July 12, 2008

On Not Being Pregnant

I’ve often heard that when you’re pregnant, your sense of smell is heightened significantly. That the smell of perfumes, food, or body odor can be pungent and make you feel sick. I’ve also heard that after you’ve become sick from one of these pungencies, you can’t hardly stand to smell that again after you’ve had the baby and sometimes for many years to come. To this day, my mother can’t stand the smell of Shower to Shower bath powder, because she got too strong a whiff of it while pregnant some 20+ years ago and threw up. Twenty years later, she’s still avoiding it like the plague. Sounds terrible.

I hear that while you’re pregnant, you’re very emotional. Your hormones are out of control and you can cry at the drop of a hat, or laugh hysterically at something silly. Or that you lose control of your bladder. A simple cough and sputter sends you running for the bathroom and an adult diaper.

I’ve heard, but not experienced, that you have several physical and emotional symptoms while pregnant – and that even after you have delivered, you tend to feel this way for some time. I guess until everything levels out again? But that you have this incredible bond with life growing inside of you. That you are overcome with love for the life inside.

I guess I’ll never know. I never carried my son. I never sang to a growing belly, never stroked my growing womb, never read “what to expect” while eating pickles in bed and getting my swollen ankles rubbed by my doting husband, and never peed 8 times a night. I never felt him kick. I never placed my hand or my husbands on my belly to feel the sensation of him inside of me.

I never rushed to the hospital, finding my water had broken. I never took a sharp needle to alleviate my growing labor pains. I never pushed, or placed my feet in stirrups, or counted to ten while breathing deeply. I never felt that searing pain or that warm gush of afterbirth come flowing out of my body afterward. I never heard the doctor say “it’s a BOY!” or got to stare into the eyes of my newborn son while he was placed on my chest. I didn’t cry at his birth. I wasn’t there for it.

My son was born in a remote village in Africa. He was born in a tribal community that we now understand was wrought with extreme poverty.

He probably came into this world in much the same way most babies do. Crying and cold. I’m not sure if he was born in a hospital or if he met the world in a small hut. I’m not sure if his father was there. I’m not sure if his mother lived through it. I don’t know if she had a difficult labor or a quick and easy one. I’m not sure.

I don’t know if they placed him on her chest so she could stare into his big eyes or if they shouted “it’s a BOY!” to her, so she could be proud of bearing a son. Maybe she was sick, maybe she was young, maybe she was alone and scared or starving?

I’m not sure she lived. I’m not sure she breastfed him. If she died, he must have been cared for by family?

I do know that one day, in January…just six short months ago – my son was left by a river in Africa. To die or to be found. He was left. For all his standard entry into the world, he was unceremoniously abandoned two months later. With no fanfare, his family – his mother…his father…left him. And as they, he, she walked away, they took his beginning with them. His family tree. His siblings. His past. Walking away while he lay there, just two months old.

Was it cold that day? It was January. Was it hot? Was he dressed or naked? Was he there for long? Days? Night too? How long did he lay there? How long did he go without eating or hygiene? How long until that officer happened upon him? Was he crying and so he drew a crowd or was it chance that brought the policeman to find him lying by that river?

I will never know. And sadly, neither will he.

He was found by a police officer. He was taken to the orphanage and given a name, assigned an approximate birthday. He was cared for and then taken to Addis, where he was left in the care of the primary orphanage. The same one we found him in.

And that’s all we understand of his beginnings.

I know from the minute I laid my eyes on him, from the minute I touched his hand and took him in my arms, from the second I spoke his name to him and stared into his face – I loved him deep down in my soul. I felt like I had finally come home and that we had finally found each other. I felt my heart lurch in a thousand directions.

There was no doctor to joyfully call out “it’s a Boy!” but my heart leapt just the same. No stirrups or pushing, but tears of happiness and overwhelming love. Sobs between kisses and hugs and words of affirmation. “I found you…we’re a family…finally, we’re a family…I love you, my little boy…I love you”

No hospital. No doctors. No ice chips. No incision.

Only a childless mother and motherless child. Together at last.

After years of heartache, my pain found its salve. A gentle, easy, warm salve that covered so much hurt and longing.

I don’t know how much pain his mother had when she gave birth to him. I’ll never know. And I’ll never know the name she gave him when she saw him. How much he weighed or how long he was at birth. What his footprint looked like, if he was a calm baby or cried often. I’ll just never know. I only know how much I love him, the name we’ve given him, and how much joy he brings to us every day since the day we met. He lights up our world and makes it a better place. He weighs 16 pounds and he’s 26 inches long now. I know this, because I’m his mother.

I don’t know much about his past, but what I do know is that Quint and I labored for each other – him alone and abandoned in his greatest hour of vulnerability and need – and I, for years trying to make my tired heart find a way to get to him. We labored for each other when it mattered most.

I can’t say that he looks like me or that he has my smile. He can’t say that “diabetes runs in my family” when the doctor asks.

