' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: A First Mother recalls meeting her daughter for the 'first' time

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A First Mother recalls meeting her daughter for the 'first' time

in my driveway this morning
Continuing excerpts from my memoir, Hole in My Heart, the sequel to Birthmark, which came out in 1979--when "birth mother" was not a phrase anyone knew. We were natural mothers, biological mothers, one of "those women." Actually in 1979, we were not supposed to be anywhere but the closet!

The following except from the new book is about the time I was going to meet my daughter, in 1981. I know
these bits I am posting here are not coming in order, but hey, they will in the book! I wasn't planning to keep publishing them here, but fellow blogger Jane is otherwise engaged right now, and I have to finish, and so, I here we are.

Yes, I know we are well into into that week from Hell, Mother's Day! is Sunday, as every newspaper and garden center lets us know. But that too will pass. There is always the day after Mother's Day, and then it will not come again for another year. Since my daughter is deceased, I have no expectation that she will or will call or feel terrible because she does not. I miss her deeply, I miss the good days we had together, I miss being able to phone her, but I know she is at peace, and that is my reality. I decided a long time ago that if I were going to be depressed all the time because I gave up my daughter to be adopted, I would be a crazy person locked up somewhere today. I chose life, and here I am, along with my sisters, working for change, trying to make a better world.--lorraine

  Copyright Lorraine Dusky 2013  May not be quoted or copied at this point without permission.
What am I going to wear? Need to look nice, not too New York. I’m going to meet my daughter! Go casual, casual is best, the Midwest is casual, I ought to know, I’m from the Midwest too. It is a good thing that I’m from the Midwest, from Michigan—why that’s next door to Wisconsin!  I know how some people don’t like New Yorkers, think we are—I dunno, brash? Too assertive? Too New York? This pink sweater or that striped one? Pants. Of course. Do I need to take a skirt? Will we go to church on Sunday? They are Catholic, can I wear pants to Church? In Wisconsin?

I am still trying on and rejecting sweaters—as if pink made a huge difference from green—when Tony comes to the bottom of the steps to tell me it is time to go. Tony is a get-to-the-airport-early kind of guy, I’m always cutting it close. I am in serious need of calming, and so I pop a Librax to calm down on the hour drive to MacArthur, the Long Island’s airport. He gets me to the plane on time.

In a state of double consciousness—anxiety (what if this doesn’t go well?) and calm (almost there!) I change planes in Pittsburgh. There are only three other people on the plane heading for Madison that Saturday morning, a middle-aged couple and a thirty-something woman with a baby that couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old. We sit near each other and strike up a conversation.

She’s a college professor taking her newborn home to see her mother—the baby’s grandmother—for the first time. She quietly breast fed her baby during takeoff and landing so the baby would be sucking to prevent her ears from popping, she tells me. Oh. Good to know. She puts the baby on a blanket on the floor next to her empty seat so the baby would more comfortable during the flight and sleep. Nice. Baby sleeps, contentedly. College professor is a mother hen, clucking and cooing over her chick, and all of it tears my heart apart as I watch her do what I had not. She never once mentions a husband, or a father, and I do not ask. I think she is a single mother. She is doing this alone. She is everything I was not. How different the world is now, having a baby outside of marriage is no big deal. I “got in trouble,” as unwed pregnancies were once euphemistically called, this brave new mother made a choice.

Can I make my daughter understand what it was like fifteen, sixteen years ago when I got pregnant? Will she forgive me? Who will be there when we meet? Both of them, mother and father? That’s going to be weird, and can’t be helped.

Of course they will be there.

I stare out the window, I cannot concentrate enough to read, I stare at the mother and child, the plane moves through a gray haze. It is cold on the plane, and I keep my coat on. I do not tell the new mother who I am going to meet. I am bland and smiling instead.

I say goodbye to her as we land, have a good visit with your mother. I steel myself for these last moments before I see her: Do not get weepy, you can do this, take another step, you are doing this, walk off the plane, down the steps, toward the door, in a minute this is it, this is really happening.

I can see the whole scene from above, my somehow mind out of body, I am watching myself holding her, hugging her, but not so long that her father will think it’s inappropriate and besides, she is not hugging me back, both of her arms are squarely planted in the back pockets of her jeans so they are otherwise occupied, she does not have to hug me. Okay, a hug would be nice but she is at least not a limp noodle, she is standing strong and letting me hug her.

Let me look at her: hair, similarly fine like mine and the same ash blonde color, just like mine before I met Miss Clairol; eyes, same, same hazel-green as mine, same skin tone. Are we the same height? Yikes, yes! Look at us, she’s wearing a crew-neck sweater too, hers, lavender; mine, pink. She has on jeans, me, pin-striped pants. It would be nice if she could hug me back, but this is okay, babies don't hug, teenagers don’t hug and her father is standing right there. It’s really her. This is my daughter. All’s right with the world. I’m never going back to limbo again.

The worst years of my life are over.

Later she would tell me that she had choreographed her reaction to suit her father’s expectations and not hurt his feelings, or her mother’s, who would certainly get a detailed report: no matter what—she assumed I would hug her—she would keep her hands in her back pockets. She had wanted to hug me, she told me later, but she felt uncomfortable doing so in front of her father, it seemed disloyal. It would seem as if she cared, when she felt she should show him she was merely been curious about this woman who gave her life.  


  1. Lorraine - thank you for continuing to share parts of your memoir with us. I thoroughly enjoy reading them!

  2. Thank you Theodore for ruining this reading experience for me. I was eagerly reading Lorraine's words, gulping them down, and hoping for more. Then you had to insert your snarky non sequitur. It wasn't welcome. AT. ALL.

    All that being said, Lorraine...your words were like a voice from inside my head. I could never be so eloquent and beautiful in my writing. Thank you!!!

  3. I'm really enjoying reading this, Lo. I can SOOO relate... packing and unpacking before I flew to meet my son, watching the people in the airport, the anxiety as I stepped off the plane. (Back when people were allowed to go to the gates.) Looking forward to reading your whole book.



COMMENTS ARE MODERATED. Our blog, our decision whether to publish.

We cannot edit or change the comment in any way. Entire comment published is in full as written. If you wish to change a comment afterward, you must rewrite the entire comment.

We DO NOT post comments that consist of nothing more than a link and the admonition to go there.