Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dear Alice; You Carry My Heart With You

Dear Alice,

This was my first "official" week of maternity leave. I feel like I have one million things to do before baby sister arrives, but the thing I want to do most is soak up every moment with you as an only child. Even though I know having a sister will be a wonderful gift for you and a joy for our whole family, for some reason, it makes me sad that you will have to share me soon. In fact, that was my first thought and emotion when I saw that positive pregnancy test this time. Some parents worry that they won't be able to love another child as much as their first. I'm not afraid of that, though I can't yet understand how my heart can possibly have enough room for this much love times two when it already feels like it will burst with my love for you.

I joke about a lot of things being my worst nightmare (dropping my keys down the crack in the elevator) but honestly, my very worst fear is that you'll be taken from me too soon and I'll have to live without you. That fear gets more painful with every day I get to spend with you. I can't do anything about that except do my best to protect you from the harms of the world (and yourself), and love you as fiercely as I can each and every day. And try not to worry, but that's a bit of a lost cause.

My next worst fear is that I'll be taken from you too soon. There's nothing I can do about that either but at this point, it breaks my heart to think that you won't remember me and you'd never have the chance to know the depth and breadth and specificity of my love beyond the photos and words that I've shared here, on the internet, of all places.

You won't remember that I call you "Sweet Pea." Or the game we play where I ask how much I love you ("Teeny tiny much?" I say, and you say, "No! Big much!"). You won't remember that we hold hands while we eat breakfast, or that you sit on my lap while I sew and talk about sewing machine foots and bobbins. Or that if I do anything that makes you laugh, I will do it again and again and again, as many times as you ask and more, until you are bored with me, because I love the sound of your laughter so, so much.

You won't remember that I recite e.e. cummings "i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)" when I tuck you in, sometimes two, three, more times ("again?") while I rub your back - under your shirt, as you demand ("open it").

You won't remember how I lift you from your sleep each night; your soft, warm body clinging and molding to mine, how you hug around my neck, still mostly asleep while you perch on the big potty for one last tinkle so you stay dry through the night. I never get to cuddle you in your sleep and you are so tender  and sweet, wrapping your legs around me like a little monkey and burying your face in my shoulder, it makes me want to stay awake holding you that way all night.

You won't remember how I watch you while you play, how I can't believe how breathtakingly beautiful you are and wonder what that beauty will look like when it is all grown up. You don't yet know, because you are too young for me to explain it, that all I want is for you to be happy. I want you to be healthy, strong, confident, passionate and compassionate, to love and be loved, but mostly, to know what makes you happy and to be brave enough to give if to yourself, even if you have to fight for it.

Maybe it's pregnancy hormones but I am acutely aware of you right now; of every touch, gesture, and need. I memorize your face - your beautiful blue eyes; your smile with your little overbite; your impossible curls complete with the little cowlicks that come peeking through your bangs at your temples. I want to remember how you ask "Mama, you're tired?" when I groan and sigh with the effort of this pregnancy. Or how you asked "Mama, you're sad?" when I wept into your hair the other night and I had to tell you that I wasn't sad, I was crying because I just love you too much sometimes. I want to remember how you ask me to kiss you wherever it hurts, even if it's your tongue, and how completely that solves your problem. Or how I offer to kiss your hurts when I think you need it and you assure me, "I'm fine!" when you  don't need me. Or how you assure me (and you) - "Mama, you're fine." - when I hurt myself, or have any complaint, dismissing my plight so it doesn't make you too nervous. Today, you asked me, "Mama, you crabby?" and I just laughed...

I try to tell myself, "i fear no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)." It was my fate to be your mother and I will always be your mother, no matter however long or fleeting our physical time together may be. I just wish on every eyelash and birthday candle and shooting star that I will live to see you as an old woman with children and grandchildren of your own.

It is true, I carry your heart with me and everything that is done by only me is your doing, my darling. Anywhere I go, you go, my dear. But anywhere you go, I am with you, whether you see me or not. For your heart was formed by the rhythm of my heart, by my very flesh and my blood coursing with love for you. Your heart will beat with my hopes and dreams, my love for you, as long as you live, even if I am not here to tell you what each murmur means. 


  1. Sometimes I like to have a little cry. A nice release of emotions. This totally did the trick. I also highly recommend the documentary Ethel for a good cry. Balled my eyes out to that a couple weekends ago. But really, Sara is fine.

  2. Erin, this post is beautiful. I can relate completely to the feelings you are experiencing. I remember feeling such overwhelming guilt when I first discovered I was pregnant - almost a feeling of betrayal. I loved my baby girl so much that it seemed impossible to be able to give myself fully not only to a new baby but to my original baby girl.

    I remember breaking down and crying in the pediatrician's office when I told her I was pregnant. I remember her telling me that she didn't know she was capable of negative feelings towards her first born until her second came to be. I remember looking at her as if she had two heads - I could never have a negative thought towards this child that I love so dearly. Never had a statement been more true. I don't despise my child but there are definite moments where I feel less than thrilled with Olivia and suddenly I'm aware that she's not as perfect as I once thought and that's good. I never would have known her completely without seeing the flaws - the flaws that can only be pulled out by having a sibling. What you're giving Alice is wonderful - a chance to be a big sister. Yes, cherish the one-on-one moments with her now but know that in a very short time, your heart will double in a miraculous way and you will love both your babies just the same.

    1. Thanks for sharing your reassuring words and experience, it always helps so much to hear from moms who are already on the other side of whatever I'm facing. Fortunately, I don't harbor any illusions that Alice isn't perfect, so that won't be any surprise! She's nearly an angel when everything is going right, but those other times make me a bit worried about how things are going to go down when I have to divide my attention. From what I understand, lots of things (including the parents) get relaxed a bit when there are two to deal with!


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