The day I signed the adoption papers giving Jeffrey the life that he deserved, one I was fairly certain I wasn’t capable of giving him at sixteen changed me. For years I wasn’t the person I was supposed to be. I allowed myself to be shamed into silence and in turn I didn’t enter into friendships openly and honestly. There was a part of me that I kept under lock and key for so long that I wasn’t being all that I could be. Periodically I would trust someone enough to break down my walls a little but it was rare. I liked the anonymity of living in a big city and getting out of a small town where I was ‘that girl!” but my heart never really recovered. There was a void in me that caused a great deal of insecurity and I believe caused me to lack confidence in myself and in turn make some bad choices. For all the promises I made and broke over the years the most important one, the one I made to a bright eyed, dark haired newborn baby, I kept forever. “I will love you forever, never will a day go by that I won’t think of you” I have no idea how other birth moms feel or have felt but for me, I never gave up the worry that comes with parenthood. In thinking about him everyday of his life and not knowing if he was OK I worried a lot. I hoped his Mom kissed his skinned knees and tucked him each night and loved him more then anything in the world. I also felt an unmistakable guilt over the births of our girls. Almost as if I didn’t deserve the happiness or it somehow diminished the love I felt for the boy I couldn’t hold. When Jeffrey contacted me a healing began. His love and acceptance built a bandage for my troubled heart and allowed me to forgive myself for not being in his life. Knowing that he was happy, that he had a good life should have been enough. I didn’t dare ask or expect more but what happened between us was a natural progression that neither of us could have prepared for. It didn’t take away from my love for my children or he from his parents but it added to and enriched our lives in a way that has made me feel complete. I finally felt in the drivers seat in my own life, confident of who I was and owning the decisions I had made along the way, right or wrong because they had brought me here to this moment. Jeffrey and I conversed for about seven months. I talked about him to everyone who would listen. He in turn was probably feeling a little of what I felt for all those years. Unsure of who he was, not certain of how to embrace this craziness he had been thrown into without hurting his family. It was like navigating a country road without a compass. The maturity he continues to display in regards to all the decisions that were made regarding him, affecting him but without his knowledge makes it easy to forget that he is the child in all this. His faith in goodness and his kind spirit has helped guide me. We decided that Edmonton would be the best place for us to reunite face to face. With both of our families in Truro it would place a lot of unnecessary pressure on us and it was important that the reunion be about us. Mother and child. If I was asked to describe this process I would liken it to climbing a mountain. Slow and steady on the way up, marveling at the views, taking smalls steps, taking care not to fall, holding your breath sometimes because you are not sure what step you should take next, all the while knowing that the beauty was in the climb. Jeffrey landed in Edmonton on a beautiful Friday evening in September. Kirk and I had decided that I was going to go get him at the airport. Any advice that was given to me by well wishers all suggested the same, that the initial reunion should just be Jeffrey and I. The day of I was a complete mess. A bundle of frayed nerves. I couldn’t eat, hadn’t slept and my nervous stomach had me in the washroom every five minutes. Kirk poured me a glass of wine while I talked to a friend on the phone. I am not sure how many times he refilled it but my nervousness subsided, as did my ability to drive safely to the airport. Kirk insisted on driving but was going to stay in the truck. We arrived a bit early so Kirk parked and decided to walk me into the airport and keep me company but leave before Jeffrey’s plane landed. Plans are plans but even the best laid plans sometimes fall apart mid flight. Kirk was so excited for me, so thrilled to be a part of my life changing I couldn’t imagine him not being there when Jeffrey stepped off the plane. The waiting was excruciating. Kirk and I waited as close to the doors as possible, hand in hand, giddy with anticipation, as friends and family were reunited one by one. The plane emptied quickly at first and then slowly a passenger or two here and there descended the stairs. Kirk was hilarious through it all, keeping me upbeat, trying to convince me that the young Asian guy coming down the stairs was probably my son, or maybe the Hawaiian guy, or perhaps the 70 year old plaid loving granddad. After what seemed like an eternity my boy came down the stairs. He was bubbling over with excitement about the baby that he helped deliver on the plane. He detailed the account of the events that unfolded during the flight that led to him assisting in the birth of a bouncy baby. We were astonished and intrigued. It turned out the story was bogus, but a great ice breaker. Something weird happened and it happened very quickly, twenty years faded away until there was nothing separating us. What could have been, and should have been weird was quietly comfortable. Two hours and several cocktails later nobody would have guessed that years and miles and questions had ever separated us. Well wishing friends wanting to share in our excitement met us at the restaurant intending to have one drink with us and move on. It was an exciting evening for everyone and next thing you know we were all at their home bar, with all the makings of an all nighter! There was dancing and laughter, memories that would last forever. As the sun was coming up Jeffrey’s head lowered unto the bar and his eyes closed in much needed slumber. Somehow I helped maneuver my stocky, over six feet tall boy up the stairs and to a bedroom where he could catch a couple of hours of sleep. At twenty years old I tucked my boy in for the VERY first time. I stepped outside the door and tears of complete joy spilled over my cheeks. All the Kings horses and all the Kings men couldn’t have put me back together again but finally, for the first time in twenty years I felt complete.
