I’ve always wanted a little girl. A couple of years ago I was absolutely certain that another baby was in the cards for us and I thought, “Hey, since we have to adopt why not take advantage of the fact that we can request the gender!” We would have named her Madeleine Stina. Isn’t that fun? She would have gone by Maddie, of course. I had the nursery narrowed down to two choices, lavender gerbera daisies or yellow, pink, and blue butterflies. I even have pictures. Is that pathetic? I still day-dream about buying her darling dresses and pink bows. I think about all of the inventive things I could do with her hair. I walk through the store and see the Disney Princess dolls and fantasize about all of the movies I’d introduce her to. I would want to raise her to be strong yet feminine. I’d teach her that if a boy doesn’t like her just the way she is then it’s time to move on to one who does. Her two older brothers would probably tease her mercilessly but I know that they would also adore and protect her. I can see Greg grilling her dates and although that might embarrass her in the extreme, deep down she would know that it is because he cares. Ah the fun we’d have had with another girl in the house!
Reality is harsh sometimes and as I snap back to it I realized that in order to enjoy another child I’d have to trudge through the adoption process all over again. If you’ve read my blog you know just how emotionally, spiritually, and financially draining adoption can be. After our youngest son’s adoption was finalized I felt as if I’d been through one of the biggest battles of my life. Little did I know that my body was about to wage a war that is taking my “everything” to survive.
Alex, my youngest, is 5 going on 6. In those few years our lives have been turned upside down. When he was 3 I was just beginning to feel that maybe, just maybe, I might be up for another attempt at adoption. In a previous post I wrote about Greg and his diagnosis with ADD. This diagnosis came around the same time that I was mentally trying to gear myself up to start the adoption process. If you’ve been through an adoption you know what I mean when I say “gearing up” it isn’t something that you just do. I wish that it was like grocery shopping. Wouldn’t that be great? You drive up to the store with your “fresh baby” value card, get your baby cart from the stash near the entry, and then go browse for the baby you want. It would even be equipped with a self checkout where you’d scan the baby’s bar code and… tah dah! You have a brand new infant ready to take home. Oh, if only! Whelp… It doesn’t work like that, dang it! Especially after the harrowing year we’d had trying to adopt Alex I wasn’t really looking forward to doing it all again. I also wasn’t thrilled about the idea of, once again, emptying our bank accounts and starting over with our finances once it was all said and done. Even if there were a discount baby store available we’d have struggled to make ends meet.
Then it was time for the other shoe to drop and my health worsened. I’ve always had strange symptoms but up until a year and a half ago they’d been transient enough that I’ve had significant breaks between flare ups. Silly me, how did I not realize that those years were the calm before a major storm? Most people don’t realize that in order to adopt agencies require a doctor’s release. Even if I could get a doctor to sign off on me, it really wouldn’t be fair seeing as I can hardly care for the family I have let alone myself and a baby these days. So the decision was made. Between Greg’s ADD, Sean’s Asperger’s, and, most of all, my ill-health the dream of a baby girl was put to rest.
I can’t tell you how hard that was. We’d saved all of the baby stuff, a crib, jogger strollers, play pens, a baby swing, high chairs, blankets, a baby tub… the list goes on and on but you get the point. I had saved it all, fueling my hopes for a third child. When I finally and truly let go of my fantasy I cried for days. I can still feel the fresh heart-break, this was only last summer. I’ve been meaning to blog about it for some time but it still hurts enough to make sharing it difficult on so many levels. I watch my friends and neighbors with little girls and I’ll be honest… I am envious. Really and truly envious, I think, “How did they get so lucky? Why not me? I used to have so much to give.” This is yet one more sacrifice I’ve had to make because of my illnesses. It gets really old and I try so very hard not let it all make me bitter. I don’t feel vibrant and energetic anymore, I don’t feel like I have anything left to give, and it hurts.
Once the decision was made I knew I needed to get rid of the baby stuff as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. I couldn’t stand to have all of those reminders hanging about. I’d open the closet where we were storing all the goods and my heart would ache, physically ache so that I thought my chest might explode with the pain. We sold everything we could and what didn’t sell we simply gave away so that I didn’t have to face it anymore. As each item left the house I felt a little bit of weight lift from my shoulders. I had no idea just how tense I had been feeling about the situation. I kept one final item aside for just a few weeks. It was the diaper bag. Don’t ask me why this article in particular was so difficult for me to part with. Maybe it was because when Alex was born we were absolutely financially destitute but we desperately needed a new diaper bag and so I saved a few dollars here and there as I was able and that was my gift to myself, a new diaper bag. I know it sounds trivial, but when you have to scrimp and save for such a relatively small item, that item holds more meaning in the end.
The poor bag was SO used that I didn’t even feel good about giving it away, it just needed to be put in the trash. Yet there I was with such a sentimental thing and the garbage can looking so ominous, I could hardly stand the thought of what I needed to do. This was my last tangible connection to the dreams of raising a little girl. I knew that, had we adopted another baby, I would have had to purchase a new bag anyway but I was hurting and had attached all of those dreams to that pathetic looking bag. I clutched it to my chest as I cried; the physical pain unbearable. Why did I have to let go of this dream? Was it because I wasn’t a good mom? Did God think that I wasn’t good enough to raise another child? Maybe I didn’t deserve another baby? All of these questions flitted through my mind as I pondered this sad twist of fate. Deep down I know that none of those ideas hold any value. God is not displeased with me; this is not the way he works. We live in an imperfect world and he knows that imperfect circumstances will arise. Just as we allow our own children to suffer certain events so that they will learn and grow so too does God allow us to traverse through hardship so that we progress toward our true potential.
I finally let the diaper bag go. I stood and looked at it sitting in our garbage can for a few minutes, it looked so sad… I closed the lid and took a deep breath. I did it, I let it go. It obviously still pains me, more because I hate that my body does not allow me to attain some of my deepest desires. I long to know what it is like to be pregnant. I desperately want to be able to run and play with my kids as I used to. I am sick and tired of sitting on the sidelines of my own life. Lately it seems to be passing me by as I struggle through pain and fatigue.
And yet… I am determined not to let all of this get the better of me. This experience has helped me to cherish the two children I have even more, if that was ever possible. I love them heart and soul nevertheless, after I let go of my desires for a little girl, these two boys have filled that place to overflowing. I will not allow this to make me bitter. It is a choice, one that requires constant diligence and effort, but it is still my choice and I choose to be happy! I choose to overcome the grief and the agony of lost dreams and appreciate the great blessings that I do have. It is not always easy to have this outlook, as I mentioned before it takes work but I know that Heavenly Father is there to help me through. My God and my Savior know how much this hurts and they are there to comfort and guide me every step of the way.
Being sick just bites! But for every sacrifice I am asked to make, for every desire I must push aside, there is a subsequent and beautiful blessing to fill the gaps. I just have to remember to open my eyes and see it!