Monday, January 29, 2007

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

This is hard. This is hard in a way that feels familiar, but, it is still tremendously difficult.
Some of you may recall that we chose adoption, partly because of my ppd following Gabe’s birth. I thought this was the answer, to avoid those feelings of hopelessness and despair.
And yet, here they are. Creeping like unwelcome houseguests, they catch me at inopportune times – slow, drippy tears and that feeling, that god-awful feeling that an invisible elephant has sunk down on my chest.
I resent the intrusion of these minions of grief into my life once more.
At least the vocabulary of the adoption community can tell me what I am grieving for – I am grieving for my old life and my prior family.
It’s odd because this is SO INCREDIBLY SIMILAR to one of the many (negative) emotions I felt when Gabe was born, but, no one ever suggests to the mother of a newborn that she is grieving for her old life or the old family makeup that was just husband and wife. That would be blasphemy, right? And yet this ache is so familiar, I am sure that is what I was grieving for, at the time of Gabe’s birth.
And so now I grieve, for the family that 3 that we were. It’s is not that I don’t believe in the family of 4 that we are becoming…but, it’s a recognition, I think, that things will never be the same again. I want to believe that they will, in fact, be better. I have concrete evidence of this, in that, after a while, I began to believe, to know, to live the truth that my life with Gabriel in it was BETTER. To be without Gabriel is unimaginable to me…and so I believe that time will cause me to see that life without Lana in it will also be unimaginable.
I guess I am just shocked at how similar this post-motherhood experience has been. The sensation of utter sadness, of being overwhelmed by the needs of a person I don’t really know yet, the feeling of disconnection, detachment from my child and the world around me.
All of this is shameful, painful, to admit. And this time around I cannot blame the hormones. With Gabe, the doctors, everyone told me, consoled me, “it’s the hormones that are doing this to you.” But, this time I have no handy hormones upon which to lay the blame. Is it only me, and my head, the nature of the person that I am?
Certainly, I could blame stress and sleeplessness and guilt and some nasty jet lag that I haven’t managed to shake. And certainly, unlike with Gabe, I don’t obsess upon her breathing; I do not believe she will die if I sleep. (So, I guess, we CAN blame the hormones for that insane-fixation, that oh-so-lovely-side-effect of Gabe’s birth.)
I believe I will attach to her, and I should give myself the time, at a minimum of the time it took me to attach to Gabe (Six? Eight months?) Only time will make her mine. And until then, I’ll keep doing the singing and the holding and the feeding that the books tell me will make her feel like my child. In the meantime, I keep returning to a poem, by Grace Sandness – it gives me hope. I cannot publish the whole poem here, but, it is called "Love Will Grow" and it gives me hope.



Blogger Cris and Emilie said...

thank you for sharing these very intimate and real feelings. I have been following along with your posts as you travelled. As I read about your little girl I could only imagine how wonderful, but difficult this time must be. Since I'm not yet a mom I can't truly understand these feelings, but I can definately understand the unbelievable life change your whole family is going through. Thank you for your honesty.

Monday, January 29, 2007 2:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

It is perfectly normal to have PPD after adoption. I just read a good book on it.

"The post-adoption blues"
By: Karen J. Foli, Ph.D. &
John R. Thompson, M.D.

Monday, January 29, 2007 2:46:00 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

What you are feeling is very normal... there's a lot of info online (here's one article: ) ... and that book jo recommended sounds good too.
Any change is hard... changing the balance and routine of our famiy is especially hard, I think. And bonding with a child who is also grieving her own losses... well, I think you'd be nuts if you weren't a little sad!

Monday, January 29, 2007 3:40:00 PM  
Blogger maxhelcal said...

Oh Gretchen,

I am so sorry. I hadn't read this till you mentioned it in your recent e-mail. I was still going to your other blog. It will get better. Have faith. It really will. You have just lived through some extremely difficult situations. Give yourself some time like you have said and the day will come when you look back at these trying times thankful to have gotten through it and loving being a family of 4. Go reread the Curry's blog. You'll see mention of this. These feelings are hard to understand but it happens a lot. you are not alone!

{{{{BIG HUGS}}}}


Monday, January 29, 2007 3:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Nicki said...

