Cancer Ever After

Musings on Infertility, Adoption, Cancer and Widowhood.

My Heart Fell to the Floor

“I’ve been having regular back pains. I’m heading to the ER.”

My phone was dead and it had been a crazy morning. By the time I got my phone plugged in, this text was over an hour old. My heart stopped. My first thought was, “Back labor–she’s having the baby and it’s too soon!” When I was pregnant, I had gone into premature labor at 26 weeks and she was close to that. Up until that moment, it had not occurred to me that our birth mother would have any trouble in her pregnancy, or that there was any chance she could go into labor really early or lose the baby. This may seem odd, given the smorgasbord of complications I’ve experienced in my own pregnancies, but in my mind, getting pregnant easily seemed tied to an uneventful pregnancy.

Our birth mother doesn’t have a car. I contacted her–no response. So I called someone right away to see if she had contacted them for a ride to the hospital. Waiting on that answer seemed to take forever. There were frantic phone calls to Tim (he was out running errands with the girls). He talked me off the ledge. Then I got my first update–she had been to the small local hospital and they were sending her to a larger hospital with a labor and delivery department in the neighboring town (yes, in small towns there are hospitals that don’t deliver babies). The good news was that it didn’t appear to be labor. It was a 30 mile drive to the bigger hospital, so I had to wait another hour and a half for an update: the baby was putting pressure on her sciatic nerve, causing the pain.

I was immediately relieved, but at the same time was struck by the unfairness. I’ve had friends who had sciatic pain during pregnancy (thankfully I only had mine for a few days afterwards), and I know it is absolutely excruciating. The fact that she has to deal with this pain day in and out during the remainder of her pregnancy struck me as somehow adding insult to injury. She’s going through so much and then giving this baby to us. I know pregnancy and adoption aren’t easy, but I think this process has moved so quickly that I haven’t thought through all of the nuances. Will having to go through so much to carry this baby make her more reluctant to give him up? Perhaps. What manner of strength will it take to hand him over to us? How much faith does she have in our ability to love and care for him?

I am humbled by the responsibility and in awe of that strength. Someday our son needs to know that even though she allowed us to raise and love him, she loved him first. She carried him. She endured the pains of pregnancy and labor. It’s hard to say what their relationship will be like over the years. How will he feel about having other siblings that she kept (she’s young, it’s certainly possible)? Open adoptions can fade with time, or they can become awesomely close relationships–a true expansion of family.

It’s too soon to know what ours will be, or if it even will be for sure. But I’m ready for that story to unfold.

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