What It Feels Like To Be A Birthmother

The small window that sits above the kitchen sink is just big enough to feel the heat of the sun upon my face. I load the dishes into the dishwasher as I hear the laughter of my three children. They chase each other then fall to the ground completely entertained by the fresh air and the dancing trees around them. 

I find myself in this position often, watching the three of them in awe that they are mine. I reflect on the pregnancy and birth of each one of them and what beautiful miracles they are.

I send gratitude to the sky to be their mother, to teach them, to love them, but more importantly to learn from them. I cannot imagine one without the other and the different roles and personalities that they bring into our home. 

Then I think about her and how it would be, four of them, laughing under the dancing trees. I close my eyes and I see her there, guiding the three younger with grace.

I picture what her room would look like in our home. I wonder what role she would play as the oldest of four. I close my eyes, in the middle of loading the dishes, and let the hurt sink into every pore of my body.

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The longing to know her is sometimes too intense to ignore. I will allow the emotions to surface, accept whatever comes through, then send love and kindness her way. 

Many times these daydreams will lead to unwanted night terrors. The thought of her subconsciously brings on a recurring nightmare that has been persistent for seventeen years now.

The person who enters to take my beautiful baby can differ, but the idea that she is being taken away from me is all the same. I wake myself up from the loudness of my own cries or my husband will hear me first and reach over to calm me.

By now, I have learned to simply roll over and focus on something peaceful and I’ll quickly fall back to sleep. 

I have found that my daily thoughts of her have diminished since the earlier years but that doesn’t stop my three children from thinking they see her in the grocery store, at the park, or even standing in the school bus line.

Every time this new exciting discovery finds its way into their faces my heart breaks. The yearning they have to know her and see her is deep within them as it is me. Our conversations about meeting her have guarded hopefulness.

“Maybe we will meet her someday.”

“Yes, maybe you can give her a Christmas present when she’s eighteen years old.”

Their curiosity about this magical eighteen number also worries me. It may not be when she’s eighteen, it could be when she is thirty years old. I cannot encourage their excitement nor can I prepare them for never meeting her.

In my heart, I do the same, never allowing myself to see the first conversation we will have nor allow my mind to believe I will never see her again. 

I have been a birthmother for so long now I don’t remember what it feels like to not be one. I know there is a hole in my heart, where she once was that is now empty.

I know that having my three children did not fill this hole. I know I’ve wasted many years trying to fill something that is unfillable. I know grief has taught me to love deeper, stronger, and with more gratitude.

I also know that it’s okay to have a hole in your heart. That space is for her and when I let the wave of emotions take over me it feels larger than life, but when I accept its existence and carry on with my day, I’m happy and I’m okay. 

Becoming a birthmother didn’t mean that my life went back to how it was before I was pregnant. Life went on, but I became stronger. I learned how to battle grief. I was gifted gratitude for the children I was given. I was given a purpose to become something better. 

So how does it feel to be a birthmother?

Every day I am reminded, either by my children or by my own thoughts, that I gave the most valuable gift that could ever be given. And when you gift something that valuable, you feel both the depth of its absence and the intense reward in the giving. 

I choose to hold my head high. I choose to walk taller. I choose to be proud of the decision I made and the title I hold as a birthmother. No shame or regret will force me to feel embarrassed of who I am. 

Being a birthmother feels as courageous as reaching the highest summit. The view from the top is both frightening and incredibly rewarding.

The more I embrace this calling of being a birthmother and don’t shy away from the grief, the stronger I become! 

I will continue to watch my children in awe. I will roll over and talk myself back to restful sleep after nightmares.

I will continue to tell my adoption story with pride because being a birthmother is something I will always be proud of. 

{article orginally posted here}