This is always a hard time of the year for me. It is coming up on the anniversary of the relinquishment to parent my second son. I am not alone in feeling this PTSD. It is a known fact that birth mothers suffer during the anniversary of their child’s birth or relinquishment date.
The Damage to Relinquishing Mothers
Without fail, this time every year which is a joyous time of the year for many, I get emotional without warning. Tears fill my eyes unexpectedly and without immediate cause. I get irritated easily and anger quickly. I become withdrawn and sometimes unapproachable.
In about one month, my office is moving to another building in the same city as our current office location. Late last year, our management began talking about moving to another building. They wanted it to be somewhat close to our current location, within 10 miles or so. They looked in nearby cities and also in our current city for a new place to call home for our Service Center. Employees waited impatiently at times curious as to where this new office would be. Many worried if their drive would be longer while others hoped their drive would be shorter in this very populated metropolitan city with hefty rush hour traffic patterns.
So we waited and waited while our management team looked for a new office building in the Dallas/Ft Worth area, assuring us every few months that they were getting closer and closer to a final decision. Needless to say, the possibilities were endless.
The city is the main cultural and economic center of the 12-county Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area—at 6 million people, it is the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the United States. – wikipedia.org
Earlier this year, the management narrowed it down to office space they had found in three different cities.
In April, during an all-employee meeting, they finally announced our new location. An exterior frontal building picture flashed on the projector and I couldn’t help but notice how familiar this building looked. As I continued to listen to our VP speak, I kept staring at the picture. I was pretty sure I recognized this new office space but waited patiently to be certain. Then the new address of our new location popped up on the screen. I was stunned.
I quietly told the person next to me that I had worked at that building before.
The VP gave the projected date, which was initially scheduled for November.
At first, I think I was surprised and somewhat shocked by the synchronicity of it all.
As reality began to sink in, I began to process the impact of this move for me. Moves are always somewhat stressful. While many employees in the office were talking about this new place, both positive and negative comments, with their highest concern being about the commute, I was internalizing what this move meant for me. I was pretty certain it was different. It wasn’t just about packing and unpacking, or a new driving route, or a greater or lesser distance from home, or longer rush hour traffic delays. For me, it was much deeper. It was about a traumatic moment in time that I would much rather leave in my past.
The first time my office moved out to this building, it was back in the late 1990’s. I was living and working in downtown Dallas. I was a single mom to Jaren and pregnant with Noah. And, I was on the road to making one of the most life changing decisions I have ever made. Life was filled with uncertainty. I was alone to care for my son and future son yet to be born. I was castaway by many of my family and even some friends and my children’s father had abandoned us. Life was challenging at best.
My employer at the time had scheduled our move to the new building at the end of that year. I was also due to deliver Noah at the end of that same year. And like my current employer, the move was set for November but then pushed back to December. My delivery date was also set for December.
As the end of the year approached, I was released for short-term medical leave to prepare for my delivery and my choice. I packed up my desk and went on maternity leave before the move occurred.
The next couple months would challenge my emotional resolve. I did not have the luxury to worry or think about our new office space, my new cube or my office belongings. My day-to-day was filled with taking care of my first born son Jaren and the future that I was considering for his younger brother.
After Noah was born, I signed relinquishment papers on December 24th of that year. Within a week, I handed over my newborn baby to a couple that I had never previously met. I trusted that the adoption agency had did their research and homework.
When my maternity leave was up and I was about to return to the office, I called my manager. I informed her of my decision. I asked her if she could send out an email to the office and inform them of my choice. I didn’t want to have to answer those questions over and over again. I also didn’t want to lie and say I lost the child. But sadly, she refused. She said it had something to do with policies. Ironically, within a year, another co-worker returned from maternity leave. Her child died. This time, my manager did send out an email to the team to let them know what happened.
So after giving birth, saying hello to my newborn son, relinquishing my parental rights, kissing my baby and placing him in the arms of his new parents, I prepared for my first day back to work.
I walked into our new office space no longer pregnant and with one less child than what my coworkers were expecting. I sat down at my new cube. I began unpacking my material belongings while trying to box up my clouded brain, broken heart and my muddy emotions.
This is the place where I walked out to the parking lot during my lunch hour, sat in my car, and cried tears of sadness and hopeless despair. Where I wrote letters to God asking Him to find a way to return my baby and heal my broken heart. A place and time where I contemplated suicide just so I could stop the pain, had it not been for my son Jaren, who gave me every reason to live.
I was stripped down to my core and there was little left of me.
And now, after several move dates have changed, with one of the scheduled move dates being on Noah’s birthday and I was thinking, “Are you freaking kidding me,” we are finally moving to our new office building in less than one month. I am bewildered. How do I move through this? What does this mean? Is there healing in all this?
I’ll admit, in the early months, I was amused by the fluke of it all. I joked about how God was playing a trick on me, all the while, reserving my anxiety. But now that the move is less than a month away, it has become very real.
I talked to my current supervisor privately and told her my story. I wanted her to be aware. I explained how this is a traumatic time of the year for me and that I am not sure how this move will impact me because of all the similar details; the history of the building, the same time of the year. I tried to make light of it and withheld my tears that were readily available to me. We both chuckled at the synchronicity of it all. I promised her that I am and will continue to do my best to move through this. She did seem to understand. She even said, “Well, this time you will be involved in the moving process rather than someone moving everything for you.”
I thought about her statement. It resonated with me.