Posted by: chicagoshells | April 4, 2013

Well, That Was Unexpected

When we chose our donor, Trouble left it largely up to me.  She figured that she was contributing 50% of the genetic material, so the other half should be more my choice.  I never would have gone with someone she had a bad feeling about (like, say, if I’d been able to overlook the creepy audio interview where a donor we were considering described himself as “cold and calculating” and said Darth Vadar was his role model. Needless to say, neither of us could overlook that, and we chose a different donor).  The three deal-breakers for me were a Jewish donor, a donor who had some of my basic coloring/features, and an open-identity donor (agrees to a one-time meeting with any offspring when they turn 18, if they would like it).  Trouble understood why all these things were important to me, but I’m pretty certain that if I’d suddenly chosen a blond, Baptist, totally anonymous donor because I felt right about it, she would have gone with it because the donor was a “sub” for my half of the genes.  This is a long-winded way of saying that I think the open-identity thing was more important to me and Trouble would have been cool either way. It was important to me that any kids have the option of meeting their donor if they wanted to, so even though that decreased our choices and increased the cost, that’s what we did.

After Mulberry was born, we talked about the Donor Sibling Registry and the possibility of future contact with Mulberry’s potential half-siblings.  Again, I think Trouble would have been willing to go either way on it, although we both agreed that we didn’t think we would ever be the type who try to be “one big happy family” with any potential donor-sibs and their families.  But we thought exchanging pictures or any medical information that came up might be nice, and again, I wanted to have the avenue available for Mulberry if he ever wanted to go down it.  So, we did register.  There was actually one other post from someone expecting their second child by our donor, but they didn’t say they were open to contact, so I just posted that we were and figured we could see what happened.  Again, long-winded here, but the donor sibling registry is totally anonymous, so I figured any contact we made there would start slow.  If it weirded us out in any way, we wouldn’t have to go any further.

The point of these incredibly long introductory paragraphs…I’ve never been opposed to Mulberry making contact with his donor or biological half-siblings.  But whenever I thought about it, it was at some distant point far in the future.

Yesterday, I was contacted on Facebook by the mother of two of Mulberry’s donor-siblings.  We exchanged quite a few messages.  I looked at the pictures of her two (gorgeous) daughters.  Her two daughters, who are Mulberry’s genetic half-sisters.  It’s so wild.

To make it clear…she did NOT stalk me somehow.  She found me in a totally bizarre, round-about way that is really my “fault” for not being careful when I started to communicate with people from an “anonymous” parenting forum on the oh-so-NOT-anonymous Facebook as well.  I think it might have been more of a stunner for her and her wife…I’m not sure they had ever intended to pursue their daughters’ donor-sibs.  And she didn’t have to tell me once she realized who I was and what we had in common, but I’m extremely grateful that she did.  She thinks that, because of the totally-by-random-chance nature that she found me, that it was meant to happen.  Maybe she’s right.

I’m not sure how I’m feeling.  I’m not mad, not sad, but most definitely…thoughtful.   Maybe it’s just that until yesterday, the concept of Mulberry’s genetic half-siblings was just that, a concept.  Now they are real, living, breathing little girls with names and sweet little faces.  Some of their baby pictures have some striking similarities to some of Mulberry’s.  I know what state they live in.  I’m Facebook friends with one of their mothers.  It is so, so not what I expected when I woke up yesterday.

I know it doesn’t “change” anything.  If I wanted to, I could block their mother on Facebook so she couldn’t see Mulberry’s pictures (I have no desire, or reason, to do so).  We don’t ever have to talk again.  We certainly never have to meet in person.  Our children share a donor, but Mulberry’s *actual* siblings will be the other children Trouble carries (whether or not they share Mulberry’s donor), or possibly whom we adopt.  I continue to maintain that genes are not what makes “family.” 

Usually I try to wrap up posts here with some modicum of resolution, but I’m not sure I can just now.  For now, this is all I have.

