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The Day I Didn't Want My Daughter

For years, I wanted to be a mom. I had known all my life that it was the role I yearned to fill most, but losing my fertility in my mid-20s made that desire all the more desperate. There was something about being told I might never be a mother at all that only made me that much more determined to have a baby in my arms.

And so, I did what most people never would—I pursued in vitro fertilization as a single woman, utilizing a sperm donor in an attempt to become a mother before my body completely betrayed me and it truly became too late.

Unfortunately, it already was too late, and my two rounds of pricy fertility procedures failed. I was left broke and brokenhearted, forced to come to terms with the fact that I would never carry a child.

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It took me years to heal from that, but one day I woke up and realized that I didn’t have to give birth in order to be a mother. And once that realization hit, I again began to pursue something most people never would on their own: I decided I wanted to become foster care-certified and to eventually adopt a teenager. I had a home and love to give, and I knew there were so many children waiting in the system to find their forever families.

I became passionate about this endeavor, sure that it was the right path for me. I was told that I would be an especially valuable placement option, because there are many young girls in the system with trauma histories that are better off in homes without any male parent figures. It all started to make sense. This was what I was supposed to do; it was how I was meant to become a mother.

Then the unexpected happened. After all that work I had done to come to a place where I was prepared to adopt an older child, no longer yearning for a baby in my arms, a random introduction led to my being asked if I would be willing to adopt a newborn—a little girl who was due to enter the world in just one week’s time.

My entire world got flipped upside down as I went into preparation mode. It was a crazy thing to say yes to, but after all the years I had spent wanting exactly this, I knew I couldn’t possibly say no.

Those first few days were such a blur; nothing about what I was doing really settled in for me. There was too much to do, and I didn’t have time to think.

But around the third or fourth day, the enormity of how my life was about to change hit me. And just like that, I went into a complete and total panic. I was suddenly convinced that this was not what I wanted—that I wasn’t ready to be a mom or to give up on all the aspects about my single and carefree existence that I loved.

I tried to come up with ways to get out of this commitment I had made.

For an entire day, I was sure I had to call the adoption off.

I didn’t express that feeling to anyone, too afraid of what it might say about me. I had wanted this for so long, so how could I now be so fickle? How could I, even for a single second, think about walking away?

Still, I looked around my house and surveyed the explosion of baby items that had invaded my small space. I pondered my dating life and wondered if I would ever kiss a man again. I worried about money and travel and my ability to be a good mother when I had never myself been given an example of what a good mother should be. I questioned the wisdom of choosing me to take on this monumental task, when there were so many far more worthy couples in the world who would have done anything for such a blessing.

And I tried to come up with ways to get out of this commitment I had made, sure that there was no way I could walk out of the hospital with a baby in just a few days.

I don’t know what shifted or changed from that day to the next. The truth is, in the week before my daughter was born, I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions that I couldn’t even begin to fully describe. But at some point after my day spent trying to get out of this mess, I recognized my panic for being just that, and I convinced myself to breathe.

I’m told these moments are normal, even for women who are pregnant. That at some point over the course of those nine months, they experience a moment (or several moments) of dread, where they wonder if they have bitten off more than they can chew. I’m told this even happens to women who fought for years to attain that pregnancy. It may have been exaggerated in my case, a product of shoving nine months of preparation into a single week, but it was still normal.

From the second I first held her, nothing could have convinced me to walk away.

It was still a period of questioning that every new mom-to-be experiences.

And the crazy thing was, as soon as I received the phone call that my daughter’s other mother was in labor, everything shifted once more. This was suddenly my little girl about to enter the world, the one I had been waiting so long for, and I wouldn’t have given her up for anything. Being in the delivery room when she was born meant everything to me. Being the first person to touch her, to hold her and to look into her eyes; it only further solidified our bond.

I was meant to be her mommy, and from the second I first held her, nothing could have convinced me to walk away. There has never been a moment since when I have questioned taking her. And it kind of breaks my heart to think there ever was, because I cannot imagine a life without this little girl in my world.

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There were a lot of people who questioned my ability to do this on my own, to be a mother without that partner by my side. And I was probably the one questioning more than anyone else. But I will remain thankful every single day for the rest of my life that I didn’t cave to the fear or give into the secret desire to walk away. Because this little girl is the best thing to ever happen to me, and it turns out that I’m actually a pretty phenomenal mommy.

You wouldn’t even know there was ever a day when I might have convinced myself I didn’t want her.

Photograph by Leslie Meadow Photography

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