A LETTER TO MY BABY

A LETTER TO MY BABY

From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul 2

A Letter to My Baby

Suddenly she was here. And I was no longer pregnant; I was a mother. I never believed in miracles before.

Ellen Greene

I waited, staring blankly around the white sterile examining room. The nurse had said she would be right back with the test results, but the minutes dragged by. I sat with only a single white sheet covering me, waiting for what turn my life might take. The cold, plastic-cushioned table was becoming uncomfortable, but it did not distract me enough to pull my attention elsewhere. All my thoughts centered around one question. “What if . . . ?”

What if . . . I am pregnant? What will I do? How will I support myself and a baby? These thoughts were interrupted by what felt like the fluttering of butterflies inside my stomach as the door swept open. The nurse entered; I searched her face, but it was empty of expression. When she began to speak, her voice was flat, a dreary monotone. Though I did not catch her words, I knew exactly what she was telling me: I was pregnant.

I didn’t say anything, but just sat still, gazing dully at her pasty complexion. There were no encouraging words offered, no squeeze of a hand. Water welled up in my eyes, and I no longer saw or heard anything. I wrapped my arms around myself and wept.

Thoughts and tears both came rushing: I couldn’t take care of myself very well. I was always worried about money. Now I was supposed to care and nurture a tiny human being? It scared me so much to think I had been stupid enough to get pregnant. The tears came even faster now. I huddled in my new reality. I was going to have a baby.

The months passed, and as my body grew, so did my fears. I felt so utterly ill-equipped for the business of being a mom. Especially a single mom.

During that time, I talked to friends who did their best to encourage me. I spoke to a counselor once a week. I went swimming every Thursday with another pregnant woman I knew. But most often, when I wasn’t working, I sat in front of the television, trying not to think about what would happen after the baby was born.

One day, close to my due date, I sat in my usual spot on my futon couch watching soap opera after soap opera, waiting for the arrival of my daughter, Loreena. (I had picked out her name as soon as I found out she was a girl.) Then it was time for my favorite talk show. The show that day was about parenting. One woman read a letter written to her by her daughter before the daughter had passed away. Though the tears streamed down the mother’s face as she read, it obviously brought her great joy and comfort to see the loving words her daughter had set down on paper for her mom.

I was immediately inspired to write to my unborn daughter. Suddenly, it was the most important thing in the world to let her know—on paper—that I would always love her and cherish her and that I would do my best to make up for the absence of a father in her life. When Loreena first moved inside of me, I had realized she was “real.” But as I watched the TV show, it was the first time that I thought of Loreena as a person, with her own needs and wants, rather than “the baby I would have to care for somehow.

I was excited to write to her. I waddled over to my desk and got out my stationery. I sat to write, pen poised above the paper. I closed my eyes for a moment, connecting to Loreena, wondering how to say what was in my heart. Opening my eyes, I began to write.

Dear Loreena,           4–8–99

Here we are, waiting for your arrival. I go through all your tiny outfits and dream about the day when we will meet in the outside world. I know you already, my baby. I know you are strong and stubborn. Each kick and flutter announces, “Hey Mom. Here I am!” Our bond is strong now, but it will be even stronger when l can show you my love and we can build our relationship, day by day.

I have been very frightened about having you by myself, but over these months I have grown to cherish your every movement and have anticipated the day we touch, skin on skin.

You are and always will be my angel. I thank God that you are a part of my life.

Love,
Mother

I smiled as I folded the stationery into the envelope and sealed it. I reached down on the floor beside my bed and picked up the keepsake box I’d created for my little daughter-to-be. I placed the envelope in the box, then closed it. When the lid snapped shut, it was as if I closed away all my fears, too. All that remained were thoughts of Loreena joining me soon.

Twenty days later, Loreena entered the world. I didn’t sleep at all for the entire twenty-four hours I stayed in the hospital. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the tiny creature who had changed my existence. My daughter, my little angel, was perfect. I didn’t want to miss anything.

Today, it’s hard to remember those fears I had. They’ve disappeared, replaced by the feeling that being Loreena’s mom is the most natural thing in the world.

My daughter is already a year old. She’s outgrown the tiny outfits and booties I first dressed her in, and I’ve put them away in her keepsake box, along with presents people have given her for “when she’s older.”

Each time I tuck another treasure in the box, I see the envelope addressed in my handwriting to Loreena. I envision the day years from now when my daughter is able to read and will open that envelope and see the words of love I wrote—on the day I was finally ready to be a mom.

Karie L. Hansen

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