Sunday, November 16, 2008

Heavy Heart

It's a down day here on the roller coaster of my life. Not one of the steep plunges, but a pretty-good-sized dip.

Here's the thing: W's sperm was zapped by radiation following cancer. He was 28. I was 25. We'd been trying to have kids since the minister pronounced us "man and wife." (I was too naive to ask for the equality of "husband and wife." Not that it would have mattered much.)

W got well. We signed up for adoption and began waiting. I filled the time by having every test or procedure known to medical science. I charted my temperature before raising my head from the pillow every morning, took fertility drugs, had my insides reamed out with rotary blades. Had artificial insemination. 

Whatever I might have imagined about conceiving a child, it was not that. No love. No joy. No warmth. Especially no warmth. For one January cycle, my own beloved doctor was out of town, but the temperature chart said it was time so one of his colleagues was doing the honors. I was lying on the exam table covered by a paper sheet, feet in stirrups, legs spread wide. The doctor came in, looked out the windows, turned around and walked back out. The nurses followed.

For 45 minutes I laid there like a Thanksgiving turkey waiting to be stuffed, splayed naked and covered with goosepimples. The doctor returned and got to work without a word. When he reached into my insides, I recoiled. His hands inside me were the single coldest thing I have ever felt. The nurse grabbed my arm to keep me from falling off the table.

"Sorry," he said. "When I came in before, I saw that one of my tires was flat. It's 20 below out there. Darn cold day to be changing a tire, I tell you."

Writing this, I feel like the Saturday Night Live skit--Really? You left me there like that to change a tire? Really? Really? And I didn't walk out or at least protest? Really?

But I was 26 years old and alone in that place, negotiating the rapids 500 miles from my family with a husband whose ego was too fragile to acknowledge the rough waters, let alone help me steer the raft.

I got pregnant that cycle but miscarried a little more than three months later. Three days after the loss, even before the D&C that was required, W came home from work and found me crying. He stormed out ("You act like you're the only person this ever happened to, Jerri!") and did not come home for two days. I never cried about it in front of him again.

Evan arrived three years later and then Katie after five more: my dreams come true. And all this time I have believed them to be the children God intended for me all along. The signs seemed unmistakable: Evan was born on my birthday and Katie on her grandmother's, the one for whom she is named.

Now, reading books on adoption and reunion, I am told over and over that one mother cannot replace another, just as adopted children cannot fill the void of infertility. I did not set out to replace a mother, simply to be a mother. But according to a book often referred to as the "bible on adoption," separation from one's natural mother—even in early infancy—creates a wound that can never be healed.
My children were relinquished before I knew of their existence. I had no hand in separating them from their families of origin. Or, so I have always believed. Now I'm finding many who believe that by participating in the adoption system, infertile couples drive a demand, create a market for babies.

Perhaps for once, the answer is to stop reading. I cannot change history, cannot make us anything other than what we are—imperfect human beings, doing the imperfect best we can.

I'm trying to believe—just this once—that my best will be good enough. It has to be. It's all I've got.


mamatulip said...

Oh, Jerri. ((hugs))

It's good enough. And so are you.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Nothing more sacred/complicated/primal than the pull towards motherhood. Love, love and more love as you move through all the layers.

Michelle O'Neil said...

I don't know much about it, but it seems to me the babies will keep arriving. Would it be better if there were no "market" for them?

And BTW, W can suck it. And so can that doctor.

carrie said...

Jerri -- is it possible you are giving this "make a market" idea credence because you are vulnerable? It seems patently absurd that a woman up against the wall, having no alternative but to put her child up for adoption, would be swayed in any given direction by a "market." If there were any way to keep them, market or no, they would. Good lord.

Your best is your compassion and empathy and a whole lot more, and it is more than good enough, you are driving a healing, here. You are truly "a light in the world" in your loving approach to this reunion. As to the "primal wound," it may be true that it is the case, but you have been the healing agent in this, and continue to be so, in your loving actions. Every adopted child should have a mother like you.

Holding you in my thoughts and prayers.

luckyzmom said...

I suggest you stop reading things that make you feel bad about yourself. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Doesn't mean we all agree. I'm not agreeing and you shouldn't either.

PS I just posted twice after a really long hiatus.

Amber said...

Gosh, you know, my Aunt read that book-- Primal Wound, right? And she started feeling the same way, as if SHE as a mother who adopted helped to cause that wound. And that is crap. PURE CRAP.

Yes, we humans are complicated, emotional beings. Does a baby feel a loss from being separated from a birth mother? Probably yes. I tend to think, how can they not? BUT, is it better than they have no life at all? I would think being aborted would hurt even more...JMO.

Yes, it may be a wound that they need to deal with...But we ALL have wounds. We are ALL hurt. It is part of life! The bottom line is, there is no "market" being made. There are unwanted children, there are children women may want, but can't keep, there are children who are better off with someone else. And there always WILL be. And some of them are LUCKY enough to be adopted by people like you, and my Aunt Dene.

Stop it now.