Posted by: chicagoshells | March 28, 2013

Grappling with Grappling

Trouble and I had an interesting conversation last night. Not a fight, really, but I guess a disagreement of sorts. Ironically, it started with a compliment. I’m a member of an online group of non-gestational LGBT parents. It’s generally a fantastic group of people, very thoughtful and articularte and supportive. For the most part we just talk about parenting and show off cute pics of our nuggets, but it’s also a safe place for gripes like “My MIL referred to me as my child’s ‘adoptive’ mother” or “A friend is hosting a shower for us but asked me if I wanted to serve as co-host for my pregnant partner!” and so on. Very occasionally, someone has a gripe about their partner that they need to talk about…there’s one member whose partner changed her mind last-minute and won’t agree to let her second-parent adopt their child. Yesterday, someone’s partner said that she “forgot (the non-bio mom) was their child’s mother, too.” When these kind of things are shared, I thank my lucky stars that my amazing wife has never said or done anything like this. Anyway, yesterday I shared that latest story with Trouble, and told her how much I appreciated her constant acknowledgement and support of me as Mulberry’s parent.

I’ve shared anecdotes and the resulting gratitude with Trouble before, and it’s always been a quick discussion that ends with both of us being grateful for each other, our supportive families, the community we live in, etc. This time, it didn’t go quite that way. Trouble suggested that perhaps, like I and my fellow group members have our non-gestational parents support group, maybe that woman’s partner would benefit from some sort of “biological lesbian mom’s only” group. And it left a really bad taste in my mouth. I likened it to people arguing for a “white support group” or “straight support group” as something that is just not needed. NOT that there isn’t a need for a lesbian mom support group…there is, most definitely. But I couldn’t see a need for one that is “biological moms only” for the same reasons that a “whites only” support group seems ridiculous to me. There are a zillion places on the internet or “IRL” where biological mothers can get support, commiserate on everything they go through physically and emotionally, complain about their partners (male or female). On the flip side, I maintain that being a non-gestational mother is a very unique parenting role, something that is different from being a father, an adoptive parent, a step-parent, or anthing else, and we badly need a group of people who understand what it’s like to live this role.

As Trouble and I went back and forth, it came out that she “grappled” a bit, in the days just after Mulberry’s birth, with our new shared role, and the transition from our having different roles (pregnant partner and supporting partner) to our having the same role (new mom). She said she didn’t tell me about her grappling at the time because she knew it was hormonal, she knew she would quickly get over it, and she knew it would probably hurt me for no reason. She’s right about that last one. I would have been hurt, and scared. And even now, when she assures me that I am Mulberry’s mom as much as she is, that she’s not jealous or resentful (and those aren’t even the words she would have used just after he was born), I do find myself a little hurt, and, well…grappling, with the knowledge that she was grappling. Of course she has the right, having just pushed a child out of her body, to feel some twinges about the fact that she now has to share the title of “mother” of that child wth someone else. And yes, perhaps she might even have benefited from a group of biological lesbian moms to share those twinges with. Now, rationally, I can grasp what she was saying. It’s valid. But I still don’t feel good about it. I don’t feel good about it for the same reasons that I unquestionably believe that non-gestational parents’ group is sorely needed. Because there will always be people who think, even subconsciously, that somehow my role is “less” than Trouble’s in Mulberry’s life, because I didn’t grow him inside my body. And knowing that even Trouble grappled with those thoughts just makes me….well, grapple. With what they “mean.” With whether there’s any part of her that does believe she is unquestionably more important. Whether there’s a part of me that wonders the same thing. Whether there is ever a way to not wonder.

Posted by: chicagoshells | March 22, 2013

The strangeness of the “official”

Last week, in a courtroom downtown, my son became mine.  I’m talking legally, of course, because he’s been mine since he was born…conceived, even.  I helped create him.  I watched him come into the world. Because we live in a “good” state, my name even went right on his birth certificate.  But now, even if we travel to a “bad” state, no one can question that he is mine and I am his.

