Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Scared of History Repeating Itself

Warning. Long. Long. Long post.

I want to be a parent. But do I need to be a bio parent? I have a non-biological daughter. I have a stepson. And we're trying to have a baby - our first together.

Recently, I have had so many conversations about bio vs non-bio. Many of you have been talking about this as well which makes me think it must be in the air. I've heard things like, "how do you know you love her the same as the bio mom?", "my partner went crazy once she got pregnant/had a baby", "because of your case, we've decided not to have a baby" and the truth is I have thought of all of these things.

It scares me to death to think of what sometimes happens. Will I be crazy? Will I obsess to the point of not letting anyone touch my child? Will I never want to work outside the home and be angry if I have to? I know that not many of you knew my ex-partner but I assure you, if you did, I think it would surprise you to know her reaction to these things. But the truth is, I noticed certain things very soon after our daughter was conceived. She had been Buddhist since I met her and suddenly, we needed to "find a Christian church". Her parents had always been distant but suddenly, she needed them. & after our daughter was born, she was totally in control.

Because she would be staying home for the first year, we decided she would pump so I could take part in those beautiful quiet moments of feeding. But, it didn't work out. It hurt and it didn't work. (i'm not trying to sound sarcastic...and certainly, in the moment, who was i to question?) So I backed off and just participated where I could. Our daughter was born very small (but healthy) so we planned to take it easy for a few weeks - stay home/no visitors/hunker down for the winter - but those few weeks turned into months and by the time most people met our daughter, she was three months old. Even then, my mom and two other friends were the only people allowed to hold her, other than us. But things eventually got better and all was well until that "one year" started approaching.

At that point, I started bringing up the fact that she should start looking for a job. It was the year after the 9/11 nightmare so things would be tough. My daughter was insured though my place of work but I couldn't insure my partner. That was something I pushed heavily. She has a blood disorder and requires medication and I thought that reason alone should be enough. Insurance! But the truth was, I couldn't wait for her to go back to work. I wanted our daughter to have time with other people and I wanted to have my own time with her. It was a mess.

Finally, another six months later, she got a job & hated every minute of it. It killed her being away. She worked four days. Our daughter was only in daycare three days but still - I'm not kidding - it killed her. She took the night shift at one point so she wouldn't miss Gray's waking hours. It was a big problem. People, mostly family members, started commenting on how her behavior wasn't normal and that she may be depressed. I didn't know what to do.

Gray stopped breast feeding at the same time. She became more independent and I started feeding her and putting her down more frequently. Now she could have a bottle, not just a boob. At one point, and very typically, she started to choose me for those times. And all you non-bio's know just what magic that brings to your life! Finally, they want YOU more! I could heal her wounds. I could make yummy cereal. I could rock her and sing her to sleep just as good as mama! She would call to "mommy" instead of "mama" and I was in heaven! Right away, I could see the anguish my partners eyes. It hurt her feelings and it broke my heart. To her, it was all my fault. I couldn't stand it. I was the cause of her pain. I made her go back to work and it was ME that took all that was special from her. I tried to get her back involved in her band but she would just cry during practice. If she came home at night and Gracie was already in bed, she would have to wake her up. She couldn't do it. She couldn't share.

We never got passed those times. I was either backing away from taking care of our daughter or I was in a competition with the woman I adored most in the world. Our relationship was over in the next six months.

I think about who she was before and who she became and it scares me to death. I don't want that to happen to me. I want to share this experience with C and I want our baby to be the love of her life. Along with all of our children. I want to create a family with my partner and have her just as involved in every little thing as I am. Knowing her, there is no other option anyway. She wouldn't back off if I squinched my nose tightly and growled.

Why wasn't I like that? Would I have lost either way? Or like my friend Leah, who noticed the behavior and still didn't back down - but she's currently battling for visitation.

What makes it happen? Why does it become a competition? When is works, because I know it does, why does it?