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Archive for the ‘Letters to the girls’ Category

I have been thinking, for a long time, how to tell you this.

I’ve huddled this news within myself, stuffed it back into my mouth every time I begin to open my mouth; and withdrew my fingers each time I reached out to find the words on the keyboard.

This used to be easy, joyful news to share. But not anymore. Anytime I broach this topic, it is plastered all over with maybe, if, perhaps, MAYBE.

Yes, I am with child.

I found out in May. There had always been the question of when to tell? After a loss, babylost mamas know that it does not really matter when you tell– the thing is, when lightning might strike, and if you duck in time. You can wait till 12 weeks- that supposedly safe period after which no one should have a miscarriage- but that is no longer how I see a pregnancy. A baby can die anytime. He can die during labor. He can die while being born. He can die minutes after birth. Or weeks after. Or months after. The telling is perhaps not as difficult as the un-telling. The My baby died part, that is the hardest part. Or the trying to make it through life after your baby died. I can’t decide. It just is all freaking hard.

So why did I wait “so long”? Scared. Expecting bad news any second, at every turn. Afraid that once I tell it will all crumble to dust. I just want to go live in a cave until this baby is born, alive and safe. Most of my family will not know until after this baby is born. At one point I strongly felt I wanted to wait until after Ferdinand’s anniversary. — Not that it really makes any difference to what had happened. Just a feeling. Again, not that picking a certain time to tell will assure miracles. I guess I just feel I need some time to pass before I tell. And I know for some of you, this is not easy news to take…

And I have a lot to process. I don’t know how to explain, how to present, how to string into words– how it feels like to be mourning and rejoicing at the same time. It is very conflicting, this happiness that is canceled out by sorrow; this joy that is quickly taken over by hurt. I am grateful that I managed to get pregnant again, and then I feel afraid (scared to shit are the right words here) that it may happen, yet again.

There is one thing I want to share. One night during the week of supposed-implantation, I woke up suddenly because I felt a very warm feeling spreading across my chest area. It started on the left side and moved steadily across my entire chest area. Immediately I felt it was because a soul is entering me, making headways into the womb. I cannot explain why, but it was just an instinct. I looked around the room and thought I saw a spot of blurry white near the door. I closed my eyes and fell back to sleep again, certain that a baby soul had entered me. This is a weird thing to share. I know you are looking at me funny. But I just gotta tell it.

Below are notes I wrote from when I found out… … (only if you wanna read)

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May6

Dear girls,

you have been asking, pretty often- “When will we have a baby?” and saying, pretty often too, “When we have another baby… …”

Unbeknownst to you, a baby is on the way. It is just four weeks in the making. Four weeks. The new life is barely a milimeter, but it is how life starts. Small. Delicate. With potential. of all sorts.

I am scared. Yet I also feel fearless, and determined. I am deeply in love already, giddy all over and grateful and hysterical. I wanted to grip you this morning and tell you, “We have a baby! We have a baby! We have a baby!” But, playing the “better be safe” game, I am going to keep mum about it for a while. How long? I don’t know. There is the logistics of when i will go see the OB and then do I dump you someplace; or do I let you come with me and hear all the baby talk? If I miscarry, do I tell you? Or do I bury the whole thing? and forge on again?

How will I walk this journey? This 36 weeks that stretch out ahead? I squint and try to see to the end of the meandering path; try to see a live, kicking baby at the end of it. Frankly, i cannot see anything. With all those turns and twists and switchbacks, I cannot see to the end. My eyeballs cannot leap out of their sockets and peep around the corner. But, as they say, every great journey starts with the first step. So, I walk.

How will I walk this journey? I do not know, my dear girls. I only know I have you two precious gems with me. I know I have people who gladly walk along. But, how will I walk? The innocence is lost. Yet, I have to admit that when I found out, I was still giddy and full of grins, like an idiot. The very next second I was scared. But I grew strong the very next next second. I did not grow weak. If demons reach out and try to grab me, I am going to fight them, teeth and claw. I told some people, I refuse to let Fear come and take over. I will fight them. Fear will creep up from behind, in stealth, but I will spin around and BOO them. Yes, I want this baby very much.

I realize that how I walk this journey this time will have some impact on how you deal. So, I will falter. i will fumble and I will weep. But I will always keep my spine strong and walk as gracefully as possible. I still hope it can be fun, like it was the last time. But I guess it will be different. I cannot make any promises, except that i am going to try my damn darnest utmost best.

=============

May12

Little one dearest,

you are still here with me. Every day as the day dissipates and no worrying signs make their appearance, I am so grateful. I wish i can find that crank-handle of the time machine and crank it up.

I know a few other mamas carrying little ones in them. All mamas who had previous losses. I think of them all the time, thinking of the lives within them. I think of the second their babies would come to them, bursting into the world, shaking the air violently with their lusty cries. It makes tears come into my eyes, to imagine these mama friends holding their little ones in their arms. It makes for a tingly feelings in my arms, and i wonder if I will get to hold you.

Tomorrow, we are five weeks out. Stay with me.

=================================

May16

Because there are no symptoms yet and I usually get sick around 7 weeks, and because I had a loss I am insecure about this one. I think what I have in there is a shovel.

