Share on Facebook  |  More Articles

Published Tuesday July 7th, 2009 at 9:33pm

Original Article by Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy

Minutes before walking out of the hospital, saying goodbye and praying for forgivness.
I can retell this story as if it was a movie I have seen or a book that I have read. I can withdraw from almost all the feelings and simply recount the facts. I still fear to feel them as no matter how long has passed, no matter how much sometimes it might feel like another life, another story, that happened to another girl, it gets me every time.

As I read my own words of Max's birth, of the hospital stay, of leaving him, and signing those papers; it all comes back. I see things in my mind with such clarity, such detail, as if they had happened yesterday. I smell things that are not in the room I now inhabit. I feel the sensations still. And with that, the pure raw emotion is still very there.

In truth, I am horrified that I lived this. I do not want this to have been my life. I reject this experience now, but it is ever too late. And I can no more undo the past than I can shed it's affects. I can only know, by the deep and still lasting emotional hold on my soul, that nothing ever has been so hard and nothing ever has scarred me so.

Trying now not to be affect is almost impossible. Telling this part of the story is like letting a demon out of a box and now it flies all over the room shedding it's blackness. It is only with great practice now that I can resist, but in all honesty, right now, if I were alone in my house, I would give in.

One crack in my resolve and I will be still in the same place I was 21 1/2 years ago. I will be 19 again and saying good-bye to my baby. One falter, at this second, and the wall will break and I will tumble. Right now, I could throw myself on the floor and, with out a care, allow the deep wailing to errupt from my gut. The sounds that I would make would be animal-like and not human at all.

It would be the cry of a mother who wants her baby back.

I feel so disassociated from this life now.

Like it something that I saw once in a movie or read in a novel. It is hard to remember that it is me and I did live it. It is very hard to remember the true feelings that I had then. It all hurts. It looks and sound's exciting, but the essence is sadness. I get the sense I was running, running away from my life and trying desperately to find some other life to live. My writings at the time, aside from being horribly adolescent, are overwhelmingly bleak. Constantly questioning why was I not good enough for anyone. I go from great excitement when facing anything new, an abundance of hope and exuberance at the thought of a chance and then quickly and repeatedly betrayed, the despair at that being an reoccurring theme. I am obviously depressed and frequently suicidal. The words are written in haste and running from tears. I am saddened to recognize it in myself, yet angered when I remember that no one else seemed to notice and I was left alone to war with myself.

It seems astounding that no one around me acted as if they were aware I was utterly failing and flailing about in some dramatic spiral.

It was assumed that I would be fine and maybe act like I should. No one told me this, but no one said anything really. Nothing was discussed, or maybe I just blocked it all out? Even now it is more appealing to me to find the fault my own rather than live the reality that no one even noticed. It can make me feel dirty and unloved even now. I can't believe that I saw this all as normal. Did they all honestly think that that these kinds of things were something that all girls my age went through? All my friends were successfully working their way through school. Laura was parting just as hard, but making the grades. Everyone else was hacking it and I, I dared to fall flat on my face. There was something wrong with me that I was unable to complete things. It was all me. My mother was right. I was truly self destructive as my mother constantly proclaimed.

No matter what the complex clauses, the rational, at 18 my exciting and romantic affair with my boss quickly resulted in conceiving a child while using birth control..

Every time I would tell myself that I just had to tell him and I never could though it stuck on the tip of my tongue like a bad sore.

Now I am a small person and I was even smaller then. I don't know how I hid that pregnancy as long as I did. It was the end of February when I conceived, and by April I had a pot belly. I know I went to the beach in early summer, wearing a one piece suit that had a huge open cutout for my midriff and kept sucking my stomach in all day until it hurt. I know I wore cardigan sweaters, even in the hot Manhattan summer months, for they would fall straight down from my breasts and just skim my growing belly if I held it tight. No one else ever said anything to me. Not my mom, not my friends. They all admitted later that they thought I was getting fat. There were two other pregnant women at the office and I, as the lowly receptionist, got the errands to run for them. I got their food since they were so tired. I carried their bags since they should not lift. All the while, I knew I was in the same condition they were, but still I obeyed rather than out myself.

I know, in my heart, that he knew I was pregnant.

