Called out

July 14, 2009

My mother called me out last night.  With motherly precision and insight, she gently and kindly, um, nailed me.

I had called to let her know I’d arrived home safely from my conference and that the conference had gone well.  We had started talking about other things – my newfound fear of flying, how good it was to be home, upcoming moving arrangements, and she told me, hesitantly, that she had a B.aby Ein.stein lullaby CD that she wanted to send to me so that I could play it for the new baby.  I hemmed and hawed a little, but finally said, Okay, please send it and I’ll try to listen to it. And she said, I know how you bonded with Teddy right away, and I think this baby deserves that, too.  Maybe the CD will help.

At this point, talking became very difficult.  This is the kind of statement that, normally, I’d resent terribly, but I’d been thinking along similar lines myself, and here Mom just put it into words in a way that I couldn’t ignore, knocking the breath right out of me.  She’s right.  I hate it, but she’s right.

I’m so damned afraid.  It eases sometimes, but so much of the time I feel as though, if I acknowledge that I might be lucky, all luck will run away from me.  I’m afraid of miscarriage, of another congenital defect, afraid that my body will fail this small spark of life before it gets a chance to be a person.  I am, in fact, so afraid, that I have a very hard time thinking of my little embryonic blob as a baby, of attaching myself to this child by giving into hopes and dreams as I did with my firstborn.  When I was pregnant with Teddy, I spoke to my belly all the time, long before he could hear me.  The only thing I seem to be able to say to my belly now is Are you okay? Please be okay.

It’s confusing and scary, and seems to be yet another avenue by which guilt can find me.  Does this baby deserve love?  Absolutely.  S/he deserves love, and dreams, and hopes every bit as much as his/her brother did.  One of the things that I’m so grateful for, is that we loved Teddy as hard as we could for the brief time that he was with us, in my belly and out.  I’m convinced that he felt that, which has helped me overcome more than a few sleepless nights.

Now, I stumble where I used to fly.  I love this new bit of life, with it’s beautiful heartbeat and terrifyingly beautiful potential, but with a tentative and fearful love.  What kind of beginning is it for such a precious and wanted life, to be stinted of open-hearted joy and unconditional love because of my fears?  I hate to think that I’m neglecting my second child, already, or that I’m so damaged I won’t be able to love and care for this one properly.

Teddy wasn’t here long enough to be loved the way I wanted to love him.  I don’t get to watch his personality form, to know what his voice would have sounded like, to wonder what path in life he will choose.  If this new child makes it, grows up, s/he will get all of those things that Teddy never will.  And I want, fiercely, for this little one to have all of that, but it’s hard not to be sad and even a little jealous on Teddy’s behalf because of this.  Even though I know better.

I think the balance will come.  I don’t know if it will come with a Ba.by Ein.stein CD, but lullabies seem as good a place as any to start.


  1. I can’t remember how far along you are… It took me a long time to be able to really accept and be comfortable with being pregnant again. I wasn’t sure I would be able to bond with this new baby either – but after I started to feel him move it all got a little more real to me. You aren’t neglecting your baby at all you are and will be a wonderful mommy to this new baby.

  2. I guess you have to take that risk and let your heart love… you won’t regret it if you do.

  3. Wow, do I get you. It’s very hard to let our guard down for fear of being so devastatingly hurt again. You will undoubtedly bond with this baby. I’m certain that you already have in a different kind of way.

  4. You LOVE this baby. You are just afraid to allow yourself to demonstrate it. Don’t fear. LOVE. ((hugs)) to you.

  5. I’m scared too. I was scared the first time and everything went horribly wrong. I was scared the second time and it went even more horribly wrong. And now it’s the third time and I’m so scared that sometimes I can’t sleep at night. We have reason to be scared. It wouldn’t be normal if we weren’t scared.

    I’m scared that I have bonded with this little one. I was scared that I would bond. I was scared that I shouldn’t bond … just in case it was going to go horribly wrong again.