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May 19

Tomorrow I will be 6 weeks. It made me smiled to think of it. which makes me feel silly.

I tell myself, “You are such an idiot.”

You know that each day forward brings you one day further away from the beginning, but it does not mean one day nearer to your “goal”; your wish, your dream and your yearning for a living baby.

What it means is that another day has gone by, and I should ask myself, did I spend it well?
It is hard to live with the idea that it is not so fruitful to keep craning one’s neck forward to the future; fast-forwarding to a future point does not mean success. It is what we do with the mean time that matters the most.

So hard. So hard not to dwell. So hard not to crane forward.

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May20

I went to an astrological reading last night. It was kinda like a party for frazzled moms who are bleary-eyed and no longer can see beyond that mountain of stinky laundry that is blocking the entrance/exit to the house. There was a time when I would read my astrological forecast religiously every night, so I would be ready for what the following day would bring.

Well, they never came true. Tsk.

But last night, I wanted to go out and play. So I went.

ok, honestly, I wanted to know something.

I asked her, after hearing some dead-on stuff she told the other women, “Will we move?” And she shook her head.

“Not this year, hon. I see that energy moving more in 2009 to 2010.”

Dang. I mean, DANG!

Then she asked about that Leo in my life, my husband. When is his birthday? And then she said, “I see a baby boy in his chart. Oh my! He will have a mini-me! Do you and your husband want more children?”

“YES.”

“OOooooooooo….kkkkkaaaaaaayyyy! You. are. gonna. have. a. baby. boy.”

I dared not look but I knew everyone in the room was smiling. I felt A reached over and squeezed my shoulder. I tried not to cry or to scream. I tried not to believe. I wanted to believe. I wanted to bring incense and offer her flowers and fruits and gold and jewelry, to make sure that this is true, that it is not going to change. I almost wanted to make her promise, a living baby boy. But I can’t. I just nodded, and I smiled.

But I really wanted to cry.

The thing is, how come she did not know that I already have a little soul in me?

===================

May29th

7 weeks. Time seemed to have flown by.

Working on a translation assignment helped. Planning for Val’s birthday party helped.

Not thinking about the pregnancy gave me some sanity.

I am not paranoid. Really, not. Even though I feel I should be… … it’s almost like if I am not paranoid, i am not being responsible, i do not want this baby enough.

But I do.

I start to get a bit queasy. A bit tired. But still manageable.

I think of how it has been a long time since I wrote Ferdinand a “letter”, but we’ve been talking everyday.

Somehow, I think the girls have an inkling that I am pregnant. They look at my belly suspiciously. They say out of the blue, “Maybe there is a baby in there!” I just keep silent. We will only tell them after we see a heartbeat. Of course, there is no guarantee. When we choose to tell is really a random choice, no matter how we rationalize it.

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June2

First prenatal on Wednesday. Excited and nervous.

Also feeling weird keeping this news private for so long.

But I really just feel like going to live in a cave… until this baby is born alive and healthy. I loathe the idea of being seen pregnant in the public ever again; don’t want questions or anything. I hate it, esp because I tend to get very big. And most people seem only to have idiotic things to say about a big belly.

Also feel odd because in the bereaved circle, I mean, those whom I read, news of pregnancy have been breaking. Almost feels wrong to keep my news to myself, but I just feel like doing it this way.

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June 11

Nine weeks. We’ve made it to nine weeks. It feels so incredible.

This week the placenta grows, starts supplying nutrients to the baby.

The placenta.

I thought of my failed placenta. Calcified and monstrous-looking. I did not want to see it. I felt repulsed, and disgusted. Angry that it betrayed and let the baby die.

I hope this placenta will be better. Please, please, please… …

We’ve let the girls into the news, because it was hard to keep it much longer from them. With each passing day, they pressed harder for an answer to that inkling that had been possessing them.

Both of them were so thrilled, especially Val.

Of course, they said things like, “I hope this baby will not die.”

They ask me often, “Is baby still ok, mommy?”

What can I say? — “I think so.”; “I hope so.”

I wish I can just say, “YES! Baby is ok! Baby is doing phenomenal! YES!! Baby is going to be born ALIVE!!!”

want to believe, want to believe, want to believe. Scared to death, but still want to believe.

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June14

The girls keep asking, “Is baby still ok?”; “Is baby still alive you think?”

The girls keep saying, “I hope baby doesn’t die.”; “One baby dying is already sad enough, right, Mom??”

Out of the blue this evening Sophia said, “I am feeling sad, Mom.”

“Why?”

“Because Ferdinand died.”

I hugged her, told her I am extremely sad too.

And then I decided to introduce the concept of reincarnation. I told them maybe Ferdinand is coming back again. I told them what I believe and that they can make their own decisions about what to believe.

Val had tears in her eyes. “I hope it is Ferdinand again. How will we know?”

“You will know it right in your heart, darling.”

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June27

Tired, in every sense of the word.

Sophia keeps asking, “Is baby ok?” I have to keep replying, “I think so… I hope so…”

And the house is coming to shreds and really I don’t give much of a shit.

Stay with me, little one.

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June30

12 weeks tomorrow, will we see a heartbeat?

Please.

I would really like to see a heartbeat.

