Dear baby boy,
On Thursday May 24th we start week 40, you and me. If you don't show signs of making your way out into the world before then, I'll be at the hospital first thing Friday morning to start the process of inducing labor. Even though this pregnancy has gone remarkably well, my age and the fact that you are my first child puts us in the "high risk" category, which means the obstetrician doesn't want us going past 40 weeks.
We're mostly ready for you, dragon-baby. Your father had hoped you'd arrive Sunday May 20th for the solar eclipse, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. This gives me a few more days to finish up some things I am hoping to complete before you arrive.
There is a fair amount of anxiety floating around in the house these days. Your father and I are feeling nervous and afraid. We've completed the environmental preparations for your arrival -- clothes, diapers, a place to sleep, breastfeeding supplies, etc -- but mentally and emotionally we've both admitted we're afraid we're not ready for parenthood. We're set in our ways, I admit it, and we like the way our life together has been running the past few years. We're content together, our relationship works very well, and we have a lot of freedom. And that is changing soon -- as soon as you arrive.
But even more than the fear of lifestyle changes and the fears of possible parental inadequacy, there is a fear your father and I haven't talked about. The fear that something might happen during childbirth, to you, or to me.
So in some way the purposes of writing this letter is to address the possibility, however slim, that I might not be around to raise you. There. I said it. After my brush with my own mortality and the deaths of three other family members the past few years, I'm pretty ok with death and dying. Or at least I thought I was. But deciding to bring you into this world, choosing to become a parent -- well, that has changed quite a lot. It's not all about me anymore, whether I live or die. I've made the commitment to be a mother and that means my life isn't my own anymore. You are wholly dependent on me, both while in the womb and for months (years) after you're born. And I'm afraid, more than anything else, that I won't be there for you.
Your father had a really difficult time of it when I was so sick with septicemia -- witnessing the fact that I'd almost died scared him, affected him deeply. It changed our relationship significantly, brought things into sharp focus. It isn't until you face the prospect of losing someone that you realize how important they are to you. In the months that followed we chose each other, chose to take what lies between us more seriously, and that is a powerful thing. Powerful enough to create the possibility of you. I worry about how your father will handle things if something happens to me as a result of childbirth. He's a good man, a deeply sensitive and caring man, and I worry about how devastated he'd be if I died. And how that devastation would impact his ability to care for you.
The odds are in our favor, of course, and it's unlikely this fear of mine will come to pass, but over the years I've learned to face my fears head-on rather than run and hide from them. My own mother is gone and all I have are memories, and I know that in the event that I die while you are still an infant, you won't even have memories of me.
Oh, there will be some photos, and some recordings of my voice, and a fairly significant body of writing both personal and professional -- so I think when you're older you'll have an idea of the person I am as of today. And hopefully the mother I would have been...
A week from now I hope I'll feel silly for writing this. I'll
probably chalk it off to pregnancy hormones and a healthy dose of fear.
Still, it's all worth saying, and better said than not.
If I didn't write this now, you wouldn't know about the hours I've spent rubbing you through my belly, or the time I've spent telling you silly little anecdotes about my sisters and my grandparents. You wouldn't know how much I've come to love you, love the feel of you moving inside me -- you -- the embodiment of the love and possibility that exists between your father and me. You might not know that even though I didn't plan on having children, didn't really think I wanted children -- that I want you, and that I'm looking forward to building a new life around you with your father.
I would want you to know that your father makes me laugh like no one else can, and that he and I have had a deep emotional bond for 8 years now -- a good, solid basis to build a relationship as parents on. That I have freckles on my nose and a mole on my upper arm and a widow's peak inherited from my father's mother. If you like your nose it means you got your father's nose, or my
mother's nose -- because I've got my dad's nose and I don't like it much
:) I want you to know that if your taste in music is different from your father's -- if you end up liking jazz and blues and tribal beats -- it's because I listened to it when you were in the womb. If you're good at math and piano you get it from your father, and if you can't pick up playing musical instruments no matter how many lessons you've had, you get that from me. (Sorry!)
I'd want you to know that I don't have a favorite color. When I was a little girl and the other kids were picking favorite colors it occurred to me to feel sorry for the colors that weren't chosen, so I never picked one. My color preferences are mostly dictated by my mood. I don't have a favorite flower or food, either. I tend to live in the moment, and appreciate whatever is here in this moment -- something that having preferences or favorites can interfere with. Your father and I both learned to read very young, so you probably will, too. My favorite books from childhood are the stories of Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Warm Fuzzy Story, and the stories of Pippie Longstocking, Sinbad the Sailor, and Puff the Magic Dragon. Your father will probably start you on Tolkein. I hope you like his work, but if you don't, your father will blame me :) If the Disney movies terrified you when you were little, that's on me as well. I took things very literally when I was a child. If you don't like TV or movies much -- if you'd rather read or otherwise feed your brain you get that from me -- but be a good boy and try to sit through your father's shows with him. He will appreciate the effort.
Most of all, I'm a loving, affectionate person. I love hugging, snuggling, and massaging the people I care for. If something goes wrong, I just want you to know that I am so looking forward to splashing love and joy and affection all over you, and it makes me very sad to think we might miss out on that.
There are other things I'd want you to know, things I've learned over the years. For example: You don't get what you don't ask for. * Life can be tough at times, and we're all in this together, so don't forget to ask for help when you need it. * Be clever if you can, but never forget to be kind. * Don't let anyone tell you that there is something wrong with you--you're perfect and complete just the way you are, and everything you need to be happy is already inside you. * Love isn't something to be hoarded. Instead, love like you're trying to give all the love inside you away by the end of the day--you'll be full again in the morning, I promise, and you and the people in your life will be better off for it. * People are more alike than they are different, and if you remember that, you'll always have common ground. * Your only limitations are the ones you believe in. * It's ok to be afraid--everyone is afraid--but most fears are creations of your own mind, so don't let them get in your way. * The only regrets people tend to have in life are the things they didn't do. * It's ok to make mistakes. Mistakes are often acts of creation. Just remember to own up to them and make amends when you can. * Your thoughts and attitudes are creative and causal forces in your life--as you think, so you are and so your life is. * Own your present and your future: Be the change you want to see in the world and it will come to pass. * Be playful. * Be grateful. * And most of all, Be Happy. *