Monday, September 5, 2016

This is my Birthright.

My first pregnancy, I planned for a medicated birth.  In the situation I was in, labor pain was the last thing I wanted to deal with.  Not to mention, I was terrified.  There is so much fear and horror surrounding birth.  But then I actually had Brightyn, and I was surprised nobody told me how amazing and beautiful it was. So when I found out I was pregnant again, I knew this time I would plan for an unmedicated birth.  I wanted to feel birth in its full glory.  I read everything I could about birth, I listened to birth stories, I practiced breathing, we practiced labor massage and counter pressure, we took a Lamaze class. 

Everyone said I was crazy, but the more they told me I couldn't do it, the more I knew I could.  When I was about 34 weeks pregnant, I brought it up to my family doctor (whom I was planning on to deliver my baby).  He laughed, and said I shouldn't close off the epidural as an option because some women don't handle labor pain well.  I was kind of annoyed, and embarrassed because I felt like he thought that my desire to experience birth was stupid.  Over the next few weeks, with lots of talks between my husband and I, and encouragement from family, I decided to switch providers to someone who would be supportive of my birthing choices.  At 36 weeks pregnant, I switched to the Valley OB Midwives, and finally I felt prepared for the birth of my little boy.

I started having prodromal labor on February 7th, for the first time at least (about 36 weeks and 3 days).  It was the Super Bowl and Bruce and I were going over to some friends’ house to watch the game.  Bruce was freaking out because I was having uncomfortable contractions all morning, about 5 minutes apart and a minute long.  I knew it was too soon for real labor, but I could feel them working my cervix.  By afternoon, I was exhausted. They weren't painful, but they took a lot of energy. They eventually fizzled out, but this happened several times over the course of the next month, which is why when I went into real labor, I wasn’t sure.

I chose not to have my cervix checked until 39 weeks, which at that point was mostly just for curiosity.  I knew it wouldn't affect when I actually went into labor. I was 4 cm and 60% effaced, so the prelabor was definitely doing something.  I set my next appointment for a week out, in hopes I wouldn't make it....

But a little over a week later, at 40 weeks and 1 day, on March 4th, there I was in the office.  I hadn't even had any prelabor the last few days, and I was ready to go.  I had been spent all week trying to get my baby in the best positioning in hopes it would trigger labor.  I was 5 cm dilated and 90% effaced, so I chose to have my membranes swept, which is where the midwife uses her finger to detach the wall of the amniotic sac from the cervix to help trigger labor.  She did it, but said it was mostly detached anyways.  The midwife said if I start having any painful contractions to go into the hospital, it probably wouldn't be a long labor.  Bruce and I went to walk around Cabela's and then got Chubby’s for lunch and went home for a nap.  Nothing happened. At all. No cramping, no contractions, no nothing.  I had predicted weeks before that our baby would be born March 5th, and even that was seeming unlikely.

I slept comfortably and deeply until about 4 when I got up to go to the bathroom. Soon enough I started having very mild contractions, but didn't want to get my hopes up, so I just tried to sleep.  They became pretty regular, so I timed them.  They were 5-7 minutes apart and about a minute long.  They started growing in intensity, but were still not terribly painful, no more so than previous prodromal labor I had.  I could still walk and talk through contractions, so I knew it could be a while still.  Around 6 am, I started losing a lot of mucous plug and decided to wake Bruce up.  I sat next to the bed and gently tried to rouse him, he woke up and stormed off to the bathroom, came back to bed and crawled back in grumpily.  I say "Uhm, honey, I think we should call the midwife..." He was wide awake immediately, and when I told him what was happening he was like "Yeah, we need to leave now."  He took a quick shower and we packed up the car and by the time we were leaving the house at 6:30, I could no longer walk or talk through contractions, but felt totally fine in between.  I would just breathe deeply and relax.  We had a fifteen minute drive to the hospital, which was fairly uncomfortable during contractions and I was praying my water didn't break in the car.  We parked and walked in- I insisted on walking in order to keep the baby moving down. I would have to stop and lean on Bruce during contractions, and then we would keep walking.  The receptionist began to check us in, and while I thought I was fine to stop and answer questions there, Bruce asked them to get us to a room quickly.