    Now I’m scared that something might still go wrong for this little one. I’m scared for me. I’m scared for my husband. I’m scared for my future.

    I’m scared that no matter what happens, this little one will be born … whether he lives or dies. I’m scared that this time (no matter what happens) I won’t be able to cope.

    I understand your fear. I’m scared of everything.

  6. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must be. I worry that I will experience the same problem if I am ever lucky enough to be pregnant again.
    I bonded very strongly with my girls right from the beginning, even though for the first twelve weeks I was sure I was expecting a boy. My mother’s intuition isn’t what it could be. I used to sing to them and talk to them all the time, except whilst I was at work obviously. I loved them, I think they knew, I think Teddy knew.
    I can’t see myself doing that again. I can’t see myself NOT doing that again. Like Ya Chan says above, I think I know which course of action I’d regret more. Love is scary but it is all there is. Sometimes I have a lot of doubt over my mothering of my surviving twin but I have to remind myself that all I can do is love her and love her FOR her sister and for her own sweet self. Instead of thinking that she is getting all that sister will never have.
    I hope that you find that elusive balance, I’m still struggling too. xx

  7. Oh Erica, I just want to say I get you on all of it. So many of my own thoughts are mirrored in your words here. I have felt exactly the same way on this journey, but I’m just a few weeks ahead of you on this crazy ride. I feel it helps now my little fella kicks and squirms, but the fear is still ever-present. Very much so. And even after the “all-clear” at the big u/s last week, I still catch myself saying and thinking “are you ok in there?” So much of the warmth and fuzziness has gone from this experience, and I grieve that as well.
    And I’m jealous for Hope too, that with all continuing to go well, she’s going to miss out on so very much.
    I get you Erica. I get every word.

  8. All I could say to my belly for the longest time was I want you . . . even though I’m crying all the time I want you. Your baby will feel your love even if you are afraid to say it or act on it.

  9. So much of this is exactly how I’m feeling. I want to give this new baby all the love and joy I gave Ezra. And yet the anxiety, terror and sadness fill every single day.

  10. i remember this so well.

    and i want to say something gently, not in any way to suggest that your mom is wrong, but…bonding may mean something different from here on out. it may not look the same as it did with Teddy. it may not – may never again – be expressed in the same ebullient way it was with Teddy, in the same articulated hopes and dreams.

    those were Teddy’s. and it is good that you & he had that, and that you got to know that. and you may be able – and want to – replicate an exact version of that with this new baby, and that too is grand. but if you are not, it is not less than the baby deserves. it doesn’t mean that the love and the want and the bond are absent…only that you have been marked and changed.

    the quiet secret frightened hope of an “after” baby, the desperate clinging to its possibility in spite of your grief and your fear…THAT takes great love and great strength and a great internal journey of commitment, far more so even than the simple uncomplicated bond of the first time ’round.


  11. Erica,

    I’ve not been on the blogs much recently so I didn’t see your pregnancy announcement when it came. I wanted to offer quiet congratulations for your new pregnancy and to say, everything … everything you posted here is how I feel too. Before I conceived again I tried to promise myself that I would try to embrace a new pregnancy and a new baby. I’m eleven weeks now and still not able to say anything about this pregnancy or this little one that doesn’t begin with “if …”

    And Bon, your writing is always breathtakingly beautiful and even more breathtaking for being so wise and … right. Thank you for your comment to Erica. it spoke to me too.

  12. Thanks so much, all of you. I’m carrying your comments to this post in my heart, and I run them through the fingers of my mind like rosary beads when I feel guilty or afraid.

    This helped, is helping. Thanks.

  13. “…but it’s hard not to be sad and even a little jealous on Teddy’s behalf because of this.”

    I remember feeling this precisely.

    Bon has articulated it perfectly. You do and will love this new life as much and as fiercely as you do Teddy, but it will also be different. And different is not bad.

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