Dear Baby Number Two
I should start by saying I’m not pregnant with you, and I’m not having you (at least not yet).
It is not that I don’t want you; in fact, it is because I want you and want the best for you that I swallow a small blue pill every morning and deal with bloating and spotting and other strange side effects that are par for the birth control course.
I know that may not make sense, but it is not the right time. You deserve the world – as does your older sister, Amelia – but I can’t give you that right now. I am emotionally unavailable and financially insecure. I am working to fix the former (I go to a therapist every Wednesday, one who is pregnant and whose growing belly makes my heart ache for you), and your father and I struggle to resolve the latter, but we are not there, not yet.
There is also another matter at hand, one more sinister and terrifying. One which I still struggle to speak about. You see, after your sister was born I suffered from postpartum depression. It wasn’t the baby blues or simple sleep deprivation; it was something far worse. The first year of your sister’s life was a dark time – not Crayola crayon dark (like “shadow” or “outer space”), but a darkness so deep it becomes colorless.
I choked back tears while Amelia choked down breast milk and, later, Cheerios and butternut squash. I cried when she learned to smile and sit and stand and crawl. I cried when she said “mama.” I wasn’t a mama. Mamas loved their children unconditionally. Mamas loved being mamas. Not only wasn’t I a good mama, I wasn’t the mama she deserved.
I became helpless and hopeless and wanted to die.
I am getting better, but I still worry I am that mama, just a woman with a kid and not the parent Amelia, or you, deserve. And I want to be a better mama – a better woman – before I bring you into this world.
It hurts me every time someone asks when I am having another: “Are you trying for baby number two?” It hurts me because I want to but can’t. It’s not that I physically cannot carry you – and I know my “pain” pales in comparison to someone struggling to conceive – but it hurts me because I feel like a failure. Logically I know that waiting is our best option, but that doesn’t make it any easier because we could have you – you could be part of our family – but we don’t. It is a decision we make; it is a decision I make, and making that decision makes me miss you.
That said, there are days I think about you, baby number two. I wonder what sex you’ll be and what color eyes you’ll have, and I wonder if I will ever see them. I wonder what Amelia will do when she meets you. I wonder what kind of big sister she will be. Will she readily embrace you, plant sloppy wet kisses on your lips like she does on her own baby doll or stuffed giraffe? Will she teach you how to say “pwease” in that oh-so-perfect way so you can melt Mommy and Daddy’s heart – and get cookies for breakfast? Or will I wait too long, and will she be too big to be bothered? Too big to care?
There are days I feel ready – days I feel like my husband and I should start trying – but I know, deep down, I’m not there yet. We are not there. Not just yet.
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