She sent us up to labor and delivery, where I was admitted immediately.  We requested a room with a bathtub, and Bruce got that going since I knew I would want to get in as soon as I could.  The nurse then checked my dilation, I was at a 7.  Then they hooked me up for 20 minutes of monitoring before I got in the tub.  While I was getting monitored, I had a very strong contraction where I felt a small amount of fluid leak down my leg, so I said I thought my water broke, but there wasn't a whole lot of fluid so I wasn't sure.  Finally, my 20 minutes was over, so I went over to the bathroom.  About the time I walked in, I got very nauseous so I walked over to the toilet, bent slightly at my waist, and vomited in the direction of the bowl. I think half made it in.

I rinsed my mouth and climbed into the tub.  This is when things started getting more intense and closer together, and I got into my "labor zone".  I kneeled on the floor of the tub and rested my elbows on the bench and breathed through each contraction.  I focused on continuing to breathe, even at the peak of contractions, relaxing and embracing the sensations of the waves.  I trusted in my body, and let it do its work.  Contractions are intense, but for me it was not unbearable as long as I opened myself to the waves instead of tensing up.  I chanted to myself when they got hard, when my mind wanted to fight the pain, but I stayed in control, repeating over and over to myself "This is my birthright."  I don’t know why that phrase popped into my head, I hadn’t planned on that being part of my mantra, but it stuck with me.  For me it meant “I am a woman, my body is designed for this.  I am here because thousands of women before me have done this.  I can do this.” 

The contractions got closer together, with less than 30 seconds from the end of one to the start of another.  I knew I was in transition at full force, I knew this meant the end was near.  I started getting a "pushy feeling" and tried to relax and just breathe the baby down for a few contractions.  My body wasn't having any of this and the urge to push overtook and my whole body pushed along with the contraction.  The midwife then helped me get out of the tub, since this hospital didn't allow water deliveries.  I knelt on the bed, since that position felt really good in the tub, but it was so much more intense and difficult without the water to help hold up my body and warmth to ease my tired muscles.  My body was pushing again, and the contractions never really ended, just increased and decreased in intensity.  It was so strong, and overwhelming, and slightly terrifying to be honest.  I had never felt my body do anything like this before.  I yelled along with a contraction, unsure of how to handle everything I was feeling all at the same time, it felt like I was losing focus.  I concentrated on not fighting my body, letting it do what it knew it needed to do.  My midwife suggested I lay on my side because I wasn't pushing effectively in the position I was in.  I switched positions and tried to breathe for a contraction, but my body pushed whether I wanted to or not.

I vocalized (read: grunted/yelled) with every push.  It wasn't necessarily out of pain or fear, but it was a natural reflex to the intensity and strength required of me in those moments.  I realized I could feel my baby in the canal.  I could feel him move down with every push, and then back up again when I released.  This made it much easier to make my pushes more effective, and I started not releasing completely to try to hold him in place.  It started working, and I felt the "ring of fire" as he began crowning.  I was ready to be done, I was exhausted from pushing, it felt like it had been forever (though it had probably only been 15 minutes or so).  I reached down, and I could feel his little head! I could feel just a couple of inches of soft slimy hair, and all I could think was “GET OUT.”

I pushed some more, I don't know how many times, but finally his head was born in a geyser of amniotic fluid as my water broke at the same time.  Bruce had to dodge it, and there was water everywhere.  That is when Ronan decided he didn't want to be born, and just hung out a minute.  I pushed again.  And again.  And then the midwife realized something wasn't quite right and started giving orders.  A nurse replaced Bruce where he was standing and they pushed my legs back as far as possible, another nurse began pushing on my stomach, and my midwife was trying to turn Ronan to get his shoulders unstuck from behind my pelvic bone.  A little over a minute later, his body was born at 8:12 am.

And suddenly, there was no more pain. It was the weirdest thing, like all the craziness just turned off.  But man was I exhausted.  Four hours of labor, and I was DONE. I don't know how some women do it longer than that.  Ronan was laid on my chest for a moment, but since there was potential trauma and shock from the shoulder dystocia, the nurses had to take him pretty quick and give him some oxygen.  I relaxed for a minute, finally getting a chance to breathe deep breaths, when a crampy, slightly pushy feeling started up again.  My body was trying to birth the placenta now.  It came out easily in a few minutes, but it's such a weird sensation.  Like a balloon full of jelly exiting my body.  The midwife made sure it was intact, and then checked if I had tears.  One small tear, and that was it.  She did a small local injection of anesthesia, and started stitching me up. 

