Saturday, November 3, 2012

It's About Love...

So obviously if you know anything about me by now it would be that I am a birth mom. I am very proud of this. I talk about Berlin and Tanner more then anything else, and frankly my bedroom is like a shrine to them. You could say I am obsessed, but after all I did give birth to them so I am pretty sure that is okay. The thing most people don't know is the real story behind my being a birth mom. That is my fault. I always talk about my babies, but I never talk about how I ended up in the position where I had kids. I also don't ever really talk about my emotions surrounding my decision to place them both. I think to understand my adoption stories there are some important things to know about me that most people don't. I feel like it is finally time for me to come out and tell the whole story. My hope in doing this is that others may learn from my experiences, and it can help them in their grief process in dealing with their own trials. My story really begins with you learning about me. I grew up in a wonderful family. I have a dad and mom who raised me with good morals and values, and a deep rooted belief in the gospel. I have three older brothers, I am the only girl and I am the youngest, needless to say I got picked on and beat up a lot growing up because that is what big brothers are for. I had a great childhood. I was so blessed. As I hit the teenage years things started to get harder for me. I was the "fat" girl. I had a few friends but they were all so skinny and pretty and I wasn't. It's not that they treated me differently, but in today's society if you are not a size 6 your not considered attractive. That is a hard thing to struggle with. Throughout my teenage years I had really really low self esteem. I never felt pretty or special and I would do anything to get attention, even bad attention. To make matters worse I was betrayed by a group of guys I thought were my friends. They started to tease me saying I was ugly and they would get together and say very cruel things about me. To a girl who already has low self esteem and a bad self image that was devastating. It didn't matter how many times people would say they are dumb kids or that they were just being mean and were wrong. It did not make it hurt any less. i just wanted to feel pretty for once. I wanted to feel like I wasn't just the fat girl or the goodie-good, but sometimes people are just cruel. After high school I went away to college for a year. I still had very low self esteem and I still did not love myself. I was so angry at the world and so I stopped going to church and started hanging out with the wrong kinds of people. I made every bad decision I was ever told not to do. I partied, I got tattoos, and I sought out attention from guys in all the wrong ways because I just wanted to feel loved by someone. I dropped out of college, and I came back to Mesa area. Things just got worse from there. I got into a couple different mental, emotional, and physically abusive relationships. I still did not love myself, so I didn't feel like I deserved anything better then that. It was a very dark and difficult time in my life. After a year in a very physically abusive relationship I left the man when he pulled a knife on me and threaten my life. I couldn't live like that anymore. I felt even worse about myself after that he had not just physically hurt me, but he emotionally hurt me by always making me feel insignificant and worthless. I continued to make bad decisions. I met a guy through some friends went out a few times. Made a very bad choice and let him pressure me into doing something I should not have done. I ended up pregnant. When I found out about the pregnancy I was back in college trying to put my life together. I was devastated at first. I had no idea what I was going to do. When I told the guy that I was pregnant he told me to have an abortion. I got so angry. I do not believe in abortion at all. How dare he just reject me and our child like that. He made it very clear he wanted nothing to do with me or the baby at that point. I was heart broken. Not because he was a great guy or anything like that. I was heart broken of thought of raising this child alone and her feeling like she was not wanted by her birth father. She deserved better then that. I never heard from that guy again. I thought for a while that I would just single parent. I never thought of adoption as an option. In fact, when my bishop originality brought it up I got very offended at the thought. I was so ignorant at the time. I started to go to birth mother support group and met some girls that have since changed my life and I can never thank them enough for their examples. They were placing. At first I thought there was no way I could do that, but through listening to them and their experiences over time i realized how amazing adoption can be. I realized there was no way I could give my daughter the life she deserved. I knew there was only one thing I could do, but I was so scared. I didn't want to look for a couple to place her with because I couldn't bring myself to the thought that I might get their hopes up and then change my mind and break their hearts. An amazing lady in my life encouraged me to just look at profiles on www.itsaboutlove.org looking was not going to hurt anyone. So I did. I found Josh and Nicola's profile they were the third one I pulled up. I LOVED them. They were in my mind the picture of what perfect parents could be. I called my case worker so I could set