This is it. The final week of pregnancy that starts with a 2. From here on out, if I recall, things begin to move really very fast and before we know it, you’ll be in my arms.
To be honest, I’m a little afraid. It’s not you. It’s us, this life, our lives. I’ve been a mother now for 26 months. You’d think I’d have a better handle on it all by now, but I really don’t. And no sooner do I celebrate a victory, confident in having figured something out than the whole game changes and WHAM! Just like that. I’m back to knowing nothing, feeling uncertain, unsure, insecure.
And it’s so easy to be confident after the success of one great birth, one fantastic breastfeeding experience, one early crawler, walker, talker. Great success with Baby Led Weaning. Success, success, success with everything other than sleep and potty training. It’s easy to be confident in my mothering, my knowledge and my beliefs. But bringing another child into the world, in an entirely different set of circumstances? That tests everything I think I thought I knew.
And that’s a frightening reality.
What if we end up having a birth that doesn’t go to plan? What if you simply don’t latch, or my milk doesn’t come? What if the oxytocin doesn’t flood and I don’t have the same high that lasted for months and shone on my face with Ameli? What if, what if, what if?
What if my heart doesn’t grow the way it’s supposed to? Will you know that you are loved as much? Will Ameli feel loved less? So much fear in this mother-heart of mine.
I repacked Ameli’s wardrobe today to clear out the summer clothes that simply won’t fit her next year and I felt such pain at packing away beautiful items of clothing. My baby is growing, my baby has grown. My baby is no longer a baby and the clothes that no longer fit scream that out to me.
I was glad we don’t know your gender. I was glad I don’t know if you’ll be wearing those clothes or whether we’ll be getting a whole new wardrobe. I wanted to feel the pain. I wanted to feel the loss, the mourning of Ameli’s babyhood. Because if I can feel the loss of it, I can embrace your life as a whole new start, rather than a continuation of what has already begun in her.
Sometimes pain and sadness are part of this intensely complex human condition. To feel joy, we sometimes have to know sadness. To feel peace, we sometimes have to know strife. To feel pleasure we sometimes have to know pain.
That’s something I hope to teach you in this life. I hope to show you that we can triumph in the good and bad, the beautiful and ugly, and that everything we experience and feel is part of who we are.
There was this doctor called Viktor Frankl. You’ll hear me talk of him many times in your life. Frankl was a prisoner in a concentration camp during the second world war. Frankl noted how some of the prisoners became the epitome of their surroundings: inhumane, dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest. They saw nothing beautiful, found nothing that gave them hope and meaning. Then he discovered other prisoners. People who would feel sheer joy at the sight of a yellow flower breaking through the snow at the start of Spring, while they were being forced to work the fields in freezing cold, with empty bellies and inadequate clothing. These people would find peace, solace even, in a beautiful sunset as they stood on the parade grounds for hours, in agony, tormented. He decided that some people were what he called self-actualisers.
People who have a hope, something to live for, something to hang in there for. He found that the people with a vision for the futurecould survive anything. I think those are the same people who know their own hearts and minds and can look beyond the immediate and seethe purpose in everything – including allowing themselves (myself) to feel the pain of a loss, so as to embrace the new that comes with it.
I can just imagine you now, 18 years old, reading this, rolling your eyes, thinking ‘œI know Mama. I know. ‘ What a wonderful -if terrifying – thought. My 18 year old. It makes me smile, while tightening my chest. What would Frankl say?
I guess I’m rambling, but the days are getting few. I can protect you while you’re inside me. I can keep you safe. I can do little ‘wrong’ by you. I only wish to keep it that way.
I never want you to feel like an afterthought. That’s why I’m writing these letters to you, so that you know I wanted you from the start. Loved you from the start.
Oh, and if you ever wonder why there aren’t as many photos of me pregnant with you, it’s got nothing to do with the pregnancy -I’m so much bigger than I was with Ameli, there’s so much more to photograph! No, it’s simply that my Canon is broken, my Kodak is with someone in Scotland who has been promising to post it to me since February and I don’t have money for another one. But don’t worry -there will be photos of you. There will be many photos of you.
Stay safe and warm, Squidgeling.
Mama’s preparing the world out here for you.