Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Expecting: Experiencing Pregnancy as an Adoptee

So, I've been keeping a secret for the past several months. As many of you noted in your responses to the entry previous to this one, I've been pretty absent for a while.

Overall, I've been less active on my blog and in the general blogosphere over the past several months. But I have a great excuse and one that will probably fuel several new entries in the months and years to come.

My husband and I are actually expecting. As you've probably guessed from the title of this post, it's not a package in the mail or an inheritance that we're expecting, but a person. To spell it out, we're pregnant. And this is my, our first.

In large part, my decreased activity in the blogging world can be attributed to being bedridden for almost two months due to severe nausea and pregnancy sickness. As I have entered the second trimester (I'll be 17 weeks tomorrow), the sickness is beginning to ebb ever so slightly. I still feel nauseous 24/7, but it's not as severe, meaning that I can actually move around now and sit up straight for an extended period. Yay.

So, that's the big news.

As you can imagine, being pregnant and the prospect of being a mother opens up a whole new realm within the--to utilize some psychobabble--adoptee psyche.

In some ways, I haven't wanted to think about what I'm feeling or what this means to me. But of course, it's inevitable. I can't not think about it. In one way, I was so sick that I couldn't think about it. In another way, I think I needed my own time to process, to linger, to ruminate.

But now that the misery of pregnancy sickness is beginning to lift and as I'm getting more in touch with what I'm feeling, the emotions are flooding forth.

In all honesty, it is not easy to find the words to express how profound this experience is for me. Giving birth is profound for any human being. Yet I do believe there is an added profundity that is unique to the adoptee.

First of all, for the longest time, I never imagined myself having children. And well, with that said, I never thought I'd get married. Well, obviously, I got married. And now, I'm going to give birth to a child in less than six months. As an adoptee, at least for me, both of these experiences are incredibly startling and transformative.

A while back I posted an entry titled, "Did meeting my biological parents diminish my desire to conceive biological children?", in which I began to delve into the psychological reasons--both the healthy and not so healthy reasons--as an adoptee specifically, of wanting to have children.

Now that I'm here, pregnant and awaiting the arrival of our child, it becomes so evident--as usual--that you just can't ever be fully "prepared" for certain life events, whether marriage or reunion, whether death or birth. No matter how much I tried before the fact to imagine or anticipate what I would be feeling and how being pregnant would affect my life, and in particular as an adoptee, none of it could substitute for the reality of being in the midst of it all.

I find myself thinking of my Omma and feeling this inextricable connection to her as I experience pregnancy. I can imagine all the more clearly what she must have been feeling--all the fear, the loneliness, the isolation. I asked her in a letter if she suffered serious pregnancy sickness while she was pregnant with me. Indeed she says she did. Knowing her now and experiencing pregnancy help me to have a depth of understanding that otherwise eluded me.

And then, of course, there are my own fears that begin to seep out. I am having recurring dreams of an eery and despairing vividness, in which I find myself weeping and pleading with my husband, Michael. I'm on my hands and knees, gripping his pant cuffs in my hands, begging him not to leave me, as he stands there so unlike himself--cold and aloof, unmoved by my pleas. A deep and unshakable sense of doom and desperation permeates the dreams making them feel so real and so true.

Fortunately, I slowly awaken to the sound of my own audible sobbing and to the embrace and consolation of my husband, telling me that it was only a dream and that he will never leave me. Although I've had dreams in the past of Michael and me getting into arguments, they have been few and far between and did not involve him leaving me. Yet ever since becoming pregnant, such dreams have increased in frequency and intensity, each time, Michael is leaving me, his decision inevitable and unchanged.

It is no surprise to me, however, that I am harassed by such dreams. I have had conscious thoughts in which I fear experiencing the same fate as my Omma--that some unanticipated event will unfold resulting in the tragic separation of Michael and me, and ultimately, leading to the demise of our dreamed future together as a family...

Yet simultaneously, I experience awe and wonder that I am carrying a child within who will bear my DNA and hence the DNA of my Omma and Appa, of their mothers and fathers, that will emerge with likenesses and characteristics that only those of the same flesh and blood can share. My eyes fill with tears when I contemplate that this child will be the biological child of my husband and me--that this child will be able to know from whom and where he or she comes--and in full.

I cannot wholly grasp how profound it is that this child of ours will know both his or her American and Korean grandparents. Our child will have the fortune of growing up knowing who he or she is. Our child will not know what it is like to not know the basics of his or her identity. And this brings me to tears in a way that it would not if I were not an adoptee.

I cannot fully comprehend what this means to my Omma and Appa, who lost me over three decades ago, and yet to whom I have now returned. They will now know the child of their lost child in ways that they could not know me. And our child will know my Omma and Appa in ways that I could not know them. Just the simple fact that our child will grow up knowing that my Omma and Appa exist and who they are is surreal and incomprehensible at the moment...

I ponder how I automatically think that I will need to explain to our child why "Mommy" has both Caucasian and Korean parents, yet realizing that initially our child won't think anything of it--to him or her this will be normal, this will be the way it has always been. Life will always have included Grandpa and Grandma and Haraboji and Halmoni. To our little toddler, it will be simple and uncomplicated. It will just be.

Realizing this makes me wish that it could be so simple and so innocent in my mind, in everyone's mind.

It brings forth even more poignantly and more urgently the deep longing, the relentless hope onto which I hold that all of the ones I love could be one family one day. I imagine our child, still innocent and unaware of man-made divisions and discriminating love, playing in a room where all of my family, both the Americans and Koreans, have gathered together to overcome the separation and fears that I hope our child will never have to know...


SustainableFamilies said...

Oh my god, well I really needed to cry so thank you!!!!

Yoon this is so beautiful and I really am crying.

