Two years ago, or maybe it was three, Bryce's mom and stepdad came for a visit over Columbus Day weekend. On Saturday, Bryce and his stepfather decided to go for a drive and check out a fly fishing shop, while Bryce's mom and I decided to go to a garden store and look for pumpkins and mums.
We went to a particular garden store that is known for being ginormous, one I hadn't been to yet. I expected plants and pumpkins and maybe some Halloween stuff. We found those there, but what I didn't know was the greenhouses also housed a veritable children's carnival -- rides, spooky displays, photo ops, pony rides, etc. etc. etc.
I was in the middle of IVF hell. I was not experiencing anything even remotely resembling success. I think I was in the middle of prepping for an egg donor cycle. I'm pretty sure I was on evil Lupron. I was not prepared for the onslaught that awaited me.
I felt utterly overwhelmed. There was way too much noise, too many young children, too many strollers, too many pumpkin-shirt-clad bellies. I tried really hard to hold my shit together and then ended up hyperventilating, buying some sedum for the garden (monarchs need sedum for their trip back to Mexico from Canada, in case you were wondering), panic-buying a bushel of small pumpkin gourds, and racing back to the car. I think my mother-in-law was a little perplexed, but I could not handle that concentration of young family, a carnival of what I was trying to achieve and just couldn't. It was awful. I vowed never to return.
Fast forward to today, two (or maybe three) years later, and I found myself at the VERY SAME garden store, at the VERY SAME time of year, with all the VERY SAME carnival rides and activity and pumpkin bellies and strollers galore.
It was different, though.
Some things stayed the same: still we have no baby of our own, still we are not part of the stroller brigade, still I have no pumpkin belly (and probably never will on that one).
However, this was a family event through our agency, and while we were empty-handed (unless you counted the Halloween cups of cider or Bryce's delicious doughnut), we were surrounded by families who had been created through adoption.
Successful, happy families with doughnut-crusted toddlers and smiling babies and sleeping chubby-cheeked infants. Families that are the light at the end of our tunnel, a sneak peek at our future.
It was overwhelming with all the strollers and yelling children and squeals of joy (and some tears), but this time it didn't feel like I didn't belong there.
To me, it felt hopeful. It felt like our days as a family of two are numbered. Of course, we heard stories that varied from "I waited two months" to "I waited two years," and so it really is a mystery how long those numbered days will stretch out... but there was NOT A SOUL who had waited and waited and waited and was left empty-handed. Not one that came to the event, anyway. There were three of us that were waiting families of two, and we actually knew each other through our various infertility experiences. It was nice to not be alone in that regard, to not feel like a lonely lurker desperately seeking tales from the other side. There were two adoptive families that I knew, too, and that was also a bonus--to have so many people to talk to who were familiar before branching out to "strangers." I felt supported. I felt excited. I felt like our agency creates true community. I felt so much hope.
I know that adoption is a rollercoaster, and that I am still merely racing down my first hill, having reached the end of the ticking uphill wait for the ride to truly start. There are loops and turns waiting for us, but I feel that we have a secure harness keeping us on the ride in our agency, our friends who share similar experiences, and our relationship. I am confident that we will pull into the station, exhilarated and with mussed hair, having laughed and screamed and teared up all at once, and our Mystery Baby will be waiting for us. If I can conquer the way the garden store made me feel the first time around... I believe I can make it through this ride to the other side, no matter what's thrown at us. (Note to Universe... pretty please consider how many loops we've already been through when throwing new ones. Please?)