I received an email a few days ago from a recent birthmother. I was so appreciative that she felt safe enough to share her story with me. She asked me what I suggest to deal with the adoption. What can some one do 3 months after, 6 months after, or 1 year after. Here are some of my late night thoughts.
Wouldn't it be nice if there was a simple secret formula that would help get through at least the first year after placement with out that constant deep pain in the heart? What I wouldn't give to discover that! Even a list of Dr's orders that would cure the sleepless nights, and fill the emptiness inside would be nice. It'd be REALLY nice. Sometimes the only way to keep going is to literally make yourself put one foot in front of the other. It's hard. But I can tell you it does get easier.
I don't have that magic formula but I do have ideas. They wont fix it all and they are not scientifically tested. They are only suggestions pulled from my own memories and experiences. Take them for what they are worth.
Talk about your baby. I took every chance I could to talk about B to any trusted ear that would listen. Sometimes I think my friends and family got weary of my repeated stories, but telling other people about B's first blow out really kept him real for me. It was healing. It fulfilled that motherly desire to talk about my child and marvel at every cute little first. The people who would marvel with me will never know how much they meant to me and how instrumental they were in my healing.
Cry. It's ok to cry. It's good to get it out. There were days I cried until I didn't have any tears left and all I could do was lay there motionless and numb. I was purging that pain until I couldn't feel it anymore and THAT felt good.
Fake it. Put on a smile and tell yourself you are going to pretend to be happy today. Some days I would have to get up and make the conscious decision, "Deborah, you are going to pretend to be happy today." It was all I could to to sit in a room and half smile instead of bursting into tears. I hate it when people know that I am sad. And I hate crying in front of people. So I would fake it. And actually....It really helped. And then eventually I had to pretend less and less.
Make yourself laugh. Release those much needed endorphins. Force yourself to go to a comedy. Spend more time with your silly friends. Or one of my favorites is to stand in front of the mirror and let out your best belly laugh. It may sound strage but it works. Don't be embarrassed because it's just you. Eventually you'll feel so silly that your laugh turns into a real one.
Be good to yourself. Get enough sleep. Eat your vegetables. Eat chocolate. Exercise to work off the chocolate. Sometimes you just need to show yourself some good old TLC.
Do something. Get a hobby, start a class, go out with friends. I had to do something that got me off the couch and gave my mind a break from the hard work of grieving.
Make time to be alone. Even if it is just in the shower. I sometimes took multiple showers a day. For some reason I felt like when I was in the shower the sound of the water would drown out the sound of my sobs. And when I was in the shower people were definitely going to leave me alone.
Journal. Write your feelings. Getting my feelings out on paper made them organized and tangible. After they were there in front of me I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I could close my journal and feel relief for a little while. It helped to understand what was going on inside my head.
Feed your spirit. Pray. Read your scriptures. I believe in God. I strongly believe in God. I know for a fact that on my hardest days when I didn't want to keep going, God came to my rescue. I could not and still could not make it through my adoption journey without him. And actually when there are times that my faith wavers and I wonder if it's all true, it is the the first few months after placement that I look back on and then I can not deny that there is a God because he was definitely with me then.
Feel it. Allow yourself to stop for a moment and feel the pain. Sometimes it's in your heart, sometimes it's in your stomach, and sometimes it's in your whole body. But feel it. Feel it deeply. If you don't feel it then it will be your constant companion.
These are all suggestions that helped me get through the first year after placement and they are things that I still use 8 years after placement.
My heart goes out to you. I wish there was something I could do to make it easier for you. Do what feels right for you. One of the reasons I started this blog was because 3 months after my placement all I wanted was to talk to another birth mom. (Adoptions were much less open then and birth moms were not as accessible to me) I only wanted to ask one question. That question was "will it get better?" I ached to hear someone who had been through it tell me that it got easier and I would be able to breath again.
Friend, it does get better. You will be able to breath a little more and more everyday. Let yourself feel it right now and the pain will eventually dull. I promise after this you will know for sure that you can do hard things.
I love you,
B's Birth Mom