Although, it just lets me know that I am this far along, it does not guarantee anything for me. Not a safe passage to the end of the pregnancy; not a safe delivery, not a live baby… no more guarantees.

Pregnancy after a loss sucks big time.

But I hold Hope, in defiance.

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July 1

Heartbeat 150. Active, alive. He said, “I’m here. Hi again.”

Emotional. I know it is him again.

Now I can collapse. I need rest. The road ahead is still so long. One step at a time. Gingerly. Hopefully.

======================

July3

I looked at the ultrasound pictures. They are grainy, and blurred.

Suddenly I thought, “These are just images… perhaps not real.”

I feel as if the baby will just fade away, like old photos…

Two days ago, that image on the screen made it all real to us, and then now, it feels like a dream.

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July9

It feels like walking in a mine field.

Who knows when shit happens.

The doppler arrived yesterday and we were able to find a heartbeat after some fumbling around. Music, beautiful music. R asked if I felt better, having the doppler?

“Yes, for a few seconds.”

He sighed. Rolled his eyes.

He seems more optimistic than I am; more relaxed than when we first found out.

Life and death, a mere breath apart. How can I just relax and let go?

Yet, what else can I do but just let go? It is just one breath. And it is not for me to decide.

Stay with me, please.

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July 11

yesterday S came to gym class with her 3-week-old baby. She was sleeping in the car-seat. Tiny, sweet, tender, fresh, so cute, content, sleeping.

I smiled; such a tiny little miracle.

I also ached. I could have held a baby like this a year ago… he could have been… (gives self mental slap. STOP! No more could-have-been’s and should-have-been’s…. stay in the present! Slap.)

I thought of this little life I am nurturing in me right now. I hope I get to hold him, so sweet, tiny and fresh, in six months time.

I hope, I hope.

Then, S’s friend, all chipper, broke my train of thought by asking, “So, how many children you have?”

I hesitated.

“Two, I have two girls.” And S quickly pointed out to her friend the two girls running around in the play area.

“But actually, I have three. The baby boy died last summer.” (in silence)

I felt a bit guilty. But, I cannot bear to just talk about him like that, in a hurry, to a stranger; all I have time to tell will be in three words, “But he died.” He was more than that, is more than that. So, rather than making it so short, quick, brief and shocking, not to mention awkward, I said I have two.

The third I enfold in my heart.

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July13

Two fellow bereaved mamas gave birth to their babies over the weekend. Saw photos of sweet, sweet beautiful babies and those just brought tears to my eyes. I just feel so incredibly happy for them.

Gave me hope, and yet, drove home what a great loss all of us deadbabymamas had experienced.

Hope is a slippery thing to hold.

==========

Aug3

ups and downs; ups and downs. Fear. Hope. Acceptance. Paranoia. Fear. Surrender. Hope.

A crazy swirling cauldron of emotions.

I feel like knocking myself unconscious, to awake at the end of 40 weeks, just in time to push out a screaming, living baby.

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Aug7

Teary and emotional today. Bad omen??

I felt grateful at the end of my yoga and meditation. Blessed. I think for the first time I dare to say I feel blessed with this pregnancy. Despite the fact that there is “this time”, because Ferdinand died. Despite the fact that we have no idea where this is going to head; no idea if lightning will strike, yet again. But today I felt a bit daring and uttered my gratitude for this pregnancy. So grateful.

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Aug11

woke up in a panic this morning- has he died?

found a heartrate with the doppler but it was not convincing.

why do we need 40 weeks to gestate? It is too freaking long. My heart cannot take this, my will weakens at times. My belief sometimes fades.

Last prenatal visit the midwife was getting ready to go over to the hospital to help two women deliver. As we said goodbye she shouted after me, “One day it is going to be you, having your baby.” I turned around and said, “Yes… … I hope so.”

I hope so. Maybe. Perhaps. If. The pregnancy after. Brutal. Like. Shit.

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Aug15

Three births from babylost mamas the last two days. I cannot tell what an awesome feeling it is to hear such news. Such an incredible feeling. You just feel so happy you wanna die.

Of course, I hope my time will come too. Hope, hope, hope.

At last I start to feel some small movements. It is a bit reassuring.

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Aug 26

Is it ridiculous to tell your family you had a baby only after it has been born?

Probably. But that’s what we are going to be doing to some of our family.

Sophia likes to kiss my belly now. I am getting huge, people are asking questions. I try to smile, but every time, it makes my skin crawl. Every time I see Sophia’s little hand on my belly, caressing it ever so gently, greeting the baby, my heart aches. She could have been a big sister now. What if this baby dies too? Will she lose faith in me, in life?

Yesterday while I walked away from the pool after handing Val over to her swim teacher, she asked me, “Are you pregnant?” This young teacher, who has forged a strong rel’ship with the two gals. They just love her, and I can see she adores them too. I could not run away and so I nodded.

“Do you know if it’s boy or girl?” (why do they always ask that??)

“Not yet.”

“Let me know when you find out!”

I sort of gave a half-nod.

Shit.

I don’t want to tell her. I like her. I respect her. I love this baby inside of me, but I also don’t want to share too much of this baby with anyone else. Is that weird? I just don’t know how to explain this.

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My dear girls,

you do not realize, how you are a soothing balm to my hurting heart.