I finally got my baby around the time she finished cleaning me up.  I was so excited.  I thought I might cry when I had Ronan, but I didn't until later.  I was still on the hormone high from the delivery right then, but later, when things had settled down, I would cry because I didn't believe it was all real.  I had my baby.  MY BABY.  That I got to cuddle and kiss and never let go.  It was surreal.  It still is.  After nearly five years of arms aching to love on a little squish, I had mine.

It’s a bit of a cliché in the birthing community, but yes, my birth did make me feel empowered.  I feel stronger for it, and not just because I dealt with painful contractions for a few hours.  Throughout my pregnancy and birth, I learned patience, I learned to stand up for my convictions and desires, I learned to trust my own instincts.  No matter how a woman becomes a mother, it is never an easy path, and it is that way for a reason.  In a world that tries to downplay birth, motherhood, and what it means to be a woman, I felt powerful in doing exactly what I feel I am meant to do.  Because this is my birthright. 



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Birthmothers Unite!

I wrote this blog 6 months ago and never finished or posted it.

"So, I am recently realizing that I am terrified of other birthmothers. I always find myself beginning to read other birthmother's blogs, and just a few posts in, I leave the page and then avoid birthmother blogs for months. One thing I was excited about when I moved to Provo was that there were a lot more people here, and probably more birthmothers too. I hoped a birthmother support group so badly, yet, I've lived here for 6 months and not once called the number I have to find out when the group meets. So, in spite of my love of adoption, why do I avoid other peoples adoptions so fervently?

I have only ever met one other birthmother (that I was aware of) in real life. Her name is Liz, and I met her when I was about 6 months pregnant. One Sunday, I decided to go to the Student Branch at my church, and the lesson in Relief Society was on Chastity. That started out as an awkward lesson, with obviously pregnant me sitting in the room, but it turned out to be a blessing. The teacher talked about all the normal things concerning chastity, but then Liz talked about how when she was 17 she got pregnant and placed her baby for adoption. My mind was blown, because at that point I had just started seriously considering adoption. I think now that Heavenly Father had a hand in me ending up in a different classroom than I normally was, because if I hadn't been there, I would have never found out that Liz was a birthmother. After class, I asked Liz for her number and if she would be willing to have lunch with me sometime and talk.

That phone number sat, unused, in my phone until a week before I was due (about 3 months). I wonder why I waited so long to talk to Liz, because by that point, I had already made my decision. I think maybe it was because I didn't want her adoption and experiences to influence my decision. I wanted to make an unbiased, completely true decision based on my beliefs and circumstances. So a week before I was due, I finally texted Liz and we met for lunch. "

Liz ended up becoming a fantastic friend to me and I love her to death this this day.  But she doesn't live in Provo :(.  So finally, last Friday I called the phone number from the LDS Family Services office in Provo and found out the time and meeting place for the Birthparent Support Group. And that is where I spent my evening today.

I was terrified to go. What if all the girls were really weird? Or mean? Or negative about adoption? I had read birthmother blogs from girls who years and years after the adoption are a wreck still.  I wasn't sure how I would handle it if I met someone like that.  Adoption has been such an amazing thing in my life, what if I was confronted by someone who didn't feel the same?

All my fears were for nothing.  The Birthparent Support Group was fantastic.  Seriously, these girls were awesome.  There were four of us who had already placed, and two who were considering/about to place.  The other three girls who had placed had wonderful, amazing, positive adoption stories and we spent most of the two hours together just talking about our adoption stories and asking each other questions and absolutely raving about how awesome our baby's parents are (I love you, Jared and Amy!).  The other two girls about to place talked about their situations and asked us all questions and discussed their plans.  It was just such a beautiful experience sitting in a room with five other girls who has been through the same things I have.

I am so glad I finally gained the courage to go out and meet these other birthmothers.  I am definitely going to keep going to Support Group, not because I struggle with the adoption or my decision, but because there is just a camaraderie between birthmothers that cannot be found anywhere else. It's like a solace in the understanding between women who know we all fought for the same thing: our baby's future.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

When I Will Be Happy.

