By Jenna Hatfield for Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers
She lived in the apartment above my basement level one. She walked heavy and possessed an even heavier case of insomnia. Pregnant and on bed rest, unable to sleep at night myself, I’d hear her feet hit the floor at one o’clock in the morning. She’d stomp into the bathroom and run herself a hot bath. For a while, the sounds would cease as she likely attempted to relax herself back to sleep. Later, she’d stomp back to bed, waking me yet again. I’d roll to my other side, hand gently touching my belly as the Munchkin kicked me. My precious daughter was a night owl as well.
Late in my pregnancy, we talked for the first time. I finally looked visibly pregnant, though I never seemed very large due to the health problems I experienced during that tumultuous pregnancy. As I carried some clothes to the laundry room, she stopped to ask me some questions. Munchkin’s parents and I already matched at that point; my kidney disorder left me unable to work, and I felt relief in finding a family to care for my child.
I didn’t share anything about the adoption with the woman who lived upstairs. I knew her sleeping habits but not her last name. I didn’t know how she felt about adoption, how she might react. I frequently found myself on the defensive while pregnant, afraid of what people might say and how they might judge me. I felt judged enough, being single and pregnant. Giving away my baby felt like more fuel for the judgmental fire of society. I answered her questions politely but with vague, open-ended answers. I felt like lies kept slipping from my mouth, but I didn’t know this woman from Eve. I walked back downstairs, heart heavier than her late night footsteps on my ceiling.