Yesterday was a day I had been dreading for a LONG time.
It was Allie's first birthday.
It was exactly a year after we got two big phone calls from the counselor 350 miles away. One was, "she's in labor!" and just a couple hours later, "we have a healthy baby girl!" I screamed. I cried. I shook. I ran around the house like a crazy person. My baby girl had finally come into the world. We had already been through one disrupted adoption, so we were really happy that this one would have a happy ending.
Umm, yeah, not so much. Sixteen days later we ended up having to give her back. But you already know that story, as well as the one about getting her again 4 months later and giving her back yet again. So I won't bore you with that here.
The point is, I was really dreading yesterday. I knew I'd be a little emotional. But I wasn't prepared to spend half the day being a basketcase. I worked from home, but still sent Aidan to daycare. That was a hard decision, because I just wanted to cuddle him all day. But I knew it would be best for me to have some alone time, not only so I could work, but also so I could get the emotion out and wallow in my sadness a little bit so I could then move past it.
Every time I walked past his room, I fought tears. Sometimes I won that fight and sometimes I lost. (His room is still pink from Allie; we've been waiting til spring so that we can open windows when we re-paint.) I flipped through the scrapbook I made of our time with Allie.
I remembered how tiny she was, how she felt in my arms the first time I held her, how she rarely cried. I even fondly remembered how she spit up constantly. I remember those first sleepless nights, first staying with my aunt and uncle in the city where she was born, then making the trek home and spending time with her there. I remembered the little grocery store where we stopped on the trip and I did my first in-public diaper change. I remembered her smell. I remembered her smile.
And I cried. And I smiled. And I cried again.
And then I felt guilty. I felt like I should be more "over this" a year later. I should be able to let her go, but part of me never will. She was truly my first baby. Even if I only got two precious weeks with her. I also have guilt about thinking of Allie so much when I have Aidan now. I feel like wishing she was still around is something of an insult to him, or that I can't love him as much when I still love her.
Then, something great happened. One of my favorite people in the whole world had mailed us a package a few days earlier and it arrived yesterday. In the box was a pair of swim trunks for Aidan, blue with sharks on them! She sent us these after a conversation during which I mentioned that no stores up here are selling swimwear for babies and that I REALLY want to get Aidan in a swimming pool sooner than later. She got the exact ones I said I liked! Even better, she included a beautiful handmade card that said something like (I wish I'd brought it so I could quote it): "You don't choose your family. They are a gift to you, as you are to them."
And I sat in my truck in the post office parking lot and cried some more. (The employees there must have thought I was crazy.) She's right. We don't choose our family. Allie found her way into our hearts for a reason. Whether she just needed someone to love her like crazy for two weeks while her mother made up her mind about what to do, or whether she came to us to teach us something, the point is she was there, we loved her, we still love her, we'll always love her, and there's nothing wrong with that.
My friend also told me in no uncertain terms that loving Allie doesn't take anything away from my love for Aidan. She - brilliantly! - pointed out that my loving Aidan certainly doesn't mean that I love hubby any less, so why would loving Allie take away from Aidan? Certainly I have enough love in my heart for both of them and many more.
I felt so much better after talking to my friend. The guilt started to subside a little. I think it's going to be a process, but at least I'm headed the right direction. We're debating colors to paint Aidan's room since spring is finally upon us, so I think that'll help things too. It'll finally feel like HIS room, not her room that he's staying in.
And, I did email back and forth with Allie's mom yesterday. It sounds like she had a great birthday with lots of family around, so that makes me really happy. She said she'd send some pictures. It's really nice of her to do that. She could have dropped all contact after she changed her mind, but she's chosen instead to keep in touch and let us know how Allie's doing. That means a lot to me. I just like knowing she's okay.
So even though there were some tears, I did survive yesterday thankfully. And when Aidan came home in the evening, I collected a million snuggles from him as usual, and then an extra million just because it was a hard day. I'm so grateful for him. He is my little angel and he makes all of the heartache we went through totally worth it.
Take care, little Allie. We love you always.
DIY Ice Pack Eye Mask
4 hours ago