I am so glad that you found your mom. And that you will all have the opportunity to give your child that which you weren't allowed to have growing up.

and that right now, you will be given the gift of always holding on to your child, that which your mother was never allowed to have.

And in your genes, in your heart and in your blood, your mother has been with you always. That connection is just as vibrant and powerful as if adoption had never decimated your family.

Your child can know that wholeness. And without feeling s/he holds a connection to people s/he will never know.

All of the people whose existence lives in your child will be part of his/er life.

That is beautiful.

Von said...

Congratulations to you both, a momentous happening!
When my daughter was born I had not experienced reunion so she was my only known relative, quite a heavy burden for one so young.You are in a much better position and hope that it is all beautiful, very best wishes.
PS you might like to try tinned apricots when you can't eat anything else!Worked for me.

Julia said...

Congratulations. And what a lovely, heartfelt post.

Anonymous said...

i was so overcome seeing my firstborn. just knowing that she was the only person in the world i knew with my blood flowing through hers, was incredible to me. as an adoptee, that was one of the finest moments of my life.

i have the deepest joy for you!

ps. crackers. did you try eating crackers?

Haley Ballast said...

Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about pregnancy as an adoptee. It is something I've wondered about as a PAP, so I appreciate your willingness to share.

And as one who has been through the truly awful weeks/months of "morning-sickness" (ha! more like 'all-day-and-night-sickness'), my heart goes out to you. I'm glad you are doing a bit better and hope each day is a little easier. Hang in there!

The Byrd's Nest said...

Oh Melissa....I am so happy for you and your husband. Although I am not an adoptee....I can only imagine the flood of emotions you must be feeling. I will be praying for you!!!!!!

YoonSeon said...

Congrats Melissa! This is wonderful news! And I can only imagine that which you're going through, as an adoptee. I wish you and your family all the best for the future. You're a real example for us adoptees. ^_^

Mia_h_n said...

Melissa, you know I'm over the moon for you and Mike :) I can't wait to tag along on this journey.

This was such a wonderful post. So personal (I know they all are, but...) and I imagine this would be much of the same I would contemplate should I ever be in your position.

I know this must have put a new angle on your relationship with both moms.

The talk about the nightmares killed me! Not pregnant but I have had the same kind of dreams and they are so horrible :( Fortunately, my sweetheart who's usually such a deep sleeper (he sleeps through the alarm) always wake up when I'm crying in my sleep and wakes me up.

Third Mom said...

Congratulations first of all, Melissa, this is wonderful news! The way you share this with us is incredibly moving, because you get to the heart of so many issues.

The coming months will undoubtedly bring many more emotions. Hopefully the one that will be with you most of all is joy.

Sending the happiest thoughts your way :)

Claudia said...

Congratulations! That's really wonderful news. I can't imagine what a whirlpool of emotion you must be swimming in at the moment... but what a wonderful gift, a new life!

I think, often, about what it will be like for my daughter to be pregnant, and how hard it might be to not know what it was like for her first mother. I'm so glad that you are able to ask your Korean mum these questions, and that she can answer you. And I do really hope that this little one might be a way of bringing your family closer to that place of all being in the same room... at least emotionally, even if not physically. Congratulations again!

Kris said...

Congratulations!! There is something so incredibly special about a first pregnancy and baby. I too suffered horrid nausea and the only thing I could eat was Fig Newtons and Starburst. Hang in there!

Thank you for sharing your incredibly personal feelings about being pregnant as an adoptee, it was a beautiful post.

Sandy said...


I think your news in wonderful and perhaps the event to finally make both families just one family.

Melissa said...

Thank you all for the congrats and well wishes. My husband & I are both very excited, as well as our families...the adventure of life never ceases...and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to share in it with so many others...

Jae Ran said...

Congratulations!! Melissa, I'm so happy for you and your husband!!

I can relate to the "morning" sickness, I had it really, really bad with both my kids.

For me, I wasn't clued in at all to adoption when I was pregnant with my kids, so it was more profound for me when they became the ages I was 1) when I was found abandoned at 14 months and 2) when I was adopted at almost 3.

That's when, for me, it hit me how much my kids knew me and were attached to me, and to think about them being separated from me was the most difficult times. I really wish I knew what I knew now, and had had the support back then for those times.

You are going to be so much better prepared than I was.

Again, super congrats. Sending you congratulatory hugs to you!!!

Diane said...

Beautiful news and beautiful post! My very best wishes on your emotional (and physical) journey to being Mommy.

So moving- your words.

Jessica said...

I don't know how I missed this monumental post, and so beautifully written. Congratulations!! I'm so happy for you, to embark on this new trajectory of life. I hope your pregnancy continues to go well!

Melissa said...

Jae Ran, wrote, "I really wish I knew what I knew now, and had had the support back then for those times."

Thanks, Jae Ran, for the congrats...and thank you for all that you've contributed so that adoptees like myself can know what we have not known & have the support that we lacked for so long...big hugs back!

And thank you, Diane & Jessica for your well wishes...

Yoli said...

Melissa, I am so happy for you and your husband! Thank you for sharing this news with us. This post touched my heart so deeply.

For the morning sickness, try drinking Sprite and eating soda crackers. It really helps.

Tara said...

Congratulations Melissa! Wishing you all the best on this amazing new adventure you are beginning.

I have one daughter, and I want to write "ditto" to what Sona and Jae Ran both wrote, but one of (there were many) the most profound things for me was the destruction of the myth I had created in my mind, ever since I was young, that my mother had forgotten about me, or that she would not remember my birthday.

And then I gave birth, and realized that this is an experience only a very rare woman would be able to forget. Suddenly I felt as though I existed in her mind and world in a way I had never dared before.

I cant wait to hear about your journey

Terri said...

Congratulations, Melissa! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your good news with us!

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