Tempting fate

November 12, 2009

Monday I arrived home from work to two packages, a box containing a couple of CDs that I ordered in a fit of indulgence and The Baby Name Wizard book, which I ordered in a fit of optimistic concern.  Dot will need a name to take with her into the world (hopefully), and I try to be careful that years of studying literature from days gone long by don’t affect my preferences in ways that could be, well, traumatic.  A boy named Sue can grow up to be tough as nails, but what would happen to a girl named Hrotsvit?  Or Dorigen?  Or Hippolyta?

In the other box, the surprise box, was the first installment of hand-me-downs from Dot’s cousin.  Little sleepers in little girl colors.  I remember oohing and ahhing over the first tiny baby things we received for Teddy, but I’d somehow forgotten how small these clothes are.  Amazingly, adorably, frighteningly small.  I remembered how small my son was when I first saw him, how his small weight was the most precious, important thing in the world for those few hours when I was able to hold him, and I cried a little and then smiled at the precious, frightening baby clothes, and put them back in their box.

I spent the evening cooking dinner and looking through baby names.  N and I discussed some of the names on our not-so-short short list, almost the way that any happy and expectant parents might do.  It was cozy and sweet and I should have known I’d make myself pay for it later.

This pregnancy is more full of twinges and pangs than my last.  Partly because, from what I understand, second pregnancies tend to be this way, and partly because this pregnancy is so close to my last one, time-wise.  The discomfort isn’t huge, and wouldn’t phase me at all if every little twinge weren’t so immediately connected to worry.  So, Monday night I had an ache in my belly (which was most likely gas) and Dot seemed more quiet than usual and I convinced myself that because I’d touched baby clothes and looked at baby names I had doomed this pregnancy.

I lay awake for most of the night, N sleeping peacefully next to me, waiting for Dot to move so I could know she was still alive.  It was a quiet night for her, so I drank a big glass of cold water (not the best decision for a woman who desperately needed sleep, now that I think of it) and then she had hiccups for what seemed ages, and I worried some more about everything that might be wrong with her.

And she is fine and I am (mostly) fine, though sobered by how easily I can be thrown into a panic.  February can’t come fast enough.

Where does it come from, this human tendency to blame ourselves for tempting fate?  The idea that by indulging in some baby name fun after handling baby clothes I’d triggered disaster doesn’t make logical sense.  It’s completely invalid, scientifically, and strikes me as the kind of thinking an intelligent and reasonable person could avoid easily,  yet I fall into it, time and again.





  1. Oh I have had a few of those nights this time around, especially at an earlier gestation. You are reminded so quickly of how precious this really is. I am glad she was able to reassure you, in time.

  2. ‘I convinced myself that because I’d touched baby clothes and looked at baby names I had doomed this pregnancy.’ This is how I spent my entire pregnancy with Moe. I still go back over my entire pregnancy with Iris trying to figure out what I did to kill her. It’s not rational, but it is completely understandable I think.

    As for names, I know some very unusually named girls and they all carry them off beautifully. I love long ago names, you don’t see many Britomarts or Volumnias these days!

  3. I could have written this myself…this pregnancy after losing Ezra is so emotionally complicated. Wishing you gentle moments in the days and weeks ahead.

  4. I don’t know where the tendency comes from but it certainly is a human thing, this notion of tempting fate. I’ve also felt I ’caused’ everything at various points over the past year. It must be so difficult not to get into a panic but I wish you could enjoy choosing names and looking at little clothes.

    Hope you find the perfect name. Somehow I can’t imagine Dot being anything other than Dot now!

  5. Did you know that Shel Silverstein wrote the words and lyrics for A Boy Named Sue?

  6. Shhh…don’t tell anyone…but I got that book too.

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