One night, towards the end, we were in his apartment and he was nosing around my pretty obvious belly. He looked up at me, with a tender questioning "tell me". I think he even kissed my baby bulge. My eyes again, must have spoken of deep panic, for even with this sweet prompt, I was frozen. Again, I said nothing. I can only assume, that my refusal to speak of it, made clear to him that he had no concern regarding the parentage my child. He teased me so about other nonexistent boyfriends, and wondered out loud to Jeffery. I suppose, in his head, it was someone else's child. After all, if it wasn't wouldn't I have told him. That's only logical, right? But logic was not to rule the day. In frustration, probably as much frustration with myself as with him, I stopped seeing him. It was probably June. He asked me to go out and I refused, angrily, meanly. Maybe he asked once again, maybe not, but he never asked me why. Just accepted that I was done with him and didn't seem at all concerned. This, of course, made me all the more angry. I was curt and rude to him every day now, every chance I could get, and still, he never asked even why.

It was about this time that Marina confronted me about being pregnant.

I protected my secret with a crazed determination, though for what I did not know. Poor little baby, I would feel it swishing about inside me and, despite all, would feel something close to joy and excitement with each movement. It was like having a real, yet imaginary friend, who I would speak to throughout my day. This little life meant that I was not truly alone.

Working late one night, she called me into her office and in her lilting accent as she was Columbian;

"Cloudia, are you pregnant?"

Of course, can you expect it, I denied it completely. Though I can still hear her words, over 20 years later, rattling in my skull. Somehow I managed to convince her that there was no way I was. Sucked my stomach in tighter and bought even baggier clothes. How could she not have known, how could he not have known, how could my mother not have known when people on the buses and trains knew enough to offer me their seats as I waddled about.

"Tomorrow," she again proclaimed," you will go to the abortion clinic. I will lend you the money. You cannot have this baby"

And so I agreed. I tried not to care that I was going to lose my secret friend. It didn't matter. All that mattered was that someone else was finally taking charge and telling me what to do. Someone actually cared enough to make something happen. Someone was going to take me and my terrible mess and fix it. I was relieved to have someone else making decisions. I was relieved that finally the secret was out.

No. Simple as that, it was a no. I resigned myself to having this baby.

I could not hurt my little squishy swimming secret friend.

"Then what will you do? This baby will ruin your life!"

"I will have this baby and I will give it up for adoption"

I had no firsthand experience with adoption. No one in my family had adopted. I knew people who had been adopted, that went to my school. Adoption seemed almost glamorous. They had an air of mystery about them. But that all I knew, the air, I never knew anyone well enough to scratch the surface and speak of what it was really about. I based my knowledge on made for TV movies and novels in the young adult section that were always full of conflict. Reunions sounded terribly exciting and I romanticized the whole event.

Adoption for this baby would be much more noble and dignified.

Besides, it was an answer. I was not going to ruin my life, plus I knew there was no way I could begin to think about taking care of a baby. Win Win. I believed that 100%. I didn't think long and hard about adoption in order to come to my "decision". It was more as though once that other road was impassable, and then my brain happened upon the next option in line. Not meaning to make it sound flippant, but once it occurred to me as the only viable solution, then that was it. My mind was made up and my fate was sealed. After announcing my plan to Marina and also, practically, to myself, I had to find out how to set it in motion. Still going in blind, but now with a mission, I at least did some research as to where and how. I don't think I had a definitive plan worked out when I told my mother. It was still in the "here's the problem and here's the solution" kind of mode. Once I had Marina behind me, I was able to make myself deal much more. It wasn't just me having to force myself to do the impossible; she was keeping tabs and making sure that I kept moving along.

Days before announcing my "condition " and adoption plan to my mother and friends..

Sitting by the pool below the great fall, walking and ambling along the creek, I was struck by the grand sense of time and my own insignificance. I imagined Native Americans standing in the same place, their everlasting footprint directly below mine, crossing though time, and connecting, as our parallel thoughts were engrossed in the magnificence and the power of nature.I imagined the child I carried standing in the same shadow, years into the future, and tried to infuse the feelings of love and sorrow into the environment. I wanted this spot to call to him, place dreams of waterfalls in his head, to be able to speak to him though the years. My head and heart were filled with such musings, for now, with a plan in mind, and life for the babe ensured, I could allow myself to begin to really explore my feelings for the small being inside me. Knowing that there was a future, began to allow a connection to the presence. It was that weekend among the beauty of nature that the nature of my body took over. In my head, in my heart, I became a mother.

