love and fear

Nearly four months have passed since we first heard about K and her situation. It’s been over three months since we met K and she asked us to parent her baby before she was even halfway to term. It seems like not so long ago I was feeling as if June 1 would not come soon enough.  And now it’s just two quick months away…

K now has just nine short weeks until her due date. Single digits we’re talking. It’s hard to believe she’s in her 32nd week of pregnancy. She continues to feel the baby move often, though we haven’t felt more than a rump and maybe a foot or an elbow. Though she’s not ready yet, K’s body is beginning the hard work of preparing for labor. Let’s hope Baby gets a couple more months to cook just right though…  

As for us, you could say that time both flies and stands still. The relativity of time still blows my mind. One day K’s due date feels like an eternity away, and the next day I get anxious about all that needs to happen between now and then. I often feel that way with an approaching deadline, and I imagine others ponder the passage of time this way as well.

But it feels different as a prospective adoptive mom. For those who have adopted domestically or experienced things going horribly wrong in pregnancy, maybe you can appreciate the tremendous sense of uncertainty involved. Everything feels tentative. Time feels warped. My thoughts are all jumbled. It’s difficult to plan anything. I want to plan everything. Yet I can’t, so I don’t. Clearly I have no control, so why bother. Relent. Submiss. Surrender. Repeat.  

For me, there is an alternating sense of either inertia or overdrive that commands this warped sense of reality. I have trouble managing both. Example: my lists are out of control; I’m tracking all the things we will need, making a budget. But I can’t seem to move ahead on decorating a nursery. Doesn’t our child deserve a little whimsy and color? 

This is not so for everyone, I realize. I know waiting families who seem to have it together. While they wait, they create lovely nurseries complete with beautiful murals and crib bumpers. They fill dressers with adorably tiny clean baby clothes. They have shiny new SUVs with carseats installed. They’re on waiting lists for pre-schools and pediatricians. Not me… 

There will be no showers here, no early registry gifts. People aren’t really asking what we need, unless they’re looking to get rid of the stuff in their garage. We are getting some good support, and a few family members are trying to help us prepare. Yet people realize there is not yet cause for celebration. This child to be born is not yet ours. Should s/he become our child, it will be at the loss of  a wonderful woman who we have grown to love. People just aren’t quite sure what to make of our situation. 

It’s clear we are getting excited. Yet I temper most conversations with the obligatory “anything can happen, of course.” Just so they know. And we know.

We’ve given people permission to be excited, because we are. They can feel cautious too, that’s appropriate. But not fearful. The comments that come from a place of fear are troubling to me. I disregard them and find myself doing a little educating too. It’s not just about us. It’s about this baby and what’s best for him/her. It’s about K and what’s best for her. We don’t want people to judge the situation. It’s not their place. It is what it is. And this may be our child’s story. Tread lightly, people. 

When others see that we embrace this possibility with open hearts, there are usually two reactions: love and fear. It’s been very interesting to notice this. The love reaction is: how wonderful, what a beautiful way to build your family, excitement about the connection, genuine joy, etc. The fear reaction (at least the one we see) is: when does she sign, are you sure you really want to [insert any thing we’re planning], or, I knew someone whose adoption failed, and what would you do if [blablablah]…

If this placement were to fall through and we were crushed, that would be so regardless of how we feel right now. Our heart has already opened to K and to this child. We can’t help that. And why should we? As long as we maintain appropriate respect for K and her choices, we have nothing to gain by withholding our hearts (as if that were possible), yet everything still to lose.

We are so fortunate to have K in our lives at this critical moment. We are grateful for this opportunity. And ultimately that’s what this is — a chance; not a sure thing. A good chance, perhaps. At times we feel as though this baby is “meant” for us. We know K feels good about her decision. But we also know that whatever happens, happens. We can not and would not want to change that. In essence, we’re just along for the ride. 

A friend likened our approach to holding something wonderful and precious in the palm of your hand. You can marvel and awe at its beauty and nature, you can appreciate how lovely it feels at this very moment. But you can’t grasp too tightly or you will distort it, maybe destroy it. The more tightly you grasp, the more quickly it will slip right through your fingers…

What choice do you have but to stand in awe, or run in fear?