I’m talking, of course, about my second parent adoption of Mulberry.  It became final on March 11.  What were we doing when it happened?  Trouble is back to work, so I was home alone with Mulberry.  Maybe I was feeding him.  Or changing his diaper.  Or cuddling him, or soothing him, or playing with him.  Any of the things a parent does.

I don’t know, because we weren’t there at the moment my son became mine.  In our county, we only have to appear once, the day the petition to adopt is filed.  Then they set a date– usually a month later– when it’ll become official.  And no one except our lawyer had to be there at that time.  At that time, the judge who met us the month before for– literally– less than two minutes looked over the report from Mulberry’s guardian ad litem– who never met him or me or Trouble, but who apprently gets a say whether we get to be a family– and signed my parenthood of Mulberry into legality.  Then our lawyer sent us that paper, and that’s it.

It’s so…nothing.  It’s so bizarre.  Don’t get me wrong…I know that it’s better this way.  It’s better that we don’t have to endure a homestudy, don’t have to prove to some social worker that our smoke detector has batteries (um…shh, but it doesn’t) and assure him or her that we’ll pad the edges of our dangerous coffee table once Mulberry starts crawling.  We’re lucky that here, it’s simply routine, a matter of procedure, nothing to stress about.  I’m grateful for that.  But it does feel odd that such a hugely important thing as the way my relationship to my son is understood by the government could be accomplished without us even being there.  Almost like…if it’s considered such a non-event, so unimportant, than why do we have to go through it at all?  Why pay hundreds of dollars so someone with no ability to judge us can judge something that shouldn’t even need to be judged?

Don’t misunderstand…there was never a question of completing this adoption.  I want Mulberry’s and my relationship protected no matter where we travel, no matter what happens to me or Trouble or our relationship.  There was never any doubt that we would do it.  I’m not sure why I feel like I’m somehow…missing something.  I guess I just thought that, since we do have to jump through these hoops, there should be more…fanfare, perhaps, once we’d officially jumped through them.  I don’t know.  It’s just so incredibly odd to feel, at the same time, both resentful of having to do something at all AND resentful that it wasn’t a bigger “deal.”  Strange.

Posted by: chicagoshells | January 2, 2013

Our Mulberry is Here

And he is amazing.

Our sweet little guy joined us five days before his due date, on Christmas Eve. We are tired but so incredibly in love with our little man.

Trouble started having labor pains at about 7pm on the 23rd. She began timing them and mentioned to me after about an hour and a half that they were fairly regular (she’d been having occasional pains for the past couple weeks before that). We timed them for about another hour, and then Trouble started feeling horrible and got sick. Other than that, the pains weren’t awful, and because I’d had a stomach virus just a few days before, we briefly wondered if that’s what was going on and not labor. For the next few hours the pains increased in intensity and she continued to get sick every half an hour or so. We thought about going to the hospital several times, but between the bouts of illness she was actually able to sleep, so we decided to wait.

At about 6am on Christmas Eve, Trouble woke me up. She was pretty sure her water had broken and was extremely concerned because it was a yellow-brown color and not the clear it’s supposed to be. We jumped in a cab and to the ER we went. They sent her to OB triage, where they found she was 4cm dilated, her water had broken…and there was meconium in it, as we had suspected. I’ve done enough research to know this isn’t necessarily a big deal, but being me, I was freaked out a bit. She was admitted to labor and delivery and elected to have an epidural. Because of the meconium, the doctor did want to move the process along a bit, so she was given pitocin as well. After that she was able to fall asleep for a bit. At about 12:30pm she was examined and was right at about 10cm. She pushed for an hour and a half and at 2:11pm our Mulberry was born.

Because of the meconium, Trouble wasn’t able to nurse and hold Mulberry immediately. Instead, the neonatologist examined him and a nurse observed him for awhile. Trouble began to run a slight fever, so that combined with the meconium meant that Mulberry was on some antibiotics while he was in the hospital. Luckily, that was just a precaution and there were no actual complications.

