Protecting My Heart?

PAGE # 57
Approximately 5:45 pm 
"Oh my God," Tracey muttered, "she's the most beautiful baby ever!"
Jim and Tracey were staring at Lily, who slept peacefully in the bassinet.
"She's amazing," Jim said.  "This is all so amazing.  Congratulations, guys."
"Well, she's not ours for sure yet," I quickly reminded them.  "The birth father has another three weeks to contest the adoption."
I was exhausted but still managed to ramble on about our uncertain future.  Jim and Tracey sat down across from us and shared their opinions:
"I doubt he will do that," Jim said.  "If he wanted the baby, he would have said something weeks ago."
"Seriously," Tracey added.  "And even if this doesn't work out, Shelley will find you another baby.  You end up with the baby you are meant to end up with."
I knew Tracey was trying to be supportive, but I still shook my head, indicating my disagreement with what she had said.  Tom squeezed my hand.
"Look at us, look at Ricky," Tracey continued.  "We were paired with a totally different birthmother at first, and it was devastating when that didn't work out, but that turned out to be part of the path that led us to Ricky."
I tried to be sensitive to what Tracey and Jim had been through.  After spending nearly $25,000 on the living/medical/legal expenses of a pregnant woman with an adoption plan, medical tests revealed that she was abusing narcotics.  The baby still had another trimester till birth, and Jim and Tracey opted out of the adoption plan.  They had been devastated at the time, but did not want an infant who had been exposed to drug abuse.  They had lost a lot of money, sure, but they had also invested time and emotional energy in a birthmother they felt had deceived them.
"What you guys went through was terribly disappointing," I said.  "But actually having a baby here at home, well, if it doesn't work out, I just don't think I'd feel like another baby could replace Lily."
Tracey pressed on:
"Three weeks is not that long.  If the adoption falls through, yes, it will be horrible, but you won't be that attached yet."
"No and yes," Tom said.  "No, it won't be that horrible because if the adoption gets contested, Lily goes back to her mom and her two big brothers.  And she'll be with a perfectly great family and we'll be happy for her.  The yes part, though, is that yes, I get attached real fast.  I'm so in love with her already."
Tracey laughed a bit awkwardly.
"I guess I'm the weirdo then!  It took me like six months to bond with our first one and he was biological!"
I did not identify with what Tracey was saying.  My experience as a new mother, both other times, was quite the opposite:  the intensity of love I felt for my newborns was so intense, it was primal--almost animal like.  I was never even comfortable with friends or hospital staff holding my babies. 

Still, I am aware that the experience of falling in love with one's children varies for everyone.  It's highly personal and not something one can judge another for.
"You are not a weirdo," I said to Tracey.  "You're just more honest than most people.  I'm sure tons of other women take time to bond, just most don't admit it."
And in that very moment, I was keeping my own secret:  I could not announce, as Tom had just done, that I was in love with Lily.  I could not state with honesty that my feelings for her were identical to the ones I had felt for TJ and Sara at first.  But perhaps it was easier for Tom to fall in love with a baby he had not carried for nine months?  It's a condition of parenthood for all men.  Each and every time.  

Or, perhaps I was just better at protecting myself against the inevitable loss?

Or maybe, I worried, maybe adoption was just completely different?  And maybe I wouldn't be able to love this child as much as I loved my other two?  

Then again, it was also possible that I would love her just as much as my biological children eventually.  It would take more time--it would be a different process--but there would be love in the end.  

I looked up and saw tears streaming down Jim's face.  
"I'm just so emotional," Jim said, wiping at his eyes with the back of his hand.  "This is such a touching situation."
When they left a little while later, and we told TJ over dinner how Jim had shed real tears, TJ said:
"Maybe he is upset he didn't keep Lily for himself?"
I felt my heart drop.  Not for Jim, or us, or even for Kendra--but for this baby girl who seemed to be thought of as an object that could just be transferred in and out of families, whether for real or just in theory.  

I worried that I would never be able to love her enough.

To Be Continued...


Addison Cooper said...

I really, really like your conclusion sentence. Thanks for that.

Also, I empathize with you - sometimes friends say well-meaning but really, unhelpful (or even antihelpful) things.

Katie said...

I check your blog all the time to see if you've posted another entry yet, what a heart wrenching story!