I am a failure at birthmother blogging. I have about three trillion half-written blogs that i need to just compile and post someday...
Anyways, I'm going through my phase of pregnancy and birth obsession lately. Every few months I get very interested in babies again, mostly because I thought the whole process was freaking amazing. Definitely a defining moment for me.  One of the best and happiest days of my life, in spite of the fact that it is quite hazy and the details aren't very clear anymore - for my best recounting take a look at this blog: http://sunshinealisha.blogspot.com/2012/11/her-birth-day-and-her-birthday.html
So, that was mostly irrelevent to the rest of the post, but I like to think that being obsessed with pregnancy/birth/babies etc is pretty normal among birthmothers, barring the fact that I have only ever met in real life one other birthmother (that I know of).
Last semester was rough for me, for a number of reasons. I was starting at a new college, moved into a new apartment, had new roommates, Kelton had died only a couple months before, I was having trouble getting my cosmetology licensing to go through, I was short on money, the list goes on and on.  I was under so much stress, and my brain in all effects had decided to stop functioning.  I couldn't focus on anything for very long, yet everything and everybody in my life was demanding something from me, and all I wanted to do (and mostly all I did) was lay in bed and cry. Anyways, November of last year I wrote these two paragraphs:

"I feel rushed. Like I need to get my life out of the way as quickly as possible. The pressure to get an education, find the man I'm supposed to marry, make a family. I feel like I need to make it happen tomorrow. Theres all these expectations and pressures, both external and internal, that push me forward everyday, and some days they get so intense to the point where I sit, stagnant, in my bedroom all day. I don't know why I think I need to make these things happen so quickly, maybe because those are the things that I was raised thinking I needed to do. Or maybe because I think I will finally be happy when I have accomplished those things. Or maybe because I'm just a ridiculous person who thinks they need to take on the whole world in one bite.
So I spend everyday being miserable, because I keep thinking only the future holds happiness. I couldn't wait to get out of high school, cause I thought then I would be happy. Then I thought that I would be happy after I placed my baby, then I thought I would be happy when I got out of San Angelo. Now I'm here, where I thought I was meant to be, doing what I always wanted to, and I'm not happy, and I don't know why. I've been stuck in this ridiculous cycle of 'When I Will Be Happy'.
I've been trying to be optimistic, thinking things would get better, but they haven't yet. I have so many ups and downs, I try changing something in my life, and I think things are getting better for a few days, I get excited, but soon enough I find myself down again. I blame my unhappiness on all these other things when really, they're just another step in my 'When I Will Be Happy' Cycle."

Even when I wrote those paragraphs I didn't fully understand my thoughts on the whole thing, but going back and reading them, I love my idea of the "When I Will Be Happy" Cycle.  It would begin with me being unhappy, and I would look around me and see a happy person, and see what they had that I didn't and I would decide that if I had that thing, I would then be happy.  So I would work toward whatever it was, all the while being miserable because I thought I couldn't be happy if I didn't have that thing. Eventually, I always would make it there, and I would be happy I accomplished whatever it was or got the thing I wanted, but soon after I always found myself unhappy and wanting something else...and the cycle begins again.
So my new personal goal is learning to be happy while working towards the things I want.  A degree, a family, a home...all these things will come in time and definitely make me very happy, but I can be happy now too.  It doesn't always work completely, I still spend plenty of time pining for things I can't have right now anyways, but I like to think happiness is a work in progress. There isn't any rush to get life done with, so I want to stop rushing.  It brings to mind the song "I'm In A Hurry" by Alabama, a song that my family has always joked is my dad's personal theme song because he is constantly in a hurry or rushing to get everything done. One line says, "I rush and rush until life is no fun..." Well I want to stop rushing, to stop thinking I have to make everything I want in my life happen today.  I want to appreciate the things I have in my life right now: youth, friends, freedom, independence, flexibility. I just want to be happy with where I am at, as long as I am working towards the things I know I want from life.  But they don't have to happen today or tomorrow or even next week.  I wish it all could, but it won't, so there is not point wasting energy on stressing or worrying when I could use that energy being happy.

So when will I be happy? My answer is today!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Not like Juno.

You know what I don't like? The movie Juno. And how when I bring up adoption, people bring up Juno. They're all like "Oh, like Juno?" and I am like, "No, not like Juno. At all."

Maybe I don't like Juno because it is so drastically different than my adoption story. And maybe because adoption is so much more complex than a movie can convey. I honestly don't like the character that is "Juno". I think she is annoying like no other. I hate the way she handles her pregnancy and relationship with the guy who got her pregnant. And that they don't show the weeks of mental breakdowns after placement. But thats Hollywood, and the movie made me bawl my eyes out anyways.

