Her Bad Mother

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Baby Steps

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).


Blogger Unknown said...

Well, our small people are so very intuitive. Children, amazing wise creatures that they are, are even better at "no matter what" than rest of us, so she shall have "my baby bruddasista" and with any luck her sunny days will beam onto you and HBF this week. please keep us posted on hand-holding needs this week.

4:57 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

Peace and strength, mama. Peace and strength.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Maddy said...

I think heightened hormones play their role in the worry factor of pregnancy.
Best wishes

5:19 PM  
Blogger caramama said...

Amazing that she did pick up on it! She's a smart little cookie. So sorry that you are going through all of this! But it sounds like you've come to a good decision for you and your family. Be strong! We will be praying for you and thinking of you.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

Good luck with the test. I think you are making the right choice for yourself-- you sound like you are making the choice you need.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Amy Jo said...

I, too, feel like I would need to know, no matter how scary the knowing is. We're all here to squeeze the virtual hand as hard as you need...

6:13 PM  
Blogger Minnesota Matron said...

One more person you don't know weighing in, but after reading the post on Thursday,I kept thinking how differently you would feel if you KNEW the baby was fine: that dark cloud of constant, freighted, worry would be gone! Gone, gone. I was imagining how it would feel to go through the rest of the months balancing optimism with fear -- how you that uncertainty would alter how one would relate to a baby, too. So certainty just feels right, no matter what. Knowing will at least tell you what path you're on. Once you know, you can walk that path with firmness and love.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the kind of person that likes to know what's going on as well. But I've also discovered that knowing something isn't the same as living it.

To be honest I think all this prenatal tests don't help much. The rate of birth defects and premature births has not gone down, it has stayed the same. Except now there are a lot of anxious women and men.

There was nothing wrong with my pregnancy, no clue that there was something wrong with my daughter. She was born at full term, healthy and huge. But also, it turns out, severely handicapped.

Modern medicine likes us to believe that it can answer all of our questions but it can't. I'm a nurse and I've seen it over and over again.

We still, fifteen years later, don't know the cause of my daughter's handicap. That doesn't bother her at all and I came to accept it as well.

I don't know you but I'm sending you a hug because if I were you, I could imagine the hamster inside my head running full tilt on it's little wheel, going round and round, getting nowhere.

The truth is, sometimes there are no answers.

6:29 PM  
Blogger flutter said...


while I cannot imagine what is in your head right now, I think it's pretty clear what is in your heart.

You are a great mom. You will be a great mom to a healthy baby or to a baby who has special needs.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Bon said...

she is lovely and full of wonder, and indeed so intuitive.

i struggle to say what i want to say in the right way...because it is not a happy thing to say, and i wish you happy things and peace of mind. but...i know you want WB's experience of this pregnancy to be a joyful one, not a doubtful one. and chances are very good it will be, and i think the decision to KNOW sounds like it makes good sense. but beware of taking it on as your responsibility to make this pregnancy fine and happy and cheerful - because some are not, and cannot be. either because there is news that takes the heart a long time to process and come to terms with, or there is tragedy, or there has been tragedy at some time in the past after which the innocent happy pregnancy can only ever be an act. and these are real things too. hopefully not for you, Catherine. but be gentle with yourself in terms of demanding a joyful experience for WB with this pregnancy. because coping with things ourselves is one thing, but it is much harder to be gentle on ourselves when coping with a change of expectations for our children.

just sayin'. forgive me. all i mean is WB will go through this with you, whatever it is to be, with all the joy and whatever else there is to come to terms with. and all of it will be okay, for her...your feelings, whatever range of them come to pass, she will learn from, and become more human from exposure to.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

And there it is...you found the answer for you in your heart after all, as guided to it as you were by the heart walking around outside your body aka Wonder-toddler-turbo-version. ;)

Good luck, god wishes, no matter what.

Using My Words

6:53 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Umm as nice as god wishes are and as much as you may have as many of them as you like, I actually meant GOOD wishes.

Using My Words

6:54 PM  
Blogger Candygirlflies said...

Catherine, my heart is with you this week.

I'm sure that the test results, whatever they may be, will be helpful to you. Nomatterwhat, with the answers you need, you will have the opportunity to prepare to welcome your beautiful baby into the world.

Love and courage and a great bit ((hug))

xo CGF

7:04 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

You are all SO WONDERFUL.

Bon, you are right, of course. But my concern - although it centrally includes maximizing WB's joy - is in part to find some answers (good or bad) so that I can approach this pregnancy openly and honestly with her, whatever it entails, rather than just not talking about it, because of fear. Sadness and tension and *known* anxieties I can manage, and share with her as necessary, but this dark cloud of unknown things, and unsaid things, feels toxic to me.