The missing piece of the puzzle
Christine was excited to hear from me and she could tell that my heart was sitting in my throat making it difficult to form coherent sentences. She went ahead and did the talking and though I know it was her job to remain impartial and unattached the circumstances made it next to impossible. Any woman with a heart that beats inside their body would have found it difficult not to feel some sort of emotion if they were the one in charge of relaying information to me about the son I longed for for a great deal of my life. She told me that Jeremy had contacted her by phone because he had sent an email and hadn’t heard back right away. It turns out that his email was stuck in her junk-mail folder and he was pretty anxious to hear back. She told me his name was Jeffrey, I admit that initially I had a very hard time identifying with that, for 19 years he was Jeremy in my heart. She also told me his nickname was Jam which resonated a little better because the initials short for Jeffrey Andrew also represented Jeremy Allen. She told me about his family and where he grew up which was surprisingly close to where I had lived prior to moving to Edmonton. She told me he had played hockey most of his life as a goalie and that made me smile. I was drinking the information in like a thirsty traveler in the dessert but what I longed to know most was “Did he think of me?” Did he ever wonder where he got his dark hair and wondrous eyes from? Did he ever wonder if we had the same laugh, the same curiosity, the same smile? It seemed almost too much to ask. This woman had just given me so much in a short time, so much more then promised and more then I ever hoped to expect. Then she told me the information that I thirsted for. To her it even seemed incredulous. Unfathomable in this day and age, especially in such a small town she speculated. He never thought of me. He never wondered in what ways we were similar or different. He never laid awake nights and thought “what if?” The truth was, until the letter from social services came he had lived his life one hundred percent as Jeffrey Andrew, not wondering about the little boy Jeremy or the woman who had chosen to let another family raise him as their son. There had been absolutely no reason to look back because he was never told he was adopted. I gasped and Christine allowed me some time to feel everything that I was feeling. I cried openly. I cried for him and for his parents, I cried for uprooting his life and the pain that it would cause. I also cried for me. I felt a betrayal of sorts. It wasn’t the agreement, albeit verbal, his adopted mom had promised to give him a letter from me when he was old enough to understand. I cried at the thought that had I waited for him to search for me that day would have never come. Among the tears were tears of pure happiness, for the gift of today. My boy was healthy, happy, well adjusted, that was everything a mother could hope for. Christine told me that Jeffrey wanted to forgo the normal progression of things and have direct contact with me. Over the sound of my beating heart I heard that he had written me a letter as well and she was about to forward it to me. She wished us luck. Her job was done. She was cutting me loose. This woman who had been my anchor in a sea of churning emotion was turning the Captains hat over to me. I was scared and excited sitting at my computer waiting for his email to come through. I must have read it a thousand times. My heart felt things I can’t even begin to explain but I know I was a little bit crazy. I typed a letter back quickly and that is where our “new” relationship began. It was a continuation of the one we forged in a hospital room with me promising to love him forever.
I woke the girls up for school and very quickly dissolved into a teary emotional mess. The talk I had planned in my head for months came out in choked waves while I blew my nose and wiped the running faucets that had taken over my eyes. Their immediate reaction was to cry as well. Their young hearts couldn’t quite comprehend. They wanted to know if their brother was okay and could he come live with us. I told them that wasn’t possible…what did I know?
I can’t recall my conversations with my husband or my mom on this day. It’s lost somewhere in my heart so they can feel free to weigh in if they remember. I am sure they won’t discount the fact that I was a little crazy. Maybe everyone is on the journey to becoming whole.
Jeffrey has from the beginning encouraged this blog and has agreed that I can share some of our correspondence. I will share some of our initial correspondence with you but I have blocked out some names in the interest of everyone’s privacy.
Feb 4, 2010
As soon as i read this letter i had so much to say, and wanted to send it so fast. I only got it today. I didn’t think I was going to be so enthusiastic before i read it. My parents named me Jeffrey, I go by Jeff. Most of my friends call me Jam , its my initials and it caught on in high school. I just found out i was adopted less than a week ago, im still kind of in shock.
So my name is Jeff, I’ve always been fairly popular lots of friends. Im alot like you in that I value memories more than things. Nothing is better than a good story. Id like to think I have lots. My thing growing up was Hockey. I played goalie mostly and I was pretty good. I was always kinda a leader on my team ive had some of my best times playing hockey. I did good in school until highschool , I cared more about hockey and work. But I graduated at the end of last year.
After I graduated I took off To Banff with one of my best friends XXXX. Our friends xxxx and XXXX were living there and we went to stay with them. The plan was to get Jobs but i got homesick really fast ,so we went home. I feel like i learned alot from it though. And while I partied pretty hard and had alot of fun.
When I came back i decided that I wanted to go to college to become a youth worker which is what im doing now. School is pretty great because i love that im going to be doing something for a career that makes a difference. Im not working right now because at the start of the school year I was on a Juniour “C” hockey team and i couldn’t find a place to work around school and hockey. My goals right now are to do good in school and get a part time job, and work full time in april when im done school for the year. Im really a fun loving guy who lives for the weekend. I love your husbands silver patron shirt thats in one of the pictures!
I have a great family. My mom and dad XXXX and XXXX and my younger sister natalie. Besides the fact that they kept this from me for so long, they really are great. They always spoiled me and gave me more than I needed. I’ve lived in the same house here alll my life, but id like to get on my own as soon as i get a job and school done with. My dad was kinda like one of my best friends growing up and most of my memories with him are going to hockey rinks all over the place. My mom is a really caring person. My little sister natalie is 16 and she is awesome, we haven’t fought at all since we were younger. She is a pretty blonde and really smart. She only found out the other day when I did too. I guess when my parents adopted me they didn’t think that they could have kids and 3 years later they got lucky with my sister.