LM, you know what? I had the same experience except mine was pregnancy-related depression. Thankfully mine lifts with the birth of the child but the 10 months in between conception and birth are very very dark. And so we adopted. And you guessed it. Same thing. Same darkness during the paperchase. Same struggles you are facing now. And I had the same shock becuase mine was also "hormonal" and here we were again, without hormones to turn to, facing the same dark days.

You do have the benefit of experience to know what lies ahead and you know now that you are allowed to grieve and move through those stages and it is ok. It will be ok. Meanwhile, my thoughts are with you. Be good to you.

Monday, January 29, 2007 5:04:00 PM  
Blogger c h e l said...

*hugs* PLEASE don't feel bad. I'm STILL dealing with the changes that Grace's arrival brought, although it's gotten much better in the last six months. But there are certain things that still are difficult for me- morning, especially- I miss my quiet mornings alone. But while I wake up and think "oh, crap, a million things to do! I just want to be left alone!", I also wake up and think "where is that little girl?"

While I would never trade my life with Gracie for life before Gracie, I still struggle with the change on a daily basis. I feel so selfish about it.

One thing I don't understand- mothers who give birth shouild be given a week (or a month!) to recover after birth, but most of them are thrown right in to the 24 hour chaos of a newborn. Same with adoptive moms, especially those that travel- I don't know how they do it. It's not a relaxing vacation- it's a very stressful trip, and then you have to come home and start regular life again. I wish I could send you to Hawaii for a week to relax and regroup.

I'm here if you need me.

Monday, January 29, 2007 5:08:00 PM  
Blogger jenn said...

I completely understand where you are coming from. Thankfully mine was short lived with the twins. I feel like I weathered the worst of it in Vietnam though even being home a month now it creeps up on my sometimes.
With my firstborn I think I had one weepy moment. After my second born it was deep and miserable, I ended up on anti-depressents (which helped for a time and then became more of a nuisance than the then lingering ppd.) I also agree that little of it is hormonal, in fact I think much of it is just simply where you are at and there isn't much of anything that can be done about it.
Don't get down on yourself and be sure to talk about this openly with someone you are close to and keep talking to them about it until you are better!

Monday, January 29, 2007 8:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Kyle said...

My thoughts are with you...I remember all too well the ppd that I experienced after having Molly. Know that you have people pulling for the 4 of you--

Monday, January 29, 2007 8:46:00 PM  
Blogger -Jenny said...

I know you aren't alone I have read many bloggers who go through this same thing. It seems everyone only ever talks about the child/ren attaching to us and not us attaching to them! I think it is hard no matter what. Especially with adoption because we worked so hard to get here and now we are dark?

I wish you good health. Quick recovery over the jet-lag and a little hope that things will improve over time.

Thinking of you-Jenny

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 9:12:00 AM  
Blogger Space Mom said...

You know I fight that fiend, darkness on a regular basis. Please take the time to bond with Lana. It will take her time to change her life.... HUGS to both of you

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 4:02:00 PM  
Blogger Butterflyfish said...

I can't add to what's been said already here... but know you are not alone in feeling this way. It doesn't actually make you feel *better* because the darkness just IS... but perhaps it will help ease the secondary pain -- the judgment you place on yourself for these feelings, the guilt, the self-flagellation.
Best to you and yours.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 5:29:00 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I know I don't have words to soothe you, but you are definitely NOT alone. I felt this coming home with Ava, and I fully expect to deal with it after coming home with Sera. (in fact I actually started feeling the "what have I done?" depression while we were on the plane to get Ava...before I had even gotten to her!)

You WILL bond with Lana. One day you'll realize you can't imagine life any other way.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 7:49:00 PM  
Blogger La Turista said...

Thank you so much for sharing your journey, the highs and the lows, with all of us. We are all pulling for you and your family. Take care of yourself so you can also take care of them.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger KelleyO said...

Gretchen, I'm sorry you are feeling bad. It's good that yu have reognized the symptoms. Get some rest sweetie. Do you have family who can give you a break? Hang in there!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...


I felt and still sometimes feel the same way you are feeling now. I thought I was feeling that way because of the loss of our first child and getting the next child so soon after. I now realize that while I was grieving for that situation - I was also grieving for the way my life used to be.
We have only been home for 1 month and it is getting better. I am attaching to Ian more and feeling more like he is my child. I will pray for you during this rough time.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Hi Gretchen,
Thank you for writing this.

Thursday, February 01, 2007 10:49:00 AM  

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