The reminder was crucial, tho. Thank you.

7:09 PM  
Blogger S said...

mary said this:

Knowing will at least tell you what path you're on. Once you know, you can walk that path with firmness and love.

I think she's right. At least, if I were in your situation, I believe that I'd feel just that way.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Laural Dawn said...

Wow. Thursday is a long wait when you're stressed :(
I have to admit I've stopped looking at tests as optional. I can't handle too many options.
You'll be in my thoughts this week, and I really hope Thursday's test goes well.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Jezer said...

Go with your gut (I realize that is a little pun-ish, and I apologize). When I opted for the quad screen with Al, I had already decided to go straight to amnio if things came back questionable. I needed to know just what I was in for, what my *nomatterwhat* would be.

You will make the right decision. Just don't let your brain confuse you. Good wishes and prayers are in full force down here.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

You will be in my thoughts. I hope the time passes quickly this week for you...the uncertainly is horrible.

WB will take her cues from you and will know how much this new baby is loved and wanted already, even if things are rocky right now.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

I really, really hope that Thursday blows that big old dark cloud away.

8:55 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

You're not depressing - you are honest. I appreciate you doing your part to reduce the world's BS quotient. Lying doesn't do anyone any good.

It's interesting how intuitive WonderBaby is. I wonder where her brilliance comes from :-)

9:29 PM  
Blogger moplans said...

I always want to say what bon says....
Don't worry Catherine, Wonderbaby will be fine nomatterwhat. Katie knew something was up too but I have never seen her as happy as when we told her she was going to be a big sister.

I feel for you because I didn't struggle with the decision about my amnio. My need to know was far greater than my fear of needles, I am so afraid of needles I didn't even have an epidural with my first child. If I recall you had an epidural so I hope that is reassuring for you if you do decide to go for the amnio.

If you do change your mind about the amnio I would be pretty confident that a good ultrasonographer will be able to tell you if something is up. Julia had a normal karyotype and nothing definitive on her MRI, the 26 week (level II or III??)ultrasound was what raised flags.

If I can help with this at all with your decision or tips on the local talent, please let me know.

9:52 PM  
Blogger divrchk said...

I think that you're making the correct choice, but that was my advice to you in the last post. Good luck - you'll do fine. I think the worst part will be the wait - for it and for its results.

10:12 PM  
Blogger Rocks In My Dryer said...

Our hands are all ready for the holding--just mention it.

And your metaphor of throwing open the curtains to let in some light of certainty--well, I think that was a good one. Information is good.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Ooh, I have to agree with Mary and Slouching Mom. Those little kids are so intuitive, aren't they?

I'll be thinking of you on Thursday. Use it as an excuse to absolutely nothing for 24 hours and make "Kayo" wait on you hand and foot.

10:59 PM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

no matter what, wonderbaby's excitement about her babybruddasista will be one of the true joys of your pregnancy. embrace it - it's real and it's right now, which is all that matters to a sweet and gorgeous two year old.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

I'm reminded of that first day of doctor visits for this baby, with Tacy in tow, utterly bewildered, and I had no answers for her.

Answers are good. Go get 'em. I'm keeping my hand free for holding yours.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said...

I will be thinking of you Thursday xx

1:17 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

C - Love to you and that Wonderful kid.

(Both of them.)

7:18 AM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

I know it's easy for me to say since I'm long since on the other side of this coin, but the risk of miscarriage truly is so low when the amnio is done with L2 or 3 u/sound. If the knowing will help you be able to move to a different place where you can talk openly w/WB and FEEL openly it is so worth it. I remember feeling the same fear; we had already had some miscarriages and Nik was soooo wanted that we almost didn't do the amnio. My perinatologist put it this way: "If you were my sister, I'd tell you to do the test." She helped me get to the point of making the decision.

Wishing you peace and calm thoughts this week as you approach your test.

8:08 AM  
Blogger The City Gal said...

Congratulations. I knew you would come through. You are my hero, the big sister I have always been looking for.

I knew you would have the courage.

Take the test, and no matter what, we will all love that little angel.

Don't chicken out. I know you won't. You are the ROCK. You are WonderBaby's rock and your husband's rock and that little baby's rock.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Amy Urquhart said...

The up-in-the-airedness of it all would be too much for me. I think your decision is brave and you're such a good mom to WB (who, by the way, is the cutest little snow angel I've seen yet this winter).

8:50 AM  
Blogger Hannah said...