After all the speculation from the docors and ultrasound techs that Mulberry was a really big baby, he was a peanut…7 lbs, 1 ounce. We all spent two nights in the hospital (yes, we spent Christmas in the hospital) and then brought him home.

Watching Trouble give birth to our child was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. I didn’t know I could love her more than I did before…but I do. She was amazing…the only time I even heard her cry out was right as Mulberry was crowning. And since then, watching her as a mommy has been equally incredible. I was the baby-crazy one, the one who was really ready to start a family. Trouble was leery. But she is so in love with our boy, and so wonderful with him. And for me, finally being a mama is as hard and wonderful and life-changing as I always knew it would be.

Posted by: chicagoshells | November 10, 2012

A Smorgasbord

Lots going on since I last posted…

-We had a growth scan.  At 31 weeks, Mulberry weighed 4 lbs 13 oz and his head circumference was that of a typical 35-weeker.  In fact, all his measurements were a few weeks ahead.  The marginal cord insertion can cause babies to be small…clearly that is NOT an issue with our boy 🙂  Because of cord issue, we do a NST and quick ultrasound to check the amniotic fluid every week from here on out.  We also have another growth scan at the end of the month.

-Our friends threw us a lovely baby shower.  Just as right after the accident last year, I was reminded of what a wonderful group of friends we’ve developed in this city.  So many people are so very happy for us.  I truly feel lucky to be bringing our son into such an amazing support system.  They also bought (or made) us absolutely adorable presents that, set up in our house, make this whole baby thing feel very, very real.  My parents bought us the crib and dresser, which Trouble assembled herself…32 weeks pregnant.  Have I mentioned that I’m married to superwoman?

-I survived the first anniversary of the accident.  It turned out not to be as bad a few days as I was expecting.  I was prepared to be depressed and/or extra anxious, and that never really happened.  Grateful.  The court hearing turned out to be a “standard probation check.”  I’m considering taking myself off the service that lets me know when court dates are scheduled…part of me likes being aware of everything, but this past time did cause unnecessary stress.

-We’re 3/4 done with our childbirth classes.  This, actually, has caused more PTSD symptoms than the anniversary of the accident.  Particularly our last class, which included the labor & delivery and mother/baby rooms tour.  Have I mentioned that Trouble is giving birth in the same hospital I was a patient in last year?  Seeing the same equipment, the same beds, the same staff charts up on the wall hit me in a way I hadn’t anticipated.  I’m grateful that we did the tour so that I won’t be hit with the first sight of those rooms, and the panic attack that came with them, while Trouble is in labor.  I’m hoping that I’ll be so occupied by other things at that point that I won’t think about it…

-We met with the lawyer who is handling my second-parent adoption of Mulberry, as well as preparing POAs and wills for Trouble and I.  The lawyer is great and has done this many times.  Illinois is also a “good” state…I can go on the birth certificate immediately, there is no home-study or finger-printing or anything like that.  I still chafe, of course, at having to pay a few thousand dollars to adopt the child who quite literally would not exist if it weren’t for me…I bought the sperm, made all the appointments, and pushed down the plunger to physically inseminate Trouble.  If I were a man with a low sperm count who had done all those things…or, actually, none of them, but was legally married to Trouble… there would be no question of our child’s parenthood.  But this is the world we live in.

-HOWEVER…our world is getting better.  Last week on election night I was on a natural high unlike any I’ve experienced since we got the BFP.  Obama.  Senate.  Claire McCaskill.  Elizabeth Warren.  Tammy Baldwin.  Maryland.  Maine.  Minnesota.  Washington.  An amazing night for families like mine…things ARE changing.  Fewer and fewer people think that discriminating against our families is the right thing to do.  That point has never been so clearly made in one night as it was last Tuesday.  It made me even happier that this is the time when we’re bringing our little boy into the world.


