Last night I got home to a glass of champagne and Mark in good spirits (bad pun…I know). I thought this was his idea of foreplay for later on in the evening, but then he presented me with papers. It was Emma’s final adoption papers – we were now officially Emma’s mom and dad. As i read ‘your adopted child is now regarded as if born to you’ I was overwhelmed with a feeling of absolute satisfaction and relief. Emma has been with us for over 2 years but I suppose there’s always that niggly feeling that until the deal has been signed, sealed and delivered there’s a chance she could be taken away.
In 2009 on 10th May a little angel dropped from the sky and landed ever so elegantly at the Lighthouse Baby Shelter. I had called there once previously on the off-chance of them having a baby available to adopt…hold on, I guess you’re asking why adoption?
Mark and I had been trying for six years to fall pregnant on our own, with no luck at all. I tried homeopaths, magical medicines claiming to make me as fertile as a manure heap, reflexology, introspection, therapy – if it was available I had tried. Eventually a friend recommended a fertility specialist and off Mark I went. What a time that was! Come my period I would have to count the days, on the correct day go in for an injection, on another day go for another injection, then count the days until we could have sex, have sex, and then start counting the days. Pregnancy tests were bought, pregnancy tests were thrown away. Still nothing. Then it was time for the laporoscopy and they found that I had endemitriosis, which was scraped away and all was good to go ahead and hump like rabbits once again. And hump we did…injection, injection, jab, wait…injection, injection, jab, wait! Until one day the pregnancy test showed a slight blue line – the slightest blue line ever but it was there and we were pregnant.
I told everyone – everyone rejoiced for us. My mom cried when I told her. Mark had mixed emotions. He was over the moon but also nervous. We weren’t any where near three months and he was nervous that something might go wrong. And boy did it!
I was due for a scan on a Monday, but moved it to Wednesday that week as Mark was leaving for the States for work and I needed to take him to the airport. We said our goodbyes and off he went to the land of the freak and the home of brash. I went off and had my hair coloured, which with all the hormones surging trough my body wasn’t the best thing to do. I looked like Garfield, but hey I was pregnant and so resembling a feline was not a big deal.
Off I went on Wednesday morning for my scan, to see how the baby was growing and hear a heart beat. I had made arrangements to meet with my dear friend Annie afterwards…all was good in my world. And then everything went black.
I lay on the bed waiting for the doctor to come through, legs splayed open ever so ungracefully. In he walked and we made small talk (difficult to do when your vagina and a strange man are face to face). In went the sonar, we saw the little bean, but there was no sound. I asked him to turn up the volume. I might have even asked him to ‘pump it up’. His response was ‘the volume is up…Melinda there’s no heart beat’. My world had just ended. I had lost our baby. I smsed Annie to say that I would be unable to meet and we made arrangements for the DNC the next day. I called my mom to ask if she could take me to the hospital but she wasn’t home. My dad answered the phone and the moment he heard my voice he immediately knew something was wrong. When I told him the sad news, my father, always known for calm facade and seemingly unemotional ways broke down in tears.
Of course I went and had my hair redone – there was no way I was dying on the operating table looking like this…
With the time difference in the States I had to wait until 4pm SA time before I could call Mark and let him know what had happened. Mark cried and with all the distance between us I could feel his pain. Little did we know the worst was still to come.
The following day my mom and dad came to fetch me and off we went. It was the longest drive, but the time flew.In no time at all I had been admitted and was now waiting for the moment that the doctor would remove the tiny little baby. This little thing that a few days ago had meant hope and now meant nothing, that now meant failure on my part.
The road to recovery on an emotional level was a long one, The hurt would come in waves, leaving me feeling empty and exhausted. Of course any episodes of Grey’s Anatomy would leave me a crumpled mess for hours at a time. It was a partial-molar pregnancy and we would have to wait six months before we could start trying again.
Six months passed and we started with the injections again until our doc called us in one day and explained that we probably wasting time and money going this route. Our only other option was IVF but given my health (weight issues), my health (a smoker) and my age (let’s not even discuss this one) the chances of it being successful would be slim (slimmer than me). Mark and I discussed whether I could handle it emotionally and the answer was no. Financially it would also be a strain. So we started discussing adoption.
I remember growing up, as a teen, telling my parents that one day I would adopt a black baby and it seemed that this had become a self fulfilled prophecy. I was excited about it, nervous and sad. As a woman the most natural thing in the world is to be able to fall pregnant and be a mom…I couldn’t even get that right. I was angry with nameless young girls who fell pregnant JUST standing near a boy. I hated anyone I saw with a baby. Why them? Why not me?
We never wanted to be trendy with our affirmative accessory on our arm but the cards had been dealt and we were working with what we had. We visited one private social worker who sat with us for about an hour and explained the process, what would need to be done, how it would be done and then finished off with “Thanks, that’s R750!” Mark and I looked at each other – was this was how it was going to be moving forward. Paying money for…nothing really.
And then a friend of mine called and said that there was a little girl at the shelter, available for adoption. I called on a Saturday afternoon and asked them yet again if there were any babies that I could make mine. The voice on the other side asked “What exactly are you looking for?” “A little girl, newborn up to six months old”, i said hopefully. I figured if we were going to do this, we were going to do it properly. We would experience the three hour feeds, the sleepless nights, the nappy rashes and vaccinations. “Well, there’s a baby here, Ruth, who is six weeks old and her mom has already signed the papers. Why don’t you come meet her?”
Tuesday evening off Mark and I went. And we met Ruth. Eleanor, who runs the shelter, had dressed up perfectly for the big introduction but they could have put her in a burlap sack and I would have been in love. She was beautiful. She was asleep as they passed her to me, and stayed asleep for the duration of our visit. I walked away that night, leaving a little piece of my heart behind. I knew that was my baby. Mark, as a man, and a responsible one at that looked at the situation realistically – financially it wasn’t a good time; work wise he was unstable; timing wise it wasn’t great – he needed time to get his head around this.
I would leave work most days a little earlier to go visit Ruth. I would just sit holding her as she slept. Or give her her bottle when she was hungry. I knew this was my baby when one of the volunteers asked if she could hold her. As a non-confrontational, always eager to please, just say yes kind of person I said No! It was then I knew I had the strength to take care of this precious baby with every part of me…
A month passed, with me visiting weekends and weekdays. It got to the point where Eleanor had to ask me to change the times I visited or to cut down until we had made a decision. Mark was still undecided and scared. Emma and I had already built such a bond that she would know the time I was arriving and start getting fidgety and when I left it would take them a while to get her settled. It wasn’t fair on Emma so I cut down the visits, to three times a week!
One day, out of the blue, Mark said YES!!!!!!!!! And Emma was ours