Five Stages of Grief
Author's note: I have a had a fair share of grief in my life, as I'm sure all of us have. I was inspired to... Show full author's note »
BargainingThe room is blue.
Not a royal blue like you would find in the wardrobe of some European monarch, or a blaring turquoise, choking out everything else but its own hue. Rather, it was a light blue; a soft pastel blue, the crisp color of a clear winter morning. I would never call it a baby blue; Scott argued jokingly with me about it, but I found the name just too cliché. It needed to be unique, something you wouldn’t find anywhere else: so a winter’s day blue.
I stand barefoot in the small room, my toes digging into the soft carpet. The carefully subtle clouds drifting along the walls seem like they should be moving, pulled along by a gentle breeze. Colorful shelves line the room, laden with dozens of stuffed animals and clothing and baby boots and blankets for all occasions. The crib is what keeps my attention: it is positioned exactly in the middle of the room. My sister was an interior designer, and she said that was the best place for it, so of course that’s where it stays. It is light mahogany, intricately carved bars spiraling up to connect with the top bar.
I stay far away from it, about ten feet, but I don’t have to look at it to be able to recall every detail to my mind. The blankets are Sherpa, a winter blue matching the paint on the walls, presents from my cousin Ella. And I can see him lying in the blankets, his light blue eyes hidden under his heavy sleeping eyelids. His mouth would be slightly open when he slept, the perfect picture of trusting innocence.
It all started seven months ago. Well, not everything, but that was when my stupid hope flared for the first time in years. Scott and I wanted a child. More than anything, I wanted to be a mother, to be able to say that I was one. I wanted to bring someone into the world, teach them everything I knew, all the mistakes they would and wouldn’t make, wanted to be the person they looked up to, wanted to feel the new kind of pride you only feel for someone of your own. Scott was okay with the idea.
I got pregnant a month later. We went to the doctor together (Scott almost couldn’t keep from carrying me into the reception room), and he told us that he was happy for us. I told my mom- she cried; she told my dad- he cried too. I think he might have called Scott, but they never said anything about it. My best friend, Kellie, chewed my head off when I tried to take a sip of her martini on our night out. Scott was the worst- he would do everything for me, from opening every door to taking food out of the oven for me. I couldn’t exactly say I was annoyed with that.
And then, it was gone. The warm glow that had been growing steadily inside me went out, a candle flickering out. The doctor didn’t know what happened; neither did I. A month after the morning where Scott was spinning me around the bathroom floor, I was left feeling like a casket, an empty husk with nothing left inside. Of course Scott was still there; I guess that helped a little. I couldn’t imagine not giving up after that.
And then there was Annabeth Benning.
I learned her backstory when we had our first sit down. She was a sophomore at Baltimore Community College, majoring in medieval literature; her ex was a junior, that’s all I learned about the father. She was five months in when we met her, taking a little extra time to sit down on the deep couch with an embarrassed smile. She told us she wanted to be able to decide who her baby went to live with, she felt that was her duty. She also said that she had only started looking for adoptive parents a month ago, on the urgent insisting of her mother, and that we were the best people she would be able to find.
It was only a month after my miscarriage, but I knew this had to happen. It was fate; this girl and I were connected, and my miscarriage wasn’t accident. I figured God only had me suffer through the loss so that I would be rightly grateful for this opportunity; and I was.
So the journey began. The endless psychiatrist appointments with Annabeth and Scott, making sure we were all mentally and emotionally ready for the adoption. Of course, I never developed the classic baby bump, but I did get all the other perks. Ella came from Santa Barbara in California to stay with us, to help transform the storage room into a baby haven. I searched the black hole of the internet endlessly for everything having to do with new mothers. It was exactly as if I was the one having the baby.
Annabeth didn’t want to have an ultrasound; she said if she knew the sex of the baby she might become too attached to it. So I was okay with waiting. Scott and I polled our family and friends for boy and girl names alike, which was difficult because there was a very diverse preference for names. We finally came up with the names after weeks of deliberation. A he would be Rain Jerrod; a she would be Isabel Stephanie.
My baby shower was in early May, a classic tea party with fanciful hats (Ella’s idea) and finger sandwiches. Ella decided on a theme which mixed the pink and the blue; everything looked like a patchwork pastel quilt. I have a small family, but Scott’s was considerably bigger, and it was quite a feat getting all of us seated at the tables in the backyard. My mom gave me the crib.
Annabeth went into labor on May 24, around ten at night. She called us on the way to the hospital, and Scott and I arrived there ten minutes after she was placed in a room. We waited outside of the room for five hours, since we weren’t close enough to Annabeth to feel comfortable sitting in her room. Her labor was long, but uncomplicated. The nurse gave me my baby boy, and I held him with my latex-gloved hands while he squirmed weakly. Scott stood behind me and held me gently, kissing my hair while he gazed intently at the infant in my hands.
We took Rain home two days later; my parents were waiting for us, saying they wanted to stay until we seemed comfortable. But I wanted to be alone with my husband and my baby, so they left a few hours after we got home. I realized it was selfish, but it was instinct for me. I needed peace and quiet, time to hold my son and make sure he wasn’t a fabrication of my imagination.
Well, he wasn’t, unless a fabrication can keep you up for seventy-two hours. Scott and I sang and rocked him to sleep, put him down in the crib blankets, and repeated the process when he woke up an hour later. But I loved every minute of it. I was so stupidly joyful, I didn’t even realize how utterly miserable I was.
The psychiatrist had told both me and Annabeth countless times that the biological mother legally had four days to change her mind, and reclaim her baby, before the adoption was finalized. I never worried about it that much, partly because of my blind excitement, and partly because Annabeth seemed so adamant about giving her baby to us. Whenever the doctor brought it up she would shake her head and say there was no way that would happen. It seemed like such a small window anyways, it would be gone before we knew it.
I never thought about it- until we got the call from the adoptive agency on the afternoon of the fourth day.
I had called everyone I could think of, asking if there was some way I could keep my baby, if there was some legal loophole. No such luck for me, and he was gone.
So I stand here in the room, staring at the crib without seeing it. I close my eyes slowly, praying. I pray to God that when I open my eyes, Rain will be sleeping in the crib, his tiny hand lying limp next to his dreaming head. I pray that if he isn’t, Annabeth will call and say she has changed her mind again.
I have to keep hope that something will happen. I’ve got to.
God, please bring my baby back to me.