Posted by: chicagoshells | October 20, 2012

Stubborn Boy

We had one of the fancy 3D/4D ultrasounds today.  When the tech got started, Mulberry had both his hands over his face.  She nudged him for a bit.  He kept his hands there.  She had Trouble roll onto her side.  No change.  Trouble got up and jumped around a bit, then got back on the table.  Hands still on his face.  Then the tech asked us if we wanted to schedule a re-do session.  Mulberry almost immediately took both hands off his face and even treated us to the (adorable, if I do say so myself) sight of him yawning.  Apparently he REALLY didn’t want to schedule another session.  Stubborn little guy…just like his Mommy…OK, and his Mama too.

Trouble is 30 weeks pregnant today.  I can’t believe that in just 10 weeks our little man will be here with us.  Exciting things happening in the next few weeks…two baby showers, birthing classes (yes, I’m more than a little nervous about being sent to a different room with a bunch of Dads, but I’m trying to be a grown-up about it), a meeting with a lawyer to get started on the second-parent adoption.  OK, that’s not so much exciting, exactly.  No, I can’t say I’m excited about paying a large sum of money to adopt the child who is already unquestionably MY son.  But there’s no question of not doing it– we’ll do whatever gives our family the most protection, so there it is. 

It’s pretty amazing to look back at this time last year and compare it to where we are now.  Last year at this time, we had just had our first session with the clinic who helped Trouble get pregnant.  I was just about to order the baby juice.  Now we’re just a couple months away from being parents.  Incredible.

Last year at this time, of course, I was also about to be almost killed by a drunk driver.  As the weather changes and conversations of Halloween and harvest potlucks become more frequent, the accident has been on my mind a lot.  I thought I was handling it fairly well and then I got an e-mail notification that there is another court date involving Drunk Driver scheduled for November 1.  I was under the impression that after that horrible day in court in August, that part of this ordeal was over.  A bit of digging around unearthed the information that Drunk Driver is allegedly in violation of her probation, and that date is when the probation department will present that infraction to the judge.  Unfortunately, there’s no way until then if the violation is something minor like paying a fine late…or something major like driving on her suspended license or failing a breathalizer.  It’s so weird…after the sentencing, I said (and even wrote here!) that I wished there was a way for me to know if she stuck to all the terms and conditions of her probation.  So on one level, I’m glad that I have this information.  But on another, I do wish I didn’t have to think about it again…and especially right now, pretty much ON the anniversary of the accident, when I’m already kind of…well, fragile, for lack of a better word.  Oh, well.  My therapist reminds me that this was a life-changing event, and that NOT thinking about it daily would be like not thinking about Trouble or Mulberry every day.  So…working on believing that and getting through this month…which is certainly helped by thinking about how soon Mulberry will be here, out in the world with us. 

One of the few pictures that we were able to get today of Mulberry’s adorable face:


Posted by: chicagoshells | September 7, 2012

Baby Boom!

Yesterday, in the course of about two hours, I heard about THREE pregnancies.  Trouble’s brother and sister-in-law are expecting their second child in March.  One of my best friends from high school is due with her first in April.  And a friend here in Chicago is going to have her second in April as well.  I am super excited for all of them…but I realized that upon reading each piece of news (ah, the electronic communication that has become our life), I still had a sort of residual twinge of jealousy.  For so many years, hearing the news of yet another pregnancy made me ache with longing for my turn…so now, even though I can feel Mulberry working on his gymnastic routines inside Trouble every day, the first instinct is still to go to the jealous place.  I need to remind myself that I DON’T need to feel that jealousy anymore.  My turn HAS come, and it’s amazing.  But it made me reflect on how lucky I am that this “odyssey” that I tried to prepare myself for back when I started this blog was instead more like a little stroll down the block.  We are so very fortunate that this happened so fast for us, once we finally got to the starting line.  If Trouble wasn’t pregnant right now, a day like yesterday would have driven me to despair.  Melodramatic?  Yes, but also accurate.  I would have cried uncontrollably, stood in the shower sobbing, soaked my pillow with tears and snot, thought about how pointless my life felt and wondered how I could stand it all.  I am so grateful that instead I can truly be happy for my friends and family, enjoy the thought of our little man having a cousin so close in age, smile and imagine the playdates of the next few years.  In doing so, my heart truly does go out to all those still waiting for their turns, and especially those for whom this journey really is an “odyssey.”  Your feelings are valid, your lives are not pointless, and that thing that seems so unattainable right now will, somehow, someday, happen for you too.

