Her Bad Mother

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I do it every night now. When it's dark, when the rest of the house is asleep, or almost, I untangle my tiny newborn bundle from my arms and lay him down in his nest and ease my birth-battered body from our bed. I make my way - gingerly, gingerly - around the bed, supporting myself on furniture, against the walls, down the hallway, to her door.

I open it slowly, holding my breath against the creaks, and slip inside. There, in the dark, is she, my first baby. Rumpled and tangled in her blankets, her breathing slow and deep, strands of fluffy blonde hair stuck to her damp, pink cheeks, she is every inch the baby. A big baby, but still. A baby, my baby. In the quiet, in repose, she is no longer toddler, no longer little girl, no longer big sister - she is just she, my first born, my first baby, always a baby, always soft and vulnerable and in need of me, always in need of me.

I bend over the rail of her bed, and kiss her cheek, and stroke her hair and whisper nothing, everything, about how I love her so, how I adore her, how I miss her. How every nuzzle of her brother's cheek brings a memory of her; how every clutch and suck and moment of skin pressed against newborn skin makes my heart burst for him and yearn for her; how my love for him has made my love for her grow and stretch and strain and ache.

How I love her, how I love her.

In the morning she will wake, and run past me, blowing a kiss as she clambers into Daddy's arms, waving gaily as she embarks upon the great adventure of a new day, while I sit, constrained, restrained, by the injuries of childbirth and new motherhood (shredded nethers, ravaged nips), my new love in my arms, my new love demanding everything of me and yielding himself to me, pressing himself to me, in return. I will drink up his love, bathe in his love, as she speeds away, leaving me in her wake, grasping at droplets, holding back tears.

But it doesn't matter, because, always, she will stop again, however briefly, and rest, and she will allow me to bend over her bed, in the dark, and stroke her cheek and tell her how I love her, my first, my girl.

How I love her.

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Blogger Melanie D. said...

That is gorgeous. I have a girl (older) and her brother, who came 33 months later. I felt this same way. How I missed my baby girl. The amazing part is that two years later, we are this unit. This family of four. And it all fits beautifully.

Best wishes for you in the days ahead. Each one that passes will be better than the last.

7:47 PM  
Blogger gmoney said...

Amen HBM...Amen.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

And now you know.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

Oh yes, really yes.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I know I'm seriously hormonal and ABOUT TO GIVE BIRTH, but holy hell, C...this was so beautiful the tears are running down my cheeks.
I had this very moment last night. And the night before last. And every night, forever and ever.
Our babies. Always.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Niksmom said...

Oh my. I only have one but I understand. This makes me appreciate the depth of my own mother's love (I am #3).

This is simply breathtaking, Catherine.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

That's it exactly.

8:21 PM  
Blogger The Other Laura said...

This is just beautiful - what lucky babies, what a lucky mom.

8:28 PM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

Yup. That is exactly it. Beautifully said.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Candygirlflies said...

Damn, HBM, you've made me weep... because this is EXACTLY the way I've felt. Every. Single. Time.

xoxo CGF

8:42 PM  
Blogger Jess said...


8:43 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...


This is gorgeous. And I have no idea how you write so well when sleep-deprived.

8:55 PM  
Blogger tracey.becker1@gmail.com said...

That was lovely... Raw and real, and made me cry...

9:24 PM  
Blogger The Estrogen Files said...

Oh yes.

9:27 PM  
Blogger CP said...

This is such a beautiful post. I love your writing style- simply beautiful!

Enjoy your two babies :)

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Just wow.
I have an older girl and a younger boy (30 months apart) and I do the same thing every night. I think the same thoughts and feel the same feelings. But you've expressed it so perfectly - all of it!

My girl is the brightest star, my sun, my world. But that boy, oh he is just the same but so very different!

Here's hoping tomorrow feels better than today!

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW that made me cry.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhh, you made me cry. I feel so ready for a second baby, but then there are times when I stop and am scared of losing my first. How can you do it?!?!?!

