When I was 20 years old, I had the world ahead of me. I was living what I would like to call a dream. I was no one and I was everyone. I really liked that about myself. No one had a name for me, other than my own name. Now, when I was 21, my identity changed from “Sarah” to “birth mother”.
It was an easy transition at the time. I was brave then too. I thought, “Hey this is cool. I am doing good things for all three parties involved.” This was before other people had weighed in on their input. From the day I started to show, my identity split into 2: birth mother hero and birth mother villain.
Being a villain is no fun. To this day, I feel as if I am still a villain in my family’s eyes, which is completely fine. Although, for some strange reason I might never know, being the villain in a stranger’s eyes was worse than being a villain in my family’s eyes. It would start with the stranger asking a personal question like, “Will you breastfeed?,” “Will you get an epidural?,” “Is this your first one?” To that last question, I say, “Well, yes and no.” I figured that if they were to ask a person question, I would give them a personal answer. Maybe it would show them that this is none of their business. I was so very wrong. This is the part where they weigh in on their opinions. “There is always a way,” some would say. Others would make it a territorial thing, as if the fetus inside me was a sweater. “I just don’t understand, that’s your baby. It’s your blood, you can’t just give that to someone else!” Actually lady, I can. Couldn’t these people see that I was sacrificing motherhood for the greater good of a whole other person? No, they couldn’t. They always walked away knowing nothing of me but my decision and in their eyes they were walking away from a villain.
When I think of those situations, I feel this bottomless pain in my chest. This is the opposite of what I felt when I was someone’s hero. I often felt empty when people would praise me of my choice. It would add this selfless pressure I could never live up to. Once I took an extra five minutes on my lunch break and a coworker literally said, “Wow, I did not think you could do anything wrong.” This was the unnecessary problem I had to face every day. I could either feel this painful pressure in my chest for when I was the villain, or I would feel nothing when I was the hero.
If you never felt empty in your life, count yourself blessed. I felt empty because there was nothing left in the world for me to feel. There was not one feeling I could identify with. So I stand here today with just one lesson: if you feel you need to say something about someone else’s decision, think of a personal decision you’ve faced and ask yourself if you would like someone else weighing in on that particular time of your life. I can’t speak for everyone, but there was nothing more in the world I would have loved than for someone to say “Cool. Anyways, did you manage to finish watching Heroes yet? Did you hate it?” “No,” I would say. “I loved it, thank you for asking.”