Finding out was such a shock but I’ve taken it really well i think. I’ve been on and off with my girl XXXX for a while now. ( I say my girl cuz i don’t know what to say because she hates being labelled). We Kinda just started seeing each other again just before I found out, and having her there for me is a big part of the reason i’ve been able to take it so well. I believe that things happen for a reason and every decision can effect so much. I believe in Karma and positive thinking. You should read the book ” The Celestine Prophecy”. It talks about how good things will happen and how things will work out if you just follow your intuitions and be led by coincedences. I think that’s why XXXX and me seemed to make a mends at the perfect time before I needed her. I also believe that’s why you knew to do the right thing when you decided to give my parents the gift of their first son. I hope your guilt goes away because your decision allowed me to have a great life. I really believe that your love and good thoughts have made a difference to me on some level. I’ve always been pretty lucky and I think you having me close to your heart probably had lots to do with it. Knowing that you worried about me dispising you for the decision you made me feel so bad. My parents not telling me didn’t make me mad at first… I lost trust in them.. but knowing that I was doing so good and you had to worry all the time makes me kinda mad at them. Thats what really struck me when i read the letter you sent me. Doing what im doing in school helps me understand the courage (i can only imagine) it would take to do whats best like you did. You didn’t deserve to have to worry for all that time.
You guys sound like you have a really good time! Kirk seems like a great husband by how you talk about him. Morgan and Haley are so beautiful. xxxx said she thought Haley looked like me. It’s crazy to think I have two little sister I didn’t even know about. Id like to know more about them. Do they know they have a big brother somewhere? When are their birthdays? I always find coincedences relating to dates and i guess im really into that stuff. Is there anything you can tell me about my father?
You say that you only moved two years ago and you look really famillar to me. The girls too, but maybe you guys would anyways. When you lived here did you ever buy groceries at sobeys on robie street? I worked there for a long time. I hope that this letter clears your mind and takes all guilt off your shoulders! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org cuz mail is pretty old school. I can’t believe i wrote all this without saying how jealous I am that you went to ACDC, UFC and go to oilers games. One of my best friends went to ACDC in moncton , and i missed getting a ticket. He says it was amazing. He’ll love it that you mentioned ACDC. Im a huge leaf fan but i’ve always liked the oilers too, they both could be doing alot better this year though! Im excited to talk more and your close to my heart now too. I’ll see if i can find a suitable picture but if not ill find some good ones soon. Jeff
I love the nickname Jam. Nicknames are the best. Some of my friends call me Mich some of them call me Shelle and my best friend in London, Ontario calls me Po Po. That one is a long story!!
I was absolutely stunned that you replied so soon and you are right that mail is old school so this is a really great way for us to communicate. When Tina told me that you didn’t know that you were adopted I was so worried about you being shook up but you seem to be taking it in stride.
I will admit initially I was a little mad at your parents too, I always assumed you knew that you were adopted and that they would have at some point given you the letter I wrote after you were born. Taking a step back I realize that people make decisions that are personal to them and I can no more judge their decisions then I would like to have all of mine judged. The most important thing is that they gave you a good life and if anything I am sure they thought they were doing what was best. If I can take one thing from that it is that from the beginning they loved you like their very own and that is what I wished for you always. I bet they are struggling with this a little as well. I am quite certain that they have their own feelings surrounding you and I being in contact so please be easy on them.
Your letter certainly made me feel so much better about a lot of things. As far as the worrying and the guilt it is part of life and especially Motherhood so nobody is to blame for that. You mentioned that your Mother and you didn’t always see eye to eye. I bet you Morgan (the oldest) can relate. We love each other to the ends of the earth but she likes to challenge me on everything and it is my job to make sure that she eats well, brushes her teeth, does her homework, is safe…..all the non-fun stuff, so a lot of the time Kirk gets to be the fun one!! I like to think my kids have a lot of fun with me as well. They love it when I act silly. Especially when we turn on the radio and play name that tune and dance. The kids are Beatles fans and Haley woke up at 2 am last weekend because Kirk and I were playing their Beatles Rock Band. We were doing the tour. Hehe. We had fun. We also have a “Rock Band….”band” Kirk plays drums, Morgan guitar and Haley and I are singers. Haley mostly dances and makes up her own songs. She also has to change her clothes 50 times for these events. She is quite a diva. She turns 6 on April 29 and Morgan will turn 11 on November 8.
Haley is anything but shy, she loves to sing and dance and act and do anything that draws attention to her. Getting ready for school this morning she was singing the Barney song and she would start out all sweet and then go into a “Metallica like “version. If you can imagine Metallica singing the Barney song??? Hmmmm…..She would like to be a ballerina and says she will eat carrots instead of chips. She loves chips!!!
Morgan is my cool rock chick. We have the same favorite song right now. Billy Talent, Rusted by the Rain. She also likes to write poetry and music (I think she gets that from me) She is interested in History, geography and would love to travel the world. We watch House Hunters International together so we can see what it would be like to live other places. We all love the Beach. I have family that live in Malgash in the summer and I adore it there. We all do.
Morgan is also a UFC fan. Her favorites are Forrest Griffin, Dan Henderson and GSP.I have a picture of me and Dan Henderson after he knocked out Michael Bisbing at UFC 100. He was cool and excited and I brought back a shirt that he signed from Morgan.
