PAGE # 75

I'm not sure how it happened, but when the sun rose and my household came alive with kids, coffee, and the morning search for that Elf on the Shelf, I passed into a new psychological realm.  My episode of derealization had already been broken with the news of Bobby signing the putative father registry.  My subsequent avoidance of Baby Lily was over now too.  I stopped trying to protect myself from the unknown and gave love to that baby girl.

Of course, there are numerous (possible) explanations for my sudden shift in behavior toward Baby Lily that morning.  These include:

1)  Tom admonishing me the previous evening.

2)  It was the day before Christmas Eve and the holiday spirit took over.

3)  We hadn't heard anything further from our attorney--maybe we would be adopting Lily after all?

I'm sure that all three of the above noted facts contributed to my renewed commitment toward Baby Lily.  But.  There was something else too.

After the big news had spread throughout the extended family (that the biological father had signed the putative father registry), my sister-in-law finally came to meet Lily.  She literally popped into my bedroom unannounced while I was feeding Lily.  She did not stay long.  She approached Lily with great caution, as if the infant might contaminate her with a disease.  She never got too close.

"She is cute," Diana said.  "But I can't stay.  Just wanted to say sorry about the biological father and all."

"It's not a tragedy," I countered.  "She'll go back to her mom and her brothers if he takes any further action to contest the adoption.  And her mom and her brothers are awesome."

I was angry.

One week earlier, on the day of Lily's birth, I had sent a picture of Lily to all our family members.  While everyone else wrote back with "She's beautiful!" or "She's precious!," Diana had replied with the following text message:

Hold your horses.  You don't even know if the dad is going to sign off on it!

I had been infuriated.  Her ostensible caveat was full of presumption.  At the time, I was feeling traumatized by the pending separation of Lily from her natural mother and siblings.  I was praying that Kendra would not relinquish in the first place!

Diana avoided Lily until the adoption situation grew tenuous.  It felt like she was hoping things would fall apart.  When I confessed my agitation to Tom later that day, he agreed that her behavior was hurtful, but he'd been better able to put things in perspective:

"I didn't expect her to be excited for us.  She had a stillborn baby girl and now she has a handicapped baby boy.  It's already hard for her to be around Sara--it's probably driving her nuts that we have another baby girl in the house."

"But Lily is an innocent baby!  With a traumatic beginning!  Where's the family support?  We gave Kendra pictures of them too!  Of all of us together!  We talked about how Lily would have an aunt and uncle and cousins on the same street!  It's not turning out how Kendra thinks it will!  The family is not welcoming Lily!  I'm sorry Tom, but if this baby had been our biological child, they would have been over here sooner.  They suck.  They aren't being supportive.  This has nothing to do with their situation!"

Tom shook his head.  "Your expectations of people are just very high."

"Bullshit!  Your family's expectations of us are too high!  We have to be there for everyone!  Who is ever there for us?"

"What do you want me to do?  It's a bad situation.  I'm disappointed too.  But what can I do?"

I sighed.

"I guess you're right," I finally gave in.  "We can't exactly go over there and complain when they already have their hands full."

The conversation was over for that day, but the topic was hardly resolved.

And though I was growing more and more tired of putting myself in other people's shoes, there was a pool of guilt rising in my stomach.  

Was I really being insensitive toward Diana?  Why couldn't I cut her more slack?  It must be so terribly painful and sad to have buried a stillborn.  Maybe I would behave the same way if our circumstances were reversed?  

I tried.  I breathed deeply and I tried to feel otherwise and then I breathed some more.  But there was no change.  I was angry and my resentment had yet to reach its full bloom.  And the more I felt Baby Lily was unwelcome in Tom's extended family, the greater my maternal instinct grew.  

And it surprises me--even now--that the baby I felt no right to claim, should start to feel like mine because of such negative emotion.  I wish my heart had grown under a benevolent force instead.  If only love (or some narrow version of love?) hadn't been birthed by such ugliness. 

But this is the truth of how it was.

To Be Continued... 

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