There are so many times I’ve closed my eyes and put myself back in time. I’ve pictured myself at my house 6 months pregnant, the hospital room pre-birth, the hospital room post-birth, the nights I cried on the bathroom floor. I used to look back to these moments daily. It debilitated me. I kept thinking to myself and saying out loud, “why didn’t you speak up”. The question is always there. I think we all ask ourselves that question, not just birthmothers. I can think of many times in my life in the business world and in my relationships where I’ve asked this question to myself. “Why didn’t you speak up!!”
When I discovered that I was unexpectedly pregnant, it was one of the scariest moments of my life. Scarier than my mother getting cancer, car crashes, sexual assault, and many other traumatic events in my life. When I look back on the moment I found out I was 20 weeks pregnant I cringe. I remember sitting on that clinic bed shocked and crying. I did not know what to do or what to think. I just wanted it to be over. I wanted to be somewhere else where I could forget this was happening. I wanted to wake up. Shortly after it happened.
There were so many moments I wish I could have spoken up about how I was feeling. I didn’t always feel like it was a safe place. I remember one day deciding I was going to keep my son. I went to Target and bought a baby blanket. That was it. I was doing it. Shortly after, reality sunk in through other’s views and my own. The view that I couldn’t do it. Maybe I couldn’t, looking back now I was a woman in crisis making the best choice I could with the information I had at the time. Maybe I didn’t speak up during the decision process because I knew they were right? Maybe.
The thought sunk in that I was not ready to be a mother and my child deserves better than me, there isn’t much that compares to that. Defeat and sadness took over.
Jump forward to the hospital-there were so many moments where I sat there holding my voice back. I did not want to scare anyone, or speak up about what I needed. I remember laying there thinking, “Hope, don’t screw this up”. Looking back now, I can’t for the life of me understand why I thought I could screw it up. There were moments of panic when I thought the whole adoption plan was going down the drain, and again looking back I can’t understand why I thought this. I know I needed more support, but also needed to feel empowered in the process. I didn’t feel that way.
September 9th, 2013 – In labor in the hospital hours before my son was born.
The moment my son came out of me, I ached for him. I wanted to hold him, to kiss him, to give him enough love to last a life time as I knew the moment he came out he was no longer mine. I froze. I pushed my head to the other side of the room, looking away, and frozen. I didn’t ask to hold him, I didn’t ask to see him. I just stayed silent. I needed him, but I didn’t feel safe in asking for him. I didn’t want to ruin the adoption or scare everyone.
Following the birth, we had put so many plans in place, and many didn’t happen. I still didn’t speak up. There was supposed to be a post birth meal, my favorite foods. Cookies, love, and so much more. None of which happened. I felt like I was in a silenced state. Could I speak up and say I needed time? Could I speak up and say that the meal and cookies mattered to me! It mattered. They still matter. I still haven’t spoke up.
I lived in a constant state of frustration and grief for years. Grief for my son, and grief for my voice. I didn’t speak up in the most important moment of my life, and my sons, and I can’t bring that back. I can’t change that. I have to live with that choice I made to stay silent about my needs for the rest of my life. You don’t. You can choose to speak up for yourself as an expectant mother, or as a hopeful adoptive parent supporting the expectant mother who has chosen you. Give yourself time to hold your baby, to love your baby. Your plan will not fall apart, but you will treasure those moments for the rest of your life. If things are moving too fast, speak up! It’s okay to tell everyone in the room you just need a minute. Speak up, find your voice and use it.
All the things, all the time,
Hope O Baker, a birth mom
January 2020 – Utter joy when I received a birthday gift in the mail. A handmade cup by my son.