But lately I noticed I don't cover my entire story in this blog either. So I will try to fill some of the blank areas.

The last thing I really mentioned was the finding out, which is in this post:

http://sunshinealisha.blogspot.com/2011/11/i-wrote-this-more-for-me-than-for-you.html

And I have described why I placed which is here:

http://sunshinealisha.blogspot.com/2011/12/adoption-vs-single-parenting-vs.html

When I was about 12 weeks along, I had my first doctors appointment. I talked to the doctor about my health and life and blah blah blah, and my mom mentioned to the doctor we were considering adoption. I didn't really agree, but kept my mouth shut. I hadn't decided anything yet. I remember seeing the baby on the little ultrasound machine. The doctor checked that the baby was there and developing correctly. I was kind of frightening. It made the whole thing less imaginary, less hypothetical. I felt like crying, but tried not to. He gave me a little printout, and I carried that thing with me everywhere for the next few months. I stared at it for hours, thinking "That is my little baby. It is growing inside me. I love it so much."

So, I was pregnant for my last 4 months of high school. During which I wasn't showing and was able to avoid the drama of being pregnant in high school. And although pregnant teenagers were no big deal at my school, can you imagine me showing up to the Top 10% Banquet or NHS ceremony pregnant? Senior prank of the century. I almost went anti-social. My family and a few close friends knew, but I still didn't really like talking about it. I didn't say anything about it on social networking sites, I never even mentioned it on Facebook until several days after placing her for adoption. It was my not so little secret with myself. I didn't like hearing others opinions or thoughts on the matter. I wanted to figure this out on my own.

For a long time, I didn't think I would place. I didn't want to. I couldn't imagine it. Though, alot of the time, I couldn't comprehend the fact that I was pregnant. I didn't really get sick, my belly wasn't big yet, and I lost my appetite. I slept alot, read alot, and thought alot. I would imagine having a baby. All the cute things I could buy it, and how I would raise my child, and the kind of life I would want it to have. It still didn't seem real though. I tried to guess the gender of my baby. I thought for a long time it would be a boy. I wanted a boy. I thought that if it were a boy, I wouldn't get as attached. I even had a couple dreams about a little boy, and was so sure that it was MY little boy.

When I was around 18 weeks along, I had my full sonogram. I chose to go alone. The technician tried to talk to me, but I stayed pretty quiet. I watched my baby on the screen. The technician pointed out her arms and legs and head and heart. She told me it was a girl. I realized this baby was REAL. It wasn't the baby I imagined up for myself. It wasn't the baby in my dream. It was a real child, flesh and blood, who was going to be born in 22 weeks, and needed a real home. A home just as real and safe and healthy as she was now. And a part of me knew I couldn't give her that.

For weeks I still insisted on contemplating parenting. I wanted to so bad. Eventually I gave in, and after much thought and prayer and tears, I accepted the placement. I knew what was right. It broke my heart, thinking of letting my baby leave me. But this wasn't a movie, and everything doesn't just work out alright in the end. I had to make it right, all on my own.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Her birth day and her Birthday.

I started this post a few weeks ago, because I knew it would take me at least that long to write it. I knew it would be one of the posts I love writing because it's a story thats so close to my heart, but also because I knew I would cry my eyes out. And I did, because it's pulling out alot of emotions that I tried so hard to control, so here I am, the night before my beautiful baby's first birthday, trying to see the keyboard and make sense of all the thoughts in my head.

No matter how much I loved Sunshine, by the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I was ready to be done. So it was the day before my due date and I had a doctors appointment in the morning. (Pause for awesome fun fact: Sunshine's due date was 11/11/11. How crazy? ) Anyways, I had this doctors appointment, and I went in hopeful, for some type of good news that maybe I was very dialated or something, anything, to indicate that this baby was getting out SOON. I was disapointed when I was barely 1 cm dialated, and the doctor didn't have much to say except that now we just had to wait. I was dying inside, it was torure waiting for my baby to come. Everday I woke up with the impending labor/delivery and subsequent placement weighing on my shoulders. I just wanted it to happen already, or at least have a deadline. My mom asked about inducing me, and the doctor launched into some spiel about how they "dont like to induce first time mothers" and "unknown risks" blah blah blah. My mom looked the doctor in the eye and said "we need to get this over with", and the doctor couldn't do much against the wrath of mamma bear. He caved, and I told him I wanted to be induced on Monday morning.
I was so excited, it was a Thursday, meaning only 3 full days left of my pregnancy, if that. I got home and immediately called Jared and Amy.  There was nothing I wanted more for them than the opportunity to be there when their child was born. They confirmed that they would make it to San Angelo by Monday morning... and then the wait began.

