I’m so sorry, I really am. I know you can’t and won’t forgive me, how could you? I will never forgive myself. Everyone, pretty much, hates me. I don’t know what I was thinking, I guess I thought you would complete me, solve all my problems. But, I had to solve them on my own, didn’t I? I think I wanted you in my life for all the wrong reasons and I know that was selfish and horrible.
One of my friends had adopted a baby and she was the light of her mom’s life, she lived for her baby and I thought that having you would make me whole. I had to learn that the only way for a person to be whole was to be whole first.
Z, I will never, ever forget what I did to you in my entire life. Until the day I die I will think about you every day and every night.
I had dreamed about you for the past seven years. I tried to be patient, I had gone through all the legal hoops and still I waited, until finally three years ago. I finally was finished, I was approved, home inspection: check. Now the only thing I had to do was wait.
I was a lawyer hoping to make partner and every day was so busy from seven in the morning to at least ten at night. But, I had arranged everything. I had a nanny set up, a nursery, went out with friends, checked my cell phone constantly.
Every day was a possibility, every night could be a disappointment. Even the mailman, Mike, knew my situation and one day, the thick manilla envelope arrived. It was delivered on a bright, sunny Wednesday in the Spring, Mike lingered in the building to hand it to me in person. I didn’t want to share this with anyone so I thanked him and went upstairs to my apartment’s open, airy, bright chrome kitchen and ripped the envelope apart.
One look at the black and white photograph, seeing your eyes, your deep, dark sad eyes and I held my breath, waiting for the tenderness to overwhelm me. I didn’t feel happy or joyful, I felt terrified and wrong. I thought to myself:’ I’m having a heart attack.’ “I was in shock” I told myself, “of course” and waited to feel the love and sense of motherhood I had longed for. This was MY baby, the baby I had looked forward to for years. My stomach sank to my frigid feet, I felt out of control, overwhelmed, out of my mind. I felt hollow inside and empty but mostly, I felt nothing.
“That’s ridiculous” I thought, “it’s just shock. I’m scared, nervous maybe and more than a little unsure.” I talked myself into first day jitters but I only had a photograph and all I could see was the pain in your eyes. I turned away, I walked to the living room, leaving the photograph sitting, turned over on the kitchen counter. The second I turned my back I knew what I had to do, I knew it in my head, right away, right after, in my heart.
I called my best friend to come over because I was absolutely hysterical, she came but I could not be calmed down. I had made the wrong decision. I would call the agency and tell them that the deal fell through and I’m sure she would be happier with a family, one with kids…and a dog.
I’ve lived with this pain, this regret for many years. Why, how, could I have walked away from my Soul Baby? I thought all I had wanted to do was be a mother, I swear, until it was almost possible. What was I trying to prove? I was in no way able to offer the love and stability of a child AND have a full-time career. I was selfish, I wanted both. But, after looking at the photo of your sad, tortured eyes, I could not do that to you again. This was not a trial run, or sweater that I could exchange in the store. This was a life and I knew I couldn’t handle it.
I broke down in tears, hysterically crying. I don’t know what happened but I could not be responsible for this beautiful, sad child. What if I was not enough to make her happy? I wasn’t sure enough if I could make myself happy. The next 24 hours were the hardest of my life. I cried through most of them. I wouldn’t speak to anyone but I knew, deep down in my heart that I could not, would not be a mother to this child. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t even know myself yet.
I know this much, there was no excuse for what I did but it was the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life. Each morning before work and each evening after dinner, I would take out the same photo that I had never given back, look at it and said “I’m so sorry Baby Girl Z” I not only turned my back on her, I had turned on myself. Eventually I put the photo away and stopped looking at it. I practiced law full-time and yes, I was a Partner.
10 years later:
My son and daughter come running to me, I left being a lawyer when our son was born and two years afterwards our daughter. In their hands was a piece of paper and they were laughing and giggling. “Mommy, who is this?” they cried, pushing and shoving each other. In their hands was the black and white photo of Baby Z, Soul Baby, I had never thrown that photo away nor would I ever.
I looked at my kids straight in their eyes and said “that was Baby Z, she was supposed to be your sister but mommy made a big mistake, it was too early.” They didn’t ask any other questions and there were no other questions left to ask. I took the photo and gently placed it back in my old journal from years ago; this time I put it in the lock box, my husband Jim, of twelve years, smiling by my side.