On gray days, you are my sunshine. You give me so many hugs when I need them; and a lot of kisses, all unreserved. You cheer me up just to see you, but you do more. You draw me pictures, you try to give me a massage. You sing me songs in your sweetest voice and you give me hope and joy with your beautiful smiles.

To be able to hold you physically, to hug you, and kiss you, and love you, and play, and tease, is very healing to me. To be able to love, and to feel very safe, because it is so safe to love you, is immensely wonderful.

I get from you so much more than I have to give. But I am going to do better than that, promise.

I just have to let you know how much you mean to me; what wonderful, beautiful, shining, glorious beings you are. I am so grateful you are my daughters.

And I love you very, very, very much.

Lots of love,

mummy

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I did not transfer this entry initially, but two days ago, squeezing myself into the laundry room to wipe the floor this post floated into my head, calling to be posted; saying, “Why not? It was written when Ferdi was inside of you. And it showed the powers of love and emotion when you carry a life inside of you.” So here it is. Written on April 5.

Dear Valerie,

you have no idea how much I have to say to you. And the problem is your mama has a crazy active brain where many thoughts try to spill out at one time but I cannot type fast enough, or write it down fast enough, and then many things went unrecorded. I wrote you a few letters when you were still in utero and after you were born, I wrote up “monthly progress reports” and a few more letters. But, darling, my mind is constantly churning out thoughts. Non-stop, almost, day and night, night and day. I wish I had them all down. I wish things in our house can hear the thoughts in my head, and whisper all those sentences back to you…

Do you not know? I am whipping up a muffin batter and a thought arises, but it gets folded back into the batter, baked into muffins, and you and your sister eats them up, leaving crumbs all over. I am washing your hair and I think of how I want to tell you how much you mean to me, but the thoughts get lathered into foamy whites and gets washed away and swirls down the drain and rushes out to the sea; it evaporates and becomes a corner of a shimmering cloud in the sky. In the middle of the night when I (always) have to get up to use the toilet, some sentences will almost certainly pop into my head, and I will go back and lay down in the dark, composing a blog entry or a letter, but these too, gets lost in the depth of the night… sometimes the breeze hears the murmurs in my head and take them along and sings them to the trees, but mostly they evaporate with the rising sun, or disappear into the walls as the night veil is raised. I will be sauteing minced garlic in the skillet, and as I listen to the sizzle and watch the smoke meander upwards from all that chemistry in the skillet, I hear in my head what I wanted to write, what I needed to write, so you will always know how precious you are, but the garlic threatens to burn, and I quickly plop in the washed vegetables and everything gets cooked and we all chomp it down- nutrients, oil, thoughts, and all.

But I will have a Proustian moment of remembrance at some point… and sometimes I will rush to the computer and try to type, as fast as possible, with my two index fingers (I never did learn typing, and don’t think I ever will); and sometimes all I can do is to hug you, stroke your hair, and revel in the moment. You sometimes ask me, “Do you love me? You will always love me, right?” YES, YES, YES, that is the answer, my dear. And last night, for the very first time you did not insist on squeezing into the big bed when Sophia declared that she was going to sleep next to me. You went to your bed, and asked, “Mama, you still love me very much even when I am not sleeping next to you, right?” YES, again, my dear, is the answer. You will know, one day, that Love is a thing that cannot be stopped. Especially when a mother loves her children. It has no pause to it. It consumes you, and you only fear someone will take it away from you and you can no longer let your children know how you quiver with the overpowering energy of love coursing through your entire body.

My dear Valerie, you are my precious firstborn. You have no idea, you have no idea how special it is to be a firstborn. How special you are to me. You were the one who made me understand nausea, and how to tolerate it because it means the Life within is growing strong, going strong, determined to put down roots within and grow. That very second when I found out I was pregnant with you, I already love you to bits, and this love is to follow me to my grave, and beyond. You were the one who helped me realize the immense pleasure and deep joy of feeling a Life move within me. You gave me that first little kick, that first little nudge, that series of hiccups that kept me up all night. You opened up the world for me, initiated me into true womanhood, and led me to communicate with the ancient wisdom of womanhood and motherhood. You led me to so many things. You were that Beginning. I don’t know exactly to where, to what…. just a lot of wonderful things, amazing experiences and a whole world that I am still trying to figure out.

You, my precious firstborn, do you remember the night you came? Oh, it was so hard, and so long, my dear. As I wrote about the night (and the day) that you were born, many emotions washed over me and I cried. I sat at the computer and wiped my tears from my face, tried to breathe, and typed some more. All the while trying to be quiet. You came to me, my precious, and you asked me, “Mama, why do you have tears on your face? You did not yawn, did you?” No, I was not sleepy or yawning. And I told you I was writing about the day you were born and it brought back a lot of memories and that made me cry. I saw tears welling up in your eyes; you were worried, and very concerned. “But Mama, why did that make you cry?” I heaved, and attempted to get a grip on myself. Then I hugged you and said, “Oh, because you took so long, my dear!”

“I took a long time?”

“Yes, you took so long… it was painful…. BUT it was great too. So wonderful to see you finally!!”