Kirk will be tickled that you like his Patron shirt. It is his favorite. I bought it in Vegas. He also loves Patron. I like Cuervo Gold just as well and it costs a lot less. Kirk is a good husband and the best Dad. He and I haven’t always had it easy, we have had our share of struggles but they were all worth it. We all have a lot of fun together. Kirk played football and Rugby until we left Truro. He played with the Saints the year they won the provincial Championships. He misses playing on teams and just recently has started to play a little Hockey with some buddies. He also got Morgan a stick and they play around at the outdoor rink down the road.
I was so touched that you said that your Dad was like your best friend. So you are a Hockey guy! We took Morgan to her first NHL game Oilers vs. Kings for her Birthday this year. She and Kirk are L.A. Kings fans. Kirk has been for 25 years so even though I was rooting for the Home team “The Edmonton Snoilers” I was glad that they won for him. I was a New Jersey Devils fan growing up. The Bear (that’s my fave radio station here) played a song this morning called “Wake me up when the Season ends” as a dig to the Oilers….to the tune of Geenday When September ends!! Hopefully the Eskimos will make good use of Jesse Lumstrom and make us proud this year. Haley loves the Eskimo games….she mainly likes the cheerleaders!
I agree with you on the Celestine Prophecy though I have not read it but will….I believe in the power of faith and positive thinking. I have many stories in that regard. I am not surprised that you are popular and have lots of friends….it rather runs in the family! You don’t have to worry about “party pics” and that sort of thing!! As I said we are still very social people and doesn’t everyone “Live for the weekend?” One day though you will have grown up responsibilities and I wouldn’t ever want you to look back and feel like you missed out on anything!! You have no reason to be Jealous about AC/DC…you will have plenty of opportunity to see them. They ROCKED. My top five concerts (I can’t put them in order) Eagles, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Rolling Stones and yeah that is 4 but I saw the Eagles twice and they were sooo awesome both times. Like I said you have years to catch up and out do me and I hope you do. Don’t count me out yet though.
I was glad to hear about xxxx. It is a comfort to know that you have someone to help you deal with your feelings surrounding this. It is a pretty big deal and you haven’t had 20 years to think about it like I did. (Almost 20…April 10) My stepdad and my good friend and neighbour share your birthday.
I have tried to touch on everything…..you can ask me anything at all. Also let me know if you are overwhelmed or anything.
You asked about your father and I would like you to know that he is still in Truro. He remains to this very day one of my best friends. He and I are polar opposites but every time in my life when I needed someone he was always there. Everything that we went through had the potential to tear us apart but “You” are the glue that kept us in touch and caring about each other always. We dated off and on for years but we were just not meant to be together forever in that way. I will love him always though and he and I have been in touch and he is grateful for news. He was quite worried when he found out that you hadn’t known you were adopted, he was worried about you being overwhelmed. He has a good heart. He was very popular in school too, lots of friends, he played football and he was popular with the ladies. None of them compared to me though!! Hehe. He was engaged but never married. He has a son that is 8 and he is a phenomenal Dad. He works hard and has for as long as I’ve known him. His parents divorced young so though he was his parent’s only child he has a ½ sister and step brother on one side and a ½ brother on the other side. He lost his Dad in the spring. I guess to sum it up….you come from good people.
I think I have to close this off at some point ….I could rattle on forever. You have lightened the weight that has been sitting on my heart forever and thank you so much for putting me in yours.
Yes the girls know about you. Morgan is over the moon excited. She cried at first because she wanted to know that you were alright. She has thousands of questions!!
I hope to hear from u soon. Xo
It seems like it happened overnight, the carefree party girl, work to party, party to live had grown up. Paying a mortgage and reading bedtime stories quickly takes precedence over dancing on speakers at the local nightclub. Days turn into weeks, fade into monthes and before you know it years have passed in the blink of an eye.
I was in Nova Scotia for a visit when my baby boy officially turned into a “grown up” Unofficially he was just a boy under an adult label celebrating the right of passage otherwise known as “the legal age to drink” Generally celebrated at a bar with your inebriated “of age” friends and way too many suggestively named shooters! It was our last night in Truro and all of our friends were going out boozing at the old haunts. Chevys, Engine Room, The Mill. A fight ensued with my husband when I refused to go siting my dislike of bars. He begged me to make an exception and spend that last night before flying back to Edmonton partying with our friends. How could I explain that I could not party on this day. I was certain that my son would be out celebrating his birthday and his graduation into “legal drinking” I was certain I couldn’t help but look for him in every handsome dark haired young man, and even more certain that if I saw him I would know. What I wasn’t certain of was how I would react if I did in fact see the boy I had given birth to, here in Truro, nineteen years ago. So instead of trying to explain I sullenly refused to budge and spent the last night in my hometown with my parents, just as it should be.
On the long flight home Kirk badgered me into telling him why I wouldn’t come out. He was apologetic and understanding but I am positive that he couldn’t quite understand the depth of my feelings. I don’t think anyone but a mom who had given up a child for adoption could begin to.
That being said when we returned to our lives in Edmonton he questioned me further. He knew about the dog earred form facilitating a reunion that I carried around for the past nineteen years. He knew about the letter, a response from Jeffreys mom when he was a baby that had moved from purse to purse since I was a teenager. He knew about the void in my heart that no amount of love from him or the girls could ever fill.
He encouraged me to make the call to the number on the form. He did so delicately at first and I put it off and made all sorts of excuses. There was a storm raging in my heart and he recognized that but he didn’t understand. Jeffrey was of age now and I could search for him. Why the hesitation?
