“How old is he?”, asked the gentleman sitting next to me in the car dealership waiting room. “He’s almost a year old”, I replied. “Our baby is due to in two weeks!”, he said with excitement in his voice. “Wonderful. Are you having a boy or girl?”, I asked. “Boy”, he said.
We continued to talk about the differences between boys and girls. After his name was called to pick up his car, I said, “Good luck and congratulations with your new little one.” He thanked me and went on his way.
I did not want to explain that I had not given birth to the little guy in the stroller next to me, or that he was my little cousin, or any other detail surrounding our relationship. I also chose not to explain that my kiddos are adopted. It seems there is a time and place for that, and this was not one of them. The remainder of my wait time for the service on my car, I thought about how exuberant he was about his baby growing inside of the woman he loved. Sometimes, these conversations affect me, and cause me to think about my experience with motherhood.
Truth be told, I sometimes forget that I didn’t give birth to my children; and yet, at other times, I’m keenly aware that I did not carry them. Right before our oldest son’s adoption, I was able to review the entire protective services file for him. I took notes, wrote down names, and read it as if I had not heard the information before. I had heard it before, but seeing it, reading it, and soaking it in, was a whole new experience.
I turned the pages as if reading a novel. I felt sadness at times for what must have been a difficult road for his birth mother, and then, my sadness turned to anger when reading about some of the choices she made when pregnant. This experience was the first time I actually felt anger towards his birth mother, and towards the not-so-healthy start he had at life; still yet, I carried such empathy for her.
My daughter was born and basically abandoned due to circumstances beyond (in some respects) her birth parents’ control. I heard what the social workers suspected her birth mother did during pregnancy, but, there is no written proof of any of it. She was born, brought into protective services, placed in a foster home, and then moved to our home. It really felt as if she was forgotten about by the one person who brought her into this world.
If I had carried my children in my womb, I would have not made the same choices. I would have gone above and beyond to protect my babies before they were born. I would have taken any class offered on prenatal care. I would have seen a nutritionist, read all of the books and articles I could get my hands on, taken the necessary supplements, and done anything else that contributed to the health of my children growing inside of me.
I would have carried their ultrasound pictures around as if they were flags of victory. I would have kept people guessing on the genders until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I missed the kicks in the belly, the swollen feet, the flushed feelings, and the nesting time. I missed the look on the faces of loved ones when announcing our new arrivals.
I would have bought cute “going home” outfits before leaving the hospital. Their nurseries would have been ready for their arrivals. I would have kept their names secret, but only for a little while. I would have invited my mom to my doctor’s appointments. I would have taken as much maternity leave as I could. The minute I held them, I would have known they were mine forever. I missed out on carrying the most important gifts I have ever received.
Do I wish that I had carried my children in my body? Yes, of course I do. I wish I would have experienced feeling them growing inside of me. I wish I would have had nine months to fall in love with them. I wish I would have had my bags packed by the door in anticipation of their impending births. I wish I would have felt labor pains as they made their way into the world. I wish for all of the experiences of being pregnant.
Do you want to know something amazing though?
Even though I missed out on carrying my children in my body, and even though I would have made difference choices had they grown in my womb, I know that my children were meant to be mine. I know it…I feel it. They are an extension of who I am, and who my husband is. I do not regret the path I have walked to be a mother.
They are the living, breathing, walking, and delightful embodiment of the hope I had for the future. They are the promised answers of a faithful Father who heard my prayers and pleads to be a mother. They are examples of goodness that is born out of awful circumstances. They represent God-given strength, and the resilience of children whose start in life was a challenge.
Earlier in the week, I woke up, and read this email that was sent to me from a friend:
New Living Translation (NLT)
3 The Lord will comfort Israel again
and have pity on her ruins.
*** Her desert will blossom like Eden,
her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found there. ***
Read this scripture tonight and thought of you 🙂
I didn’t carry my children in my body, and in many ways, I wish I would have….but….the joy found when our lives collided with each other is something that I would never trade.
I meandered my way through the barren wilderness, and walked out of it with joy, gladness, and blessed beyond measure.
Thank you, Father, for reminding me in small and big ways just how faithful You are in listening, guiding, and gracefully giving me gifts that keep on giving.