9:40 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

*sobbing uncontrollably*

9:40 PM  
Blogger Tania said...

Ditto what Chicky said.

9:49 PM  
Blogger AnnetteK said...

Oh, that was so absolutely perfect.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a 5-year-old and an almost 3-year-old. THIS, what you described, is what happens when you have 2 children (or more, but I can imagine). Its an expansion and a contraction of your heart and soul, all at the same time. Its a beautiful ache that you can't get enough of. You captured it so beautifully. Thank You. Heal well.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sure know how to make a girl who's 27 weeks pregnant with #2 cry and cry...kudos for such great, honest writing in the first weeks of your boy's life!

10:42 PM  
Blogger Dawn Johnson Warren said...

Such beautiful expression. Wow, I know I don't KNOW but I feel like I have some clue now.

10:49 PM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

This is so lovely. I am not as battered as you at the moment, but I steal into PunditGirl's room every nite to look and watch and listen. How did she get to be 8 already? That is too far from babyhood for me.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tears running down my cheeks. This is exactly how I have felt these past 3 weeks.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Rachael said...

You win today for post that made me cry. What a great little story. I can't wait to have another one, but I know I too will have these moments.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Godless Sunday said...

That made me cry! I love it. It reminded me of the way I felt after my second was born. It strengthens the bond, doesn't it?

11:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

This is heartbreakingly beautiful.

I felt just the same way when my second was born. I can still remember the ache of it.

The fact that you capture this all so poignantly, mere days after giving birth, is amazing, by the way. Such a gift.

11:32 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Oh, crap. Now I am sobbing and crying and wondering yet again what I am thinking, because I am not ready for what you are talking about here, not at all.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Oh sweet Moses, this made me bawl. My baby is almost six and I, too, tiptoe into her room after she is asleep to marvel at how much I can love another human being. Thank you for expressing so beautifully how love grows exponentially with another child.

11:35 PM  
Blogger TZT said...

Just so, so lovely.

11:36 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Beautiful. Simply oh-so-beautiful.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Rocks In My Dryer said...

My word, this was beautiful.

I snuggled up with my firstborn (now a lanky 11 year old) tonight and thought the same thing (though not quite as eloquently!

11:42 PM  
Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said...

My daughter just presented me with another Mothers Day card, complete with love hearts and ribbons.

She doesn't know I do this either. and yet, does she? Surely she does. hopefully. I think they sense it.

I see it as nocturnal reconciliation for all the 'stuff' - as 'stuff' happens - during the day.

11:43 PM  
Blogger flutter said...

it would be impossible not to.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

My baby girl is 33 years old and I still feel this same way. You cannot replace the first..ever. It never meant that I didn't love the other two exactly the same way, but the first time you wear your heart outside your body is just that. The first time. And my daughter, now the mother of two, feels the same way about her first.The first prepares you for what is too follow, and that is so very, very special.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Sobbing over here!!! I don't know if "afraid" is the right word, but it will have to do for now...I am so afraid of that kind of love! How is it possible to love two babies so much? I honestly don't think my heart could take all the love and fear and guilt. You're awesome!

1:13 AM  
Blogger MamaDrama said...

Oh my. (through tears) That is exactly it. Beautifully.
She will always be your first baby, and she won't remember this crazy time.

Amazing things, those mama hearts, to be able to feel so much for one and then expand for #2. But it's never quite the same as #1.

Have been meaning to delurk and say congratulations but sorry it was so painful and scary. Hope it gets easier soon.

1:14 AM  
Blogger pearmama said...

That is it, exactly. I can't believe I went through that so many times. Willingly! Half of me would yearn for the time when it was just me and *my other baby*...and the other half would be swooning in love with my new little one. Motherhood is tricky like that.

3:07 AM  
Blogger Petite G. said...

I had to go in an kiss my almost 13 year old son (1st in line of 3 - soon to be 4) after reading your post. Sometimes I forget how sweet and innocent he is. My first born. My baby boy. Thanks for the reminder.

4:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously. I read this in a room full of people playing wii and I cried like a baby. They all thought I was nuts. I showed it to my mother, who was there as well, and she cried too. Never in my life have I read something that so truely captured my feelings so well. My second is now 9 months old (and co-sleeps), but after she lays down at night I still find myself in the room of my first born baby girl. My god, HBM. My god how wonderful this post is.

4:16 AM  
Blogger Multi-tasking Mommy said...

This post gave me shivers! What a beautiful post.

Every night, before I go to bed, I go into my bunny's room and think all of those same things.

I also think about the fall when I, too will have another new bundle. Oh--the surge of emotions....

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have me pretty damn near close to tears here and I am in the office...doesn't help that I am PMS'in, but this was so raw, so true, so beautiful...

8:46 AM  
Blogger Avalon said...

So, so beautiful and heartbreaking.


8:53 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

Of course you love her. She's your baby, too. And remember that you have not taken anything from her, but instead have given her a lifelong person, someone who will hold her childhood in trust for her for the rest of her life, someone to laugh and remember with 60 years from now.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Kyla said...

My baby, my first baby, is graduating Kindergarten today. Way to tug the heartstrings, HBM. ;)

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my, where to begin? I had twins on my first try and I swear I go in there every night and just watch them both sleep. My heart pulls at each of them equally for sooo many different reasons. They together are my firsts and will always be. I'm working on making #3 but its not going as easily as making the first two on the first try. I can't explain how loving twins could be any different because it isn't. They are both magnetic in my love for them because I love them both fully with all my heart. I know I will love the next just as much. As one reader said, now you know. I can't say I know in the way of a second child but as a mother of two. Your heart belongs to them equally but differently and always will. Wonderful post my dear. So very wonderful...

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perfect, true and so well-phrased. Amazing that you can write so well while so sleep deprived!

9:37 AM  
Blogger metro mama said...

I just can't get my mind around this yet.

You've described it beautifully though.

10:04 AM  
Blogger cathy said...

Wow. That was so beautiful - and so true! I remember those same feelings when my second was born. It's a wonderful and heartbreaking time.

It does get better. Those first months (heck, that first year for me!) are so hard. It's such a monumental transition for everyone. But, it does get easier. Brother and sister become friends, and everyone becomes a family that loves each other.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could not have hit the nail on the head more squarely. You described so beautifully and exactly the introduction of the second child.. Too sweet.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Run ANC said...


10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love just grows and expands doesn't it.what a beautiful post catherine.and thats such a sweet pic of wonderbaby.when i was pregnant with #3 the veins in my breast, right side,made a blue veined heart shaped tatoo.it was a constant reminder to me of how much more love would be in my family.it has since faded away but i remember those precious moments of having a new baby and how much love i had for her older siblings LAVANDULA

10:43 AM  
Blogger twelvekindsofcrazy said...

So beautiful, am all choked up, again!

11:15 AM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

Stunning. And I'm crying. At work. Good lord can you write.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Des said...

Uh... hello! Pregnant lady here with a 1 year old daughter! Stop making me cry at work!

11:36 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wiping the tears from my eyes.

DAMN you said it.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Carrie S said...


12:28 PM  
Blogger Mommato2 said...

Beautiful and written from the depths of your very soul. Bad idea to read this post at work. I can totally remember that feeling when baby number two came along. Hope you heal quickly.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Candace April said...

My little girl is the light of my life and baby boy is due right around her 2nd birthday...

3:19 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

Exactly how I've felt for the last two months since my second was born.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Pgoodness said...

Wow. If I could see through my tear-filled eyes, I might be able to post something eloquent. Meh, probably not.


And I hope your body heals very soon.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Sadie said...

Found you from Zoot, and I have to say...

I don't have any children, but this post is wonderful and amazing and beautiful and my eyes are filled with tears for the children I may or may not have one day.

Thank you for your words.

3:40 PM  
Blogger TheHMC said...

Ah.. you put it perfectly into words. I know that feeling that you speak of. And knowing that I won't be having any more children...this made me ache.