I was forbidden to tell my friends of the pregnancy.

They would tell people and then everyone would know. My mother didn't want people to look at her funny. Not even Laura, my best friend. Laura would tell her mother, she would and then Maureen would look down on my mother even more. It was bad enough she was divorced and Laura's family was so perfect. No, no way. I was not going to be able to see my friends again. I begged one night. We were planning on going to the movies to see the Lost Boys, an 80's Vampire movie. It must have been days after she was told, but enough time had passed that the plan had become more concrete. Just this one more time. No, I promise I won't say anything, but I have to tell them something. I can't just disappear. They will freak out; I have to see them first. After many promises, she gave in.Of course, I lied and once in the car, I announced my plan. Actually, there were other future plans being made, either more camping or a concert, something. I know the poll was being taken to see who could go, I boldly announced that I would not be able to join in on the next great adventure.


Because I will be in Boston. I am moving to Boston to have a baby and place him for adoption.

silence..utter silence... ...

I still have my plane ticket sent to me by the agency. The date says August 21st so I know that is the day I went to Boston to have my baby.

My mother and I were barley existing together at that time. There was at least two weeks between leaving work and getting on the plane. During that time, I had to pretend that everything was just hunky dory. That meant pretending to go to work everyday, but not going. My brother would go to school, my mom would go to work and I would stay home alone all day. That part wasn't too bad. It was when my brother would get out of school that things got tricky. My grandfather would come over to meet my brother and hang out with him till my mom got home. It was about three hours a day. I was supposed to be at work , and couldn't dare let Grandpa see me in my pregnant state. So from three thirty to sixish every day, I would have to hide out in my room ala Anne Frank: "just lie on my bed, can't move, can't walk, can't go to the bathroom, no TV, no eating" just wait it out in silence. It was unbearable. I felt like a leaper.

The other thing that I do, to this day, feel uncomfortable with was how the adoption agency handled my baby's father.

For whatever reason, I was still very sure that He could not be told. Since I did know who my baby's father was and where he was, I was advised to not declare him on the birth certificate. He would be listed as "Unknown" even if he was, indeed, very known. The agency knew how to deal with this sort of situation and I was assured not to worry at all. It would be no problem. And as long as I didn't tell him, I was happy. I didn't care what they did. What they did do was run an ad in a NY newspaper in the legal section. So much for any promises of confidentiality. One of those smarmy things that sometimes can be see even today that means that a man is being denied his chance to parent his child. If He ever saw the ad, which I doubt, he did not respond and he lost any right he could have and was made, legally, unknown.

And then it happened, the feeling of release, then the quick shoulder push, and then the swoosh as he slid out of my body. I can still feel that.

It was the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced. Quickly went the cries of, "It's a Boy!!" which shocked me, as in the days before ultra sound, I was convinced to his femaleness. A boy?? Who would have thunk? And then in the requisite white receiving blanket with pink and blue stripes, donning his blue hat, I held my son for the first time. His eyes were open and he was very calm, just taking it all in. Big blue eyes, looking about with his hands folded in front of him, fingers entwined. He looks much more together than me in the pictures as I still looked terribly stoned, but that was it. He was born.

I have from that time, and outfit that I had purchased for him before hand.

A little baby bunting with a hood that I dressed him up in and took pictures. He promptly spit up on it and I have kept it, never washed, the stain now brown, ever permanent mark of it's singular brief tenant of its warmth. I have a bottle of water and disposable hospital nipple that he was fed. The water long evaporated, but perhaps his residual DNA remains. I have this silly blue bear stuffed animal that came from somewhere...One of the nurses, found me scissors and we carefully tied off a lock of his hair and snipped it off for me. Still tied in a bit of blue embroidery floss from all the silly bracelets I wove, it has that baby softness and delicate shine. It has never seen the sun, nor shampoo..always lived it's existence in a pure white envelope.

I made the most of my brief time with him. Talking to my new son, loving him beyond all reason, trying to explain what must come to pass. Only recently have I recalled the words I whispered as I held him close,

"I am so sorry. I have no choice. This is what must happen. But I will never forget and I will find you again my baby. I love you. I am so sorry"

Leaving that hospital was the single hardest thing that I have ever had to do in my life.

