A Reader Asks:

When are you due? Very soon, right?

I’m just past thirty-seven weeks pregnant; the baby could come at any time, although I bet I’ve got a couple of weeks. This is the first pregnancy for which I’ve seen an OB, and I am hating it—I am not offered information or a chance to make decisions, but am rather just sort of shuffled through the office and handed conclusions. Next week I’m taking in my list of preferences for the birth, and we’ll see how that goes. The doctor is a very nice man, no question, but the medical model for handling pregnancy just drives me right up the wall (but is all that my current insurance will cover, damn it). I’m in excellent health, my blood pressure is great, I have no swelling, and now I get to tell Dr. P that I don’t want an IV (group B strep negative represent!), I want to be able to eat and drink, I don’t want continuous monitoring, I want to be able to move around . . . we’ll see how it goes. The plan is for my mother to be with me in labor, and as a midlevel healthcare provider herself (and former childbirth instructor and birth coach), she’s a strong advocate. This will be my first hospital birth, and I am unable to muster anything more enthusiastic than grim resolve. Except for the baby part! Tomorrow we’re getting a dresser for the Possum’s tiny clothes, which I have been washing and folding all week. My hospital bag is mostly packed—more packed than it was for Joey’s birth, in fact—and we have some tiny diapers ready to go.

I can’t wait to meet this kid. It’s going to be awfully interesting to see how he’s different from Joey, and in what ways he’s similar—perhaps this one will like swaddling! And hats! . . . Or be colicky! And yes, it turns out that, as Dr. P put it: “[Mr. Book], you keep making the same things!” We had a name crisis, but have a good boy’s name picked out now and plenty of tiny blue things. This is our last child, we’re both quite sure, unless there is some kind of divine intervention. While I think I’m having the healthiest pregnancy so far (I’ve been healthy all three times, but really doing well this time), I’ve had an incredible amount of false labor, which I’m told only gets worst in subsequent pregnancies. It’s pretty miserable, and a reason that I’ve been much less present online than I’d like to be; I am spending much of my limited free time either in the bath or curled up on a couch, reassuring myself that this isn’t the real thing, just painful and pointless.

Joey, though, has come through a rough brain patch beautifully, and while more of a handful than ever (I sort of regret not getting a picture of the Kleenex Apocalypse from earlier today), we’re enjoying him a lot. He’s got such a sweet and basically easy-going personality that it’s hard not to worry about rolling the dice again. But oh, I know that it’s worth it.

That Holiday

Ruth and Nora call me on the day before Mother’s Day. And—I hate it. I hate “Birthmother’s Day” as understood by the adoption industry, I hate waiting for the call, and I feel awkward and sad when it’s over. So last week I sent Ruth a message asking her not to call, making it clear that if she or Cricket wants to call at any other time I’d be delighted to hear from them, but that I’d rather not talk on Mother’s Day weekend.

Ruth wrote back, said that that was no problem—and that if I feel like talking about why, I should. This doesn’t really happen; so I did.

Next Sunday, I’m pretty sure that at Mass, the priest will ask all the mothers to stand, and I’ll get to stand up with my huge belly and with Joey—I’m looking forward to it, in fact. The church is having a festival that weekend, and it seems very likely that we’ll end up going out to brunch, since my mother is a huge brunch fan and also a huge fan of Mother’s Day. I don’t know that I’d go as far as “huge fan” for myself, but I do like having a day or two to just celebrate being a mother. And while it can’t ever be quite that uncomplicated for me, I’d like to focus on the uncomplicated part for that holiday.

The adoption is sad for us, you know? It’s not sad that Cricket has you, or that you guys are family, but it’s sad for us that he isn’t with us, that the boys aren’t growing up together, and that we miss so much. That’s a grief that I signed up for, and I can carry it, but there are times when I don’t want to process it so actively—playing with Joey, or having Mother’s Day. And honestly, I’ve really come to dislike the idea of Birthmother’s Day as a way of cutting birthmothers off from access to Mother’s Day—not that you or any adoptive mom should have to take time out of her own Mother’s Day to make a call to her child’s biological family, but the segregation started to feel inappropriate to me awhile ago, and I’d rather just skip the Saturday (or go to Fiesta at Our Lady of the Assumption!) and have a Mother’s Day. Before Joey, I didn’t feel like a not-mother—I felt like a mother without a child. And as I say, it’s more complicated than it would be in the case of other women who feel themselves to exist in that category (women whose babies died, for example), because I can assume that my lost boy is doing well, and I’ve never doubted or minimized your parenthood—the nurturing parents. But I felt like a mother, not like a mother*.

No little girl dreams of growing up to place her child for adoption; it’s an important option, but it’s nothing to celebrate, from a birthparent’s point of view. It’s just the furthest thing from the stuff of holidays.

And I thanked her for asking, and sent wishes for her good health, and so on. I haven’t heard back, which is okay—she’s busy, and it’s not the least awkward thing to reply to. But I’m glad that I was able to talk about what’s going on for me, hopefully in a respectful and appropriate way, and I’m glad that she asked.