Posted by: DD | February 19, 2007

no. 386 – My Only Sunshine

When X was 6 months old, the three of us attended a family wedding. We were in that honeymoon phase as new parents where X loved to be held by anyone and everyone; his personality was blooming; he played and rolled happily on the floor; he interacted with anyone with a smile. Mr. DD and I felt that we made it through the toughest part of his infancy and we were enjoying our newfound comfort zone and showing off his cherubic cuteness to the masses.

It was the perfect time for someone to burst our balloon.

The bride’s grandmother approached us at the reception, oohing and aahing over X. We had met on prior family occasions and, quite frankly, we didn’t care for her. It was then that she decided to give us the world’s worst advice:

You know…you’ll need to have another in case something happens to this one.

All we could do was blink, first at her, then at each other, struck dumb by her proverbial turd-in-the-punchbowl statement.

In the following couple of years, her comment became a private joke between Mr. DD and myself whenever we had to be around her. We wondered how she could possibly top that moment of complete asshatery. Not surprisingly, she hasn’t.

But for the times I tried to make light of that moment, I remember many more dark and secret times, long before we ever considered having another baby, when I would think about what I would do or how would I feel if tragedy were to ever befall X. I would shed tears almost every night when I would get up for the night feedings, not out of sadness, but of such intense love. I ached from it, that feeling of rapture. I would choke up as I softly sang, "You are My Sunshine", rocking him, holding him so tight, I worried I might hurt him. Even now, when we sing the song together and while he’s happily reciting the melody, I am thinking of every word and how much they are as poignantly true now as they were a few years ago.

I have many fears. I’m afraid to go through another treatment; I’m more afraid to not go through another treatment. I’m afraid that I won’t get pregnant again; I’m more afraid I will get pregnant and miscarry. But these fears, self-induced that they may be, are nothing compared to the absolutely immobilizing panic I feel when I think of something ever happening to X. It’s during these moments that I’m thankful in a small way that he is a cautious child. He’s never been the shelf-climbing, bed-jumping daredevil.

I would like to believe that I am not an overly protective mother. I would like to believe I encourage his exploration of the world around him with curious abandon. But I end up double-guessing my intent when it comes to his safety. I require that he holds my hand when we are walking anywhere but on a sidewalk. I bundle him up possibly a little too warmly. I check on him after he’s asleep…more than once to make sure he’s still breathing. When Mr. DD accuses me of "coddling", I flinch from how close the truth he just might be.

These things may not sound that extreme to you, but when I think about the things I was doing at that age (exploring the farm’s creeks and dams by myself or with a sister, riding a horse around the section, jumping out of the hay mow into the grain pile, riding in the back of a pick-up to and from town), my internal struggle between keeping him alive but letting him live is almost tangible.

Does that make sense?

I’ve been wanting to write about my fear of losing my only child for some time, but I was irrationally worried that by writing about it, I was determining my son’s fate. You may think that’s crazy superstition, but how many of you don’t want to write about your lack of pregnancy symptoms in case it actually is true? Or even writing about your symptoms only to find no second line on the stick and thinking you jinxed it? I can’t even discuss this with Mr. DD who at one point, was reading this post over my shoulder. When he saw the paragraph regarding my fears, he squeezed my shoulder and we looked at each other silently with tears in our eyes. He remembers that wedding and the comment very clearly.

Of course I know that for anyone who has more than one child and then has lost one, their pain is no way lesser because there are other children. We don’t decide to have more than one child just in case.

I can’t help but feel, in my own personal situation in having dealt with infertility and miscarriages, that if I was ever to lose my son I would lose myself.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.You make me happy when skies are gray.You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.Please don’t take my sunshine away.



  1. This post made me cry. It touches me very close to home. In fact, I sing the same song to Sean all the time, but have changed the lyrics a bit.

    Hugs to you, DD.

  2. Oh boy can I feel you on the whole growing up on the farm thing….. I can also see that you love X very much, and in this day and age growing up is very different from when we did it. I don’t think that you coddle him, you just want to keep him close to your heart!!! I do the same thing with Kent, and I didn’t even birth him!! Don’t worry about it sweetie, I think that X is going to grow up just fine, and I am sure that you will have another, but I so feel your angst!!

    Hugs sweetie!!

