Sunday, June 12, 2011

Time to let go

The irony is not lost on me that on our almost baby's birthday, I was decorating a birthday cake, for a different baby. I've tried to forget the fact that I have a nephew 2 days younger then our almost baby. I try to not think about the things our baby would be doing when I know he is growing and learning in the same ways. I try to pretend that it never happened.

But it did happen. A year ago a brave young women gave birth and then placed her baby with a family and in doing so affected so many lives. Sometimes I feel guilty for my pain, because I know it is nothing compared to her pain. I tell myself I have no right to hurt because she was never really my baby. But the chance at... almost, does hurt.

I have kept so many things inside because I'm afraid to share. Afraid I'll offend. Afraid that it will make the pain even greater. But I want this 1st birthday to be my last day of mourning. I hope after letting it all out, I can turn around, look forward and never look back.

It was so hard to loose a baby, even if it wasn't one we naturally conceived. I have a new level of understanding for those who miscarry. Loosing a baby is like having your heart ripped out. And then the world just walks all over your broken heart because they don't understand just how much it hurts. We never heard a heart beat. But that didn't stop us from loving and dreaming about a little girl to join our family.

A month after being unchosen, my mom called to say my sister might have to go on bed rest. Might. All I could think was "well, at least she still gets to have a baby in June. Who cares about some bed rest?" I was so mad after that, that I couldn't go to the Josh's annual family breakfast or Easter dinner. I ignored plans for a baby shower because I didn't want to think about my own baby shower I would never get.

The Internet is wonderful and terrible all at the same time. I knew the day the baby girl was born. The next day I sat in church and all I could think was "This is my first day as not the mom." I cried silent tears that no one could see. The next day while a birth mom signed the papers to make someone else parents, my nephew was born. I went to the hospital, but all I could think was, "I shouldn't be here. I should be holding my baby in a different hospital." And no one knew how I was crumbling inside.

I had days where I couldn't get out of bed it hurt so much. When we were first unchosen, Josh and I were in a loving moment when suddenly we both just broke down in tears. We couldn't even enjoy a moment of joy because the pain was so strong,.

One day while doing dishes, I fell to the floor and just bawled. Life was so unfair. It wasn't even worth living anymore, not with this kind of pain. It was in its own way, a moment of wakening. I was deep in depression and I needed to change so I didn't sink lower.

After that, I tried to ignore the pain. She was never our baby after all, right? But that just made it worse. I kept things bottled up so long, that eventually they would explode out without notice. One day I spilled a drink and that seemed to unleash it all. A kicked bucket, a knocked over trash can and a broken toe later, I realized I couldn't hold it in.

Then my husband found a new job. An amazing job that made us both happy and paid a lot better then the previous job. But it was a job that took him out of town during the week. There were so many nights I cried myself to sleep because my house was so quite and so empty.

I reached the point where I realized I couldn't follow both of the two moods in my life. I couldn't grieve when alone and then pretend all was right when I was around others. I needed help moving through the grief process.

I thought only unstable people need therapy. I was too strong to need help. I read online of a few others experiences of infertility depression and how counseling helped them move on. But I still couldn't make myself admit I needed help.

When Halloween came and went and I didn't do my big Halloween dinner, I realized that I was stuck deep in depression. I couldn't even enjoy my favorite things anymore. I tried to get myself in the moment, but the thought of having a dinner with all those people there to look at me, I couldn't do it. I couldn't pretend to be happy.

I had become terribly afraid of people. I couldn't go anywhere. What if they asked questions? What if they didn't and ignored me? What if I lost it and cried? I had become a prisoner in my heart and therefore my home.

I finally broke down and made an appointment. Then I chickened out and cancelled a few days later. Only weak people need help. Then I went through another long week of tears. I wish I hadn't of waited so long to get help. I think things could have gone a little smoother if I had gone to counseling sooner. I wanted to go on anti depressants, but Josh didn't like the idea. I did make it through so I guess depression can be done without meds, but sometimes I wish I had tried them, it might have helped me be more stable in my moods. Counseling did help, but I've still been to afraid to admit that I needed it. Only a few people know about it. I didn't even tell work why I needed an hour off once a week.

