When I was pregnant with each of my children I got a lot of tips on, “how to correctly leave the hospital.”
Ask for more mesh underwear… you will wear them now until you are 40.
Stay as long as you can. You don’t have that kind of help at home.
Let the nurses take the baby so you can get your last good sleep.
Here’s how you put the baby in the car seat…
Here’s how you put the car seat in the car…
Here’s how you put the base of the car seat in the car…
Here’s a sticker telling everyone you have a baby in the car…
Don’t worry about looking good when you leave. Be grateful you fit into any clothes.
Take all the diapers, ask them to stock them up again, and then take those too.
Take the nose suction thing.
Ask for more mattress pads so you don’t ruin your mattress at home that the baby will pee on and ruin anyway during potty training.
Take all the diaper sized pads unless you want people to think you are hemorrhaging in the grocery store.
Each time I left the hospital I took heed to all of these tips.
I would leave with bags full of necessities.
And the baby.
Don’t forget the baby.
As mothers, we replay these moments over and over in our head again and again. Taking the baby home.
As an adoptee, I replay my own “going home” moment over and over in my head too.
Jim taking me from my biological mother’s arms as my Aunt stood next to her.
Grief flooding that room in crashing waves.
Being carried down the hall filled with halogen lights as we traversed one life to the next.
The door opening to the consultation room where overwhelming joy filled that space as I was placed into my adoptive mother’s arms.
I’ve heard the story over and over so many times from both sides of the hall.
SO many times my mind has created its own memory.
Being carried to the car on that brisk December day.
My adoptive mother carrying all the gifts from my biological family. All the diapers. All the wipes. All the bottles. All the formula. And the suction bulb.
My other mother packing up.
The mesh underwear.
The mattress pads.
The maternity clothes.
And I the baby.
I carried home the questions.
As my body felt a dropping feeling deep in my stomach. As the cold winter air brushed across my face. As my insides tightened with the fear of new sensations. As my instincts tried to grip onto at anything familiar. As the distance between me and familiar grew wider and wider as the car turned onto the road towards a new life.
As my body listened to voices and heartbeats that weren’t familiar.
As my body adjusted and twisted yearning to find comfort and regulation.
As I grew, my body and my mind continued searching for the familiar…
Searching for what was missing.
And when something is missing you ask where it went.
And I’ve been asking where it went my entire life.
Questions became a lifestyle and a way of survival.
Where did she go? What did I do? What is safe? Is this unsafe? What happened? Why me? What’s the story? Am I worthy? Am I lovable? Why did they reject me? Where are they? What are they like? Am I like them? How am I like these people? Why couldn’t they love me? Why couldn’t they make it work? Why did they have to lie? Why was my conception a terrible thing? Am I a terrible thing? Why did they have to hide me? Why was I such a bad thing they had to get rid of me? Who am I? Who are my ancestors? Do I look like them? Who do I take after? Whose ears do I have? Whose personality do I have? What’s my medical history? What if…?
When I left the hospital for the very first time I took home questions.
Questions that cracked the very foundation of my growth and development.
Even to this day, even after a lot of my questions have been answered, my body defaults to questioning my very existence. My very presence on this earth.
Because adoptees know, that as harsh and basal as it seems… we were deemed unworthy at our very conception. We were cast out. We were rejected. We were abandoned. We were declared outcast. We were shamed by simply taking our first breath.
And we will spend the rest of our lives questioning every breath after.