP would want to adopt the upcoming child under these circumstances, but the sense of entitlement they display makes me want to reach through the screen and shake people. Of course this is all more intense for me because I am in a position similar to that of the birthmom in the original post, and the wicked birthmother who parented—but I don’t think that Ruth and Nora get a vote as to what happens to this child, whether I were to parent, place him or her with another adoptive family, have an abortion,  let my family raise him or her, or send the kid to space to be parented by invisible lizards. They don’t have any claim on the little bird, and the fact that some adoptive parents seem to feel such a claim enrages me.

The Mom Thing

The other piece of homework I got, the not adoptiony part, was to find something about the pregnancy to celebrate and then celebrate it. I think I worried the SW a bit with how practical and catastrophe-focused I am when it comes to the pregnancy. She asked me what I think about when I picture being a mom, and I said that I imagine myself changing a diaper, and that it’s as surreal and inappropriate as me changing the diaper on a pig would be—I’m just not a mom. She asked a series of similar questions asking me to talk about the emotional part, and I kept not coming up with answers for that aspect of the mom thing. My husband is happy about the pregnancy—really, uncomplicatedly happy—and it’s like that’s given me permission to not be happy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy about the kid that’s coming, I’m happy about becoming a parent . . . but the pregnancy mostly just leaves me grim and resolved.

Funnily enough, there were things about the pregnancy that I enjoyed last time that so far I haven’t felt this time. After the initial shock and decision making last time, I really enjoyed the fact that my body was doing something well; it was the only time I can remember that I was comfortable with my body. And then my father told me that he was pretending that I wasn’t pregnant, and I got really morbidly self-conscious around him. I remember at one point, trying to push a stuck car free under his supervision when I was extremely pregnant, thinking, I don’t think this is how it’s supposed to go. I explained this to the SW, and she said “What about your mother?”

Oh yeah—my mother had a phantom pregnancy. She wanted to adopt the kid I was pregnant with, I turned her down, and then she decided that she was pregnant. She was forty-nine at the time and my parents have permanent birth control pretty well down as of twenty years ago, but she still spent a couple of months sure that she was going to have a baby. Altogether, it got pretty weird, even weirder than a pregnancy that ends in someone else’s parenthood has to be. When I talked to my mother on Sunday, she told me that “What [I] did last time really tainted [my parents’] becoming grandparents now.” That word has really stuck with me in a bad way.

Absolutely Crackers

First off, I’d like to belatedly thank blog reader Suzanne for sending a box of warm and lovely baby clothes. My personal favorite would have to be a snowsuit-y outfit with a polar bear on it. See, Mr. Book is Canadian, and spent years trying to convince me that in Toronto, polar bears pull rickshaws. I only wish that I trusted my skill enough to embroider a rickshaw on the front, next to the bear.

I’ve been getting some counseling from a social worker at Catholic Charities, and this week she gave me homework. There are two parts to it, one adoption-related and one not; the adoption-related part requires me to think of a way to connect with Cricket at this next visit—and then I think I’m supposed to actually do it. This came (I suspect) as a result of a rambling sort of rant on my part about feeding people and not being able to be able to feed Cricket and having the kind of house where there are often cookies or similar (at the moment, these buttery almond cookies that are just what I wanted). I don’t really have any good ideas—my best idea involved making graham crackers shaped like animal crackers and just leaving them around optimistically, and the Mister’s only suggestion was “Just play with him.” I need baby steps! I flinch when he comes too close to me!

The other night I told Mr. Book that I would be fine if the visit was just Ruth and Nora; it’s Cricket I dread seeing. It’s exactly the opposite for him, which seems more logical (although dread is too strong a feeling for him—he just doesn’t care about Cricket’s moms or enjoy their company). That’s a bit crazy, so I was talking about it with the SW, and now I have homework. She was trying to help me think of ways to reach out, and she asked me what I hope to get out of a direct relationship with Cricket, and I said “I don’t believe anymore that I’ll get any positive thing out of the relationship.” And I started to cry, and then I got it together, and added that I’m hoping to meet his needs, and that’s about it. And then I started to cry again when I tried to explain this to my husband in the car, and I got mascara on his sleeve.