Lovely blog, by the way. And, from one mom to another... enjoy those post partum hormones-even with the big helping of mush ;).

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh boy, Catherine, did you put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes with this post. I look at Kaitlyn sleeping, a big 2.5 year old, so close to leaving toddlerhood behind and becoming a big girl, and it makes me ache, makes me wish she would just STAY SMALL.

Your Speed Racer both had me racing through to the end, I'm so sorry for the tearing and the scariness but OH, is he a handsome baby! I'm so glad both of you are okay :)

4:40 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...



5:01 PM  
Blogger mommylicious said...

WOW...that was incredible Catherine! I still go in and watch my oldest son, who is almost 14, sleeping (shhh....don't tell!) and remember holding him close as an infant....and my baby, who is now almost 4, I cherish every moment with her and try so hard to take note of everything--knowing it goes by so fast!!!

5:04 PM  
Blogger Miss Merry Sunshine said...

Well damn, thanks for making me cry at work. Yes it's your fault not PMS...very sweet. I do not go watch my 13 year old boy sleep, I'm afraid of what I will find *shudder*

5:16 PM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

Darling!!!! Bossy is a little late but congratulations!!!

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from now on, whenever anyone starts to blather on about how all 'mommybloggers' are doing psychological damage to their kids by blogging about them, i think we should make them read this.

how could she feel anything but MORE happy, and MORE loved, after reading a post like this.

i hope your nethers are mended quickly, so you can enjoy both of your children as much as you want.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love and mush are wondrous things indeed.

8:39 PM  
Blogger lisa {milkshake} said...

Wow. I only have one child, but this made me cry. So beautifully written.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gah! Tears!

12:23 AM  
Blogger Paige said...

i have never commented before but that was oh-so beautiful, and not just because i am a first-born. LOVE your blog and have for a long time!

1:32 AM  
Blogger Elan Morgan said...

You're being featured on Five Star Friday:

2:32 AM  
Blogger Woman in a Window said...

How poignantly put!

8:07 AM  
Blogger Scary Mommy said...

Beautiful, and I have felt the exact same way.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Chantal said...

Sniff sniff, that is exactly what it is like. Exactly.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Colleen @AMadisonMom said...

Oh I'm just all in tears.

I'm scheduled for a c-section in just a short 6 weeks. My little Zoe has no idea what is in store for us when she becomes a big sister. I'm sure my nights will include a trip to visit her little sleepy self each night.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's no different, really, no matter how many you have. I still go into my oldest's room every night, still sit on the edge of her bed and see the little baby she was, the baby that made me the mother I am. And she's 8.

You sure do have a way with words. Add me to the tear-fest.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Sometimes when I am nursing my 6-week old, I look at my 2 y/o, and I miss him, even though he's right next to me.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

A beautiful post. Recovering from my second birth, the best I could do was cry about constipation and thrush.

It sounds like, rough start aside, you're off and running with your expanded family.

2:09 PM  
Blogger justmylife said...

Beautifully said! It brought tears to my eyes. I still sneak a peek in on my 18 year old when I know he is sleeping, I would look in on my 22 year old if he was here. I catch myself remembering them as babies. It goes without saying I look in on my 8 year old and cherish the few minutes of quiet I am receiving!

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

argh- you can always get me to break down into tears. i'm expecting so much grief at the loss of what we are when her baby brother arrives- have been soaking her up as much as i can in the meantime, she doesn't get it but it doesn't matter.

heal well, feel better.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Well, this is just great! My hubby is out getting the pizza, and now he's going to wonder why I look like I've been crying! Nicely put! Waaaaaahhhhhh! ~Sniff~ ~sniff~

6:56 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

Still feeling this way myself. Every day.

12:41 AM  
Blogger iheartchocolate said...


9:11 AM  
Blogger carrie said...

Exactly, perfectly, honestly.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Suburban Gorgon said...

