A Letter to my Unborn Son
3d/4d ultrasound 23 weeks gestation
I am writing you a letter that will be date-stamped before your birth. That means, no revisions and no adjustments.
If I return and post a picture of you as a newborn, that is all I will do.
When all is said and done, if my mistakes outweigh my virtues for you, at least you will have a testament as to what my intentions and state of mind were before you came into the world.
At this point I realize that my life will change profoundly, but it is a welcome change. We are setting out for an adventure son, and you will be the star of the show!
You had your hand covering your face, both times.
We went for one of those designer 3-d ultrasounds this past weekend with your Aunt. They sat on the couch and watched the screen, and I lay on the bench, with my belly slathered in jelly while the technician pulled your little Oscar-face up on the screen.
You did not hardly budge except for moving your mouth, and we could not get your hand away from your face. She spent a good 1/2 hour with us and then we finally gave up because you would not move your silly little hand and that makes for a poor picture for grandma.
I left the ultrasound place with a blue teddy bear that says "its a boy!" and a little plastic heart with a recording of your perfect little heartbeat. The heartbeat was the most important thing for us because that reassures us that you are alive.
I felt so bad about your wasting the technician's and your aunt's time. But she told me that it was ok and that she got more out of it than she thought she would. I got over it because I realize that there is absolutely no minute of my life with you, that is a waste of time.
She offered us a retake today. We took her up on it. You still had your hand over your little Oscar-face and you only moved it a tiny bit for us when seriously coaxed. But you so quickly moved your hand back over your face.
I believe you take after your father. He sometimes moves so fast I call him "Zippy" ... especially when he is out of his comfort zone.
We got a few cute pictures of you, but we are going to rescan you. I'll place money on it, that you will again have your face covered. We'll make it fast!
I know why you covered your face. I'll bet it is a comfort thing. You were hearing that ultra-sound and it made you uncomfortable. Unlike some babies who apparently seem to cry during the ultrasound, (technician said that they make a crying face), you demonstrated the capacity to self-comfort, at such an early, early, early age.
What a baby!
What a little man!
I will put my life on the line, to protect your comfort and sanity
Oh but I would.
Seeing what I saw today ... you did not like being coaxed out of a comfortable position. You calmly returned to it, very quickly.
To me that is a sign that you are alert, aware and sentient. For that I am extraordinarily grateful. It would be nice to have a beautiful head and shoulders of my unborn child, but what is even more beautiful was seeing how your human reaction to stimuli prevented it.
You don't have to be the most special baby in the world, a stand-out, or some kind of prodigy. If you are those things, that is fantastic but what I really want is for you to have healthy relationships with others, a satisfying and honest vocation, and to go to heaven when your life ends.
Of course I could bring you up to be a self-centered, competitive, greedy and narcissistic brat. If I wanted you to inherit the world and all of its material illusions, I certainly know how to play the types of psychological games the way such parents do.
But there is a price to pay, and I will not use your soul as a bargaining chip.
But don't underestimate my capacity to train up a narcissist. The apple doesn't fall far from the branch, as they say.
I sliced off that branch and burned it. Then I sealed up the stump with stain. The tree, its roots and its healthy, green and lush branches are still growing strong.
That is your tree.
Your journey has already begun but you are not yet aware of that.
During your most tender years, I will do anything and everything to protect you from toxic family members, pushy and corrupt agendas, selfishness and greed. Your mental health will NOT be sacrificed for the sake of some aging relative's emotional gratification, including my own.
Later as you mature, you will have the strength to sniff out ill-intent, sadism and malice and keep it away from you.
When I think of the Fifth Commandment "Honor Thy Mother and Father" I set a goal:
I wish to be honorable. I want it to be easy for you to fulfill this commandment, because my actions will hopefully merit honor.
3d/4d at 28 weeks gestation
I will step in when you actually need help
Perhaps I am reading into a simple 15 minute ultrasound session, and assigning meaning where there isn't any.
But the technician told me that she met babies before they were born, and after. She said that they acted in very similar ways and had similar gestures and facial expressions.
I have indeed seen this in before and after pictures.
Oscar if at 29 weeks gestation you demonstrate emotional regulation (that means that you are attempting to calm yourself in the face of a stressor) ... if that is indeed what I saw, I will adjust my parenting accordingly.
Why would I soothe you when you can soothe yourself? All that would do, is disconnect you, from your own self. Why would I impose myself and my ways on you, when the power is within you alone?
Just a thought Mr. Baby Oscar.
I will step in when you ask for it, or when I clearly see that you need help. You, Son, will learn to keep healthy boundaries in your own life. However until you are mature enough to understand and apply such concepts, I will show you where the boundaries are.
As hard as it is, I will have to demonstrate where the lines are if you continue to cross them.
And although the thought of it brings me to tears, not disciplining you would be an act of moral cowardice on my part. You can be a child and suffer for five minutes, an hour, an afternoon or a day, but to become an emotionally or socially crippled adult means decades of suffering for you, and for others who move in your circles.
Otherwise this world is yours to discover in your own terms young man.
I have no intention of telling what and how to think. If you have an opinion, I will ask you why. If you haven't thought out your reasons, I'll help you along. But most of my communication with you will probably be my observation of you. There are many ways of listening, that involve senses other than hearing. And I have been listening to you since the beginning.
I also might fear your failure and take every single stumble and fall more personally than I would my own, but I need to find strength in me to accept that you learn from mistakes. Your exploration and perception of your immediate environment may guide you as much or more, than I ever will be able.