  3. It was a loverly post DD. I feel exactly the same about LaLa.

    Hugs from me too 🙂 X

  4. Ditto. You know how I feel about this already – my heart would simply stop beating without him.

    And you are letting him live – you’re just watching more closely than maybe your parents did.

  5. What a horrid, horrid woman, that bride grandma.

    I wrestle with this fear, too, and know it will only increase as A. gets bigger and wants to explore the world more and more. I think these days that my goal as a parent is to be just neurotic enough.

  6. Back when I was a single mommy of one, I thought not so much about what would happen to me if I lost her, but what would happen to her if she lost me. I always felt that it would be easier to bear if my kiddo had a sibling to share things with. You know, how hard it is to deal with their neurotic mother, etc. But yes, my heart WOULD stop beating if I lost my girl. It wouldn’t fare well if I lost my stepchildren…but my daughter would literally rip my heart out if she was gone.

    Since I married my husband, I worry about what would happen to my kiddo if we divorced. She has so taken to being the “big sister”. Don’t get me wrong – I think there are days she’d sell the lot of them to any passing gypsies she could find. But most of the time, she takes her big sister status pretty seriously. God forbid ANYONE say anything bad about her siblings – she’d rip them a new one. Mind you, it’s fine for HER to gripe about them, but nobody else!

    So…I think what I was trying to say that probably got lost in my babbling…is that family doesn’t always come genetically. I know the adoption thing is kinda up in the air for you guys, but in case you end up going that route – families come from the heart more than from shared dna.

    And that old woman? Good god, she sucks.

  7. My father sang that song to me (to all of our family) so many times. We danced to it at my wedding.

    DD, this is a beautiful post. Thank you

  8. ditto, ditto, ditto. I have the same fear.

  9. Dear DD, that was utterly beautiful. That’s one of the best descriptions of love I have ever read. And of course it made a great deal of sense.

    That comment is just about the worst I have ever heard. How heartless can one person get? I can imagine how it’s stuck with you all these years. I’m so sorry.

  10. I think the fear of losing a child is universal, a dark thought that all parents fight.

  11. What an awful thing to say! I do understand your fear though, I am trying to work through mine so that I don’t become too overprotective.

    Take care

  12. Firstly-be thankful that nasty old bitch isnt YOUR grandmother!

    I agree with Kath. I think every parent has a very irrational fear of losing their child. I truly don’t know how my life would go on after that. It is a very dark and horrible thought that most of us never have the courage to verbalize. I think as women we can deal with the loss of a parent, spouse, friends, etc but when we switch to mom mode, all bets are off.

  13. You sure hit the nail on the head with that post. I am still accused of coddling Alex and he is 13. But he is my baby and most likely the only one I will ever get.
    I also had the fears of what would happen to him if something happened to me when I was a single mom. I would have anxiety attacks and not sleep for days or nights I guess, because I was afraid I would die in my sleep and he was too little to reach the deadbolt on the front door and would be stuck in the house with my dead body. Yeah, pleasant thoughts, eh? I made a friend of mine call me at 9:00 am everyday for 6 months. If I didn’t answer she was to call the police to come get Alex out of the house.
    The strange things that go through your head when you are a parent and have so much love for your child that all you really can focus on it the “what if’s”.
    Oh, and I remember growing up on the farm and doing all those fun and dangerous things too but would never thing of letting Alex do any of them now. 😉

  14. Wonderfully poignant post, m’dear…I, too, still check Abby each night just to hear her breathing. And we sing the same song because she is my sunshine and the light of my life. I’m with you, too, in the (thankfully!) fleeting thoughts about what would happen if something happened to her. My world would collapse. It’s amazing how someone who has been with me for such a short time has engraved herself forever in my heart.

    As a child, I remember wandering my neighborhood for hours on end, going from one house to another or riding my bike all over the place. Today, I wouldn’t dream of letting my daughter do that!

  15. What a total psycho hose beast! I canNOT believe anyone would be so stupid as to say that! please tell me that that hag is no where near you on a regular basis!!
    As for over-protective? Never. We still have a monitor that I keep on my nightstand turned up so loud that I can her her breath. Its unbelievably peaceful to wake in the middle of the night, only to be lulled back asleep with her breath.

