Since I’m still rolling my eyes at the cliche ending of Parenthood’s finale, I figure I’d take on another bit that came up from last week’s episode.
When I first walked into the InternetLand of Birthmothers/Adoption, I was introduced more widely to the idea that adoptive parents could be in the room whilst the mother birthed their child. I mean, I had been introduced to this idea by the agency, and actually laughed at the individual suggesting it- here I was, a girl who had barely said a word during our actual meeting with The Kiddo’s adoptive parents, and they were suggesting that I invite them to watch him be birthed out of my…well, vaginal canal? Yeah, no.
I’m a private person. No pun intended.
So, when I learned that this actually occurred, and other girls were okay with it, I was floored, and really confused. Have I mentioned that I am a pretty private person? Even to this day, when I hear of it happening, I feel icky about it. Of course, when Julia was staged in the delivery room with Zoe, I was left with the same anxious, teeth gritting feeling. It just doesn’t sit right with me.
Can I just say that I loved how they threw in that random line about Zoe’s mother after all this time, while she’s in labor. Nicely done, writers! Anyway…
At the end of my pregnancy with The Kiddo, I knew a handful of things:
I knew I was ready to be done being pregnant. My swollen hands indicated that.
I knew I had no idea what was about to happen.
BUT, I also knew I needed space. I needed space to love that baby, to bond with him, to meet him, and to say what I needed to say without having to be polite and allow his soon to be parents take him in. I wanted to be selfish, if only for a couple of days. Everyone kept on telling me how selfless I was; this was my time to be completely and utterly “selfish”.
Maybe there is a time and a place where it’s appropriate to have the adoptive family in the room. I have never been there, I don’t know. I just feel like it doesn’t give everyone the headspace to properly wrap their hearts around what is going to happen. I know if The Kiddo’s parents had waltzed into the hospital the way Julia and Joel had, I would have resented them, a lot. And I may have actually redacted my decision, out of complete spite. For three days, he was mine. Not theirs, only mine. I was careful with who visited, and very aware of how long each visitor took in my room. When they held him, I wasn’t getting to. I wouldn’t get those moments back; He was mine for such a short amount of time, and I wanted to him every way I could possibly have him. To memorize him, and be his mother, in real time. Having the adoptive parents there, in my mind, then and now, incites a ridiculous amount of anxiety and an overwhelming feeling of pressure. What if I didn’t measure up in that moment, or what if I, in a whirlwind of emotion, like Zoe, changed my mind? I needed the space to contemplate that I could change my mind as well. Surely, I deserved that.
Reality is, I was too scared too change my mind, and maybe that’s why I did feel so territorial about my space in the hospital. I knew that this would be the only time I would be mothering him as his mother, the rest of the time, it would be at a distance and really, I wouldn’t ever get to be his mother that intimately in the forseeable future. I wanted my chance.
If we are watching that scene play out in the media; normalizing the idea that adoptive parents should be in the birthing room with the potential birthmother, are we not setting up a group of would be adopters to feel entitled to being there? I feel like something is lost in translation here; we are forgetting that with or without adoption present, birth is a sacred event. One where a woman deserves to have exactly what she needs and wants at her finger tips; privacy included. Furthermore, a girl in that position, deserves to have a moment of peace while she celebrates the birth of her child, and enjoys the beauty of a baby that her very womb grew. She deserves a chance to second guess, and to come to a place of contentment surrounding any decision she makes. There should be no pressure for her to do anything but be a mother to her newborn, no matter how long they are together.
Ideally, when this girl was giving birth, she wouldn’t be obligated to anyone but that baby. She would have time to decide where she and that baby truly fit together, and when she made that decision, she’d have support. There would be no harsh words about broken promises, because no promises would have been made. There would be no tears of sadness knowing that you are one hour closer to having to walk away. She’d be free to make these choices for herself and her baby, on her own time, when emotions were not at an all time high. Rather, she would make this life altering choice, no matter which path she goes, when she was feeling like she had all of the right information, in real life and on paper.
I felt bad for Julia as she broke down in that hospital room, but part of me, just shook my head and thought, “See, this is what we do when assume our roles before the baby even enters the world”. Babies change everything, and becoming a mother, it changes you. Julia should have known that. She did know that, but for a moment, for television, we forgot about the power of motherhood.
Even if you are in the delivery room.