I had thought about this for nineteen years and thought of almost every imaginable outcome. The one outcome I never imagined but would now be forced to face was what if he had no desire to know about me. What if I never crossed his mind. What if the closure I hoped for all these years ended with a tightly closed door. I would have no other choice but to accept it. Bear it and respect his wishes. My heart was not quite yet prepared for that scenario.
It took some time, patience and love but with Kirks blessing and encouragement I made the call to Halifax Social Services and was put in touch with an updeat and realistic woman named Christine.
Christine quickly became my lifeline. She spoke to me as directly as possible but her tone was never condesending or negative. She told me the steps involved with the process and allowed my hopefulness but encouraged my cautiousness. The one thing she insisted upon was my patience.
I explained that my children did not know about Jeffrey and she said I should not tell them. If this didn’t go anywhere I would be giving them something and taking it away.
Christine called me almost immediately and let me know that they had an address for Jeffrey on file. She referred to him as Jeremy as I always did because that was the name I gave him. I had made a package with a letter I wrote to him and some pictures of all of us. I wanted him to see us, see that we were real and desperately wanted to know him.
Christine sent a letter to him explaining that she had some information for him. He was asked to contact the office.
Things were moving a lot quicker then I anticipated which was good but dizzying. I was transported back to a time when I was sixteen years old. I was in contact with Jeffreys biological father. We had maintained contact for over twenty years, I considered him a good friend. That would change but in my heart I thought he deserved the opportunity to be included. I was up and down like a teeter totter.
I was on the verge of tears constantly. The poor girls were confused because mommy was a basket case. I had to sit down with my bosses and explain why I could barely talk most days.
Christine told me that adopted boys are much less anxious then girls to make contact with their biological families or at the very least they ponder it awhile before ever thinking seriously about calling.
She said six weeks after the initial letter she would send a Registered follow up letter. That way he would have to sign for it and we would know for certain that he had it in his possession. She shared with me scenarios good and bad and everything in between to help prepare my heart. I remember the one possibility that I found implausible was that we would meet, not feel any reason to pursue or continue a relationship, he may not be a good and decent person worthy if being in our lives. I had to consider it but I couldn’t fathom it.
I convinced myself to calm down a little. I was having heart flutters, insomnia, episodes of euphoria followed by the lowest of lows. I needed to go back to being a Mom and a wife and wait patiently.
About three weeks later I came home from work and I had an important call from Christine. She left an excitable message on my answering machine but her office was closed by the time I got it. (3 hour time difference 😦 )
We played phone tag for three days until I was finally able to contact Christine. It was about 5:30 am for me and I was laying in the bed that I had tossed and turned in and remained sleepless for days. Christine was about to change my life.
To be continued. …
It’s in the stars
It’s been written in the scars on our hearts
We’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
My last post made my husband rather anxious because he very much likes living in the present and I know that revisiting a very difficult time in our lives certainly had the potential to bring up some very unhappy memories and create a lot of angst. I remember that there was a time when I thought that the scars from that time would never I heal, I believed that even though I could hide them they would always be lingering at the surface of my well being ready to open and bleed out all over my life.
I wrote some fairly detailed accounts of the three and a half weeks we were apart. When you say it out loud it seems like a short enough period of time but I can assure you a lifetime of events happened during that time. Not just in the time that we were apart but in the time it took us to truly find our way back. We used to be friends and lovers and now we were suspended in the uncertain place in between, feeling lost and unsure. There was a whole world in between us and if we were truly ready to fight for our marriage we needed to prepare for the fight of our lives.
A lot of my writing is in my drafts folder. I contemplated which parts were really important to this story. To me every little bit of it is important in it’s own way but I decided to save the insane drama for the movie 😉
It goes without saying that we decided to work things out. We absolutely had the best of intentions in wanting to keep our family together and fix our broken marriage but I think both of us were naive with respect to the amount of time, work and patience that would require. Neither of us was ready to be together but the thought of being apart was scarier. I know both of us considered what would happen if we took too long to figure things out and the other moved on. We were having an extremely difficult time fitting into each others present but ultimately we were certain that we belonged in each others future.
During that time I became someone I didn’t recognize. Instead of focusing on what we needed to do to move forward my gears were focused solely on Kirk leaving and how much that hurt me. I was consumed by hurt and anger and for a very long time I refused to let go of any of it. I held unto it the way a child hangs on to their blankie. I thought it protected me. I thought if I protected myself from loving again I would never be hurt. Much later I would learn that the real strength is in allowing yourself to love and be loved.
Eventually we started to make a little progress at least being honest with each other about our fears, insecurities and where we felt we stood. Something about honesty catapults you into a fearless place of acceptance and allows you to either walk away or move forward. We felt hopeful but I was definitely not ready to live in the moment. I felt a little lost, sometimes like I was on the verge of breaking down.
We had started to go to marriage counselling early on and I loved our therapist. She had been through similar martial problems and her experience was valuable to me.
She had gone back to school when her kids were older and was now running a successful private practice. She recounted to me how hard she worked for it and that her husband, initially proud began to feel lonely and not needed which led to an affair with their riding instructor.
That was so telling for me. Men instinctively want to be needed and depended on. Men often have a hard time with strong, independent women. It is a constant struggle of balance for women to maintain their strength while being just vulnerable enough to allow ourselves to be loved.