Since finishing counseling, things have been better. I think I've only had two breakdowns since then, which is better then once a day or once a week. Both breakdowns happened at church. Its hard to go to church that is so strong on families.

One Sunday they were talking about death. It came up in Sunday School and Relief Society, so I got a double shot of it. Everyone was talking about how hard it is to loose a loved one, but how grateful they are for Heaven and how they know they can see them again someday. How they are grateful for the temple and that they are sealed together as a family. How they didn't understand how people outside of our religion get through a loss thinking they are dead and gone forever.

That's a luxury I don't get. I had lost a baby I loved and I will never get that back. Never. That is how my pain differs from a miscarriage. At least in a miscarriage I would get a chance to raise my baby in the next life, but it wasn't actually my pregnancy. I wanted to stand and how tell them I do know what its like. It is the most horrid thing ever to loose a loved one and know you will never see them again. Never.

The other breakdown was on Easter. Josh's family all lives in the same ward so I'm not usually alone at church. But that Sunday I was. I didn't know it, but my mother in-law was home doing farm chores and reading a book and my nephews were visiting their other grandparents. I didn't know that. I thought they were all together hunting Easter eggs. I was so mad that I wasn't there too. I will NEVER get that experience, why didn't they invite me? When we left church, Josh asked why I was so upset and I told him. He kept telling me that they probably got caught up in other stuff. And he was right, but by then I was so worked up that I couldn't get over it. Even though that afternoon we did help the nephews look for eggs at my in-laws, I was so distraught that I couldn't let it go.

Which really is dumb, because my in-laws have been so good to me. Through all of my grief, I've been able to build a better relationship with them. My grief that Sunday was for nothing because we did get to help the boys look for eggs. I've finally figured out the whole being an aunt thing this last year. I don't have to hold back because I don't have children of my own. I can find just as much joy through them. I can spoil them and then when they are stinky or whiny, I can hand them back to their parents. Not that they are ever whiny.

I was always afraid to love my nephews. I felt like if I did, I would be betraying my dreams of a child of my own. I felt like if I loved being an aunt, that would mean I didn't want to be a mom. I didn't think I could do both so instead I stepped back and did neither. I've learned over the last year, that I was wrong. I can love them fully and completely and it doesn't hurt. After so many years of struggling, I love being an aunt. I love those boys so much, I would do anything for them.

When we were first unchosen, we decided to step back and take a break from adoption. The more time that passed, the more we realized how much we enjoyed living as a family of two. We started talking about closing our profile. We would talk about it, but then not make a firm decision. After so many years of trying, how could we even consider it? I didn't want to feel like all our efforts were for nothing.

But the more we talked about it, the more we liked it. Slowly, we started to step away from building our family. I started by cleaning up the nursery and turning it into a craft room. A room I once hated and avoided became a sanctuary. Then I decided to start getting rid of the baby items. I sold the pack in play, the swing and the highchair and was relieved to get rid of them. I was afraid I might cry and regret it when the truck pulled away, but instead it was like a great weight was lifted off of me. Then I donated a bag of clothes to a friend collecting items for the women's shelter. Again it was easier then I thought it would be. Friends started announcing pregnancies and I experienced only joy and nothing else.

Last month we called LDSFS and asked them to pull our file. I will admit to one last moment of doubt. Josh and I discussed it that weekend and decided that we were ready and it was decided I would call the next day.  The morning was busy and I didn't get a chance. As I went to lunch, I told myself it would be a good time to call. Then I paused. Was I sure? One of the biggest hold ups was we knew once we closed our profile, we would loose the money we put down when we started the process. Four years ago that was so much money to us. Well, it still is, but at that time it was hard to save it up and then pay it.

