PAGE # 64
8:30 pm

Relief is a short-lived emotion.  

Whatever comfort I felt from speaking to Kendra earlier--it had now evaporated.  My sense of reality was questionable and a feeling of derealization was again setting in.  My brain couldn't comprehend the sudden appearance of a baby in my arms; in turn, even the familiar objects in our home started to appear as if viewed from the inside of a floating bubble about to pop.  

At exactly 8:30 pm, I texted Tracey the following:
I talked to Kendra.  I think I'm having a little anxiety.  I feel a little bit of derealization too.  Like I'm in a dream or something.  Have I gone insane?  Is there really a baby in my house?  Maybe I've gone mad?!?!?!
I sat in my bed, waiting for Tracey, or anyone really, to rescue me from this onset of madness.  Baby Lily was asleep in the bassinet beside me.  I don't recall where Tom, TJ, Sara, or my mother were at the time.  Perhaps they had gone out for a bite to eat.  

I was also waiting for my friend Sadie to arrive.  She was eager to meet Lily, and when she finally came in, a little before 9 pm, she raced across the room to peer into the bassinet. 
"She's beautiful Jen!  Oh my God, she's perfect!"
"I know."
Sadie sat at the foot of my bed and we chatted for about an hour.  Lily slept through our conversation.
"I cannot believe you have a new baby!" Sadie said.
"I know."
"This is amazing!"
"I feel like I'm in a dream," I said.
"I know!  It's unbelievable!"
"No.  Really.  I feel like I'm in a dream.  Like nothing feels real," I explained.
Sadie listened.
"I kind of feel how I did back in college, when my friend Leslie died."
I explained how my close childhood friend had died at age 19, the summer just before our junior year of college.  There was a Woodstock revival that August, and Leslie and her boyfriend planned to ride bicycles there--all the way from just outside of Manhattan.  They got as far as Poughkeepsie when Leslie hit a bump in the road.  Her bike swerved in front of a truck.  She was run over from the waist down.  She did not die immediately; she bled to death.  In fact, she was conscious after the accident, coherent even, telling her boyfriend, "I can't feel my legs.  I can't feel my legs."  

Her death occurred five years after my father died in a car accident.  
"There is something so unbelievable about the sudden and final disappearance of someone," I said to Sadie, knowing she would understand.  
At age sixteen, Sadie and her younger cousin, who had been visiting from another country, were hit by a car while crossing the street.  Sadie survived; her cousin did not.  Sadie and I had discussed these losses before.  She already knew about Leslie and my father.  But I told her the same stories all over again.  Dear Sadie!  She listened quietly, nodding, just staying with me as I struggled to get to my point in retelling all this.
"So, I've decided that adoption is the flip-side of a sudden tragic death, as pregnancy is the flip-side of a long fatal illness," I concluded.  "Even though there is some shock when you give birth, you're also somewhat prepared after nine miserable months of physical suffering.  If someone's dying from an illness, there's still the surprise of total disappearance in the end, but there is also some degree of expectation for the surviving loved ones.  Childbirth and illness are like the yin and yang of life and death.  And I think adoption is like that too, only it's the flip side of a fatal accident.  This sudden materialization of a baby feels exactly the same as when someone suddenly dies.  I feel unreal and anxious and constantly on the edge of a full blown panic attack."
 I could not stop talking.  I probably sounded manic even.
"It really is the perfect analogy!" I went on.  "Pregnancy is the slow, biological creation of life.  Illness is the slow, biological destruction of life.  And when you adopt a baby--it's like a magic trick:  Poof!  A life out of nowhere!  Just like a tragic accident--Poof!  And you're gone!" 
I would repeat this analogy again and again over the next several weeks, to all my friends, probably more than once.  It was a coping skill, a way of constructing meaning out of the nonsensical; a measure of linguistic and cognitive structure erected precariously over the psychological abyss of disbelief.  It helped, thinking such thoughts and stating them aloud to witnesses.  And if my friends thought I sounded ridiculous, they were kind enough not to mention it.  They all listened with care and concern.

Thank you friends.  

To Be Continued...


Jessica said...

Is there a specific day you choose to post updates here?!

I know this is SO NOT a soap opera drama for you guys but for some of us in the thick of things or wondering whether to BE in the thick of things it totally feels that way!!

I'm dying to hear the end result!! The who, what, whens, wheres, whys, hows is torture!

That said, please forgive my impatience. I'm grateful to your story any which way it plays out. I truly only hope there is peace in your soul in the end...

Jennifer said...

Thanks for reading Jessica. I don't update on a specific day; it all depends how much writing time I am able to sneak in on a particular week (some more; some less).

Kellie C said...

I totally get your analogy of life and death. I lost my mother to cancer after, ironically, a nine month battle. It was devastating, but not like the grief I felt for my granddaughter when she was relinquished. That WAS like a sudden death. I often felt like I was going to have a heart attack. I've told no one this, but I ended up in the emergency room once because I thought I was going to die. I do not know why I have reacted this way. I know a lot of people do not understand because she is my granddaughter. I didn't give birth to her, but I cannot explain it. I still feel incredible grief at times.