Oh, it was wonderful, indeed, my precious. Putting you to the breast and feeling that suckle at my breast, being able to nurture you, right with my blood and my milk. Holding you close, feeling that warm weight; having your bare skin right next to mine in bed. You helped me made through all those initial long lonely days of being in a place where I had made no friends yet. The house was quiet with just us two, and because you did not cry a lot, we were always hearing the birds outside… cars driving by… the clouds drifting by. We spent a lot of time in bed and on the carpet, becoz mama likes to be closer down to the earth. We played together, gazed at each other, nursed, took naps, read, sang, did some yoga. I do not know how I would have passed those months without you by my side. We only had one car then and your poor mama had no driving license. So we were stuck all day at home.

But that would not work. I could not tolerate the thought of us two imprisoned in the house, so I struck up the courage to take a walk in the neighbourhood. You were in the stroller and making me brave, did you know that? Slowly, I walked further when I became less scared. And I felt if someone tried to attack us, I will run like the wind and make you safe. We made it across that big main road and visited the florist, that quilting shop… and you were a saviour becoz people will look at you, and ask about you, talk to you…. so I could open my mouth and talk to some live human beings… versus that online mothering forum where I could communicate with some like-minded mums, but they were too far away. So I’ll talk to you, and you’ll listen. Some days I just want silence, and you will dot the air with your oooh’s and aaaahhhh’s and giggles. We had such a very special time together, a closeness I never felt with any other being and sometimes I cried when irrational fears of losing you will strike me.

And things changed. You grew. You grew so fast. And you were always smiling and laughing, and running away. You tried to drink beer from an empty beer bottle, and you swiped a pot of aloe vera plant off the kitchen counter and then cried as if it tried to bit you…. you grooved to music and you sang and spoke and I can see time moving away from me.

Time has moved. You are almost going to be SIX. In a little more than a month you are going to be six, and I am in utter disbelief. I cannot accept the reality that I need to look at size SIX now when buying clothes for you. How did you grow so fast?! It’s so surreal, like watching a movie; like being in a story or hearing a joke. I think I only blinked twice and here you are, too heavy for me to lift, and making up your own songs and acting like a small little mama to your little sister Sophia sometimes.

Do you remember the other day when I had a mountain of laundry to fold and decided to watch this home video compilation of you and Sophia from 2003 to 2004? I could not believe my eyes, nor my ears. You had such a nasal accent in your voice then; I had almost forgotten you used to talk like this! And all those songs you were singing! And you loved being naked butted. Your hair was also really, really wild. So curly and so crazy! And, you wouldn’t know it broke my heart to watch that video, because I can never reclaim that precious time, and I could not go back and make things right, my baby.

You see, we had a very rough transition from being a family of three to a family of four. Mama was very unprepared. I over-estimated myself, and you and papa. I thought, it would just be so easy and all will be well. I remember feeling you were still so small, and that at two, you were just like a baby yourself when your sister was born. While I was carrying Sophia inside of me, I was also pregnant with guilt about “our time” being cut so short. I had thought you should be four when you become an older sister. But it happened too fast. And, you had a hard time transitioning, and even though you kept telling us that; we did not hear. We hurried you along, because you were “big sister”. I am so sorry. I don’t think I can ever make that right again, except to love you extra hard now.

The evening Sophia was born, you were around. I wanted you there. I could not entrust you to anyone. I did not want you to be away, because I knew no one can love you as much as I do you. You were unsettled, and you wanted me to hug you, hold you, sing to you. I remember hugging you while in the pool, singing to you. I was in pain, I was tired but I wanted to make sure you know that mama loves you to death. I could hardly finish my song to you, that “I love you” song, my voice was breaking and quivering; I could hardly support myself in the pool and I wish I could scream “Pause!!” to the Universe, and crawl out of the pool and just spend a few precious more months with you before I push the new baby out.

You were scared, weren’t you? When I was making all those noises, shouting and pleading that I could not do it, and everyone shouting back at mama to push and push? I remember seeing you, thinking how small you looked in that room full of big people! I wanted someone to please hug and hold you and tell you everything was OK, but I could not, I was so powerless, my dear. And, after Sophia was born, I put her to the breast and you screamed and cried. I will never, ever forget that. That scream of betrayal and abandon, cutting the air like a sharp knife. My heart broke into a million pieces, and I don’t think it will ever be put back again. My heart still aches this very second as I write this.

So you were invited to come nurse too. And I think it helped, and I remember us four sleeping in the bed together that night.

But mama did not do well with tandem nursing. I thought I could do it, but I could not. I am sorry, my girl, but I really did not want it. It was very difficult, and very uncomfortable. It made me frustrated, and angry and impatient. I had a bad tear again, and my blood pressure was very low. For a few days I could not stand up and walk to the toilet unless papa was there; otherwise I wanted to pass out. Actually, I had to be stitched twice. It was so no fun, I can assure you of that. And, I think, I was disappointed in that birth and spilled over that disappointment onto you.

That was wrong. You were just a small kid then. In the video you were just so innocent, and seemed to be in a little happy bubble of your own. You were jumping off the couch, butt naked, and your hair in crazy wild curls, laughing and giggling, so happy that we were counting one-two-three for you. You tried to swing your baby sister in her hammock, saying, “Mei-mei! Mei-mei!” in that childish nasal accent of yours.