I will be thinking of you this week. I am glad that Wonderbaby has helped you choose the next fork in the road. She's pretty special.

And I see that you got snow! We here in NS haven't had much yet... although they are saying this week could change all that. I want to take cute snowsuit pictures, too.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Lisa Dunick said...

your strength is inspiring, your honesty a blessing for all of us.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Kyla said...

I think I'd do the same, Cath. The what-ifs can be killer. I know this to be true.

You are lovely and strong, and you'll get through this.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Crystal D said...

Sending you hugs and support. Babybruddasista is so lucky to have you and such a smart big sister.

9:26 AM  
Blogger David said...

best wishes, Catherine. We're all pulling for you. No matter what.

9:49 AM  
Blogger rella12 said...

Something to think about in terms of results... Do you want to receive the call or your husband? Does he have a door he can close at an office vs. a loud, active, wb to deal with when receiving the news nomatterwhat? I say this because I received my own cvs results last Thursday at home with my 2 year old and had to pop in an elmo video so that I could run into the other room to cry and cry and cry. We don't want to think about little logistical things like this, but it does make a difference and they will ask who should get the call. Think about it and good luck.

10:11 AM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

This seems like an informed choice, sister girlfriend. You were hoping for the type of innocence that comes before information, but now that you have a small section of info, may as well move in for a closer inspection.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Susan Getgood said...

Kids are very intuitive, aren't they.

Whatever you choose to do, test or not, will be right for you, no matter what.

Good luck on Thursday.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

catherine i wish i could be there in person to hold your hand.i will be thinking of you and hoping for best on thursday...adorable pic of wonderbaby/girl.hugs to you.LAVANDULA

11:36 AM  
Blogger the mad momma said...

Hang in there HBM... I know its easier said than done, but all we have to offer you right now are words and good wishes...

11:57 AM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

Will be thinking of you on Thursday.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Table4Five said...

Oh C, I can't even imagine how hard this must be for you, waiting and wondering. I'm sending you big courage vibes for the test, and big virtual hugs too.

It is just adorable that WB is calling the baby "mybruddasista"! Kaitlyn still calls herself Baby, too. She will, with much prodding, attempt to say her name, but never refers to herself as anything but Baby.

12:33 PM  
Blogger anniemom said...

Bravo, HBM, whatever you do, BRAVO. Love to you all.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Liz Miller said...

All my best to you. I have all crossable appendages crossed and am sending love.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Don't worry about being depressing here, C -- telling it like it is, and telling it like you feel it, is kinda the whole point of the space, right? Please don't feel you have to be cheery on *my* account at least. I'm more than happy to do some hand holding as required.

But gosh, that WB is cuuuuuute.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

Your little one is so cute.
I'll keep you in my thoughts on Thursday.

1:31 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

I have been thinking of you everyday.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Rusti said...

I'm sorry that Wonderbaby picked up on the worries you wanted to keep her shielded from, and I'm keeping all three of you in my prayers. I'll be thinking of you. {HUGS}

1:41 PM  
Blogger Minnesota Matron said...

Limbo sucks.

I was 34 when I got pg with baby #2and I did all the early prenatal screening tests. I failed one: cystic fibrosis. I carry the gene, meaning that if my husband also was a carrier, we had a one in four chance of a baby with the disease.

I was already in the 'no matter what' phase of my pregnancy and had to wait one agonizing week to find out if my husband carried the gene: he didn't.

The inbetween was agony. I couldn't get happy, couldn't get comfortable, couldn't get 'right.' The only thing that helped me was to accept that I was thoroughly unhappy and thorougly scared. The other thing I did was to set aside half an hour a day to worry. I know this sounds strange but when I felt the fear/worry creeping up, I literally said to myself: Stop. Focus on cooking or take a walk. YOu will think about this at 8 pm.

Then at the allotted time, I rolled in the muck. I luxuriated, wrapped myself up in my fears and explored them all, bit by bit.

And tried to put them away till the next day.

Doesn't work for everyone, but a thought from someone who traveled a similar path once. Honestly, I still use that trick when I'm stressed -- I set aside a time just to think about the thing I need to escape from the rest of the time!

Hang in there -- sending good energy.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.


3:48 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

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

4:05 PM  
Blogger clueless but hopeful mama said...

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.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

5:02 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

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?

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Mommato2 said...

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...

8:41 PM  
Blogger TB said...

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.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

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

2:29 AM  
Blogger Rita said...

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

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8:43 AM  
Blogger painted maypole said...

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

12:35 AM  
Blogger Candygirlflies said...

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

7:24 AM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

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.

1:44 AM  

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