10 months of pregnancy. I know we’re used to hearing 9 but really, 40 weeks is closer to 9 and a half and, if you go late like I did, that’s nearing 10. 10 damn months pregnant. 10 months of pain, anticipation, questioning, excitement, expecting, over-thinking…
For me, the over-thinking part is big. Can I do this? What will the labour be like? Who will they be? How will life change? Will they be an “easy” baby or a difficult one? Will I be capable? What will life look like in a year from now?
Even with the simplest of matters, I over-think. Did I come across the way I meant to in that conversation? Will I be able to handle this workload? But with a pregnancy? Yeesh. 10 months is a long time to over-think about something.
Joy turns 10 in February. I met her when she was only a few days old and now, in a mere matter of weeks, she will turn a decade. Double digits.
I feel so many things about this fact that I’m finding it difficult to put in a cohesive sentence. There are so many thoughts/feelings colliding through my body, I feel like if I put it on page, it will just look like a car crash; a wreckage of words to describe the wreckage of my own consciousness.
I feel so many damn things about the fact that Joy is about to turn 10…
I feel like a failure; like how on EARTH after all this time, have I failed to make her my daughter? Sure, it’s not for want of trying. Sure, it’s not something within my realm of control, but still. In a very pragmatic––I would like to adopt and raise this child, yet ten years later that is still not a reality––kind of way, I have failed. I have failed myself and I have failed her.
And I get it. We have no control over this. So many insane things have happened over the years and the international laws governing adoption are incredibly complex and important. This equation is much more than US+ JOY=Happy Ever After. So much more than Prayers= Answers. There are so many factors at play I am aware of that, by this point, I could write a Thesis on international adoption laws, ethical orphan care, bureaucracy, so on & so forth. It’d be a headache, but I could do it.
My brain has the answers to why it has taken so long. My brain tells me that our family is part of complex systems much greater than ourselves and that bureaucracy can be a b!*¡*.
But my heart tells me that we love Joy, she loves us, and she should be our legal daughter by now.
I’ve spent a lot of time going down that rabbit hole of questioning and surrendering and challenging and testing… but ultimately, just on a feelings-basis; Joy is my daughter, and I feel like I have failed her.
Ten freaking years. I mean, seriously! Have you tried to accomplish a task for ten years and STILL not completed it?! Have you wanted something as badly as we have wanted this?!
Each month of a standard pregnancy has been stretched to the equivalence of one year for us. It has stretched out, worn us thin, and given ample time for me to over-think the hell out of it.
Will I be a good mother to Joy? Will I be a good mother to my other kids? A good wife to Tim? Will I be patient enough, strong enough, able enough? A lot of the time, I think no. And I’m sure there will be many days where that is the case. Will I drown in my anxiety? Will I be what Joy needs, will I have enough of myself leftover for what I need?
Newborns are unpredictable. A ten year old with special needs is a mystery. And I don’t mean that in a bad way… just that we literally have no idea what to expect.
A lot of time I am scared that I won’t have what it takes, that I’ll let that little voice that points out my inequities take over. I am seriously scared that after all this time, there will be some things that are just too late. Too late to alter the course of her development. Too late to unlearn her sense of abandonment. Too late for therapists and doctors. Too late for proper attachment and bonding.
Ten months of over-thinking is hard. Ten years is torture.
Each year that passes, the things I overthink about change as she gets older. As we get older. I used to imagine bouncing Joy on my hip at church. Now I imagine her running around with the big kids, eyes wild with excitement. I used to change her diapers and imagine how potty-training would go, now I think about the fact that puberty is around the corner. I used to imagine baby-proofing cupboards, now I wonder just how high we can latch a front door. Joy has outgrown my thoughts like the way she’s outgrown the clothes we’ve bought for her over the years; slipping through my imaginings without a chance to try them on.
And I feel robbed. I feel robbed of time with her. Of time to help shape the person she will become, of nights tucking her in or bringing down her fevers. Of teaching her songs that become ours, of knowing what triggers her so I can learn how to bring her back to peace.
And sometimes I feel like, if she’s made it this far without me… maybe she doesn’t need me at all.
I certainly don’t applaud my over-thinking. What can at times be a strength for me also has its vices. But 10 years guys… my girl is about to turn 10. I’m about to miss her blowing out ten candles on a cake, after missing all but one of her birthdays.
I am so OVER over-thinking.
I’m more than ready to have my thoughts silenced by sliding next to Joy on the couch, wrapping my arm around her, and letting the way our eyes settle on each other pull me into the present. Of her and I together, and just seeing how this goes…