I was dressed, showered, and ready, but sitting in the rocking chair having my final moments with my baby. I know that I did not feel that I could physically manage to do it. I had no clue on how I was going to be able to walk out of that room and away from my baby. I think I said something to that effect. I doubted if I really could. We took some last photos, and I knew that they were all waiting for me to do it. There were people watching, but they were trying to let me find the moment and strength. Finally, one of the nurses got the bassinette for me and brought it in. I am thinking she was kind of pushy and brightly insistent on my putting him in. I held him and I cried now. No longer strong, no longer brave, just broken. And somehow, I walked over to the bassinette and placed him in. Somehow, I communicated that they could walk him out. And somehow I stayed within the confines of my body and managed to hold myself upright as she pushed him out and closed the door.

The click of the latch still rings in my ears. Final.

The next day marked the end of the 72 hours that had to pass before I could sign the relinquishment papper. It was the 18th of November.

I don't know where we went to. It could have been the agency; it could have been a lawyer's office. I think that either Jeanne or Liz from the agency was there. And someone else..a judge, a lawyer?? I have no idea. I HATED this part. I wanted it to be over. I don't know how I could have done it either. I know that they read it all to me, over and over again hearing the words.:

"You will no longer be the legal mother of this more..forever, forever, forever"

It rang though my ears like a harsh tolling bell of death. The words cut me like razors, I just wanted them to shut up and be done with it. Yes, yes, whatever...just be quiet, stop saying that, where is the pen? I signed...witness signed? I think maybe Joan signed. I recall it being dark. Maybe it rained that day? The room was dark and depressing. I knew that after this, after I did this part, he would go home to them. He had been released from the hospital and was in an agency foster home until he was legally free of me. I know I signed custody of him over to the agency, but I have no idea if then, I received copied of the paperwork. I know I do not have them now. I very well could have thrown them out, so hated was the papers. The very thought of them, what I had to do, made me sick inside. I disassociated from it all, and just went on automatic. I would be strong and do what I ought, what would make them all happy and cleanse me, make them proud. No tears, no wavering, determination.

As an unmet, joyful and excited couple marveled and cooed over my precious baby, now theirs..

I was then packing all my meager belongings, waiting for my mother, sad goodbyes, uncomfortable silence, more feelings of shame. As they fussed over the first diapers changed, and made happy phone calls, I was on the cold drive back..5 hours due to traffic into a winter evening sun...mindless chit chat while my body ached to scream "TURN AROUND...I FORGOT MY BABY!" Words never uttered. I was showing them all how "good" I was by being so strong and determined. And with that thought I pushed myself back into regular life and did what I must..I lived.

But I was never the same again..and November matter what has transpired in the almost 22 years since then..and reminds me..No I am not the same. I never will be. I can't undo it.

That day, I broke my life in two with adoption.

I left part of my heart back along that cold winter road..I was permanently blinded by the setting sun, the fog of tears.

All I remember of the drive was the sun. Traffic and the sun. Wanting so much to put it behind me and move on like I was promised I would. Wanting to just go back and start anew. Wanting to never have left the confines of the hospital where we were still together.

Coming home, after relinquishment, I tried to live the life adoption have given me.

It was when I tried to sleep that the ache began. An ache like no other. Broken heart, grief of death and mourning, sickness and despair all rolled into one. It physically hurt. Like one's soul and heart was truly breaking. It was a battle against the tears, for once they started to fall, then nothing could make them stop. So often, I lost. I would cave to the awesome power and it just would fly out, full force, like a monster out of the box. All the demons, self doubt, hate, despair, sorrow..and miss him.

The silent screams of a birthmother in my pillow. That deep hiss when you allow force to be expelled, but will your vocal cords to not make a sound..just a squeak..and then that gasp on fresh air. The choking on the breath, as if you could turn your skin inside out. Tears just falling, soaking my pillow, snot running down, into my mouth..exploding the tissue when I would break and blow. Fetal position. Curled up in a ball. Whole body shaking. Pain. Pain. Pain. Oh God, just make it stop.

I need this to stop, I can't do this. Who can make it stop, Who can I call. Stare at the phone and wish, think of everyone I know, but there is no one. no one, no one. Alone. everything is tense. My body is a rock. My hands clench so tightly, that my nails cut into my palms, but the pain is good. The blood is right somehow. It least that pain has a cause, a reason, and it will heal. Punch the pillow. Grip the edge of the bed for dear life The room spins.

Oh God, my baby, my baby, I want my baby...