I always wanted to mother a baby. Just once. I've cared for a great many babies as a nanny, and I didn't have a hankering for a lot of babies. I've done my time; I don't need to start from the very beginning with every child. Still, in my heart of hearts, I wanted to mother a baby. I wanted it so badly that I decided it probably wouldn't happen, because I couldn't stand the heartbreak if I hoped for it and it didn't work out. I made my peace with the way our family would be created, knowing that if we were serious about being a family to children who needed one, then a baby probably wouldn't be in the cards for us. There are just too many people who are lining up for babies. Still, in my heart I kept a tiny little space for a baby, just in case. A little bit of longing to see someone grow up from the beginning. I still can't believe that's what we have in Elvie.
We weren't the only family to inquire about her. I never was so bold as to ask if we were chosen as her family because all the others had reservations about her level of need or if we were the best fit of all the families who wanted to be hers. It doesn't matter, really. Parenting is not a contest, though we do very much feel like we won the top prize in being asked to adopt Elvie. Mostly it's just my ego that wants to know why we were chosen to be her family, and I need to let that go, not just for my own sake, but for the good of everyone who might encounter my gigantic head should the reasons be excessively complimentary.
There was a moment when we were still waiting to find out if the agency wanted us to be Elvie's parents that I recognized that I needed to loosen my grip on my hopes for our family. It occurred to me that if we did not adopt Elvie, that there was a possibility that we might not end up being able to adopt a second child from Ethiopia at all, and the line "It's this baby or no one" came to mind. I felt a nudging that I was meant to make my peace with life as it was. It was important to come to the place that Zinashi was enough, to accept that what would happen was out of my hands. There was such relief in admitting that, in letting go and just waiting for the decision.
I feel similarly now, as we await news of her surgery. The surgery itself terrifies me. I know what must be removed and what must be repaired and what must be rearranged, it is a huge undertaking. While I know that the surgeons are capable and trustworthy, there are still things that no MRI or CT scan can tell them about the job they are about to do. When I think of the blood vessels, of the nerves, of the bones that must be removed, rearranged, repaired, I start to feel the familiar heaviness in my chest. What if? The heaviness asks me this question when I run, while I cook dinner, when my baby is asleep on my chest. It reminds me that nothing is certain, that we must wait and see.
And so I make my peace again, with all possible outcomes. I work it through in my heart and in my head, over and over again, and I breathe deeply and remember that my baby is a fighter. I remember that night when I stayed awake to watch her chest rise and fall, and that it did, over and over again. I remember all the ways that things have worked out so far, not perfectly, not exactly as I wanted, but in the best way possible in the end. And I think, I think, that I can be okay.