Hello and welcome to Her Own Words! This is the first in a series of monthly guest posts by women (some bloggers and some not) telling their own stories in their own way. Like you, I have been fortunate to become acquainted with many people from different walks of life and I always find their backgrounds and experiences very interesting. Each one of them bringing their own unique perspective which makes life all the more colorful. I hope that you enjoy meeting these women as much as I have enjoyed knowing them. Who knows, maybe we will all learn a thing or two along the way.
January’s guest post is written by blogger Leah Berg (www.treasureandheart.com). Leah is a new mom discovering how to survive on very little sleep while deliriously in love with her adorable daughter. I don’t remember when I “met” (we have never met in person, only in the blogosphere), but I do remember being completely captured by the sincerity and honesty in her writing. Now, I stalk her on Instagram to see cute baby pictures. She is about as genuine as they come. It’s not often that you come across someone who really wants to get it right and is willing to step outside of their entire comfort zone to do it. I think that you have to admire that. I do. Here’s Leah in her own words:
I was so honored when Lisa asked me to kick off her “Her Own Words” series at My So Called Glamorous Life. Learning from other women, growing from each other’s wisdom, insights, and experiences, and coming together in support of each other without judgment is a powerful platform that I can really get behind.
Here is my story. My husband Paul and I recently adopted our beautiful daughter, Vivian (Vivi) 5 months ago. We adopted her here in the states, and this has made us a transracial family. My husband and I are Caucasian and Vivi is African-American. We waited nearly 10 years into marriage to grow our family, however it’s hard now to remember our life before her. She has rocked our world in every conceivable way and we love every second of it. ……No. Wait. That’s a lie. I do NOT love the 3am wake-up-and-poop-fests, and the N-E-V-E-R ending string of diapers I change in one day. However, when I see her squishy little face and her chunky thighs, all that sleep deprivation and the stench of all those diapers just…disappears…. Haha! NOT! Currently I am typing this through bleary eyes and smudged glasses, and that stench? Yeah, that’s me. I honestly can’t remember the last time I showered. For real. But other than that—pure bliss.
People often ask me what the biggest surprise of motherhood has been, or what I have learned so far, and honestly I think it’s this: I have recognized the constant need I have for support from others and the power of vulnerability. In this stage of life I lean hard on the support of friends and family, neighbors and church people. It has been incredible to see how moments of, what feels like, intense vulnerability open the door to some of the most amazing support from some of the most unlikely sources–for example, our birthmom.
When we first got the call that our birthmom had picked us to parent her baby we were thrilled. We anxiously awaited the first phone call with her. What would her voice sound like? Would she still like us after talking to us? Would she think we are too ‘white’? When we got on the phone with her I was literally shaking. My stomach was in knots and I thought “I am going to vomit all over this phone, and then she’s going to change her mind, and that’s how this story will end.” But I didn’t, and she didn’t, and the most amazing thing happened. She and Paul had been talking for a while at first because honestly, I was too scared. I wanted to break in and talk but my nerves completely took over and I was terrified she wouldn’t like me. And then….. I said that to her. I told our birthmom that I was nervous and scared. And you know what she told me? She said, “I’m not! You are going to be great parents, I can already tell.” I couldn’t believe it. More than anything, woman-to-woman, mom-to-future mom, I needed to hear that I could do this, and without realizing it, I needed to hear it from her. It was the first time in our adoption process that I realized I would need the support of our birthmom as much as she needed mine.
A few weeks later we got to meet her in person, and a few weeks after that Viv was born. It was the most glorious, terrifying morning of my life, watching my daughter being born. We had rushed to the hospital early that morning and when we got there she asked if Paul and I would be in the delivery room with her. I was overjoyed and so humbled that she would want us there. She needed us, and we would love nothing more that to be with her. I held her hand as she pushed, and I’m not sure who was squeezing whose hand more tightly. We needed each other equally in that moment.
Later that day, and over the next few days in the hospital, we sat together and laughed and cried over Vivi’s future. We laughed at the thought of me trying to someday braid Viv’s hair, and she reassured me that I would learn. We cried over thoughts of her going home without this baby she carried for 9 months, and I reassured her that we are family now and she would always be known and loved by us.
When the day came for us to say goodbye, I was a mess. I cried the entire way to see her, our sweet birthmom, one last time. I didn’t want to say goodbye to her, and I didn’t want to go forward without her and her support. And she felt the same way. But that last hour together was better than I ever imagined. We hugged and took pictures, laughed and no tears were shed that time. She looked at me and told me I could do this. I looked at her and assured her of the same thing.
Over the past five months, the level of support we need from each other has ebbed and flowed. Some days or weeks we text often, and then sometimes we go a while without checking in. However, it’s the mutual understanding of what it means to be a mother, whether by nature or nurture, that binds us together.
There is power in vulnerability, and significant growth happens often, I am learning, when we are in our most desperate need. I have learned this lesson over and over in our adoption process. I’ve said it before but, adoption demands community. It absolutely DEMANDS it. The entire process from beginning to end could not have been done without the incredible love and support of our “village”, as we affectionately call them. And parenting? Well that is not a job to be done alone. I have felt the true, deep love from friends and family through delicious meals made and delivered to our door, beautiful baby showers hosted in our honor, and (most importantly?) long naps taken while loving friends snuggled Viv downstairs.
Because our family is transraical, I have learned MUCH about laying down any of my preconceived notions of race, or culture or identity, and truly being willing to learn from women and families who have gone this road before us. There is so much I don’t know; smaller things like how to braid hair, and bigger issues like what it really means to grow up Black in America. It’s scary for me to not have all the answers, I don’t like feeling out of control, but I am willing (or at least trying) to hold it all with open hands, and ask for help and guidance as I go along. I am no expert. This is my mantra.
Someday I hope to pass along my knowledge and offer my support to others walking this journey, but for now I guess maybe my reciprocal contribution to my friends is making them feel great about how they look and smell simply by being in my presence. Ya’ welcome.
Thank you Lisa for allowing me to share a small part of my story. I look forward to learning and growing from future posts here as well!
Hi! My name is Leah from Treasure & Heart! My husband and I recently adopted our first child, Vivian, so now I blog a lot about adoption, forever families, and my sweet girl! I also enjoy writing about yummy healthy food and recipes, how I am taking care of myself and my family with healthy living, and decorating our new home we built last year! Come on over and get to know me better! I just know we will be great friends!