Lovely, my dear. I feel the first inklings of that now, as I feel the queasiness and exhaustion of the first trimester, and remember whispering to my first born in the dark before she even had ears.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for a long time and this is the very first time I have commented. This post is beautiful. It puts into words something I have been unable to find the words for. I'm Mommy to 3, my oldest is 9, then 7 and 5...two boys and a girl. I love all my children more than words can say but there is something different with my oldest. He made me a Mom. He held my heart first. There will always be something different between us... even now as he is beginning to be too big for snuggles and doesn't always want to share his hugs especially around his friends. I still find myself venturing into his room as he sleeps just to move his hair, cover him or just LOOK at him. Thank you for putting these emotions into beautiful words. Congratulations on your new little one! Welcome to the wonderful world of boys!

6:47 PM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Yes. This is it exactly.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I have four children. I have felt the guilt, pain, and loss
each time I added to my family. It is a part of it. But we make it through. Everyone. And it makes us better, stronger, people. It's what makes us a family.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

I kinda like my 2nd one better.

2:39 AM  
Blogger Karen MEG said...

That was a heartstopping post. Your Wonderbaby will always carry that special place in your heart.

I must remind my firstborn that he is still his mommy's treasure... it can be difficult when his little sister is a demanding diva and the one grabbing all the attention. We sometimes take his maturity and even-temper for granted and I would never want him to feel lost in the shuffle.

thanks for this, HBM

9:29 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

BHJ - lmfao

10:58 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Oh my God, HBM. I sit here tearing (okay, sobbing hysterically) as I await the birth of my second with a 20-month old blissfully napping in the next room. I miss my old baby already so much that my heart bursts. Is there enough love to go around? Will it break my heart when all she wants is me and I'm busy with the new baby? Will it break my heart when it's not me she wants?

1:18 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

kris - it will break your heart and bind it all the tighter. Your heart will expand to bursting, and then burst, and then pull itself back together into a much much bigger heart and it will heart but it will also feel so, so amazing.

11:48 PM  
Blogger Amy in Ohio said...


2:57 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

How beautifully you've rendered the love of two.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Amy@UWM said...

Not sure what I can say that 102 people haven't already said, except ditto. Beautiful post.

9:58 PM  
Blogger The Mommy said...

Oh my. So beautiful and so perfectly expresses what I felt when my baby girl was born 12.5 months ago. I felt so guilty for missing her brother while holding her. So guilty for feeling guilty. 12.5 months later, I love her so fiercely I don't know what to do with myself. I love him so fiercely I don't know what to do with myself. But, yes, the first made me a mommy and the first taught me so much.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Flinger said...

I don't even have raging post partum hormones in my body and I weep like a child.


6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I usually just lurk and I know there are over 100 comments already...but I just had to say thanks. This is exactly how I feel. My second will be four months old next week and my first is five y.o. You said it perfectly.


9:51 PM  
Blogger Bibi said...

I'm laying on the couch with my one and only baby and crying about the baby of the future. Thank you for this post.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Blog said...

Oh oh oh OHHHHH.... Yes. Yes, I know, feel...all of this.

Congratulations on the birth of your son! I'm late to getting here. Been struggling with my own postpartum issues (8 months later....).

As hard as it is, it does get (even) better. :)

10:39 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

This was beautiful. Simply stunning. I have a 15 month old daughter, and I do want another baby someday but I've always worried about sharing myself with another one. You've captured these feelings for the future me. Thank you.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Oh my! I am sitting at work with tears streaming down my cheeks and a soreness in my throat that I can't shake.

You but into words EXACTLY how I feel about my little girl. When I look at her brother (26 months apart) I can only see her at that age and I physically hurt. Not because I don't love him just as much, but because I see the passing of time that I can't stop.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if my Mum ever did but I know my Dad did something similar. I used to talk in my sleep, so what started as a joke was that my Dad came in sat at the end of my bed and continue the conversation with me - apparently it would make sense! I'd never remember anything we talked about in the morning.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Maura said...

I just stumbled on your blog today. As the oldest of 4 kids who sometimes felt neglected/ forgotten, this entry made me cry, even at 29 years old. But at the same time, I feel a bit better. Thanks.

1:26 PM  

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