Baby Steps

December 2, 2007

Wonderbaby still refers to herself as ‘Baby,’ sometimes. She’s no longer a baby, of course, except in that corner of my heart in which she will always be my baby; she’s the very model of a running, jumping, leaping, talking, demand-issuing, arguing little girl (toddler version, turbo model). But she still likes to call herself ‘Baby.’ Not as a proper name, as such – she knows her own proper name and her nickname and refers to herself by these names frequently – her reference to herself as a baby runs more along the lines of descriptive noun: Mommy and Daddy have a baby, Wonderbaby is Mommy’s baby, etc, etc. She knows, too, that ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy’ are not our proper names (we do not, after all, refer to each other this way. Too kinky.) Hence statements, from Wonderbaby, like: Mommy’s name is Caffrin (her unique pronunciation of my given name), Daddy’s name is Kayo (ditto), Baby’s name is… and so on and so forth.

In recent weeks, things had begun to get a little confusing, because we had begun discussing The Other Baby. The baby, as Wonderbaby tells it, that lives in Mommy’s button (navel). The baby that she refers to as babybruddasista (she cannot, it seems, decide whether or not she would like a brother or sister, so Baby has been declared both. As it happens, there are no prenatal tests available for hermaphrodism, so who knows.) Her baby. Her much-anticipated babybruddasista, with whom, she tells us, she is going to share her toys, including Toadstool (formerly The Phallic Lovey), which is huge. Her baby – the baby that is not her – is the baby, and so we had begun distinguishing between Our Big Girl and The New Baby. (Do you know something about a baby? HBF asked her the other week. My babybruddasista in Mommy’s button! she shouted in reply. She shouts, a lot.)

But then we stopped talking about Baby, our other Baby, babybruddasista, aka Sprout. We stopped talking – or rather, I stopped talking – because it all of a sudden seemed imprudent, an ill-advised invitation to the gods to mess with us further, to speak of the pregnancy in anything other than hushed, serious tones. We – I – no longer said ‘baby’ and ‘birth’ or ‘Sprout,’ choosing instead words like The Pregnancy, in full caps, as if that were the end and the beginning of it all, as if Sprout existed only within the context of this pregnancy, with its attendant anxieties.

I hadn’t really been aware of this, this new refusal to openly discuss and name, until Wonderbaby and I met an infant at a bookstore the other day. My have baby, Wonderbaby announced, upon seeing the tiny new person. My have baby in Mommy button. And then, a few moments later, she turned to me: Mommy baby button? My babybruddasista? As if there were some new doubt. As if the sudden halt to any and all happy discussion of The New Baby/babybruddasista signaled some hidden doubt. Which, of course, it did. I just hadn’t figured that she would notice.

I knew, in the moment that she framed her statement about baby as a question, that it was a question that I didn’t want to answer. That I hadn’t wanted to answer, with her. Hence the silence. I just didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to put on a cheery voice and talk about all the fun that she would have and the toys that would be shared and all the joy that would be life with her new babybruddasista. I didn’t want to fake my enthusiasm for something that I was worried about. I didn’t want to tempt the gods by ignoring signs and portents (if prenatal screening results can be thought if those terms) and acting like nothing could possibly be wrong. I thought about all this, in that split second, and then I thought: this sucks.

I can’t go through this pregnancy with a dark cloud of what if hanging over my head, if only because I can’t let that dark cloud bring even the slightest bit of darkness to Wonderbaby’s sunny days. It sucks that I still view the set of possibilities that have been placed before us as a dark cloud, despite my insistence that this will all be fine, nomatterwhat, but there it is. Those possibilities, in their form as possibilities, are a source of worry, of anxiety. I would hope that if those possibilities become certainties, the force of anxiety that attends them will diminish and all of the energy of our hearts will direct themselves to simply addressing and embracing what is, but for the moment all of that energy – for me, anyway – is directed toward the fuzzy spectre of what might be, and the fuzzy, spectral character of what might be has me in a constant state of anxiety.

So I think that I need to take the test that will turn uncertainties into certainties and – hopefully – chase the spectres away. I think. In any case, I’ve booked the appointment for the test, which, if I don’t chicken out, will take place this Thursday. I’m still terrified – terrified to the very marrow of my bones – of miscarriage, and that fear may well overpower my need to battle uncertainty in the next few days. We’ll see. At the least, I need to take steps toward diminishing that uncertainty, and I need to see if my courage holds. It might not hold, and if it does not, fine. I will other ways to battle the uncertainty. But for the moment, I need to get a step or two closer to some sort of knowing, so that I can get out from under the fear of uncertainty, a fear that is hovering over me, a dark cloud that casts its shadow upon everyone around me. Including Wonderbaby.