I had alot of mixed feelings the last few days of carrying Sunshine. I was really tired of being huge and heavy and tired all the time, and I would be overjoyed when I thought of Monday and how she would finally be brought into the world and I could finally get my life back to normal. Then there were the moments when I thought of what her being born really meant: That there would no longer be my little baby inside me all cuddled up and warm. I wouldn't have my sweet girl to give all my love to and care about. I would cry, harder than I ever had before, and all I could think is "I don't want her to go." THen the horrible anticipation of the placement. All the paperwork, all the legal formalities and people who wanted to talk to me about the placement. We had been over the papers before, but would I feel differently about them now? How would it feel to sign them? What would it feel like, leaving the hospital empty handed?

I hoped I would go into labor early, but no such luck. I arrived at the hospital on Monday, November 14th, at 6 am. They weighed me (only gained 30 lbs!) and I was in my bed, started on petocin (the drug that induces labor) around 7. The checked to see how dialated I was, and I was still at like 2 cm. Around 8 they broke my water, and after that the contractions started pretty intensely and regularly. Somewhere around this time the birthfather and his family and Jared and Amy showed up. We sat around for a while, chatting, and watchign the macheines. The nurses had some issues getting the monitors to stay on, due to the wierd perfect roundness of my stomach. (I heard frequently that I literally looked like I had a basketball under my shirt). I think around 10 oclock I decided I had had enough of the contractions and it was time for the epidural. That in and of itself was a fun little endeavor, but once the drugs were in my system, I felt great! They even gave me an awesome little button to push if I needed an extra boost. Within a 30 minutes, I couldn't feel anything below my waist. By 12 o'clock I was dialated to 8 cm, and at 1 pm I was fully dialated and began pushing.

At 2:43 in the afternoon, I gave birth to Sunshine. She was 7lbs 8oz, and 19 inches long. I remember the first moment I saw Sunshine. It was just a glimpse of her, as I opened my eyes after she was born, and I heard her cry and saw her little blueish body moving in the hands of the doctor. I remember that moment so clearly. I remember how insanely happy I was, and how much I loved her at that moment, and just my amazement at finally seeing the beautiful child that had been growing in me for the last 9 months. Because I was lucky enough to have Sunshine's family there, I made sure Amy was in the room when I gave birth and that she was able to cut her umbilical cord and be the first to hold her. Seeing Amy holding Sunshine was such a spiritual moment for me, because I knew so strongly that Amy was meant to be her mother. Then Amy brought her next to me and placed her by my head to see. I remember the first time I saw that cute little squished face, and how my first thought was "Oh my, newborns are ugly", yet I loved her so much and thought she was so gorgeous anyways. And Amy and I just looked at this baby that we both loved so much and cried.

Legally, the placement couldn't happen until 48 hours after I gave birth, and I chose to take care of her for those 2 days. I count those 48 hours as the best in my life. Taking care of Sunshine was such a fantastic experience for me. I was able to find my buried mothering instincts and get to know my little girl the best I could. I loved just holding her and cuddling with her, and did every moment I had a chance. She was seriously the most adorable baby I had ever seen, and every time I looked at her, I loved her even more. I enjoyed changing her diapers, and cleaning up her spit-up, and just watching her sleep. When time came for placement, I was terrified. I got really frusturated that day, because it seemed like every ten minutes there was a different counselor or doctor or nurse coming to bother me, when I really just wanted to spend as much time with Sunshine as I could, because I knew that after this day, it would be at least 6 months until I saw her again. So around 3 in the afternoon, we started signing papers. As I held my baby in one arm, and signed the papers that made her Jared and Amy's, I just cried. I knew what I was doing was right, beyond a doubt, but I was so afraid of being without my baby. I had become so attached, so dependent on what she meant to me, and the love I gave her. I didn't want her to leave, I wanted to stay in that hospital with my newborn baby forever. I didn't know what I would do with myself when I didn't have her anymore. Signing those papers was one of the greatest feats of faith I have ever experienced. I knew I just had to trust God that I could still go on with life without Sunshine in my arms.

