So, I was a little nervous going into this party. Would labor stories come up? Would breast feeding come up? Believe it or not, I do get asked questions like that a lot from other first time moms..."are you still breast feeding? did you do natural childbirth? how did you loose all the weight so fast?" I've been learning as I go, and have little non-committal answers to all those. But one-on-one is easier than a whole room full of mothers who gave birth to the child they are parenting.
To someone who is not "in on it" this doesn't sound like much. But to new adoptive mothers, it can be a little overwhelming. As you adjust to your new life and role as a mom and learn what it is like to be an adoptive mom you wrestle with feelings of validation. I didn't birth my son. I didn't breast feed my son. I didn't carry my son for 9 months. My blood doesn't run through my sons veins. We place so much emphasis on the rite of passage of labor and that is how you earn motherhood. And that's when I realized my feelings were not jealously, but fear that these mothers would not see me as a mother. But I knew I had to do this because I can't keep us shut up our life and I need to put on my adoptive mother armor and get out there!
When we arrived at the birthday party, we were the last ones because of Squishy's nap. So I walk right into a living room FULL of mothers, some breast feeding, and one of them was pregnant. Very pregnant. I definitely felt the room get small and I thought all eyes were one me and everyone was thinking, oh there's the adoptive mother. She's not one of us. I felt like everyone would think I was a fraud or something. And I just kept praying, please no one ask me about weight when they learn my son is only 9 months old.
But I got my game face on, and DH and I went onto the porch and just put ourselves into a corner with the one person we knew and who knew our story. We had to find comfort and the familiar. I left the feelings of inadequacy wash over and get through my system. I didn't fight them because I knew that would lead to tears. So, I just recognized my feelings and game myself permission to have them, and said to myself "just stay here until it passes." I gave Squishy a snack and we chatted in a corner until we got back on our (emotional) feet again, as it were. Then, once I was feeling back to myself and confident again, I took Squishy inside to play with the other kids.
I met the other moms, and we mostly ended up talking about ourselves and our work. Nobody brought up birth stories, and we mostly talked about what it was like to work and take care of a child. I was so relieved! This is what I was hoping for, and I know the older the kids get, the stories of birth will change into stories of parenting.
So, I did it. I survived my first fertile birthday party. It was a big step, and I wonder if other adoptive mothers have done through it too?