Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Going Toe-to-Toe with Pregnant Relatives

"Two of my children are expecting, so I'll have two more grandchildren soon."

In late 2008 and early 2009, I heard my mother utter these words more than once.

They always confused me.

My sister Julie was pregnant. But who else was expecting?

When I asked her, she responded simply, "You. You're expecting."

And I was. I was on an adoption list, hopefully expecting to be picked sooner rather than later.

But no one other than my mother seemed to think of it that way. I certainly didn't. Without an impending due date or landmark ultrasounds or a growing basketball-shaped tummy, I didn't feel like I was expecting anything.

The dream of being pregnant at the same time as my sister wasn't real. In the end, our daughters are exactly two months apart. So we will always have daughters the same age and they will always have a cousin the same age, which is longer lasting than a 9 month coinciding pregnancy...but it still would've been fun to go through that with my sister.

I was so excited for her pregnancy. She had many heartbreaking miscarriages before giving birth to her son a couple years prior. I felt like she was the family member who could relate to my infertility the most. And I think I lived vicariously through her pregnancy a bit.

I was so excited for her. And even still, when I got the call that she was in labor...and I got the call that the baby had been born...and my sister gave me her blog password so I could share her news with the world on her blog...I choked back tears.

Holding my sister's baby girl for the first time.

Of course I had no clue that two months from that very day my little angel would be born and we'd be asking her to update our blog.

The anticipation of adoption is much different than the anticipation of a birth. The "paper pregnancy" is not obvious. People don't tell you that you're glowing. Or inappropriately ask to rub your belly. Or offer you their seat. People don't ask you what you need or if they can throw you a shower. Or offer to take you shopping for maternity clothes and makeover because they know you feel out of sorts with a strange body. They don't ask questions about what you're going to name the baby or about nursery decor. They don't spontaneously buy an outfit at the store that is too cute to resist.

It makes sense...I didn't allow myself to participate in any kind of baby dreaming and scheming. It's too uncertain and far too emotionally dangerous. I more than understand. I refused to have a baby shower until after we brought Jocelyn home. I wasn't going to risk it. So I get it...but I still miss out.

We were matched with Jocelyn's birth parents 17 days before she was born. Our families crammed all of that scheming and dreaming into those 17 days. Lots of questions and excitement. It was so much fun. Anticipation is one of the best parts of an event.

The differences between awaiting an adoption and a birth were thrown into sharp relief, for me, because I was "paper pregnant" while my sister was physically pregnant.

This time, things aren't so different.

Justin's sister-in-law is pregnant. It's like deja vu. Not to mention her due date is in February - when my sister had her baby 2 years ago. Like her, I am expecting the arrival of a baby. I am concerned about how the older sibling will adjust, how our finances stretch, how our already hectic schedules will accommodate another person.

But my belly doesn't grow. My face doesn't glow. There is no need to ask about morning sickness, no reason to adjust to a finicky diet or sense of smell. No need for a personal day with a pregnancy massage and pedicure because I can no longer see my toes. (How about an adoption spa package with a de-stressing hopeful adoptive mama massage and facial to mimic that pregnancy glow? I'm on to something!)

I am not pregnant. There's no way around it. I don't want to pretend I am and I don't want others to either (how weird would it be if I started stuffing my clothes with pillows?). I know I miss out, and I also know that missing out on morning sickness and ballooning weight isn't such a bad thing. I get to do the important thing - be a mom.

I guess I am just saying that expecting a baby at the same time as close family member feels a little lonely.


Ashley said...


I hear you're expecting!!! Congratulations! You look FABULOUS for being so far along. I don't know how you can look so fresh and cool being this far into expecting, especially with your second!


P.S. I totally TOTALLY understand. Do me a favor and park in the Expectant Mother spots at Babies R Us, okay?

Kirsten said...

It is lonely. People are completely oblivious to that fact. Your children will know that you wanted them, prayed for them, and worked incredibly hard to get them. Children from fertile couples can't always claim that.

Que and Brittany's Adoption Journal said...

I totally understand. I remember reading a while ago that your mom said you were "expecting." Even with our first adoption I never thought of myself that way. I really liked what that implied. Your mom is very wise. :)

Frederick Family said...

I think you look glowing. (You always look glowing.) There are some wonderful things about pregnancy but throwing up the chips and ranch dip that were so craved and actually having it come out the nose too, just is not even fun. Took me years before I could eat that combo again. Thinking your going to pass gas and the next thing you know have to take a shower and change your pants. Another one I could have passed on. The best part is holding that little one for the first time and finally seeing what they look like. No matter what way they come every mother gets that wonderful experience. We are so excited for your new addition to the family.

Meagan said...

I wish I could give you a hug Lara. Miss you!

Debra Domenici said...

My friend posted a link to your blog. I just want to say thank you for putting into words how the adoption journey feels. It is scary and it is hard to not experience a pregnancy, but our little ones are well worth the journey we travel. Congrats on the little one you do have and the one you are expecting!

Amy said...

I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. I felt this way a LOT leading up to our little girl's birth. You captured the feeling beautifully and honestly.

Angie said...

I know exactly how you feel! You put it into words so well, thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

Cory and Becca said...

LOVE this. I share in your loneliness, but celebrate with you in our daily toddler drama ;) Cheers to our blessing of motherhood in this life. xo.

The Gotch Family said...

Dont take this the wrong way, but I love that you have no fear of saying the most random things (like how weird would it be if I stuffed a pillow in my shirt). Seriously, so stinkin funny. And I am sorry that you feel lonely. I sort of understand. I watched my sisters go through 5 successful pregnancies while I patiently and painfully waited. No less excited for them, just sad for us. It is funny when you hear people complain about being pregnant...I loved every minute of it. I loved throwing up. I didn't care that I couldn't sleep (or eventually even walk without looking like a penguin). I loved taking care of my kids everytime they cried or woke me up in the middle of the night. Fertility challenged moms make the best moms. We really appreciate the little things. I am absolutely a better mom because of it, but boy was it a long/expensive/stressful road getting there. I am SO excited for Jocie to become a sister. She is going to be amazing (you are already an amazing mom).

Andy's Mom said...

I am very, very grateful you wrote this post. In 2008, all three of my sister-in-laws were pregnant, and our son ended up coming home before any of them delivered. This time around, we've waited 22 months and watched one sister-in-law and two sisters all become pregnant and then give birth while we are waiting. It feels very lonely and I'm very grateful to know that I'm not feeling lonely all alone.


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