Editor’s note: Amanda and Hal Senal have been chronicling their journey of adoption for TCJewfolk. You can check out the first seven chapters of their story here: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, and Chapter 7.
Grief is a funny thing. Sure, there are 5 stages: Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression, & Acceptance. And although there is a logical order to them, some people go through them differently. Some stages are worked through quickly, some take eons.
I knew following the adoption match, things didn’t really sink in for me right away. It took a good week or two for me to fully understand that an infant would be arriving at our home soon. Naturally, when the world came crashing down and said infant was no longer coming home to us, I knew it would take time to set in.
But after a week passed, I was sad, but I wasn’t upset like I thought I should be. I wasn’t crying myself to sleep. I thought I had taken on acceptance very quickly. Hal took on the anger, denial, and bargaining for the both of us it seemed. I wasn’t angry. I kept saying that it simply wasn’t meant to be. I don’t know why God would put us through this, but surely there was a reason for how it all came to an end. Everyone around me couldn’t understand it, but I seemed to just move forward as if this was the new status quo.
I kept going through the baby section of stores. I had a lot of feminine baby items because we knew the gender of the baby that never was. I continued to purchase things, especially gender neutral clothes to even out the closet at home. I finished purchasing some items on our registry that we didn’t receive at the baby shower. Yes, the baby shower. The one that took place 3 days after it was confirmed that this little baby would not be coming home with us. We considered canceling the shower but decided there was no better time to be surrounded by those we love. And we wanted to be prepared for when our baby does come home. We thought it may be in a few months, or maybe in two years. So we had the shower. Everyone couldn’t believe how stoic we were that day, but it’s easy to appear put together when you are completely numb to the core.
I had one night in which I had a total sobfest in the nursery, and it was at the thought of packing it all up. So I didn’t pack up anything, but I knew I needed to stop spending money on things, and so I started a project that would take me a while. I felt like finishing the nursery was my way of healing from this experience. I spent days looking at clocks on Pinterest. I spent weekends slowly working on this epic clock. Testing stencils and spray paint. Doing one layer at a time every two days. I finally finished it, hung it in the nursery, and the room finally felt, complete. Except the only thing in the crib were two baby dolls we had been using to work on behavior and acceptance with the dog and cat. So in reality, it was still empty.
I attempted to return to my typical weekly routine. It was hard, nearly impossible. I had little to no motivation to return to the healthy activities I was so accustomed to doing back in December and all the months and years prior. I knew it would take time, but I just couldn’t seem to do it. I was introduced to a new type of clothing sold by personal consultants. I began spending money on new clothes and shoes instead of things for the nursery. It was fun and exciting and I spent hours each night looking at online albums. But on the inside, I started to feel like a complete lunatic. I felt like I was losing control of my own ability to be rational and responsible.
I had a bit of a break down the week before Passover. Thought that was my big release of all this grief, but I couldn’t stop spending money on clothing. One night, Hal asked me why I thought I couldn’t seem to control this urge to buy clothing. To which I simply, and honestly replied, “because, I can’t just go and buy a baby.”