When we brought our son, C home, we weren’t sure he was going to stay. You see, we were adopting, and in Illinois paperwork cannot be signed by a birth mother until at least 72 hours after birth. We spent our time in the hospital bonding with him like any new parents: snuggling, telling him our story, and the beginning of his adoption story. We talked about his birth family, and our family and friends who were going to be so excited to welcome him. We shared our hopes and dreams for him, and cried that those same hopes and dreams would not also be realized by the children we lost. Aaron and I spent those first days in a combination between shock and awe, and waiting for the other shoe to drop. When the three of us left the hospital 48 hours after C was born, we knew we were taking a leap of faith and hoped this beautiful little boy, whom we loved upon first sight, would be the son we’d finally get to parent.
After we arrived home, we inadvertently took turns panicking about a knock at the door telling us this wasn’t meant to be. After all, we had become accustomed to that message with each of our seven losses. And while we wanted to shout of C’s arrival from the rooftops, we played it safe, only telling our parents and siblings in those first few days until we knew for sure. Our parents met us at our house, and just like us, they were all in. To watch our parents enjoy their sweet grandson gave me the true notion of what kvelling (Yiddish for bursting with pride) means.
Thankfully, we got the call that it was official, and then it was our turn spread the word. FaceTime and Skype (newer technologies at the time), enabled us to see the pure shock, then realization, then joy and tears that each call brought. I still get goose bumps thinking of it. As word spread, so did the requests to come meet him. Truth be told, I didn’t know how we would react to have others around the baby. I was pretty sure that when we finally had a baby to bring home that I’d never let him or her out of my sight and arms. Or that I’d watch and critique the moves and motives of whomever was holding the baby.
Yet while we were fiercely protective of him, we were also much more calm and relaxed that we thought we’d be. Perhaps it was that we had spent more than five years worrying about each pregnancy and what could happen, that when C finally arrived, we were too naive to think that anything bad could happen. Or perhaps it was simply the pride of finally being able to parent our child. Whatever it was, we had complete comfort at last.
The thing is, I realize that while the “sharing” of our rainbows comes easy to us, it isn’t easy for many loss parents. And you know what? That’s OK. In parenting after loss, like grieving after loss, you have to do what feels best to you. Forget what others want, or tell you what to do. There is no roadmap, or one size fits all solution. What’s important here, is your comfort level. And that level may change depending on the day or your mood. Go with it.
For us, we knew that our family had friends had been with us every step of the way, and that each of them had experienced our losses with us, and in their own ways. So when we finally had our child, and then our children with us, we wanted them to experience just as much joy as we did. It was as if they deserved it as much as we did. As our family has grown, we have taken great pleasure in sitting back and watching our boys interact with our family and friends, and vice versa. We know there was a time when each of us thought that we may never never get to this point, but here we are.