We graduated marriage counselling way to soon. We had all the tools and promises to fix us but I was still stuck. I just refused to let go of any of the pain and anger and I tortured myself with it for years. I wasted several years caught up in the blame game. Kirk never ever expected or asked me to be accountable for anything that happened but I think until I did admit to my own part I was not being honest and I was hurting myself even more then I hurt him.
A memory that sticks in my head of this time is how I worked 12 hour shifts and I would be driving home and as soon as I would get to the driveway I would get that heavy feeling in my chest. Another uncomfortable night trying to force ourselves to enjoy each others company.
I checked on the kids snug in their beds and busied myself tidying the kitchen. Kirk came upstairs and coaxed me downstairs. He wanted to show me something. I had told him once about this old song my grandmother liked by Don Williams (below), Kirk put the song on and he asked me to dance. I was hesitant at first but he insisted. I wasn’t allowed to talk, just dance. There is something very honest and intimate about dancing in someones arms with no words exchanged. I think more was said between us in those few quiet moments as we looked into each other’s eyes then had been communicated in months. Our eyes both welled up a little, there is no doubt mine started first. It felt like we made a silent promise to each other to try harder.
Late Sunday night we were sitting in the back of Kirk’s truck listening to 80s tunes on satellite radio, cause we are that cool…and when this subject came up Kirk said how happy he was that we made the right decision all those years ago. I can talk about it all now because I know that the past can’t hurt me. It was a damn long road to happiness and we earned every single mile. It does however bring me a tear when I think “what if?”
Someone told me long ago there’s a calm before the storm, I know its been coming for sometime.
CCR Have You Ever Seen The Rain
Kirk and I growing apart was gradual but when life as we knew it exploded everything we knew changed in an instant.
Marriages are like growing a garden. With a lot of hard work and love you will get rewarded but if you neglect that garden it will dry up. People, like gardens, thirst and crave. When their needs are not being met some people dry up and become bitter and others fight for what they need. Life is survival of the fittest, of the most determined, of the most heart.
When I came to the realization that my marriage was dying I wondered how it happened so quickly but the truth is it didn’t happen overnight. As a mother I was juggling many balls and the one that was my marriage dropped and rolled under the coach and I neglected to pick it up because I thought It would always be there, when I got around to it.
When Kirk and I met we collided. Falling in love with him was like finding the answer to all my questions. I loved the smell of him. I loved his intensity and passion. He is a fiery Scorpio, probably the worst match for a logical Capricorn like me. Being with someone like Kirk is like riding a Roller Coaster. When you are up, you are so high up you want to reach for the stars. The lights are bright, dizzying almost and the music is a nice accompaniment to your feeling of elation. When the Roller Coaster drops it happens so quickly that you barely catch your breath, the vibrant lights are but a memory and though you are still dizzy, that euphoria is now mingled with sadness and longing. That was our young life together, chasing the highs, enduring the lows and never really knowing anything in between.
Truth is often harder to write then fiction but one thing I know for certain is that putting syrup on shit doesn’t make it pancakes and quite quickly my marriage became shit. I neglected my marriage. Kirk became that plant in the corner that used to be bright and shiny and full of life, my favorite. I used to make sure he was nurtured and loved and then when both girls came along, his happiness became less and less of a priority for me. I had two beautiful girls to raise. I had been given a second and third chance at motherhood and I was determined to make the most of that. Somewhere out there was a 14 year old boy that I never had the opportunity to sing lullabies to and soothe away his fears. I needed to be the best mother I could and what I thought was my strength as a mother became my weakness as a wife.
I am absolutely not taking all the blame. Until recently I wouldn’t take any of it at all. That meant I spent many years hurt and broken. I was self righteous, indignant and mad. I held unto years of unnecessary pain. I punished Kirk and in turn I tortured myself.
There are always warning signs and we made feeble attemps at improving our situation but we came to a point where instead of us against the world it was us against each other. It was a no win battle. We floated around, going through the motions without really connecting with each other. Kirk should have told me. He should have shook me till I got it. He held tightly undo some of his own childhood issues and chose to make me as unimportant in his life as he felt in mine.
The physical connection was the one thing we clung to for dear life. It was our only form of communication we had that didn’t end in an argument. It was full of promises and apologies we were both to proud to say out loud. We became the couple that just passed each other in the hallways and we made no effort to be a part of each others lives or interests. Kirk was barely home, even when he wasn’t working he was hanging out with his friends. Had I made an effort to care I might have recognized that several of his friends were newly separated and that wasn’t a good situation for him, but instead we just carried on with the draining day to day fight and make up mentality that was wearing us both thin.
I was dealt a huge blow when I found out that Kirk had kept a huge secret from me that threatened our marriage and several others. Instead of having the guts to tell me he made little hints until I started to dig and question. A long tale of lies and deceit began to unravel and what I found is that Kirk had kept a huge secret for a friend at the expense of his own marriage and others, even going as far as being a scapegoat for a cheating friend and getting tangled so deeply in a web that he couldn’t see his way out. Initially though I was furious at him we held tight to each other. It opened up the lines of communication between us and for a very short time it was us against the world again. It was short lived though. We tried to talk like we used to but in divulving our truths it was clear to me that his choices were poor, his judgement wasn’t rational and we didn’t have much in common. I believed that I was better then him and he didn’t disagree. I recall quite clearly the day he left. He worked late and instead of coming home he went to his buddys. He was a truck driver so when he didn’t call to check in of course I was worried. When he crawled in the next day he said he didn’t want to wake me. I cried bullshit. I was mad and tired. I had spent one of countless sleepless nights worried. I had had enough. I told him we needed a break, he agreed and left.