~ by luna on March 31, 2009.

25 Responses to “love and fear”

  1. I have to admit here that I don’t even know what to say here. It’s a beautiful post. I can’t imagine what you and M are feeling right now with the excitement, love, and fear and any thing else thats there. Thinking of you all and hoping for the best possible outcome for everyone.

  2. I think you must be the wisest person I know. Not that I really know you or claim to be able to fully grasp what you are going through. But you seem to be handling all of this with so much grace. I think about the time issue a lot. No matter if I want something to come sooner or later, I always find some comfort in the fact that regardless of what it feels like, time moves at the same pace without me having any control over it. It is as inevitable as death and taxes.

  3. Oh Luna, your friend summed it up beautifully. I’m so glad you can voice your thoughts in this forum. This post is one of the reasons I visit this blog. Thank you for letting us take a peek into your mind.

  4. Just beautiful, dear. Keep feeding your huge, vibrant heart and let the practical stuff get done when it gets done.

    Waiting with you…

  5. First I just want to say how excited I get when I see you have a new post up!

    Second, thank you for writing so honestly and carefully about this process. I never had any real idea of what everyone involved goes through. It’s one of the most emotionally complex situations I can imagine. Joy and loss are are so intertwined that hey are almost the same thing.

    I find myself holding my breath for you…wanting to jump-up with excitement for you…learning through your example to live with the uncertainty.

    The responses of the people you know are understandable. People just want the best for you and don’t want to see you get hurt…all they can do is project their experiences onto your situation. It takes a lot of patience to deal with the reactions of other people. My own parents refuse to talk to me about my pregnancy (other than the “How are you feeling?”. My sister told me that they are so worried they just don’t want to think about it or count on it. I have to love them for being so worried for me.

  6. Stand in awe. I think you’re amazing and wise and brave and awesome! Waiting here with you, filled with hope for you all.

  7. Living in the moment is all we can do…and yours is pregnant will all sorts of wonderful potential.

  8. I just emailed you prior to reading this post. I saw your situation differently then I see it now. It really isn’t that much different than how I saw my pregnancy. I could never count on having a baby, not even while in labor. I could only count on having a baby right now, in this moment. And you do. In this moment you have a baby even s/he isn’t growing inside you.

    As for getting stuff ready. I got diapers about a week before my due date. I bought some onesies and hats about the same time. I got a car seat a week AFTER my due date.

    Maybe LB deserved a nursery and a crib and all those things, but we seem to be doing fine without them. The only thing I have added since she was born was a changing table that doubles as a dresser. I have no regrets that I wasn’t able to count on a baby because I really did enjoy the moments while suspending a belief about the eventual outcome.

    Only 9 weeks left. Wow.

  9. I can relate to the sometimes exhausting necessity of educating the people you love who are fearful for your situation; there can be a fine line between protection and projection. You have ventured into unknown and therefore scary territory from their perspective, but you are not only doing just fine; you are paving the way for many of your readers, setting an example of how sorrow, courage and hope can open your heart to love that is bigger than you ever imagined. How can you do anything but stand in awe of what you’ve created?!!

  10. I stand in awe of all of you. Thank you for taking us with you.

  11. Sending you hugs.

  12. What a beautiful post. You have it seems already built a family, in your hearts, anyway. And soon,should all go well (I believe it will) in your arms. The nursery whimsy will come, with the wonder of your child, I think.

  13. I’m hanging on to your words here, Luna, knowing full well how tentative things are. I guess that’s the hard part for me – I’m no good at waiting. It’s a practice in a way. “Relent. Submiss. Surrender. Repeat.” I love that line. Will be chanting for both of us today.