But was I really ready to close our profile? I said one last frantic prayer and made a deal with God. I was giving him one hour. If we were meant to adopt, I needed a sign. I needed an email to appear in our adoption account. If there was an email, I would think about it more before closing our profile. Then I surprised myself by ending my prayer with, "if we are meant to adopt, I need an email. But I don't want there to be an email."

An hour later I called and asked them to close our account. That experience was weird. When we were unchosen, we asked LDSFS to put our profile on hold. Our status would remain active, but our profile wouldn't be viewable online. We asked a few times and it never happened. I got sick of asking and decided to just ignore it. Its not like we were getting tons of hits anyways.  I expected the same thing to happen when we closed our profile. Our profile was down within the hour. A process that took years of sweat, hope and tears was over.

We haven't regretted our decision. We put all our efforts into adopting. We jumped in with both feet. We did our best, but sometimes things just aren't meant to be. I wish I could get people to understand that. When we tell people we are no longer trying to grow our family, they act like we are giving up. They tell us to keep faith. To try again in a few years. I just shake my head, they'll never understand. We are happy with the way we are. Our family is small, but we are still a family and we love us the way we are. This has nothing to do with how young we are. This has nothing to do with us needing more faith. This is not about us taking a break and trying again when we are healed. This is about us choosing happiness.

Peoples reactions are why we've not made this a big announcement. We only tell people when they ask. But I'm ready for the world to know. My name is Savannah and my husband is Josh. We have been blissfully married for just over 10 years now. We love the life we have. We tried to have children through pregnancy and adoption, but sometimes it doesn't happen that way. There are other families that are just husband and wife. We are going to embrace life now.

I still question why it all had to happen. Why couldn't I have just been happy before? If we were meant to live as a family of two, why did we feel the need to try and adopt? After trying to adopt for about a year, we started handing out pass along cards with our info. Most people were confused. They didn't understand that the best way to adopt is to spread the word you are looking. I finally started telling people, if this doesn't lead to a baby for us, I hope it at least helps someone who is looking into adoption. If I could help just even one girl as she considered her options, it would be worth it.

I'll never know, but I like to think I helped a young women along her path. I bore my testimony of adoption in several emails. I hope that it was because of my example that she was able to make that hard decision. I hope that in all my efforts to embrace adoption, I was able to help her embrace it too. I think that was the reason I had to meet her. I like to think she needed help and I was there to give it to her. If that is the case, then I can say it was all worth it. I'm glad I could be there for her.


  1. Savannah,

    wow. all i can say. what a great raw and true. i hope that you are happy. i hope one day the Lord will open a door for you in a way that will surprise and bless you. you are a strong awesome woman. i am lucky to rub shoulders with you.

  2. This post made me bawl! I love how you put it all out there. When we first learned about infertility we didn't tell anyone. I was depressed and angry for a long time until I admitted that I needed to get help. Wish I wouldn't have waited! I love, love, love your realization that you are a family even with out kids. IT'S SO TRUE! I think about that all the time.

    Thanks for sharing something so personal, I think you have helped a lot of people!

  3. Savannah, you are amazing. Thank you for sharing this. My best wishes for you and your family as you have chosen happiness. I wish you all of the happiness in the world.

  4. Savannah, your words mean so much to me. Thank you for sharing this personal post. I wish you and Josh happiness in all your pursuits because you already are a wonderful family.

    Depression and breakdowns use to be common to me too. I always wondered why they had to happen at church. It just isn't fair.

  5. You're amazing. This all was a difficult decision to make and your faith, Spirit and light shine through your words.

    I wish you the very very best on your new journey.

    Let me know if you need anything.

  6. Oh Savannah, your story and ours are so similar. We are still at the stage where the baby furniture sits in an unused room...and we talk about why we haven't completed closed down our file. One day, I am going to write our version of your post...but I am not quiet there yet.

    I am comforted to know that there are others like us. That is normal to accept that we are a family of two. That you debated about seeing a counselor...and battled over antidepressents (been there, done that too!).

    We have been wounded, but we are determined to have a most meaningful life...even if it is just the two of us.