Kirk was always a runner. He always chose leaving over arguing. He left me in tears several times over the years only to come back later and apologize. This time was different and I knew it immediately. Without raised voices or slammed doors he quietly walked out. We were on a break!
Unlike the infamous Ross and Rachel break I didn’t have the luxury of sitting in front of a rainy window listening to U2 ballads. I had to be a mommy. Haley was almost 8 monthes old, Morgan had just turned five. It was Nov 21, just over a month till Christmas. Good Times.
*bilirubin[bil′iro̅o̅′bin]Etymology: L, bilis + ruber, red
the orange-yellow pigment of bile, formed principally by the breakdown of hemoglobin in red blood cells after termination of their normal lifespan. Water-insoluble unconjugated bilirubin normally travels in the bloodstream to the liver, where it is converted to a water-soluble, conjugated form and excreted into the bile. In a healthy person, about 250 mg of bilirubin is produced daily. The majority of bilirubin is excreted in the stool. The characteristic yellow pallor of jaundice is caused by the accumulation of bilirubin in the blood and in the tissues of the skin. Testing for bilirubin in the blood provides information for diagnosis and evaluation of liver disease, biliary obstruction, and hemolytic anemia. Normal levels of total bilirubin are 0.1 to 1 mg/dl or 5.1 to 17 μmol/L.
I love the springtime when everything is fresh and new, trees are budding and color is being restored to the world. The anticipation of Spring is not unlike having a new baby. You experience all the stages and although full bloom is perfection you secretly want to enjoy each stage as long as possible.
We brought Haley home in the Spring. The second week of May. She had to spend some extra time in the hospital due to sheer incompetence. I had a male nurse who seemed like he was playing the part of a nurse in a reality show, and certainly not a good one!! I didn’t breastfeed with Morgan so on top of the fact that it was near impossible to try to breastfeed a jaundiced, sleeping baby I had lots of questions. The only answer I got from my nurse was a confused look followed by a muttered “You will be fine” as he walked out the door. The extent of his check ups were to awkwardly lift my blanket just to drop it as quickly and say “You are OK…right!?” I felt more then a little uneasy with him and suggested that maybe I could have a nurse that was familiar with breastfeeding. He ignored this request with a blank stare. I felt that he was not anxious for anyone else to know about his extreme shortcomings in his chosen profession. I felt slightly sorry for him until he dropped the ball in a very big way. My doctor left explicit instructions when he left for the weekend that if Haley’s “billy” levels were up that she was to be put under the lights immediately. The instructions were communicated to the ward staff, to me, and noted on my chart. It was cut and dry! When Haley’s test results came back with the inevitable news that her “billy” levels were elevated the course of action was clear. I am not a medical professional but I had been through this with Morgan and I understood the importance of getting her under the lights as soon as possible. Nurse Dolittle and I did not share the same of urgency in regards. I inquired about the lights, asked about the lights, insisted upon the lights, demanded the lights, but to each action I got the same result one would get from banging their head against a wall repeatedly. Upon my repeated insistence I was told the lights were in a construction area and could not be accessed. I asked for a doctor, another nurse, a passerby but my best option was hoping for a sunny day to sit her in the window. I left a note for my favorite nurse Beth at the nurses station. Beth had assisted with all my children’s births and she was amazing. Unfortunately she had the weekend off. She woke me at 5 am Monday and I anxiously recounted my plight. I had spent a very stressed out weekend and I was as happy to see her as a five year old waking to find Santa. She assessed the situation in her head for mere seconds before heading out the door so fast her Super Nurse cape got stuck in the door. She returned quickly with a beautiful set of lights. She downplayed her Super Nurse skills when asked how she managed by replying, ” I lifted the plastic divider, I crawled under, I wheeled the lights out” So simple, so awesome. We both knew the damage was done though. If your broker calls and tells you to sell failing stock you don’t wait for three days and then wonder about the huge loss. There was time to make up so initially Haley was under the lights around the clock. Her “billy” levels needed to be brought down and she had continued to lose weight. I was scared and distraught. I can’t imagine how parents of children in Neo Natal must feel waiting for the tiniest of milestones. I just wanted to bring my girl home. I knew that even if the “billy” levels stabilized that Dr. Chalmers would never allow me to take her home until she gained weight. The nurses suggested taking Haley to their station so I could get some rest but I insisted she stay with me florescent lights and all! Breastfeeding continued to be an impossible challenge as Haley was too sleepy to bother with eating. If I managed to get her latched on she would fall asleep quite quickly and I would doze off and feel all sorts of guilty. I was fixated on getting her to eat as it was about the only thing I had any control over but my attempts proved to be pretty futile. Luckily for me I never saw Nurse Dolittle again and I was blessed with a team of exceptional nurses to keep me calm and informed. There was a senior nurse on the Ward who appeared looming and more then a little scary. Her assistance was sought in getting Haley to eat. Her demeanor, at first overbearing, won me over and I knew quite quickly that deep down she was a soft nut in a tough shell. They hooked me up to a breast pump which could better be described as an industrial milking machine. It milked me, I bottled the goods and Nurse Notsoscary would coax precious Haley into eating little by little. She managed to get more into her in one feeding then myself and all the other nurses had for days. I felt the promise of progress. The steps were little but the more Haley ate and the more time she spent under the lights I was able to get her to feed here and there for short periods of time. I am thinking back to how incredibly delicate she seemed, tiny featured and curled up in the fetal sleeping position. I can vividly recall the news that she had began to gain weight. I was elated! It was a slight amount but it is the step we were all waiting for. The next day I had our bags packed and I was ready and excited to go home when Dr. Chalmers popped in for rounds. He was happy for the progress but not satisfied with her “Billy” levels just yet. This game continued for several days where I would have us packed and ready and Dr. Chalmers would inform me “Not Yet” He agreed to release me but Haley had to stay. I wasn’t about to leave without her! One cheerfully sunny Friday Dr. Chalmers was feeling generous and noting with familiarity my packed bags he offered a compromise. Haley and I could go home if we agreed to come into the hospital everyday to get her blood work taken. The hospital was a fair jaunt for us but at that point I would have agreed to come to the hospital three times a day. I WAS FREE!!! FREE from four months of hospitals and FREE to go home with my family!