Posted by: chicagoshells | August 23, 2012

For the Future

A friend of a friend wrote this articulate and insightful piece and posted it on Facebook.  As a soon-to-be mama of a boy, I thought it beautifully summed up a lot of what’s been on my mind recently, and wanted to make sure that I had it saved, to remember for later as I’m raising my little man.
 “I was nursing Judah and taking in his sweet little face when I started thinking about how much of his existence is owed to my body, the female body. And how I hope that he carries an awareness of that throughout his life as he interacts with girls and women and treats them with respect. And then I thought about Mr. Akin and his recent statements and how he also owes his existence to a woman and her body. Which then led me to think about his mother and what kind of woman she might be and how she feels about what he said. And I was struck by this feeling of urgent responsibility as the mother of a son as well as a wish to call other mothers of sons to awareness and intention. Our sons will be adult men someday. Some of our sons will be adult white men who will carry around the priviledge afforded to them simply because of their perceived race and gender. And as I have so desperately tried to make sense of how Mr. Akin can have the views he does, I keep coming back to this: that he is not skilled at considering the experiences of others, nor has he been taught about this priviledge he enjoys. He is ignorant of the fact that his vantage point is extremely different from that of women, women of color, GLBT folks, people with varying physical and cognitive abilities, men of color and all other variations of people that I have not specifically mentioned. That his very existence has never been suspect or questioned or thought of as less than. So a woman could be “illegitimately” raped by “asking for it” because he has not felt intimidated, overpowered, or trapped by a man, nor objectified without his consent or enjoyment. He is blind to his position and the power he enjoys as a result. He is not trying to get out of himself and his experience to try to understand what it could mean to be violated or oppressed in some way. And this leaves us mothers with a powerful role and sacred responsibility: to be the teachers to our boys, especially those boys who enjoy white privilege. We have carried our boys, nourished them with our bodies, or for alternative families, with our hearts, our time, our love, and we have a responsibility to teach them about how others may experience the world as well as how others are experienced, specifically, those who are subject to oppressive forces. This is urgent and vital so that we mothers can create a new generation of men who would never think to utter the words that Mr. Akin uttered, because the thoughts that preceded them would not occur. Because our boys will appreciate their privilege, strive to understand others, and wield whatever power they have with compassion and humility. And our communities, and all of us living in them, will be much better for it.”
Posted by: chicagoshells | August 19, 2012

A Note to My Son

A few days ago we found out that you were a boy!  As the ultrasound tech said, you were very UN-shy about showing us.  You spent most of the time we were watching you trying to turn a somersault.  You are incredible.

I have wanted you, a child, more than I have ever wanted anything.  The only thing that comes close is how much I wanted your Mommy to love me as much as I loved her back when we first met. 

I have to be honest with you (and I will always try to be)…I thought I wanted a daughter first.  I still hope that I have the chance to raise a daughter someday, as well as you.  But the more I think about you, the more excited I am about raising you, my son.  And with nearly all the intensity with which I’ve wanted a child, with which I wanted your Mommy, now I want something else—I want to be a GOOD mother to you.   I think part of the reason I thought I wanted a daughter first is because that seems very understandable to me.  I was a little girl, my friends were little girls, I baby-sat a lot of little girls.  I know what it’s like to grow up as a girl and become a woman, and my closest friends are women.  I don’t know much about little boys, or what it’s like to grow up to be a man.  But I do know some wonderful men, and from the moment I found out you were a little boy, I couldn’t stop smiling.  I am so excited to learn more about boys, and to help you grow up to be a terrific man.  I can’t wait to meet you, my little one.  I love you so much already.