up a time to meet with them and see for sure if they could be them. I was about 7 months pregnant the first time we met. I was standing at olive garden with my case worker waiting anxiously for them to arrive. I was so nervous. I wasn't quite sure what to say or what to ask. I wanted to know everything about them but I also didn't want to come on too strong. I remember the first moment I saw them walking towards the door. I have the most warm tingly feeling come over me. I felt so comforted and at peace. I have never felt the spirit so strong before in my life. In that moment, before I had even officially met them, I knew Berlin was telling me that these were her parents. We hit it off right from the start. we sat in that olive garden for three hours just talking and talking and talking. I wanted to tell them so badly it was them, but I also did not want to scare them away. So we just said goodbye for now and they started back for home. I got in the car and said to my case worker that I wanted to spend more time with them. So we called them and invited them to come over to where I was living and just spend some more time talking. They did. So after another couple hours I decided I couldn't wait any longer and told them that I knew they were her parents. They were so overjoyed. Josh asked when we could sign then and there (LOL) apparently he had the same conformation I had. Nicola being the amazing woman she is wanted to pray about it first... Needless to say the next morning I got a call from Nicola saying that they wanted to work with me. Over the next couple months we developed a close relationship and established how we wanted our adoption to be. It was such an incredible experience. On April 14, 2011 I had Berlin Elizabeth Jensen. She was 8 lbs 14 oz and 19 and 3/4 inches long. It was an emergency c-section after 24 hours of labor (I never dilated). Josh and Nicola spent a lot of time with me in the hospital. It brought us so much closer then ever. I had decided that I did not want my last interaction with Berlin as her mother to be in the hospital. So after three days in the hospital we left the hospital all together and I took Berlin home with me for one night. That night was one of the most difficult yet amazing nights of my life. I laid awake watching her sleep. I could not believe I created this perfect little angel. That night meant the world to me. The next day we did our placement ceremony where I was going to sign the legal documentation to relinquish my rights as a mother and place Berlin for adoption. There are no words to describe how that felt. It is the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. It was also the moment I officially made Nicola a mother it was such a bittersweet moment. This amazing woman I knew was meant to be her mother, and as hard as it was to place her in someone else's arms, I knew without a doubt she was theirs. About a week after having Berlin I was admitted into the hospital. I had contracted a deadly MRSA infection. I had and 11 cm abscess in my abdomen. I had two surgeries to reopen my c-section wound and try to cut out the infection. It took three months to recover from that. I was in and out of the hospital. I was put on a wound vac and a picc line. It was a very bad experience and I was in a bad place emotionally. I knew what I did was right, but I could not see Berlin for the first 4 months because I had a deadly contagious infection. Nicola sent me a picture every single day for the first 6 months. I feel like she knew how hard that had to be for me to not be able to see them. After I recovered I tried to start to move on with my life. The problem was I was still struggling with my self esteem. I still didn't love myself. I was in major depression. I wanted to feel loved. I wanted to be happy. I met a guy and started dating. We started to get serious. I felt like I had finally found the guy for me. I made a bad decision again. I got pregnant again. I realized I was just desperate to feel accepted and loved and kept making the same tragic mistakes. I told this guy I was pregnant and at first he was convinced it was not his. That hurt. How could he think that low of me. He started to drink pretty heavily. Every time I saw him after that he was wasted. With his constant drunken state he began to get violent and threatened me and his own life on a few separate occasions. I was terrified for my life and my baby's life, so I left. It wasn't about me anymore. It could not be. I then made the hardest phone call I ever made in my life. I realized I had to do right by my child, and even though I desperately wanted to feel loved and wanted this baby more then anything, I knew what I had to do. So I called Nicola, about two months along, and told her that I was pregnant again and I wanted to place with them again. They were so happy and I was very happy for them too. It was so hard though. It hurt to realize that it was still not my child. All I ever wanted was to be a mom and it was supposed to be my turn. This was suppose to be my happily ever after and it all went horribly wrong. As the pregnancy went on I came to terms with the fact that I had to stop being selfish and give Tanner just as much love and opportunity as I had for Berlin. It was difficult because I didn't have that moment of clarity while I was pregnant, like I did with Berlin, that they were his parents. We continued to stay close and we established how we wanted to do Tanner's delivery and placement. I was scheduled for a c-section on September 