Attached yet disconnected

Inside my body, my son (that’s the first time I’ve typed that out!) is attached to me via an umbilical cord — providing him nutrients and, essentially, life.

He kicks me constantly and makes his presence known throughout the day … but — and I’m sad/ashamed to say this — I feel entirely disconnected from him.

It’s not because I don’t love him already or want to feel connected. Not at all. After digging deep into my own thoughts, I’ve concluded the reason why is because he doesn’t yet have a name.

With Maya, we knew she was, with 100% certainty, a girl at 11 weeks. We had her name picked out shortly thereafter, and it helped me connect with her. I envisioned her … what she’d be like, what she’d look like … she was MAYA. Maya. Our Maya. I felt connected to her, both physically and emotionally.

But 22 weeks into this pregnancy, I feel very little connection to my son … and that kills me.

The “why” is an easy answer. Between the stress of the move and maintaining two homes (for now, til we sell), both of us working full-time, and life with a toddler … the last thing we’ve been able to focus on has been this baby’s name. Yet I know I’ll feel a LOT better once we have a name picked out … so it’s something I hope we can focus on over the next week or so.

Not long after I had Maya, I submitted a post for Babble, which never got published (cue the sad trombone).

Re-reading it today, it seemed appropriate to share it … and also reinforced to me why we need to come up with a name, stat! For my own sanity and well-being. I want to feel that connection with him. I want to envision him and wonder about him.

I want him to have a name.

This was the post I’d written in January, 2012.

On Baby Naming — Finding Solace in Calling Her “Maya” In the Womb

Many parents-to-be refer to their unborn baby by a cutesy pet name during the 9+ months said baby is taking up residence in the womb. For someone like me, though — who had a very challenging pregnancy — calling Maya “Maya” and referring to her by her actual name helped make her real long before I could feel her fluttering and kicking inside my belly. Giving her an identity early on allowed us to connect with her on an even bigger level and helped us endure some truly difficult moments.

When they knew we were using her name publicly, friends and family would ask hesitantly, “Are you sure you want to use her name? What if something happens?”

Well, what if it did?

My pregnancy was fraught with challenges from the moment we didn’t hear her heartbeat at the first ultrasound … all the way to the last month, when we discovered the umbilical cord was tangled around her neck and she was measuring a little too small for my doctor’s liking, both of which prompted the C-section recommendation.

Between painful chorionic villi sampling (CVS), false positive readings for chromosomal abnormalities, biweekly nonstress tests the entire third trimester, a minor car accident at 8 months and then the nuchal cord situation, my pregnancy was not a walk in the park.

The entire nine months I was paranoid “something” could happen.

Fortunately, at eleven weeks, the results of our CVS test came back and we discovered our baby’s chromosomes were just fine, although we would still need to undergo more tests throughout the rest of the pregnancy.

We also discovered that “it” was a girl — hard to fathom knowing when she was only the size of a lime! So from then on, she was Maya: “brook” in Hebrew and “illusion” in Sanskrit.

We didn’t know her yet, but we loved her already.

Having her name chosen meant we could talk, sing and read to her by name. We could hang the letters of her name in her nursery, and we could envision what she would be like – putting a name to her otherwise unknown face. It made her feel more tangible and connected to us. We didn’t share her name with many people — just our closest family and friends. But even that handful of people knowing her name made her more “real,” especially early on when I couldn’t feel her kicking or moving yet.

Sometimes I’d just sit at work and rub my belly, letting her name – Maya Gisella – roll off my tongue. I’d tell her how excited her daddy and I were to meet her, all the fun things we would do together when she got here and later, what we’d do when she got big. At night, her daddy would talk to her, and sometimes she would kick back at him.

And though as Jews, we’re told it’s bad luck to have a baby shower before the baby is born and that we shouldn’t buy anything for baby until he or she is home safe and sound … nothing made me happier than buying clothes, toys, presents for our sweet Maya. In fact, she was showered not once, but twice. I don’t regret any of these things; they might sound superficial and wrong to some, but they were exactly what I needed to do to get through my difficult pregnancy.

I’ve always believed that until you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes, you shouldn’t judge. Publicly announcing a baby’s name before it’s been born might not be the right decision for every couple, but for us … it’s honestly what got us through.

 How about you? Did you find naming your baby helped connect you? Did you use the name publicly beforehand, or just keep it to a few close friends/family?

 

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6 thoughts on “Attached yet disconnected

  1. This is totally a “if I knew then what I know now” thing for me. I always thought referring to a baby by name before it was born was kind of gross. It totally icked me out. We picked Nate’s name 5 days before he was born and I realized at that point we should have done it at 20 weeks because it did make such a difference. If there’s a next time, I definitely plan to know the name as early as possible (although maybe not share it, I don’t know).

    Maya is such a beautiful name. I’m looking forward to finding out what you choose for this little boy 🙂

    1. Isn’t it crazy how your feelings can change, Candice! Right–and I don’t think we will share it publicly this time either; but because everything was so screwed up all along it was the one thing I felt in control of, if that makes sense. This time, I’m happy to keep the name on the DL even if just we use it amongst ourselves/close family and friends.

      Aw thank you! We loved it and still do. She’s DEF a “Maya” 🙂

  2. Even though we did waver a bit, we had DJ’s name picked out long before he was even conceived. I felt more connected with him after we found out that we were having a boy (and I could use an appropriate pronoun, not just “he/she/it”!) … but I didn’t feel really bonded until after he was born. I worried that my lack of connection meant that I wasn’t cut out for mommyhood … but it just turned out that I couldn’t bond with an abstraction.

    And like you, we didn’t keep anything under wraps. As soon as we knew we were having a boy, we shared the news and the name.

    1. Exactly–it’s hard to bond with an abstraction. I was trying to explain this to Luis last night and he didn’t get it. I think it’s harder for the one carrying the baby to not be feeling attached .. b/c we “should” whereas Dad is on the periphery the whole time til baby is her – not intentionally so but it’s what happens!

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