Posted by: chicagoshells | August 14, 2012

“Shells did everything right”

The sentencing happened as scheduled yesterday.  Saying that it went “well” isn’t exactly the right term, but the sentence was actually harsher than we had anticipated.  We knew that, since it was the driver’s first offense, it was extremely unlikely that she would get prison time.  We were expecting probabtion and community service.  But apparently,  the judge actually did strongly consider prison time and would up sentencing her to 90 days in a work-release inpatient addiction facility.  So basically, for three months, she’ll be allowed to leave to go to work (which I guess means she is able to keep her job as a teacher) but will spend every night and all day on the weekends in this facility.  In addition, she’ll have 30 months of probation (which includes spontaneous urine tests, etc.) and has to do 480 hours of community service.

At the time, I thought seeing her face to face was more interesting than anything else, and satisfied a curiosity… but then I dreamed about the accident last night, with the driver’s face visible for the first time.  Ugh.  I hope that doesn’t continue.  She did read a prepared statement of remorse and apology.  Strangely, it was written more to my family than to me directly.  It sounded like she had the idea, for some reason, that I was a lot younger than I am– a child.  That doesn’t  really make sense, because she read it after my own statement– which clearly mentions work and a spouse– was read, but whatever.

The sentencing agreement had been made earlier that day (in a conference in the judge’s chambers before the case was officially called), but the prosecutor still summed up what his case would have been.  He mentioned the eye-witness who saw me get hit and land on the hood of her car “before bouncing to the pavement” (an image I could have lived without hearing), read my Victim Impact Statement, and listed the facts from the arresting police officer’s report.  I actually heard people in the courtroom gasp when he read that her blood alcohol level was a .228.

Hearing my own words was the hardest part of the day.  The state’s attorney asked us (my father wrote a statement as well) if we wanted to read them out loud ourselves.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold it together if I did that, so he read it for me, but first, he wanted me to glance over it just to see if it was still what I wanted to say.  About two sentences in, I started having an anxiety attack and couldn’t even read it.  I mostly kept it together while he read it out loud, but it brought me right back to the feelings of helplessnss I’ve fought so hard to forget.  Not fun.

Hearing the driver actually plead guilty was satisfying, in a way.  Her husband and either a sister or a friend were there with her, and her friend was crying at that time, which kind of irritated me.  But I am so glad that I was there to hear the judge’s words to her.  He said “Drunk Driver, you are now a convicted felon, and you will wear that for the rest of your life…in this case, Shells did everything right.  Drunk Driver did everything wrong.  But it’s Shells who paid the price for Drunk Driver’s actions.  And that isn’t fair…if you break any conditions of your probation, you will be back in my courtroom, where I can sentence you to prison.  And off the record, Drunk Driver, that is a promise.”  Hearing “Shells did everything right” meant a great deal to me, more than I could have predicted.  Although I know intellectually that none of this is my fault– and God knows that Trouble, my parents, my friends, and my therapist have all worked hard to remind me of that– those what-ifs continue to roll around in my head sometimes.  It was gratifying to reaffirm that, truly, no one blames me for this.

So…was yesterday a magic day of closure?  No, of course not.  Having that over with doesn’t speed up the healing (and in fact my damn knee has been driving me particularly crazy today).  But I do feel like it’s another hurdle that I’m passed…another part of all this that I don’t have to think about anymore. Now I have an answer when someone asks me whatever happened with the driver (which, in fact, happens a lot).  She is being punished, and having seen and heard her, I am hopeful that she really has learned something from all this and won’t be a repeat offender.  I almost wish I could “check in” somehow at the end of her probation period, to make sure she really has followed all the terms and conditions…but then, that’s 2.5 years from now.  I’d like to think that, by then, it will feel even further removed…a bad memory that really no longer impacts my daily life.  Here’s hoping.

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