  14. It’s such a weird place to be, where you are, and I mean that in a nice way. You’re so close, it’s so damned POSSIBLE finally, but it’s also not possible, so I get the hesitation. The excitement, but cautious, is just about the best you can do right now. I sure hope this all works out and you get your happy ending finally:-)

  15. Luna – You are f*ckin amazing. SO right. so right. What do you have to loose by with-holding your heart. Your generous spirit and openess,both individually and as a couple makes a rock solid foundation for anything the future has in store for you. I’m getting excited. I am really starting to feel that. I know you will be way more than OK. Whatever this future holds.

    Nursery painting can wait. No baby loss mamas truly believe they will bring home a baby until they do. Remember Kami? She barely believed it even in labour. Whatever prep you have not done in practical terms you have done so throughly and completely in your heart and mind. It is inspiringly courageous.


  16. THANK YOU for taking the time to write this out. It fits perfectly into my head right now, along with all my own thoughts as we wait for baby. We are matched with a birthmom who is due in 18 days. Many of the same thoughts and emotions are going through my head, driving me insane! Yu typed them out so nicely and neatly, that it somehow made ME feel okay/sane/not-so-whacko again. Thank you. I really hope you dont mind that I linked you oin my blog in my latest post. I’ll be thinking about you and keeping you in our prayers! Thanks again.

  17. Oh Luna, this is exactly how I felt when we were waiting for Sam, except we felt it in a shorter time period. The roller-coaster is excruciating. I love you and I’m hugging you from here. And I’m holding my breath with you.

  18. Hi this post took me back almost 14 years ago when we were approached by lawyer acting on a birthmothers behalf! We had the most amazingly emotion 6 weeks until Aiden came home with us! He was born and we meet him at 4.5 months of age and he came home with us 6 weeks later! His birth father contested the adoption. We even thought we would walk away!
    The funny thing is we have a true open adoption family is family and when we adopted again and again our children became the birthfamilies children too! So our beautiful children have 5 sets of grandparents they share! and many cousins and Auntiesnad uncles! Open adoption can be so much work and yet the reward for everyone is huge! I send you only what we did during this wait we bought one outfit! and that was with the birth mother at a craft show we visited with our son before he came to live with us!
    I did go shopping and ask IF I was to buy this could it be delivered the same day? Do you have it in stock? Would it fit in my car? Then I had my list and budget and the day we were awarded custody we the Adoptive family and Birth mother went shopping in 2 hours I had everything I needed for that moment! and I went home with my in laws and DH and BM went and collected the child from Daycare and brought him home!
    Yes there were things that we didn’t get but then others brought them! And what was important was until he was coming home I couldn’t buy anything! There were no gaurntees! Do what your heart tells you to do! don’t stress the small stuff! Such as Nursery etc! And at least in the States you can make baby registers so other know what you want and need!
    Hugs In your journey and we send positive vibes for the safe delivery of k’s baby and yours too!

  19. […] a long time, I wavered between embracing the uncertainty and accepting the fear before I could completely let go and flow with this process. Time was relative and distorted, and it […]

  20. […] In January, on the day that our nation ushered in a new era of “hope,” we heard our daughter’s heartbeat for the first time. We continued to build a relationship with K, spending afternoons together, meeting her family, cooking her dinner. We tried to give K plenty of space and ensure that she was free to change her mind. I embraced the uncertainty and gave up on the illusion of control. I tried not to be overwhelmed by the jumble of thoughts in my head at any given time. I chose love over fear. […]

  21. […] reminded of something someone said while we were waiting for Baby J to be born. When you hold something so precious in the palm of your […]

  22. […] accepted a certain level of risk — emotional and financial — because we decided we didn’t want to be ruled by fear. We decided to open to the possibility of love and grew to love both K and her baby, well before we […]

  23. […] talked about the risk of feeling vulnerable with emotional investment. We discussed how, as you focus on the needs of the child, you realize […]

  24. […] first I had no real idea what it involved, what it was, what it looked like. I worked to overcome my initial fears and insecurities about opening my heart as I learned more about truly child-centered adoption. Then I had to […]

  25. […] that this particular excerpt from Chapter One, from a post written four years ago, was about love and fear. I literally opened the book the moment it arrived and opened to this page. When I tweeted this, Mac […]

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