And you still wanted to be loved like a baby but I was unable to. I needed you to grow up, and fast. Act more like a big sister. I was angry that you decided to pee all over the carpet and all over the house. I remember one day wiping up pee for the umpteenth time and feeling a rage brewing in me. Sophia was in a sling against me, feeling heavier and in my way. I remember yelling at you, and you cried and ran away, and later I found you upstairs on the floor, asleep, in a fetal position. In the meantime, I sat down and cried, feeling like the most complete failure and idiot in this whole wide world. I wanted to write this and let you know that I was a lousy mom for a few months after your sister was born. But it is NOT to let you know that my love was put on pause. It was just that it was a bad time for us. Papa was also very stressed and unable to support mama in the transition and I guess for a few months a big, dark cloud loomed over our household. I think my face also looked like a big, dark cloud. I write this, also to give away, to exorcise this bad part of our history together. I do not wish to remember it, because I always felt I could have done better. Yet, I keep remembering it, to tell myself not to be complacent and overly-confident of what I can do.

It made me sore inside all over, because I still loved you, but there was a lot of anger and bitter disappointment in me (anger and disappointment in myself, my life, your father, the whole situation). It is hard, almost impossible to love when you are also feeling angry, though that can happen. No matter how bad it was, how tough it was, you and your sister soothed the situation and made it better. Your souls so pure and beautiful, helped me slowly come to my senses, find my balance, gather my strength, stand on my feet and, feel like a human being again. I have seen mums going to the library story time with a toddler and a very young one in toll, and I have seen how the toddler will have a tantrum or meltdown, and that stressed and painful look on the mother’s face, and I just wanted to reach out and tell her, “I know. I really, really know. I understand. I have been there. Please know that it is going to get better!”  It always made me want to cry inside, for myself, and for that mother. And I will mourn for the lack of support we all had during such tough transition times.

But we made it through, my girl, we made it through that stormy time, and those wounds slowly healed. My guilt will always be there. For yelling at you. For not summoning hard enough that Love that can heal anything and do anything. I pushed you away for some time. I apologize. I am so, so sorry. For some months you were daddy’s girl. I could not look at you without feeling angry. Anger at myself, being so stupid and incompetent and lousy and just… so NOT pulled-together. I yearned to reach out to you and hold you and tell you I was sorry, but I did not do it until a long time after. I was too angry to forgive anything, for a long, long time. I am really relieved we made it through. Perhaps it was good that you became close to papa, he needed some kind of closeness too. And now, you two are still, very good friends.

All these memories stream back again, swirling in me, dashing forth like the waves, and sometimes they hit me real hard. I got a little apprehensive how you will react when you get your second sibling. Of course, things are different now. You are different, and mama is not the same either. And I am also much more determined not to have a bad transition, ever again. And lately, you have really shone, do you know that? I am so bowled over by how you volunteer to takeover and take care and love your little sister. How you volunteer to help me do this and that. How you are so willing to listen, and try. And learn, and really, really blossom. You are really blossoming now. Why do I feel pangs of pain then? I think I’m afraid you will grow too fast and soon mama is no longer of importance. Yet it gives me deep joy to watch you blossom. I can see you flapping your wings now, every day, testing its strength, and knowing that every day, you are edging closer to the edge, ready to take off and take flight. You have always wanted to fly. You yearn it so much we have had many times of tears and frustration when we told you humans are not made to fly. But you refuse to believe, and I do not wish to make you believe and accept that.

Because, I think you can fly. You can soar. You have big potential and you dare to dream big, think impossible. You have no fears and you will persevere to the end. I feel so excited for you, but also selfishly do not want to be left behind on the ground, as I watch you disappear into the clouds.

You have changed and grown, so much and so fast I feel you are like the sand slipping through my fingers. I cannot hold, I cannot grip, or grab. I want to love you some more, please let me be here and love you some more. Do you remember that evening when you cried yourself into a pool of tears, learning that mama is but mere mortal and will one day draw her last breath and die and be burned? Now, you are not afraid anymore, because you think after I die I am going to fly to the clouds, and one day you will join me. Sometimes I am not sure what to think of that. Is that wisdom sparkling in you? Or just something you choose to believe in? Don’t get me wrong, I am really happy that you do not fear Death now, because it really is nothing to fear. But it also makes me worried of the big leaps that you are taking, because I cannot keep up. To think of it, you had taken my hand in yours, and helped me grow, through the years. In some ways, you were my mother. I thank you.

Valerie, my dear, dear, precious firstborn… … the things I want to say to you, they never end. My love for you, it rode through a storm, and only emerged stronger. And became fiercer. I feel like I want to climb to the highest mountain and roar out my love for you. A loud, long roar that will reverberate through the world. We butt heads, because you are like me in many ways. Sometimes I look at you and see in your face who I was as a young girl. That made me think and wonder how you will grow up, what paths you will walk, what journeys you will take. But no matter which road you choose to travel, remember that my love walks with you. When you are tired, and discouraged, I will hold you, like my precious firstborn, and rock you and nurse you and give you strength again. You should know that you inspire me and give me strength so many times, I am indebted to give it back at some point.

I feel so much better now. No more guilt. Just appreciation for you in my life. Just gratitude for the chance of growth; for the clarity after a storm.

You are my precious firstborn, and I love you. Forever.

