Sarah asks:

Maybe this is a terribly inappropriate question, and if so, I’m sorry. You mentioned Mr. Book’s favoring of abortion as the primary reason you chose to place Cricket. Once realizing this, did you have feelings of anger and resentment at Mr. Book? Does he regret even suggestion abortion?  But more importantly than that (because I imagine the answer to those questions is probably yes), how did you two deal with that and manage to strengthen your marriage and come out on the other side happy together? Because you do seem that way — happy together, and happy with Joey, and I hope that’s the case. Take care, Susie.

In fact, I mostly felt guilty; Mr. Book had every reason to think that I would be making a call to Planned Parenthood as soon as I saw the second line on that pregnancy test. Then I felt panicky—the fact that our preferences were so far apart left me unsure of what the right answer was—so I chose the option that neither of us preferred. (In my defense, it didn’t sound as stupid as that in my head.) That seemed like the only way to compromise.

Mr. Book does not regret suggesting abortion, but he does not regret that the abortion did not occur—he still thinks that terminating the pregnancy was our most sensible option, but loves Cricket and could never wish for his undoing.

—I actually typed that up without consulting my husband, and then decided that I should let him actually weigh in. He says that he still thinks that it was our best option at the time, but that knowing what he knows now, he would do things differently.

Losing Cricket was certainly the hardest thing that’s ever happened in our relationship, but we had already been through some tough times; a couple of years before Cricket was born, I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt that was part of more than a decade of on-and-off major depression. Losing Cricket was worse by a mile, no question, but we have had some experience in putting our heads down and pulling together (which is fortunate, because as you may have heard, we’re living with my parents now. Turns out that can be rough on a son-in-law). Finding people I could talk to about adoption helped, reconciling myself to the fact that I chose adoption helped—but mostly, my husband’s willingness to wait and see whether I would come back to him emotionally saved us.

Maybe my history of depression helped; I had many years of therapy and grim, productive introspection under my belt before we lost Cricket, which gave me a jumping-off point to do more of the same work after our boy was gone. It took awhile, though, before I could start processing: first I apparently needed to spend six months feeling as though I was in a race to see whether I would lose my mind or lay down and die first, then I had to spend a few months enraged at the Mister for not stopping me from placing Cricket. Clearly, I’m not the model you want to use—and yet we are together still. Maybe if you place a child together, it’s just going to be awful for awhile between you.

This is the part that I feel most conflicted about writing down where people can see it: Having Joey was healing. I swear by all that is good and holy that there was and is no thought of replacing Cricket. At the same time, having Joey ended our tenure as a childless mother and father—we are now privileged to nurture one of our kids, which is such a blessing that I feel it like a physical thing. We still miss Cricket, and Joey has sharpened some parts of that; it is more clear every day just how much we have given up. But most of our day-to-day is focused on Joey, now, and that’s been great. Even the poop and the teething are pretty great.

Caring, Sharing

When I mention my sister, I’m talking about Kate; in fact, I have two sisters: Kate and Tammy. We’re all pretty different from one another, which I guess is what can happen when you grow up in competition, but Kate and I are close. When my mother once told me what each of us has going for us, she said that Tammy is beautiful, Kate is hard-working, and I…I have good posture. It’s true; Tammy is absolutely lovely, and she’s charming. My parents talk about how she was a people pleaser from day one, and say that I have never cared what other people think. They’re wrong about that. I think the difference is that she’s a people pleaser and I’m a pessimistic people pleaser—I believe that I’m completely incapable of pleasing anyone, so I don’t act as though it’s a priority. But Tammy pleases people just by walking into the room. Our family stories about her revolve around how funny and charming she can be; my personal favorite involves our maternal grandmother saying something inappropriate and offensive to her, and Tammy pausing a moment before laughing a bright, self-conscious, artificial laugh. We all broke up. I can be funny, but it’s a very different humor from hers, and I do not crack up the room.

Another way of contrasting the two of us is that Tammy has had two abortions, and I’ve done one adoption. We’ve both said that if we get unexpectedly pregnant again, we’re going to parent. She thinks that she did the right thing, but she’s haunted somewhat by what happened—she told me once that the man who had gotten her pregnant both times asked whether she ever thought about the abortions. “Only when I see a baby, or a pregnant woman, or kids, or a doctor, or parenting magazines, or a hospital. Or a knife.” We’re both pro-choice, we both think that we made the best decisions we knew how, and we both grieve the decisions we made.

Tammy and I don’t really talk. We’ve never had a formal falling out or anything like that—we’re warm when we do meet—but I think our estrangement started when I planned my adoption. That was when I found out that she’d had two abortions, not just one—that was when she said that she thought that my decision was better, but that she wasn’t strong enough to make it. We haven’t talked about it since. In fact, I don’t think we’ve had a real conversation since. She left a comment on my Facebook page, saying of pictures of Cricket that “these are making me want a baby. not okay.”

I often regret my decision to place, but thinking about Tammy makes it more complicated for me. I could have had an abortion, but when I got pregnant, I found out that I am not a person who can do that. I could have parented—that’s the one that I brood about. But it’s worth remembering that a crisis pregnancy has no ideal resolution. It’s a difficult situation, and while you dutifully try to make lemonade, it starts hard and stays hard. Maybe—someday—it will be easier. In the meantime, while I think about the adoption whenever I see a child, I don’t have to think about Cricket whenever I see a knife.