surprised by grief

About six months after Gabriel was born, some close friends of ours here in town gave birth to their second child.  When we arrived at the hospital to visit them and meet the new baby, I was surprised by a flood of tears right outside the door to their hospital room.  Visits like this had been torture for the past few years, but I had thought that now that I was a mom I’d be fine.  The trigger for me had been realizing that we would never have a “happy” hospital visit where friends and family could drop by to meet and admire the baby and say all of the, “congratulations, wow! you look amazing!” sort of compliments.  Instead, the hospital experiences for our children would be marked by sadness and that careful dancing step we do during the “48+ hour wait.”  Plus, instead of being surrounded by our own family and friends, we were surrounded by family and friends of the birthfamily (who are most likely not there to support us, so we’re navigating those first tender days of newborn life much more alone than we would be in the comfort of our own hometown).

It’s possible that during Gabriel’s days in the hospital we danced too close to the sad side.  The adoption worker told us that Gabriel’s birthmother had commented  that we didn’t even seem all that happy or excited about the baby (I guess we’d been trying to remain somewhat neutral so she wouldn’t feel like we were pressuring her to place).  Thankfully, the caseworker was able to explain to her that we were probably trying not to “rub it [our happiness] in” and after we’d learned that (and after placement) we felt a little easier about letting our happiness shine through to our son’s amazing birthfamily. We realized that one of the rewards that she reaped in placing her child with us was the joy of helping to create a family for people unable to do so for themselves and we needed to make sure that she witnessed that joy!

I realize that building a family through adoption is different from building a family the more traditional method in MANY ways with much larger and long-ranging griefs than the details of the hospital stay, so it seems somewhat petty to even bring this up (especially when the birthfamily is experiencing a grief so much more profound at this same time), but it’s just one of the infertility griefs I was surprised by.  We’ll see if our “dance” is any more graceful the second time around.


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