Haley performing Doll on a Music Box at Edmonton’s 2013 Kiwanis Musicfest Junior Musical Theatre
I am eating cookies in bed, that is how my day went. After a long day I was relaxing and chatting with Kirk online (he is up North in Kearl Lake). We were both in a playful mood, our conversation was very fun and flirty until Morgan informed me that the coldroom and laundry room was flooded. Instant buzz kill. It was pretty tense here for awhile but equipped with Kirks snowmobile boots, a fire poker 40 soaking towells and my phone (for frantically texting Kirk) I managed to fix the pump and twart any further disaster. I am not happy about the mess but on the bright side, because of the floor drain in the laundry room the main rec room area was not affected and being forced to clean out the cold room is a good thing. See Kirk I am not even going to mention who filled the cold room with unnecessary crap!!
So to continue where I left you I frantically called Kirk and told him to get there fast and then I called my Mom. Dr Clague said they would induce me at 5:30. Between 5:30 and 6:30 nothing was happening. We were all just joking around with the nurses. At 6:30 I started to feel a significant amount of discomfort and got quiet immediately. I threw up in the bathroom which was a sure sign of hard labour. When the contactions began they were one on top of another. In the same fashion as my other pregnancies I went from zero to sixty in minutes. I guess Kirk mistook my sudden silence for boredom because he said to the nurse “when does labor start?” I was breathing mid contraction and looked at the nurse wide-eyed as if to say “is he friggin kidding me?
The nurse asked Kirk if there was somewhere he needed to be. Poor Kirk had missed Morgans birth so he really just didn’t know what to expect. All he had really seen of actual labour was exaggerated on tv and in movies.
He was great at keeping cold wash clothes on my forehead. It was unbearably warm and trying to keep me cool was a full time job for Mom and Kirk. I started pushing shortly after seven. I was expecting Haley to come into the world in a few pushes. I was getting the regular encouragement “she’s right there, we see her head, she’s coming” I was pushing for everything I was worth. Let’s just say if pushing were an Olympic sport I was going for gold. I thought that Kirk should go to the other side of the room prepared to catch. I pictured her flying across the room like a football.
I recall the doctor saying something about her being stuck. I remember thinking WTF does that mean? I wanted to ask but could barely muster a breath between contractions let alone a question. Turns out her umbilical chord was wrapped around her neck. Once removed she made a speedy entry into our world! Haley Jade Catherine DeBay was born @ 7:45 pm on April 29, 2004.
She was healthy but earlier then the doctors had originally thought and in a certain amount of distress from me pushing with a chord wrapped around her. She was creamy white…full of vermix. She looked like someone had slathered her up with cold cream. She had a headful of dark curls and a beautiful button nose.
Our first picture with her she is in an incubator. I felt completly different about her then I had with Morgan and Jeffrey initially. I felt very protective, I guess that is definitely a parental trait but it lacked that warm and fuzzy feeling because I so badly wanted to make her strong enough to bring her home. I am sure anyone who has ever had a preemie has felt this on a much larger scale. Her first month, even after bringing her home she was so sleepy I had to wake her for feedings and coax her to feed. It felt like a job. She didn’t look at me, she didn’t brighten at the sound of my voice. I silently worried a lot about not bonding with her the way I did Morgan. After the first four weeks once I chubbed her up and she became more alert things changed instantly. She has been an ongoing joy!
I always felt very differently about my girls. Morgan in glorious teenhood likes to say we love Haley more, we always take her side. Truth is I love Haley differently then I do Morgan. She has always been smart and fiercely independent. She has a very analytical mind like her Dad. Morgan is softer, led more by her heart. As smart as she is I worry about her being led astray by her caring and trusting ways. I want her to know how beautiful she is. I want her know that she is smart and that she can be anything she wants. I want her to know that SHE is the person to impress and please. I want her not to seek validation from friends and boys. I want her to pat herself on the back for a job well done and when she fails I want her to have the strength to get back up and try again. Haley at 9 has these tools. She hasn’t let the world beat her down. She told me one day that she will never be able to please everyone but she is happy being herself. Jeffrey and Morgan are a lot alike. They know what they want and they can dream a life for themselves but sometimes overlook the harsh realities that can get in the way of those dreams. Dreams take hard work to make them happen! I heard a saying recently about a mothers constant challenge “the right mix of kindness and dicipline” I think all of my children will agree that I can be a good and fun friend but I will never sugar coat the realties of life!! Life is hard. Prepare!!
This is short and I apologize. I am catching up from a whirlwind visit with my family in Nova Scotia and my new granddaughter. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to see if it is all real.
P.S for those of you twitterbugs, follow @1000acreheart