First (hazy) Thoughts on MOTHERHOOD

From the moment we got the phone call that S jr's birth mom's water had broken until, has been a giant bungee jump.

WHEEEEEEEEE hurl yourself into space





fall (in love)

SPROINGGGGGG and start heading back up, the world blurring by in an upside-down smear.

For us, the process of adoption was deliberate and administrative, as it often is in the beginning. After all the paperwork had been filled out and the home study completed and our AdoptHelp profile was printed then came The Wait.

The Wait was like watching someone read, out loud, what looks like a fascinating book behind three inches of soundproof glass. You know what's happening. You know that it's happening. Pages are being turned. You can see the person's mouth moving and you assume words are coming out, but dammit, what is the story and who are the main characters?

Barring the possibility that you are an excellent lip-reader, you imagine what's happening. As the reader continues to turn the pages, you cast the story with all kinds of people in all kinds of places. You create drama and tension. You imagine a nebulous villain who you realize is Time. You insert yourself and your loved ones into the story, hesitantly, because, you realize suddenly, the book is about YOUR FAMILY. The plot meanders, develops, and the reader is clearly having a good time. Wait, no – she's crying. Oh, she's laughing. Both at once?

And then, suddenly, everything behind the glass goes dark and you're on a plane and you're getting in a cab and you're met in the hospital lobby by a lovely young woman who is the birth mom's best friend and you're dropping your suitcase by the door and you're washing your hands and you're instructed to hold the left leg of the birth mom who is in the throes of labor.

Hi. It's so nice to finally meet you. And your vagina.

Hours pass like years. The birth mom is supernatural. You are in awe of her. Even in labor, she says Please and Thank You when you carefully spoon ice chips into her mouth. You are impressed. You imagine that you would take full advantage of the pain and yell, forcefully and repeatedly, every swear you know and then make up more.

And then, the doctor comes back in and the room is suddenly full of the cast of Grey's Anatomy and the birth mom is instructed to PUSH PUSH PUSH so many times the word starts to lose meaning and holy shit there's the top of his head and OH MY GOD there's his face and then WHOOSH his body and he's perfect he's perfect and he's beautiful and the birth mom is beautiful and everyone is beautiful and you're crying and the doctor hands you scissors to cut the umbilical cord and for a brief moment you forget how to use scissors and then you've done it.

And in those first few days after his birth, you are so grateful for his birth mom, her grace and generosity and love. She is incredible. You look at her and imagine your own birth mom, who you may never know, and you have trouble breathing. So you hug his birth mom, gently, and keep turning the pages.

This is motherhood. Pain, sorrow, love, grief, joy, gratitude, patience, strength, pain.

Every time there's a twist in the plot, you tell yourself This is Right. This is Fair. It should hurt. We should not come by this child easily or without pain of our own. Adoption is gain for us, but profound loss for the birth mom, and there are echoes, everywhere, of another woman, another life, another wrenching sacrifice.

This is motherhood, and it is not done alone.

Because now the story is truly ours. You and your partner and your stepchild and the birth mom and her family and the child she carried and entrusted to you. Together, we form the cast of characters in this book, and we will take turns reading it, out loud, to our son.