Dates

Ruth put up a thirty-second video of Cricket on Facebook this weekend; he’s not walking like a baby anymore, instead totally confidently wandering around. I watched it, and I felt sad and for some reason angry, and I thought, Don’t come here. So clearly no hormonal problems here. Part of what’s going on, I suspect, is that it’s been two and a half weeks since I sent her that longish, explanatory email, and I haven’t heard anything back. Because my husband and I are wicked people, we actually placed bets on how long it would take her to write back, but she’s passed both those dates now (mine was Monday). We’re picking new ones—the winner gets to add something frivolous to the grocery list!

Part of the problem is surely in my head: I crave Sour Patch Kids, I threw up a few times, I got really upset about a documentary last night, and on Saturday I spent several minutes trying to unlock our mailbox. The hormones, they are affecting me. But it usually worse-case takes them two weeks to respond to an email, and now that we’re past that, I am feeling pretty grouchy. Facebook has been the opposite of helpful in this respect: I can see “Ruth is now friends with Tubby Stallone! (one hour ago)” and “Ruth likes Sandwiches without Borders (eight minutes ago)” and know that she is online, doing internet things, and not emailing me. She OF COURSE has a perfect right to spend her time as she pleases, whether that be on internet Sudoku or picking her nose, but right now I don’t know whether I believe in the June visit, and would like to hear something from them on the topic of me/us/them/him. Our visit was tentatively scheduled for the 26th—my new date for the bet with Mr. Book will be June 20. And if we don’t hear anything by then, I’ll assume the visit is cancelled.

I keep thinking that I should ask readers for movie recommendations, but I’m awfully picky and unpredictable; my loved ones have mostly given up. It’s worse than just knowing that I may hate whatever you picked—at least with the family and close friends, I feel compelled to explain to you why I hated it, not in a mean way, but in sort of an earnest, apologetic, detailed kind of way. And sometimes I want to have that conversation five or six times. But if anyone wants to risk it, here are three movies I love—Girl on the Bridge, 3 Iron, and The Five Obstructions—and three movies I hate—Harold and Maude, My Fair Lady, and Dead Poets Society.

Forecasting

Mr. Book and I have had a few conversations now about what to do if the pregnancy turns out to be abnormal. His position is fairly straightforward; he wants to parent regardless, and thinks we should have all reasonable testing done so that we can be prepared. However, he says that the final decision is mine, and he means it. Me, I’m having a tougher time deciding what to do.

There are two things holding me back. One is that I don’t know whether I’d be a good parent to a disabled child—I know what a cop-out that is, and that tragedy can strike at any time and then I am parenting a disabled child. I think that I’d rally, but lord, what if I ended up resenting the kid? Obviously there’d be a lot of therapy in my future. My mom would be kind of awful, I think, and I might have to protect the kid from the ghastly things she’d say (mostly not intending any harm). I guess in some ways I’m afraid of the ways that my life would change, in addition to the changes that every child brings.

The other thing I worry about is having a second child. I do want two kids, and Mr. Book appears pretty content with that idea, but I’ve read some adult siblings of disabled persons complaining bitterly online about how hard it is to grow up with a disabled brother or sister. Is it unfair to have another child? Of course, we’d also have to take into consideration the likelihood that we’d be parenting two disabled kids.

It is of course not especially likely that we’ll have to face these decisions, but I can’t let them go. I had always assumed (a great start to any sentence) that if I became pregnant with a damaged fetus, I’d have an abortion. I don’t think that abortion is murder, but I am realizing that if I have one, I’m going to feel like a murderer. I’m not sure where this comes from, but I can tell you that my father is anti-choice. My mother things that abortion is wrong, but told me once that there was a time in her life when she might have needed and would have had one, and so she doesn’t think that choice should be taken away from women already facing a difficult decision. (That probably should have clued me in that she was a better person than my teenage self could see.) And right now I can’t get past the idea that either decision will be the wrong one, and I think I’m doing that terrified pregnant lady thing, but it’s a worry I can’t let go of. I started to steam clean the carpets and then immediately ran out of cleaner (boy, it goes a lot faster than you’d think!), and seeing the horrifying black liquid that had come out of our floor made me worry that the baby will end up with diphtheria. I know this is something like that, but I can’t let go of either one, so it’s not a helpful knowledge.