When I saw your head and shoulders picture, tears streamed down from my eyes
Baby Oscar I saw your delicate little face and then I got all emotional (which is actually quite rare for me) and I said "aw [expletive] some other being to love obsessively who I will have to let go."
Then I cried a bit more and then I had to go to Walmart to get some milk. Your Daddy said "I thought that I just bought you milk" but then I flashed your picture in front of him and said "Oscar helped drink it and if you want him to grow properly and continue to be plump like the ultrasound technician said he was, he needs more of it."
So no more crying Baby Oscar. Really, it is a bit much but I look at your cute little Oscar-face and I think about how the next two decades are like a flower that will unfold (sorry about the feminine metaphor, B.O. perhaps I should say something like a "rocket launching" but it doesn't suit) ...
anyway ... where were we?
Oh yeah ... everything now is unsaid, undone. Every dilemma is at this point merely imagined, meaning, an invented scenario.
It is like we are walking down this path together but at some point it will stop and I will have to let go, and let you be your own man and leave your poor aging mother in her ramshackle home in South Central LA to wither away and die around her books, cats, cobwebs and ill-bred dogs.
Somewhere in all of this your father has a role ...
In all seriousness Mr. Baby Oscar I realize that I will have to let go and not smother you or lay on ridiculous guilt-trips that hold your own emotional growth and psychosexual maturity hostage. With just one glance at the picture of your beautiful face it hit me just how hard this will be for me.
So please I am asking for forgiveness well in advance because I have a very strong feeling that letting you go and allowing you to spread your wings and fly like an eagle will be one of the hardest things I have ever done. And this is not healthy.
As for me I am more of a phoenix. I fly and then I crash into the side of a cliff and I am reborn in my own ashes, just to carry on the same stupid routine, over and over again.
Your dad ... not sure. Perhaps he is more like a duck. If you say "sink or swim Marc" he does neither ... it is more like he floats and paddles to get from one place to the next, takes in the scenery and then when he has had enough he flies quite well to the next thing. Sinking is something he has never done, and swimming ... way too much extra effort.
Mallards however are notoriously unfaithful.
But Oscar I am getting off topic.
I want you to be an eagle, but not an eagle in a harness or a cage or a stuffed eagle in a museum display. I want you to soar across the unlimited open skies and land and posses any rock, cliff or branch that your mighty talons grab. Just be sure to give it back in the same condition that you found it and credit its creator, who is God.
But if I want you to be an eagle I can't raise you like a turkey.
I look at your face and I see so much potential ... that is ... potential for me to screw up royally as a parent and this makes me sad and slightly neurotic. Please, if you can ... be easy on me and remind me that you too will have adult judgment that will be visible to me, if I allow myself to see it.
I worry that you will hate me someday
Various people over the years have told me "yeah all kids hate their parents" and "kids go through a phase where they hate their parents."
I personally believe that "hate" is a very strong emotion, for "all kids" to go through with respect to their parents.
However I worry that you will hate me but your Daddy tells me that it is not a given that kids hate their parents and that actually hating your parents is a bit abnormal unless they have earned your hatred.
I don't want to earn your hatred Oscar.
In case you were wondering ...
You were conceived and gestated in an environment of love and respect.
You are neither a product of fear, obligation nor guilt. Your conception did not come about because having kids is the "right thing to do" or so that I could make my own life complete.
In fact, my life has been quite complete for many years now. This should be good news for you, not bad. Your life will not be constructed to fulfill your parents' emotional needs or to gratify our egos.
Your life is a gift, well ... as I see it you are a child on loan from God. How I treat you is a clear measure of how I would treat other precious items that God has left in my hands.
But the fact that you were planned, conceived and you will be born into a culture of respect is important: and I might not even live long enough to see you recognize the importance of this.
So you may ask about why I brought you into the world, at this phase of my life?
Well ... Mr. Oscar ... truth be told I did it for the experience. I wanted to experience pregnancy, birth and parenthood. I thought that it would enrich my life. And yes, note the difference between "enrich my life" and "complete my life."
But I certainly don't think that it is YOUR JOB to enrich MY LIFE. My problems, needs and goals are not to become your problems, burdens and goals.
And if I stray off this path, please offer me a gentle reminder of my commitments to you.
Why on earth am I posting this stuff on the internet?
Well, this is my testimony. This is my commitment to myself, to you, to our extended family and to the community.
Making it public increases my accountability and I see this as a contract between me, you and the world you are going to enter.
Not that I think it is necessary. It isn't. At all.
But sometimes the spirit simply moves us. To remain still when the spirit nudges us, is a dereliction of duty.
How to conclude thoughts that will never conclude
OK Oscar I have to sign off. As nice as it is to be able to write you, I also have to do mundane things to make this world a bit easier for you.
That includes clean, go through clutter, and apply for jobs.
Apply for jobs in order to stabilize your future and our future as a family. Go through clutter and eliminate it so that there is more room for you to walk around and explore without injuring yourself. Clean ... so that you won't be exposed to toxoplasmosis, salmonella, or e-coli.
I want you to come into an ordered world, and not a pigsty! You have the rest of your life to navigate a dinghy through a cesspool and I want you to consider such a state to be ABNORMAL.
But most important just know that you are not even born yet and your parents already love you. We are planning out the next few years, and optimizing everything so that we can focus our energies on loving you, and not struggling and fighting our way through life, with you in tow Mr. Oscar.
I will tell you again: I love you.
Your Mother, Anne