24th, Josh and Nicola's wedding anniversary, but Tanner had other ideas. I went into labor on September 13, 2012 and had to have another emergency c-section. Nicola was supposed to be in the room with me this time for the c-section, because I had chosen to have my mom in the room with me for Berlin's. Sadly my doctor was too worried about my health to wait for them to get to the hospital. So my mom went back with me into surgery again. I am so glad now that she was there. They pulled Tanner out. He was 7 lbs and 3 oz and 19.5 inches long. When he came out he was not crying like normal. He was a week early, and he had fluid in his lungs. He was not breathing well so they took him away instantly and put him in a incubator. I didn't even get to see him before they took him away. I was just crying and kept saying what's wrong with him. What is wrong with my baby. No one would tell me what was going on. I was so scared. My mom just kept telling me it was going to be okay. It was so hard. They stitched and stapled me up and took me to recovery. Nicola, Josh, and Berlin arrived right as I had come out of surgery. Nicola came back to be there for me. They wheeled me to the Special Care Unit Nursery before taking me to my room so I could see him for the first time. Nicola came with me. I was so glad she was there. That moment I saw him all hooked up to machines and tubes and iv's. I completely lost it. I broke down in tears. I felt like it was my fault. Like I had done something wrong. I hadn't but he was just so helpless and there was nothing I could do to make him better. I was a wreck and in that moment Nicola comforted me and told me everything would be okay. That was it. That was my moment of clarity and I realized he was theirs too. She will always be Berlin and Tanner's mother and I know that. She is their eternal mother. he had to stay in the special care unit for 2 days and then they released him to come stay int eh room with me. Nicola stayed with me every night in the hospital so I would not be alone trying to deal with everything that had just happened. She was my angel in my darkest hours and in my lowest moments she lifted me up and got me through. After three days in the hospital we were released to go home and I took Tanner home for a night with me as well. It was once again such a beautiful and special experience. I would not trade that one night for anything. The next day we took pictures in the morning. When we came home I began to not feel well. This was not a good sign considering what happened the first time. I was running a fever of 102.4. I knew I had to go to the hospital, but I still hadn't signed the paperwork to relinquish my rights. I knew if I went to the hospital they would give me medications right away, so I called my case worker and told her to just bring the paperwork right away because I need to sign so I could leave to go to the hospital. We had to cancel the placement ceremony because there was no time to wait. So as soon as my case worker got there I had her pull out the paper work. I held Tanner in my arms as I signed the papers to place him. I didn't even have time to process what was happening. I finished signing. I placed Tanner in Nicola's arms. Said goodbye to everyone and proceeded to get into the car with my mom and go to hospital. As we drove away I just broke down in tears. I didn't want it to be this way. Why was I having to go through this horrible experience again. I knew Tanner was where he belongs but it just wasn't fair that I was sick again. After another couple hospital visits and surgeries to rid of a MRSA infection and after having a wound vac again. I am finally almost recovered. Through all these experiences I have finally learned some important things. First, I have learned to love myself. I am a beautiful person inside and out. It took a long time but I am finally there. Second, I want to live my life in such a way that Tanner and Berlin can grow up and be proud to call me their birth mom. I want them to be proud of me and the person that I am. Third, Adoption is the most difficult and beautiful thing in this world. I know a lot of people still don't understand what open adoption is about, but as time goes on I hope they will learn that it is a beautiful, amazing, and selfless thing. I love this quote because it is so true of the roles in an open adoption... "They are mine in a way that they will never be hers, yet they are hers in a way that they will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood". Josh, Nicola, Berlin, and Tanner are an eternal family and I know that is where they are meant to be. Adoption was not my "plan b" I feel it was the plan that was meant to be. It's about forever families, It's about making the right decision for your children, It's about having an eternal perspective, It's about the Lord's plan for each of us, but most of all It's about love.

4 comments:

Audra Owens said...

Great post Liz, I'm glad to finally hear you share ALL of your story. Love you girl!

Liz said...

thanks audra... its been a long time coming.. im glad i finally did it... :) love you too!

Derek Emily and Elliot said...

Liz, you deserve to be happy. You are beautiful, and have such a fun warm personality. I hope you feel better about yourself, you were always a bright spot in school for me and at work. You deserve SO MUCH more then those guys you were describing. Thanks for sharing your story.

Liz said...

Thank you Emily you are so sweet. I know that now it just took me a long time to realize that. :)