Mama

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My dear girls,

I looked at the calendar and is in disbelief that it is July. July! The month we have all been waiting for because that is when the baby will come. In about three weeks, baby is going to come. Baby that you have been waiting for and so excited over. You keep asking if baby is coming today? Or tonight? Or maybe tomorrow? Oh, I have no answer. Baby will decide, and the Universe will conspire.

I looked at the two of you sleeping deeply and it made me smile and feel all warm and funky; and it made me want to crawl back into bed and cuddle with you. But I have this letter I wanted to write before your little baby brother comes.

I wanted to write about the wonderful, beautiful, awesome, fantastic, amazing things you have done to me. That you have given me. I am so very thankful that you two came into my life. You really poked at my heart, so I know where my heart is. You stretch and pull it, so I realize that it can get bigger. You tug at it so I know how tender it is. You make me feel how strong my heart is, how tender and how powerful love is. You make me understand how you can love a life so tenderly, and yet be so fierce to protect that life. You make me understand the sorrow that a mother has to accept sometimes. You make me worried sometimes and it made my heart do funny things and feel really weird. You, you two! sometimes you treat mummy so tender and so full of unconditional, awesome love, my heart just melts. It melts like golden butter on hot, hot pancakes (like those we love to eat) and then it flows all through my body, spreading that wonderful, tingly feeling of Love, love, Love, and never-ending happiness.

Yes, my dear, darling, precious girls, Mummy is a little afraid you will be a bit sad when baby comes. When we dance to a new tune, and we are all awkward and not sure where to step or turn, when to pause and the tempo is so raw and new; we may get frustrated. Mummy is afraid you will cry and think mummy does not love you anymore. But you must understand, and I know you DO, that mummy Love is something that can never, ever, ever be diminished. Valerie you say that so often, “You will always love me, no matter what, and for a long, long time, right?” Yes, right, Right! But Sophia you always ask me, “Do you love me?” And then you will tell me, “I love you so very much.” and it makes me swell with so much pride, you have no idea!

Yesterday it was so warm I had to take a cold bath to cool off. I laid in the tub and felt the heat from my body dissipate into the water, rapidly warming it up. You two came upstairs, grinning and curious to see what mummy is up to. You asked if you can dip your fingers into the tub when I told you indeed I need a COOL bath right then. You asked if you can touch my belly. I started to take a scoop and pour water over my belly, concerned that baby may get too heated up. Sophia you asked to help. You are like that these days; you keep asking, “Can I help?” and saying “I can really do it, you know.” You took the scoop and poured water over my belly and baby moved. You smiled and observed that maybe you should put less water in the scoop so it’s not as heavy and you will have better control when pouring. You kept doing it, and then putting your little hand on my belly to feel where baby is. You did it so gentle and loving I felt like you are my mother and I am your child. I felt you were taking care of me, protecting me and loving me so much more than I ever deserve to be. I closed my eyes and smiled, feeling in total bliss. Feeling so touched and so fortunate I was going to cry.

You both like to talk about how to take care of the baby. When we go shopping you are jumping in excitement all over the place looking for stuff to buy for baby. Sometimes you forget and bring me a pretty dress, asking, “How about this for the baby, mummy?” and often you will simply declare, “I think baby will luuuuuurrrrrrvvvvveeee this toy! We got to get it, mummy!” You get so thrilled when I agree that we will buy a small toy, or if I consent to buy a shirt for the baby that you picked out. I cannot help but imagine how you will be like as mothers; it is so exciting, and you know what? — even as a third-time mom, even if I should “know the ropes” by now, your innocent excitement just makes my toes curl and I wanna roll on the floor and giggle with you, and butterflies flutter and fly out of my heart, blossoms upon blossoms of roses bloom furiously in my heart and I can just die from such delirious happiness. Really, I think you bring me so much more Joy than I ever bring you. You Love me so much more than I ever know how to love anybody. You gals are awesome. You rock, babes.

We have a few weeks more before baby comes. But things are already changing. Things started changing when I found out I was pregnant, back in Fall last year. You also started changing too….. it’s certainly not an overnight thing. You play quietly while I take a nap, drawing me pictures and cards and leaving them by my head so I see them when I wake up. Sometimes you are very noisy though, and it made me annoyed and frustrated. But I know it is sometimes just hard for you to control yourselves, esp if you are excited; or agitated with each other. But to me, it’s almost as if you have grown so much all of a sudden! At the thrift store, I keep picking out clothes that are a tad too small for you, because in my mind, you are always small and my babies. But when I put the shirts against your chests, and the pants against your waists, I know I have grossly under-estimated my baby gals. No, no, you are no longer baby gals! You are beautiful young ladies, blossoming… … I so LOVE to watch you grow. I feel honored to witness your development. I know I have at times been impatient, and sometimes just downright nasty and totally incompetent, but you’ve never made it a point to highlight that to me. You shrug it off so cool and expect me to do better the next time. This is something I need to learn better, a very important lesson you have taught me.

