11 years ago I got pregnant and placed my daughter for adoption…. Wow. I never really got used to that sentence. I’ve spent a lot of time bitter and angry over that decision. If I’m going to be completely honest with you, it really wasn’t my decision.

I was dating this guy who was nothing but trouble – abusive, druggie, you know the kind. When we found out I was pregnant we had basically come to the conclusion I was going to have an abortion but once I was educated more on the subject that was no longer an option for me. My “sperm donor” disappeared and my family immediately started talking about adoption. The option to keep my own child was never really given to me. I went through the motions of finding a family and found the most deserving family! (The one thing that has allowed me to forgive myself over the years is the fact that my first born has the most incredible life now because of her adoptive family!) I spent all those months truly bonding with the little being that was growing inside of me. My relationship with God got stronger, my outlook on life was changing, and I was truly happy. But in the back of my mind I CONSTANTLY feared the decision I was having to make.

The day of delivery, especially the moment of birth, I remember so clearly. I had a c-section and although I couldn’t see them pull her out, the moment I heard that newborn cry my heart was flooded with love and emotion. But I felt like I almost wasn’t allowed to cry joyful tears in that moment. I was so conflicted because what I wanted to do and what I had to do were two very different things.

The couple of days that followed were surreal and serene. I was able to hold her and love on her and share my heart with her. I shared her with loved ones and finally, her new family. I remember feeling genuinely happy watching them welcome her into their perfect little family. At that moment, I wasn’t angry or upset or sad. I was truly happy. However, once reality set in, things changed. I was no longer willing to give up this beautiful little girl – she was mine. But I was quickly reminded that was not the case. I had created her. I had carried her. I had loved her. But she was not mine to keep. I was helpless. I pleaded to keep her. People have children everyday when circumstances are less than perfect and they make it happen. Why couldn’t I?

As I write this now, all these years later, tears still stream down my face because what happened over the next day was nothing short of the worst heartbreak I’ll ever experience. After 4 days with my daughter, I kissed her goodbye. She was removed from my arms and I was wheeled away. The car ride home was filled with silent tears. My “home” felt empty and lonely. I felt more out of place in my own life than ever before which was hard to achieve because I never really belonged. My pain seemed to annoy some as I was told to maybe remove the many pictures I had of my daughter so that I wasn’t thinking about it as much. But my daughter was already taken and the pictures were all I had. I’d spend hours smelling the blanket she was in, laying in bed as my heart crumbled. I will never experience such a devastating pain again. And that pain began to birth anger. And that anger fueled many years of my life.

Fast forward to several months ago. I’m married, pregnant, I’m grown – life is now my own. But it sure didn’t feel like that. I spent endless nights crying to my husband, fearful that someone would take my child. I was bonding with my daughter that was in my tummy but had a constant nagging that I should hold back parts of my heart because I was sure that my whole world would shatter once again. I didn’t know how, but I was convinced I was going to lose her.

Now fast forward to the day of delivery. My husband and I sat in prayer in the car for a moment before walking in. Although it didn’t seem like it on the outside, I was paralyzed by fear. I walked the same steps I had before. Entered the same hospital, walked through the same doors, experienced the same prep, only this time with my husband by my side and MY daughter about to arrive. Once in the delivery room I was a mess! My husband sat next to my head, holding my hand tight, coaching me the whole time and finally, once more, I heard that newborn cry. That first breath of air and the beautiful sound that followed. I burst into tears thanking God for what he had blessed me with and in that moment, I felt like the richest person on the planet! Isabelle was placed on my chest for skin to skin and I just couldn’t believe she was mine! The joy and love that I felt was infatuating and satisfying. But while they were stitching me up from my c-section my husband and baby had to leave the room and that fear of losing my child crept back up.

I didn’t want her out of my sight. And once we were reunited I was determined to keep her with me at all times. Over the period of the next couple of weeks I dealt with some medical complications. My family had to help A LOT with the baby until the complications subsided. And every time she was taken out of my room, even just by family, even as I was in and out of consciousness, I was stricken with fear. I spent a majority of the first month of her life constantly worrying. A lot of joy was stolen by those never ending fears.

As time has gone on I have learned to let go of that fear a little bit more every day. I don’t panic as often or need to constantly be holding her. The progress I’ve made to “let go” is only acknowledged by my husband because people simply don’t understand. I catch a lot of crap from family and friends about my overprotective nature with my daughter. People fail to understand that because of my adoption experience I feel like my daughter could be ripped from my arms at any moment. And it might not make sense – I’m now a responsible adult with no reason to ever lose my child, but what happened 11 years ago has had lasting effects. Effects that I didn’t anticipate it having on this part of my life. I feel like I always have to be on the defensive when it comes to my child because I have to be ready for anything. Even now, 3 months later, I still reveal these fears to my husband. And every time he assures me that nothing is going to happen but there’s always that voice in the back of my head telling me to watch out.

It’s frustrating to be questioned all the time by family about my decisions as a mother when it comes to my overprotective nature because I feel like nobody connects the dots. It’s as if nobody remembers what happened 11 years ago. And it’s frustrating to feel like I’m not taken seriously as a mother. It’s hard because I’ve gone through some incredible changes over the last year and some of the biggest changes have happened over the past few months. I’m not the same woman that I was before. I’m not ok with the chaos and the yelling and the drama that may have previously ensued in certain areas of my life. I crave calm and my daughter has made me calm, grateful, patient, and a whole lot more tender. And although my attachment parenting style is constantly questioned and constantly poked fun at, there is no other way it’s going to be.

Having a baby after going through an adoption experience is hard to explain. I feel guilty for only having one of my daughters with me. It scares me to think my first born may ever question “why did she give me up and keep Isabelle?” Having a baby after adoption is also confusing. On one hand it’s terrifying because I’m fearful of losing the most incredible thing on the planet, yet again. On the other hand, it’s an incredible blessing because it makes me appreciate my daughter on a whole different level. I never find myself frustrated or wanting a moment to myself because I cherish every single second with her. She is my stress relief. As crazy as it sounds I literally thank my daughter, my three-month-old baby, for being so patient with me as I constantly shower her with overwhelming kisses because I know my affection is pretty intense. It comes from a grateful place.

I’m sure things will continue to evolve as they naturally do and hopefully people will start to realize that the person I am post baby is not going away, and I certainly don’t like to be reminded of the way things used to be. I can only hope that people will start to take me seriously as a mother. But the biggest thing that I wish people would understand is that my adoption experience shaped me. Like I said, having a baby after adoption is extremely complicated but it made me this incredibly grateful mother who cherishes every single moment and that – I wouldn’t change for the world! Isabelle continues to heal my heart and Jessa, my first born, inspires me to make her proud as I hope when she’s older she sees me as an incredible mother to Isabelle because I spent 11 years trying to get it right.

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