Time came to get packed up and leave. I left the hospital alongside Jared and Amy, and watched as they situated their new baby into the car. There were so many hugs and tears and love expressed in those last few minutes before we drove off. In just a matter of days, we had become family, and I loved Jared and Amy so much for all that I knew that they would do for my baby. I knew that they loved her just as much as I did, I knew they were meant to be her parents, I knew they would provide her with so much that I could not have. All the stability and opportunities and happiness that I knew they would give her meant the world to me.

As I got in my parents car and we drove away, it was so surreal. It was scary seeing the same streets I always had, but now I was just Alisha. Not Alisha and baby, like before. There was a small sense of accomplishment in the back of my mind, that I had finally overcome what I had been waiting for months to conquer. But mostly, I missed my baby. I missed her more than anything or anyone I had ever missed before. I felt so lonely, all I wanted was to hold her again, to hold her forever, but I couldn't, so instead, I cried.

Today is Sunshine's first birthday, and when I look back on the placement, I smile. I don't have an ounce of regret for my decision, and I am so thankful she has turned out to be such a happy little girl. One year ago I gave birth to her, and now, thanks to open adoption, I have the opportunity to spend that day with her and her family again. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When it all became real.

As October progresses, I have found myself thinking back on this time last year, in which I was 8 months pregnant, and coming up on one of the most difficult times in my life.  I remember trying to prepare mentally. I had become so attached to my baby, I loved her so much, and still do. I couldn't imagine giving her to someone else to raise, but I couldn't deny that I knew she didn't belong to me.
I had been speaking to Jared and Amy for months, and I finally told them I wanted to place my baby with them, but wanted to meet them in person first. So they got on an airplane, and came all the way from Idaho, just for a day, to meet me and Sunshine's birthfather, just two weeks before my due date.
We met in the morning at a little breakfast place called "Kozy Kitchen". It was sort of weird at first, I think we were all unsure of how to act. I had been emailing these people for months, I knew so much about them, but suddenly, they were real. And I was going to give my baby to them. We ate, and talked, and I really don't remember about what except our conversation about naming the baby. I told them that it was going to be their baby that they would live with everyday, so they could name her. But they said they didn't want to name her something I hated, because I would have to call her that too. They suggested a name- and could tell I was not a fan of it. Then the birthfather and I suggested the name that we had always liked, and Jared and Amy really liked it too. (Later they remembered that their friends had just named their baby that, so it ended up being her middle name.) Over the weeks, I contemplated the name Jared and Amy suggested, and by the time I had Sunshine, I loved it, and still do until this day. (Sunshine is not her real name, it's just what I call her on my blog because it's public.)
Anyways, after breakfast, we went over to the birthfather's house for them to have some time to get to know Jared and Amy. I'll be honest, this was probably one of the scariest parts of the day for me. While my family was very supportive of any decision I would have made, especially my decision to place, the birthfathers family was not. They weren't LDS and didn't have the same beliefs that were driving my decision. So they struggled with the idea of the adoption. I had been trying to defend the adoption to them throughout my whole pregnancy, but when I look back, it really helped me become stronger in my decision, constantly having someone questioning it. Every time I had to explain why I was doing this crazy thing, it reinforced that it was the right thing too.
Then in the late afternoon, we went back to my house to meet my parents. Jared and Amy clicked with my family immediately. There was just this mutual love for my baby and understanding of God and the gospel that seemed to bring us together. It has been wonderful to see how our families have come together, even after Sunshine's birth. It's like, all these people love this one little girl so very much, and have become like family because of it.
And then, I met Jared and Amy's son.
They had adopted him as an infant also, 3 years earlier. I seriously think he is what sold me on this family. He was the most adorable, wonderful, loving little boy ever, and I just HAD to have him as my baby girl's big brother. I could just imagine them a few years later, when some kid thought it would be funny to pick on Sunshine, and he would step in and make sure nobody touched his sister.
Later in the evening, everyone gathered at my house for hamburgers, and at one point, I was sitting next to Amy on the couch when the baby started kicking. While I was pregnant, it was ridiculously easy to see the baby move inside my stomach. It was visible from across the room, and almost freakish looking. Anyways, I pointed it out to Amy, and she was able to see her future daughter kicking inside my stomach.
Eventually the day had to end, and Jared and Amy and their son had to head back north, so we said our goodbyes. We even took pictures, which are among the very very few that exist of me pregnant (due to the fact that I kept it a secret from much of society, esp social networking sites, until after the adoption). So, I present to all of the birthmother blogging world, a photo of me, huge and 8 1/2 months pregnant! Also pictured is the birthfather on the left, and Jared and Amy and their son in the middle.

