Baby's first birthday can be an emotional day for Moms. And yesterday, I experienced it. But honestly, it wasn't as emotional for me as I imagine it is for Moms who gave birth to their children. I loved spending the day with Lily, of course, and I spent a lot of time reflecting on how much she's grown. But when it came to the "last year at this time..." reflection- well, last year at this time I was drunk.
I'm not a huge drinker. I went to OU, so I'm capable of drinking an astonishing amount for my size and weight. I just generally choose not to. But by May 18 of last year, I had had it. I had been playing the baby game for three years, and I was done playing. So today, in order to remember, make light of the situation, and give you the opportunity to laugh at me, I present to you my Paper Pregnancy, as told through three really bad ideas: drinking too much in May of 2008, drinking too much in January of 2009, and drinking too much in May of 2009. Not because I'm proud of it, but because it demonstrates my state of mind that year, and it's just funny.
Drinking too much in May of 2008.
It started innocently enough. Ryan and I were attending a graduation party for one of my college students. We were offered a glass of wine when we arrived. I finished it, realized it was too hot to drink wine, and switched to beer. Then someone showed up with something orange in bottles. Potentially a Bartles and James beverage of some kind? Until this moment it was all an accident. A long day in the sun drinking the whole time without paying attention to the amount. But there was a moment when things shifted. All of the secrets from the whole year- the fact that we had been trying to conceive at all, the pain I'd gone through, the potential light at the end of the tunnel with the decision to adopt- it was just too much to keep to myself anymore. So when a student asked me if I wanted a shot of- who even knows what it was?- I told him no, but that he could pour it directly into my bottle. (the one with about an inch of orange liquid remaining.) He filled it to the top, and I set out on a mission. My first step in this mission (after taking the first sip which literally knocked me backwards into a large tree, as witnessed by two students who thought this was one of the funniest things they had ever seen) was to find Jenn- a student who I knew well, and who was our strongest student accompanist. I pulled her aside and told her she should be prepared with the score to "Carousel," our fall musical, because I could potentially get a phone call that would pull me away from the show immediately and permanently. I told her about our decision to adopt. And about all I had been through that year. And I cried. And cried and cried and cried. And I pulled myself together, and I kept taking sips from my orange drink.
That's where things get fuzzy. But I know I pulled Kiley aside at one point and put her through the whole story, just as I had with Jenn. And then, eventually, there was no more pulling people aside. I told my story- in its entirey and on a drunken loop- to everyone at the party. They had all gathered at the table, and they were a captive audience. And I was hysterical. These poor students (and some of their parents, by the way...) who had never seen me cry, had no idea any of this was going on at all, heard the whole sad story. Over, and over, and over. Now, in my defense, my loving husband was playing the role of designated antagonist. Any time it looked as if the loop was broken, he would aske me a question about the story, dropping the needle back onto my broken record anywhere he thought was entertaining. And there were breaks in the story when I leaned against a shelf and broke it, or when I got one of the female students to cry with me. Ryan finally got me to say my tearful goodbyes, and he got me into the car. It was a long ride home, and while I slept most of the way, I woke up every fifteen minutes or so, worried every single time that I had not congratulated the graduate. Ryan assured me each time that I had. I had congratulated him many, many times.
I told my therapist the whole story a few days later, completely mortified, certain I was going to be scolded. Not because I was ever scolded in therapy, but because I was sure I deserved it. His response shocked me.
"Yeah. That pretty much had to happen. You've been trying to keep all this inside for way too long. It doesn't need to be a secret. And it became such a big secret that maybe you needed a little liquid courage to get it out. Your students already respected you. Honestly, they probably respect you more now that you've shown them you're a real person."
And you know what? He was right. There was some teasing on the first day back to school, naturally. But when we all returned in the fall, I didn't have to pretend any more.