Oh, my dear girls! All those things I want to say to you! They are lost… I cannot put them fast enough into words. I do fervently hope you hear my words; that you feel so intensely what I feel and wanna say, when I look at you and smile and wanna burst in happiness and bliss. I pray and pray that we have a long, long road ahead of us. I don’t care what road and what scenery it takes us through. I just wanna be with you and be your mummy. I will be there; the road can be narrow, windy, muddy, full of spiders and snakes and slugs and traps and scary things; or big and bright and sunny, filled with rainbows and butterflies and fragrant meadows; I wanna feel your hands in mine as we go through it all. Please, I pray often, in the night, let me have as much time as possible with my girls, my darling daughters!

Listen, girls, and pray listen and engrave this to heart, that Love multiplies and multiplies. You have changed my heart; made it beautiful and weathered and heavy and light. You are always in my heart; each in a special spot reserved just for you. No matter what happens, mummy loves you to the end of the world.

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Dear Sophia,

even if you will turn four in three months; even though I can see you
growing tall and sweet; even if you are saying more often “I can
help”, you must know that you are forever, ever, ever, ever my sweet
little baby.

So my sweet little darling baby, please do not cry. Do not cry when I
shake my head and say, “I can’t” when I am sitting on the floor and
you want me to carry you and stand up and then make my way downstairs.
It is getting hard, even if just for mama to raise herself and her
pregnant belly off the ground. It is not because I no longer love you;
it is not because my love is getting less; and it is NOT because you
are no longer my darling baby. I LOVE YOU, and when I say I can’t, I
really cannot. If I can jump through hoops of fire, if I have to run
over burning coals, if I have to strike a bargain with the Devil, I
will, because mama loves you so much. So much, so much, no
mathematician nor scientist can ever fathom or make a calculation of
that. There is no quantifying it. Mama’s love has no limits. You have
to believe it. And really, if now, right this second, you really need
me to carry you on my shoulders and run across the land, and if that
is what will convince you of mama’s love, I will do it. I will sit you
securely on my shoulders and I will make big, bold steps that shake
the whole earth, sending cracks across the Universe, echoing the whole
planetary system with our stomping and laughing and joy.

You must believe me, my little one.

You still make my heart skip happy loops when you allow me to hold
your hand. Your little hand, so firm and warm in mine. It grounds me
and makes me proud to be a mother. I love how we played in the water
last week in Mexico. You have no idea how much joy it gives me to see
your entire face light up in joyful glee, getting in and out of the
water; to hear you say, “ONE MORE TIME, MAMA!” and I gladly do it one
more time, and another, and one more time, and one more time. I will
play in the water with you till every single drop of it dries up and
till the sun no longer rises and sets. I swear my blood glowed inside
of me as we played so carefreely, with you, my darling, as my play
companion.

So, don’t cry, my darling baby.

In mama’s mind, you are held and cradled forever. I will always
remember carrying the mysterious weight of you in me; how you squirmed
and kicked inside of me; the evening that you were born to me, and I
always remember clearly the strength of your suckle at my breasts. I
am honored to be your mother, this lifetime, on this earth. If my soul
will allow this memory, it will carry on for an eternity.

Will you ever know how much I love you? Maybe one day when you become
a mother yourself, and grow swollen with love and life, and birth like
a warrior and nurture a life of your own, you will know. You will know
I love you so much and you will no longer cry, nor be afraid.

My heart aches to hear you cry. To watch the tears flow so freely down
your face, and to see your little fists rubbing your eyes, and your
fingers wiping away the tears. It’s a torture. I hold you and I kiss
you a million times, and I whisper, “I love you, I love you, I love
you. Know that! Remember that!” and you do not believe me. It breaks
my heart. Mamas cannot hear their babies cry like that. It is like
having their heart carved out of their bosom, and having it hung up on
a tree for the birds to peck at.

I know, from where you stand and look, things may not be what they
seem. But you have to believe what mama says. Mama says, I love you
forever and ever, and you are always my sweet little darling baby.

Believe me, and shed your precious tears no more. Believe that my arms
are always here for you and I carry you in my bosom always, every
second of my breathing life. At night when I sleep, hearing your
breathing next to me helps me breathe too. I fall asleep in a smile
knowing if I will just reach out, I will feel the warmth of your sweet
existence- your cute little toes, your hands, your lips, your hair. I
love you, my darling. And to hear your laughter, oh! It sends me to
heaven and I wish I can make that laughter more tangible, so I can
hold it. Make it into a cold popsicle so I can gleefully lick it and
relish its golden beauty. You have no idea, my love, what a joy you
are to me.

I know when your little brother comes, things will change and you may
no longer be able to sleep with me. But it will not be for long. I
promise. And I promise with my life that it will in no way change
mama’s love for you. Remember, and remember it always! Mama loves you.
Forever. You are my precious little gem.

Don’t cry. My darling little Sophia. You must know that mama’s love
cannot be taken away by any means. It is locked, safely, inside of
mama, where no one can reach. It is in a very secure place, adorned
with sparkling jewels and that love only grows stronger everyday and
gets locked even more securely in mama’s heart. No thief however suave
or smart can steal away with it. You can be as sure of that as our
shared love for good chocolates.

Mama loves you to pieces. Mama’s love is so much and so heavy it
sometimes hurts and squeezes tears out of mama in unexpected moments.
I just need you to believe in me. Please do. Please at least try.

Cry no more, my sweetheart. I love you forever, and you are always my
sweet little darling baby.

So much love,
Mama

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