 
I look back on that day as a happy one. A stressful, long, emotional day for sure, but a happy one. Things started to fall into place, and the fact that I was placing my baby for adoption became real. I was terrified about what the next few weeks would hold, but I when I laid down to (kind of) sleep that night, I was completely sure that I had found the family that my baby belonged to.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Death.

I woke up this morning feeling kind of nostalgic and sad, and at first I wasn't sure why. Then I realized it was October 3rd, meaning it had been 3 months since Kelton died. It's been a wierd 3 months since he died, and I can't believe its only been 3 months because it feels like he has been gone for forever.

Before Kelton died, I always wondered why people got so upset about family and loved ones dying. I had never known anyone who died, and because I'm LDS, I always just thought, "It's no big deal, you will see them again, it's not like they are gone forever!".  Now I kick myself in the face for my insensitivity, because death is a complicated and frustrating part of life. Kelton's cousin told me he died shortly after it happened. He gave me him number via facebook, and I called and argued with him for five minutes about how him and Kelton needed to stop playing this joke on me, because it wasn't funny. By the time I started to believe him, I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. I couldn't understand how this had happened. Death had always been such a foreign idea to me. And now someone I was so close to had died. Unexpectedly.

One of the scariest parts for me was the randomness of it all. Things had been going really well for me at that point in my life- I had just moved to Provo, I lived near Kelton and Sunshine, I was going to go to BYU in the fall, I was getting all geared up for what I expected to be the time of my life. And then, out of nowhere, a stupid one-car accident, and the car flipped and fell in just the wrong way as to break Keltons neck and leave him dead.

Dead. But at that time, what did "dead" mean to me? I had never seen a dead person in real life. I had never been to a funeral. I had known a few old people who died, at church or a distant relative or something, but those deaths were expected. I had never been emotionally attached to those people or really associated with them for more than a minute or so.

That night, it was odd not having Kelton and I's nightly Skype session or phone call. But I was mostly in shock, and while I was upset, I was mostly scared, because I had no idea what the next few days would hold for me. His dad called me to make sure I had heard what happened and let me know he would update me on funeral stuff whenever he found out. I was terrified at the idea of the funeral. I didn't know what to expect, or who would be there, or how all that worked. Did I really want to go see his dead body?

In spite of all my fears, I made my way up to a city in Idaho where I had never been, and went to his funeral. I had been staying with Kelton's dad and family, and so I was early to the viewing on Friday night. I tried to not think about seeing his body, but I knew I needed to do it. As I walked tword the front of the empty room, I felt all the supressed emotions start to come to the surface, and when I got close enough to see his face, I broke down. That body, that the last time I had seen it was bright and alive, was now dull and lifeless. It didn't look like him, Kelton was so animated and expressive, it couldn't be him. It was shocking, realizing the difference that the spirit makes inside a body. The warm, happy, soft boy that I had joked, cuddled, laughed, and talked with, was laying there, missing the thing that made him Kelton.

So that's what physical death is. Where the body is no longer functioning. I know his spirit is out there, doing whatever it is that God is having his spirit do, and Kelton is just fine. But his physical death has stipulations for those of us still alive. Stipulations such as the fact that we can't communicate anymore, or touch, or do fun things together. And it sucks. People all say things like "Oh he is still looking out for you" or "He is there and you just can't see him", well guess what? It doesn't make it suck any less. It doesn't make it any less confusing for my heart or mind.

Kelton came and left so quickly, but he still left an impression. Sometimes I wonder why God would put someone in my life for such a short time, but then I remember all the lessons I've learned, both from Kelton's life and death. Like that an open-casket funeral is a ridiculous tradition, why the heck does anyone want to look at a dead body? And more seriously, to cherish the times you have with the people you love, because you never know when they'll be gone.

And, for those who don't know, Kelton was a pretty good guitar player. I don't know much about guitar, but I for sure can't play it. Also, the tshirt he is wearing in this video is the one he was wearing when we met. Ironic much?

video