  16. I can’t believe someone would say something like that! What a horrible, horrible woman.

    I do the same things and worry the same way about P. P is the bed-jumping, daredevil type-of-boy who always wants to be doing something…the more dangerous, the better. It scares me constantly. But I don’t want to scare him into being a little mousy child who’s afraid of his own shadow, so I let him do anything that doesn’t actually put him into the direct path of danger. With my heart in my throat the whole time, of course. I check his breathing at night under the guise of having to cover him with a blanket because he rolled out of it. And I worry that I fooled nature by getting pregnant with him in the first place, so nature’s going to try to even the score. It’s such an amazing love; the thought of ever losing it is devastating. I can’t even imagine it.

    I’m with you on worrying about jinxing things.

  17. What a terrible, stupid comment.

    Losing a child is a fear that never leaves and is universal. I try not to ever think about it.

  18. Lovely post.

    I can’t believe the bride’s grandma said that. What an utterly awful thing to say.

  19. I was afraid that I was the only weirdo who had these kinds of thoughts. Thankfully, it seems like I’m in good company.

    I remember dreaming one night, that something hobbble had befallen Maggie. I was in the pediatric ward with my baby all hooked up to tubes and monitors…. the doc coming in shaking his head and telling me that there was nothing more they could do for her. I woke up (THANK YOU GOD!) and ran to her room, scaring the crap out of Joe in the process, to find her peacefully, blissfully, sleeping and safe. I spent the rest of that night in her bed spooning with her.

    What a crappy Grandma! What are we supposed to do?? Have “spare” kids in the pantry for a rainy day?? WTF????

  20. I really shoud try that “spell check” thing….
    That should read “HORRIBLE” not “hobbble”

  21. That sounds like one horrible old woman. I hope you don’t have to see her often.

    I think kids today live in a very different and scarier world than we grew up in and that’s sad. It doesn’t mean that you’re over-protective just that you’re a good mom.

  22. So just because there is another child, losing one hurts less? Fuck off old lady, sometimes all you CAN have is one. Unbelievable…

    I have sung that song to my son since he was in the womb, funny how I sing it to him now and I want to cry because of the fears Ihave running through my head. My son is a daredevil, and I try to restrain him from a lot, but he does it all anyway, and makes my heart stop everytime.

  23. This is my favorite post of yours. So beautifully written and so close to my own heart. Before we ever started trying to have a baby, I wrestled with this fear. I thought it was bigger than me and that I might not be able to contain it enough to be a good mother. Turns out I was right and wrong. It IS bigger than me, but we find a way to contain it because we DO want to be good mothers.

  24. Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

    My Munchkin (2 1/2) won’t let me sing that song to her, because it always makes me weepy and she doesn’t like to see me cry.

    I have long suffered from anxiety and since I started having children, it’s taking the particularly distressing form of unwanted thoughts about them. Specific, detailed thoughts about what their little bodies would feel like, look like in the face of unspeakable (literally unspeakable — I’m with you in not being able to bring myself to even say it) tragedy.

    I am able to cope with it only with the liberal use of the oldest mechanism in the book — denial. You will never convince me that a little denial can’t be a healthy thing. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane sometimes.

  25. Every time that Teenage Boy goes out the door to hang out with his friends, or go snowboarding, or go to the mall or anything like that, my heart stops beating. It only starts again when he’s back in sight. If I call his cell phone and he doesn’t answer? I freak. I’m the same way with Little Boy. My husband also says that I coddle them. What he doesn’t realize is that they are my heart. Without them, I would cease to exist.

    You nailed it with this one, my friend.

  26. I’ve been unable to respond to this post for awhile.

    I can’t even sing this song anymore. Even to my living kids. It’s just too painful. And I can’t breathe when I think about that woman.


  27. That woman was just horrid to say such a thing!
    I may just cry the nexdt time I hear that song.
    Your love for X must make him shine though!

  28. You’ve hit very close to the heart with this post. Sometimes it’s so hard to keep those ‘terrible thoughts’ out of your head. And this is the song I have sung since the beggining to my little boy, and I’ll likely sing it to his brother. It just touches you.

    As for the bride’s grandmother, well, sadly a lot of people think that way, especially that particular generation. What I guess I don’t understand is their need ‘to share’.

  29. What a beautiful, eloquent post. That song touches something much deeper inside me now that I have A.

  30. Stupid grandma.
    I feel the same way about mine.
    And the line between keeping them alive and letting them live is a fine one indeed. Beautiful post.

  31. I meant I feel the same way about my kids, not my grandma.

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