This is not happening.
This shouldn’t be happening.
I can’t believe this is happening.
Why? Why is this happening right now?
The words played on a loop in my head as the ER doctor spoke. I know I didn’t respond. He brought a nurse in at some point and they both tried to get my attention. I remember repeatedly hearing my name and wondering if they could see rainbows as they shined a light in my eyes that were pooling with tears. I wondered if I could have heard them wrong.
I was discharged with a prescription and made the long trip to the “L,’ barely noticing the Chicago winter swirling around me, freezing the tears to my face, making my steps labored, reminding me that I left my gloves back at the hospital along with the thought of having random bouts of nausea was the worst way to welcome this new year.
There was no one on the Blue Line with me. That would have been strange any other Thursday before 5p, but it was January 2nd and everyone was enjoying what was left of the break indoors and not getting the worst news of their life. The train rumbled on and I let the tears fall, straightening up when the doors opened to greet passengers that didn’t come.
No one wants witnesses to the worst day of their life. And no one wants to be the woman crying by herself on the CTA.
I lay in bed that night, and the ones that followed, asking myself “what now?” and trying in vain to answer. Those in whom I did confide, told me of their support no matter my choice. Some told me they would be there for me and the baby in any way they can. Others, though supportive because they loved me, told me that this was going to be hard. That I should worry about finishing college and I could have more kids when I was ready. They were the ones I heard the loudest and coupled with my self-doubt, my shame, and fear of the unknown, theirs were the voices that seemed to make the most sense.
I took a breath, touched my stomach to let him know that I was sorry I had to do this and said “ I don’t have enough. You deserve enough. I am not enough.” Despite knowing it went against my beliefs, knowing I couldn’t tell my campus ministry friends, and knowing I would never be able to forgive myself, I made the appointment the next day.
Dread filled my body when I woke up in my dorm room that Friday morning. I knew that once my feet hit the floor, I would get ready, take the train into the city, and 10 o’clock would find me signing away my child’s life. There I was prostrate, in my bed, praying for some guidance and another way out. Breathing in and out trying hard not to break down, I rolled over and brushed my hand across my stomach. That was when he moved. That was when he let me know that we were in this together. That was when we saved each other.
He saved me from making the worst decision of my life and I saved him from being remembered with regret.
Missing my appointment didn’t make things any easier. I still cried all day, I still lost sleep over the next week asking myself “what now?” except I had to start answering because I wasn’t getting less pregnant as the days went on, and life was not taking it easy on me in the interim. Within a week, I found I had to leave school and I lost my place to live and my job. With life coming at me hard and life being the only option for my child, I was once again faced with my short comings.
I took a breath, caressed my belly, googled “adoption agencies Illinois,” and prayed “I don’t have enough. I want you to have enough. I am not enough.” It was hard, I was sad, but I made an adoption plan for my son.
My son. I was calling him my son since pretty much the beginning.
I knew he was a boy before the ultrasound. He and I had a connection since the moment he fought for his life that Friday morning that he saved me and I saved him. My son needed the best even if it wasn’t me.
After months of turmoil, loneliness, intermittent homelessness, depression, and anxiety he was here! He made his presence known one Tuesday night in April, ready to be loved, and ready to belong to me!
And he did belong to me…as long we shared that hospital room.
How I wish he could have belonged to me always.
When they wheeled the two of us out the front door that Friday afternoon, his new family was waiting to receive him. I kissed him and held him close, I prayed for him, and I knew “I am not good enough. She is mom enough. I am not enough.” I passed her into his arms and she whispered “thank you, Marcia” before turning away, securing him in the car seat, and driving him home.
At the curb, in a wheelchair, with the hospital attendant doing a poor job of being strong for me, I was broken. A piece of my heart was on its way to the suburbs, and shards of my dignity were scattered over the last four months. I was certain wholeness was no longer in the cards for me. There was not enough. I did not have enough. I would never be enough.
Our arrangement helped. I got see him. I got to be a part of his life. I was at his baptism, I served cake at his first birthday party, I sat with the family at his first communion, fawned over him when he graduated eighth grade, and even still I felt like I was just dropping in. I didn’t do enough. I wasn’t there enough. I could not be enough.
There I was forever stuck in this moment in time forever someone’s mom, but never “mom enough.” Moving forward, but never moving on. Healing came in parts, but never all at once. I don’t think it will ever fully come. Seeing him helps. Being in his life helps. But I am scared that he will resent me one day if he doesn’t already. Afraid that he will disappointed that I couldn’t be enough.
As false as I now know they are, these thoughts and more run through my mind everyday. They strip me of my confidence and are an anchor to the past. A rusting anchor, but an anchor nonetheless. Believing I would never be enough would rob me of joy until one summer day a few years back. He called me to ask me one of the most important questions of my life. Of course I said I’d do it. Of course I stressed and bought a new dress and showed up earlier than needed. Of course I had butterflies when we met the bishop at the altar, when I placed my hand on his shoulder, and smiled as he was sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. He chose me. He chose me because I have faith enough. I love him enough. I am enough.