As I stood with our daughter on the other side of the room
while nurses collected her stats, I shouted height and weight numbers over to
her other mommy. Once our little girl was bundled and back in my arms, she
tentatively asked if she could hold her; requesting permission for what
otherwise would have been her right in any other situation. I complied without
hesitation and together we sat—the three of us on that bed—marveling at the
perfect infant now nestled between us.
In what came out as practically a whisper, she said, “Would
you be OK with me breast-feeding her?” Tears formed behind my eyes, as I simply
This had been an area I had been grieving; my inability to
breast-feed. With so little time to prepare, and a history of hormone-related
health issues on my end, inducing lactation had not been an option. This
selfless offer to yet again give our daughter what I could not made my heart
swell once more with gratitude for this woman I had only just met a week
before. The nurses looked at me with concern as she brought our daughter to her
chest, but I felt no fear. She had not wavered once in her decision thus far,
and I knew that she was not going to now. This was simply an act of love on her
part, and further proof that her every action was motivated only by a desire to do
right by this little girl.
For hours, it seemed, the three of us remained in that room—waiting for clearance out of labor and delivery. We sat and talked, laughing
and crying as we passed our daughter back and forth. We bonded as only two women
in such a situation could. Finally, the nurses came and explained that they
were short on patient rooms. After seeing how well we were getting along, they
wondered if we might be willing to share a room among the three of us for the
duration of our stay.
It was only then that I became uncomfortable; a sudden mama
bear protectiveness unexpectedly engulfed me. I replied that, yes, of course we
could make it work. But internally, I was cringing. It was not that I didn’t
want to spend the time with this woman I owed so much, but rather that I was growing
anxious for the chance to get to know my daughter alone, separate from our ties
to her other mama. For nine months, she had carried this little girl beneath her heart. Now I
wanted my chance to bond privately as well. I was desperate for that time.
Still, I smiled warmly and helped her as we moved to our new
room; a bed for each of us, and a small rolling bassinet for our little girl.
It was only once we were there that I began to see how much harder this
situation was becoming for her as well. When the baby cried, she fought the
urge to reach for her, clearly trying to remember the roles we each would now
be playing. When the doctor arrived to check the baby’s vitals, she seemed
uneasy as he directed his questions and instructions to me instead of her. And
as my friends showed up to meet my little miracle, our joy stood in stark
contrast to her sadness just the next bed over.
Her heart was breaking, and mine was busy building a protective bubble around my daughter and myself.
With the baby now outside her body, there was a separation
between us that had not existed before. I battled a jealousy I was not proud
of, as I held my daughter close and mourned the nine months someone else had been
able to hold her instead of me. She fought against the same as she watched me
comforting the little girl she had kept safe for those nine months, mourning the
lifetime she would now be allowing someone else to raise her.
It was too difficult to be pent up in the same room, despite
how much love there was between us. Her heart was breaking, and mine was busy
building a protective bubble around my daughter and myself. It was a situation ripe
with emotion and begging for air.
After witnessing the complexities developing within this
room for herself, a dear friend decided to do something. She excused herself to
“make a phone call,” and minutes later a nurse arrived at our door announcing
another room had been found—quickly moving my daughter and me into a private
space. I was not sure what had been said to accomplish this task, but the
relief I felt was undeniable as soon as the separation had occurred.
Relief and guilt flooded through, as I struggled with what it meant that I
was so eager to leave my daughter's other mommy behind.
I had an idea in my head before this all began of the kind
of person I was, and the kind of adoptive parent I would be. That idea was
quickly shattered as I held my daughter in my arms, confronted with the mix of
emotions I had never expected would come into play.
Gratitude for the gift that had been given.
Jealousy over the months someone else had gotten to know her
better than I could.
Admiration for the strength I witnessed in this other woman.
Angst over the pain I knew she was experiencing at the hands
of my elation.
Love I knew I would never be able to fully describe.
And discomfort I had not even kind of prepared myself for.
Distance was necessary, if only so that I could sort through
those feelings and she could do the same.
If only so that I could shift my focus toward this child,
now reliant upon me for love and attention.
It was late that night, as I snuggled my little girl, that there
was a quiet knock on my door after all the visitors had left. It was her,
fighting back tears as she asked if she could come in. In her hands, she had a
note penned to our daughter—words of love she hoped I would one day share. I
promised my most heartfelt promise, before handing her the sleeping baby and
reaching into my bag for the gift I had purchased myself just days prior—a necklace with the words “Forever in My
Heart” stamped to the pendant, alongside our daughter’s birthstone. I also had
a matching bracelet to give to our little girl, so that they could always carry
a piece of the other with them, even when there were miles in between.
Together we cried, acknowledging the difficulties we now knew
would lie ahead as we forged this new relationship between us; both mothers in
different ways to this little girl we each loved so deeply.
And together we promised to do whatever it would take to
make that relationship work and maintain the ties which were now so messy, so
that our daughter could forever know the love of both of her mothers.
Once our tears had dried, she stood and handed our little
girl back to me.