Thursday, June 12, 2014

dispatch from the bottom of the roller coaster

The days leading up to our New Zealand trip were kind of a triathlon of adulthood: I spent the last Friday in May getting four grants and reports ready to submit, packing for an international red-eye flight and texting with the expectant mother of twins.

Twin bunnies!
The latter, whom I will call Zoey, emailed us late Wednesday night. In the adoption world, twins almost always = scam. If Zoey was running a scam, though, it fell into the really convincing, non-financial genre. I talked to her Thursday night, and it was like talking to an old friend: She was funny, straight-forward and down-to-earth. She was baffled by the behavior of her roomie at the hospital where she was on bed rest, who’d fractured her pelvis while jet-skiing at twenty weeks.

“Who jet skis when they’re twenty weeks pregnant?” Zoey said.

I agreed. I didn’t add that there are lots of birthmoms who do hard drugs while pregnant (although there are many more who don’t). Zoey was refreshingly responsible, a stay-at-home mom of two in a stable relationship, who just couldn’t handle two more kids.

Twin puppies!
We ended the night with a goofy text exchange about popsicles. But maybe her judgy-ness about the jet skier should have been a red flag. I don’t know; I’ve been trying (and failing) not to do too much second-guessing in retrospect, but by Friday afternoon—the day of many grant submissions and much packing—she was annoyed with AK and I for not returning her texts fast enough, and she started expressing subtle second thoughts about our parenting abilities.

I’m sure time moves slowly when you’re on bed rest, and she admitted she was feeling cranky and hormonal. She was never not self-aware. But the next thing I knew, we were kind of text-fighting—both of us trying to be mature and acknowledge our shortcomings, but both of us being super sensitive and continuing to engage when we should have called it a night.

Twin popsicles with different personalities! (Actually a dog toy you can order on Etsy.)
Maybe the problem was that we were too much alike.

Maybe she had borderline personality disorder.

Maybe she wasn’t who she said she was at all.

My money’s still on Zoey being an amped-up mom in a really difficult spot, but of course we’ll never know, and my task in life is to become okay with not knowing things. Whatever the deal was, we left things on a conciliatory “talk after the trip” note. I told myself it was over. (Because I’m not into creating false suspense, I will tell you that it was. I texted her when we got home and got a curt thanks-but-no-thanks.)

And it sucked, because I had behaved so well that whole day! AK and I were communicating so excellently the whole time! I multitasked like a motherfucker (or just a mother)! And where was my gold star, dammit? Where was the person who would swoop in and take care of me now?

Little Twin (gold) Stars!
Thanks to ten years of therapy and four years of practice weathering crises, I somehow arrived at the Tom Bradley terminal in decent, if exhausted, shape. Same with AK, who has done her share of work in these areas too. I shed some tears over taquitos and a michelada at Border Grill (the international terminal is swanky), and I popped a Klonopin after boarding, but still. And we had an awesome trip! It was New Zealand, after all, where our friend Emily hosted us at her Auckland flat, and we enjoyed eight days of hiking, spa-ing and taking photos of cartoon kiwis.

I was so proud of us for enjoying our lives despite leaving the adoption process poised at the top of a roller coaster. I realized later, while talking to my therapist, that the “prize” for such excellent coping isn’t twins and it isn’t a gold star. It’s the opportunity to stay in the game. Because Zoey bruised but didn’t break us, we didn’t have to put everything on hold again and start over later.

This post started as an intro to my New Zealand travel journal, but it’s gotten really long, and it’s late, so I will sign off the way I kept not doing with Zoey. My next few posts will be heavier on Lord of the Rings landscapes, lighter on babymama drama.

Twin kiwis?
P.S. Today is my mom’s birthday. Happy birthday to the lady whose absence makes me a wreck to this day (see above) but whose presence for the first twenty-six years of my life gave me the tools to survive it all. Knockonwood.

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