But it doesn’t change the fact that we needed each other so very much – and half a world apart, still found each other.

Look what I found on my way to not being pregnant...the greatest love of all. My beautiful baby boy – my little labor of love.


(Quint on the Ethiopian hand made blanket we purchased for him at his Orphanage*)


Anonymous said...

Christie, Christie, you never cease to amaze me. You have such a special and God given talent. You touch people in such a heartfelt and special way, with your words. This post was amazing. You bared you soul to us, you gave us a moment in your life of bringing Quint "into" this world of ours. A world of love, kisses, hugs, cuddles, lullabies, and family. Your labor was long and difficult, but the joy that it brought with it is one we all will treasure forever. Thank you for "Delivering" such a beautiful and precious grandson for me and son for you. I love you honey. You are going to be a wonderful mother!!!

Unknown said...

Beautiful, honest words my friend. He is a blessed baby!

The Gang's Momma! said...

Oh. MY. Goodness. What an incredibly beautiful, heart wrenching post! Tears and joy intermingled. Amazing. You really ought to consider submitting this for publication - an adoption publication or parenting magazine. Seriously.

All I could think as I read this (twice to absorb it all!) was that this journey of adoption requires a pretty high level of contentedness with the unknowns, doesn't it? We must be content with NOT EVER KNOWING certain things about our child's history, however short it may be, before they come to us. Your perspective on this is surely God-given. Thank you for sharing it.

Linda said...

You did it again...Tears at 8 am. This post is so profound. You are so right there are some things you will never know..But so many more things you will...The Love in your son's eyes when he looks at you and his little voice when he is scared and calling Mommy and you make it better. The pride he will know you feel when he has his triumphs and your soothing arms when he needs them. A Mom is defined by many things, least is giving birth, most is your love and commitment . You & Ab will be wonderful parents and your son will be a good man because of it.....Thank you for sharing your feelings. Linda

Dawn and Dale said...

Tears here too!! Chrisite...that was SOOOOOOO beautifully written and you've captured the words of my (and I'm sure so many other) adoptive mommies out there that we could not find the words for ourselves! The feelings and thoughts that there just are not words for...you've seem to have found so many of those words! Thanks for sharing!

Quint and soon Keira are two very blessed babies to have you for a mommy!! :)

Jennifer said...

Once again,I am brought to tears by your words. Amazing post, just beautiful. It is not pregnancy that makes one a mother,it is raising the child. Quint is such a lucky little guy to have found his Mom in you.

meme said...

This is from your new found friend in Kentucky! You never cease to amaze me, such a beautiful post. I enjoy you and your little family so much. He is an angel and a special gift with such a SPECIAL mother !! The two are a perfect fit. Thanks so much for enlightening my every day.
Linda in Kentucky

Anonymous said...

Heartfelt words from a wonderful mom and person.

Great tribute to your son.

Love V

Anonymous said...

This is a gorgeous, well-written post - and I want to thank you for writing it. I'm a first-time mom with a little girl, and I know firsthand the depth of your love for your son. We are very blessed to have these little ones in our lives - no matter how they came to us. Congratulations on your family.

Amanda said...

What a beautiful post. Congratulations to your forever family!

Emy said...

Wow, amazing!

Thanks Christie!

Anonymous said...

Another amazing and very touching post.

BTW, your hair looks adorable.


Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Found your post through kirtsy. This is such a lovely story so I had to let you know. Your son will love reading this (over and over and over, no doubt) some day. What a precious gift you have given each other.

Anonymous said...


thank you for sharing this. it was the best "birth story" i've ever read.

and i'm not just saying that because i'm adopted.

Diana said...

That was a BEAUTIFUL post!!!
As a mom of 2 adopted sons I so understand what you are saying..there are different types of "childbirth & labor". I have always said I wish everyone could experience the JOY of adoption as I can not imagine a greater feeling as I am sure others would say the same about childbirth.

You are a WONDERFUL writer and a even better mom:-)

~~~mary said...

How lovely! Thank you for sharing this. Peace. ~~~mary

Jennifer said...

Hey girl, I forgot to tell you I kirtsy'd this a couple of days ago ... Hope you don't mind!


Kim said...

Christie... you are AMAZING... you always have a way with words...
When I read these wonderful heartfilled posts...it makes me smile and the love comes pouring through..
Hugs to you my friend... you are truly amazing..

Kayce said...

Goose bumps and tears. You have shared what any woman has felt or experienced when a child is presented to them, be it birth, adoption or something else. Thank you for having the courage to share it with others.

Stephanie said...

Wow. From a girl standing in the "same" shoes as you, I once again feel your words profoundly. Your labor of love is magnificent!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

That quilt is GORGEOUS!

Anonymous said...

What agreat post! I just read it now...it's so true! As adoptive Moms our hearts are just bursting...to think our little ones were all alone and now we are family.We know you don't have to carry a baby to be his/her mommy! I love my little Boo Boo so much! Thanks for writing so beautifully!
Lisa V