Hundreds of Butterflies. Chapter V
A few months into the pregnancy I had started to show, and even felt the baby moving inside of me. It was like a flutter, sometimes I wasn't even sure if I'd definitely felt anything, but it was like nothing I had ever experienced before! Then about five months into my pregnancy I felt the baby kick for the first time, I was doing the washing up, and instinctively I placed a protective hand over my stomach. Then I felt something else, in my heart this time, a longing. It was the only feeling other than numbness I'd felt for five months. As time went on, I realised that I wanted to keep my baby, but I was confused and scared. I didn't want to give up my future, and I wasn't sure what kind of life I could provide for my child. My father and I had already met and approved the adoptive parents, and a huge part of me thought it would just be easier if I let my baby go.
My father was taking charge of everything, he's a formidable man and it's not easy to disagree with him. Every time I tried he either ignored me or chastised me. I felt intimidated and still guilty about getting pregnant in the first place, so I kept quiet.
We went with the adoption lawyer to meet with Maggie and Joseph Maxwell on a Saturday afternoon in January, about fifteen weeks into my pregnancy. They weren't anything like I had imagined them, I had imagined them to be in their late twenties, slim, attractive and have lots of money and a big house. In actuality they were quite different.
Maggie Maxwell was thirty-nine, a short, but big and bubbly woman. She had a line of hair across her top lip that had been bleached but was thick enough to still see. When she greeted my father and I at the door she was visibly nervous, but very friendly. As I stepped inside the modest three bedroom semi-detached house, the warm smell of freshly baked cookies filled my nostrils, and I noticed that Maggie wore a frilly apron covered in flour over her large frame. I liked her instantly.
Joseph Maxwell was stood in the living room when we entered, he was forty-three, tall, about 6'1 but looked taller stood next to his wife. He was skinny with a receding hairline. He seemed more shy than his wife, but just as friendly. I immediately got the impression they'd be great parents.
Maggie told us that she and Joseph had been trying to have a baby for eleven years, but that she had a condition known as polycystic ovaries which meant that she hadn't been able to. They had tried to adopt once before, but the girl had had a miscarriage, and they felt like they were getting too old to do this much longer. I was pretty much their last chance.
After we had talked, the lawyer from the adoption agency, Paul Carlson, thanked the Maxwell's and we left. I had already decided that I wanted them, but he told me to arrange another couple of visits, to make sure and to ask any questions I might have.
"And it say's in their file that they would be comfortable with an open adoption, if that was something you'd like to consider?" He said, smiling hopefully at me.
"What does that mean?" I asked, I genuinely had no Idea.
"Well..." Began Mr Carlson,
"No!" Interrupted my father sharply "no that won't be feasible!"
The rest of the ride home was uncomfortable, but I wasn't one hundred percent sure why. Once we got home my father sent me into the house, I watched Mr Carlson and my father from the front window, they were gesturing as though they were arguing about something. It wasn't until more than six moths later that I figured out what.
I had my baby on Friday July the eighteenth 2008 at 1:45am. The labour lasted hours and hurt so much, I don't remember the pain so much anymore, the whole thing is a bit of a blurr. All I remember was being so terrified that I had no control over what was happening. I didn't know what to do, and I thought at one point that I might die.
The baby was a girl, 7lbs 9oz, with big brown eyes just like mine. I was told that that was unusual, most babies are born with blue eyes. Maggie and Joseph took a few hours to get to the hospital, I'd gone into labour two weeks early, and the Maxwell's had gone on a long weekend to Dorset for their anniversary.
I was able to persuade my midwife and my parents to let me have an hour alone with my baby. I don't know how I managed to swing that, maybe seeing me going through childbirth made my parents temporarily more understanding and compassionate.
I sat cross legged on the bed and lay my baby in front of me, I put her in a nappy, and carefully dressed her in the little pink and white suit and hat from the bag that the Maxwell's had given me just in case they weren't around when she was born.
She lay on the bed in front of me, so tiny and helpless, wriggling and gurgling. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I couldn't believe that I had made her, created her. This beautiful little person, and she was mine. I knew it, I felt it in my bones.
I carefully picked her up and cradled her in my arms, I had been thinking about names since the first time she'd kicked, and I knew what her name was as soon as I looked at her.
"Hello Alice, I'm Rebekah, I'm your mummy!" I whispered to her "I love you so much, and I won't let them take you away I promise!"
I sat there rocking my daughter back and forth in my arms. Tears rolling down my cheeks, and I sang to her; 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' my favourite nursery rhyme as a child. All the while terrified that someone would come in and try to take her from me. And then they did. After about forty five minutes the midwife came in followed by my parents. She and my mother walked over to me, and she stretched out her arms towards Alice,
"Time to give her back now love" she said softly, as if she were talking to a little child. "The Maxwell's are here to take her home." She reached under my arms and lifted Alice to her chest.
"No" I whimpered, lifting my hands to try and stop her, but my mother placed a hand on my forearm.
"You know this is for the best." My mother whispered to me as my eyes began to well up.
At that moment, Maggie and Joseph walked into the room, they looked so excited and nervous. The midwife, who was stood in the middle of the room, walked over and handed Alice to Maggie. "Here's your little girl!"
"A girl!" Breathed Maggie, staring adoringly down at Alice. Joseph walked up behind his wife and placed his hand proudly around her shoulder, they both looked so happy.
I couldn't move. I couldn't speak. I just sat there staring, my whole being battling between screaming at them to give me my baby back, or keeping quiet and allowing her to go and have a happy life without me.
Maggie handed the baby to Joseph and walked over to my bedside, smiling warmly. She took hold of my hand, I sat staring at her, unable to speak for the lump in my throat.
"Thank you so much Rebekah! Good luck darling, thank you!" She gushed, tearing up. She walked back to Joseph, picked up the baby bag, and together they left the room, taking my daughter with them.
The midwife lent over me, fluffing my pillows and smiling reassuringly at me. But I wasn't an idiot, My pillows didn't need fluffing. She did it to stop me from running after them, demanding my baby back! Once they had safely left the room and closed the door behind them she stood strait and squeezed my hand.
"I know it's hard love, but your doing the right thing I promise!" She reassured me. I began to sob, the midwife squeezed my hand again and turned to walk away.
"Wait." I squeaked, and she turned back to face me, "Please could you tell them, her name is Alice!" I implored her, she nodded and walked away, leaving me with my parents.
I began sobbing uncontrollably again, my mother stroked my hair, and my father stood, arms folded, a steady gaze across his face. Waiting for me to stop crying so that we could go home and continue on with our lives as if nothing had ever happened.
He looked like he was waiting for a bus.