I want her experience of this pregnancy, and of the new, beloved, person that this pregnancy will produce, to be filled with joy. And in order for it to be filled with joy, I think that all of the curtains need to be thrown open and the shadows filled with light, so that we can get to know our surroundings. The better to celebrate them, no matter what.

And if I chicken out -which remains a very real possibility – it will only be after having walked into a least one dark corner and felt around. If that’s too much, so be it. But at least I’ll have gone there, and will understand better the character of my fear. I’ll know that much, at least, by Thursday morning (more hand-holding – even though you’ve all already been too generous with your virtual hands – may be demanded before then. Be on alert.)

God, I’m depressing. Sorry. Accept this happy moment, courtesy of me, and Wonderbaby:

Wonderbaby licks winter (it melts nicely on the tongue).

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    red pen mama December 3, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    I have been thinking of you since your last post about the preliminary test results. You are such a lovely writer, and a lovely person with a wonderful family, and all of you have been in my prayers.

    No matter what, remember this too: You are courageous. If you get the test, if you don’t, it doesn’t matter. You have loved and married and had a child and you write to tell everyone about these things. My admiration for you is only exceeded by my hope for you.


    Catherine December 3, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    No, not depressing. You are writing more beautifully than ever before.

    clueless but hopeful mama December 3, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    I have nothing of import to say but I can’t just lurk when your writing is so beautiful and your predicament is so real and so hard and so stuck in my mind.

    I will be thinking of you on Thursday and wishing you all well.

    Tina C. December 3, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    I think you really have to read into the statistics for these procedures, because they’re compiled for a whole country. This includes places where the procedure is hardly ever performed, so it affects the numbers. In major metropolitan centers, where physicians have been trained at the very best institutions, and perform lots of different kinds of tests and see lots of different kinds of cases, the odds are more in our favor for bad things not happening. not sure if i’m expressing this clearly. I’m trying to say that odds are very clearly in your favor that the procedure will NOT produce adverse side effects.

    kittenpie December 3, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    I wish you strength to make this hard call, and peace in your decision. And? I have Thursday morning off, if you are going earlyish and would like a hand to hold. I’m one email away, okay?

    Kate (crabbykate) December 3, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    Hey there. Just weighing in a little late on this, as just
    catching up now…

    Not sure what the rest of the commenters have said, but I have to say that I would do the same thing you are – I would need to know. It would kill me, tear me up inside, wake me shaking in the middle of the night – but I would still want to know. Because the not knowing is always worse, I think. From one worrier to another – trusting your need for the information is never a bad thing.

    Also? I would check out buying that Rescue Remedy stuff just before you go in. Because I doubt the doctor would be cool with slipping an ativan (or two) in just before the procedure. Not that I personally wouldn’t also try that…anything to get us through, lady.

    Mommato2 December 3, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Aren’t children amazing? They are so intuitive to what is happening around them…

    Will be doing lots of “virtual hand holding” for you this week, and anxiously awaiting updates.

    Hugs to you…

    TB December 3, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Even in the short seven months that Myles has been with us, it’s clear to me that he knows and is affected by what I am feeling, at least on some level.
    May you find the strength to do what you need to do to take away the dark cloud of worry and the fear of the unknown.

    nomotherearth December 4, 2007 at 3:29 am

    Sounds to me like you made the right decision for you and the family. Will be thinking of you Thursday.

    You are strong. That I know for sure

    Noe December 4, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Keeping you in my prayers… hope everything works out the best for you. :)

    ~JJ! December 5, 2007 at 9:43 am


    painted maypole December 6, 2007 at 1:35 am

    prayers for you tomorrow, and strength for nomatterwhat lies ahead….

    Candygirlflies December 6, 2007 at 8:24 am

    It’s Thursday morning, and I just wanted you to know that I’m here… I’m thinking of you, and giving your hand a big, virtual **squeeze**

    Lots of love and strength–

    CGF xo

    mo-wo December 9, 2007 at 2:44 am

    What a crock. The same crock I fed at mind you.. so what do I know? I’m thinking of you guys. I remember the waiting didn’t end up either being or seeming so long in the end.

    Again. She’s going to make a really great big sister.

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