September 26, 2010

We Are Each Other

Room: A NovelToday’s post is part of the From Left To Write book club, and is inspired by the book Room: A Novel,by Emma Donoghue.

I suppose it is common knowledge that babies can hear external sound when they are still in the womb. They recognize familiar voices, and will turn toward the sound of their mother’s voice as newborns.

I remember when my friend was pregnant with her twins she told me that babies can learn to recognize songs before they are born. You play a song over and over while you are pregnant. Then, after the baby (or in her case, babies), are born, you can play the song and it will comfort them. You want to pick a song that you don’t mind hearing a lot. I attempted this by playing "Enjoy the Silence" by Depeche Mode every day when I was driving to and from work. I’m not sure if it worked, but even now whenever I hear it on the radio I tell Moe that this is “our song.” (Looking back, maybe I should have picked something more like “Talk Talk,” but that is a discussion for another day.)

I remember during these commutes to work when I was pregnant with Moe, I had the feeling that I didn’t need to actually speak out loud for him to know what I was thinking. The fact that he was growing inside me, physically a part of me, made me think the he could somehow read my mind. I knew it didn't really work this way; Moe had his own ears and his own brain, of course. Although I was fascinated to learn that “prenatal researchers believe that there is indeed some connection between what a mother thinks and how her baby feels, and that from six months on a preborn baby can share mother's emotions via the hormones associated with them.” (From Dr. Sears) This makes the song experiment even more interesting. It's not just the familiar sound of the song, but, assuming the song you choose makes you feel good, the baby also remembers how that song made them feel.

Even after Moe was born, I continued to have this feeling that we were almost psychically connected. Maybe it was just habit from the 9 months of pregnancy, but it was hard for me to think that there would be something Moe could do or feel that I wouldn’t also do or feel, and vice versa. I know I'm not alone in this feeling. I’ve heard of parents saying they sensed the moment that something happened to their child, even if that child was thousands of miles away. I don't think this actually happens outside of the Discovery Channel, but I do understand why a mother would feel like it could.

My connection with Moe is different from the connection I have with Jelly. Logically, this is probably because Moe is my first born. I had time to bond with him – and only him - when he was a newborn. He made me a mother. But emotionally, (dare I say, spiritually) I think there is something else to it. Maybe it is because Moe doesn’t talk that I’ve had to spend a lot more time learning his non-verbal signals and to intuit his needs, using powerful mommy sense to understand his feelings and know how to comfort him. But logic doesn't seem enough to describe it.

There are times when Moe and I will be playing together, maybe on the couch or snuggled on my bed, and he’ll stop and look right into my eyes. And at those moments I really focus on him, sending him all my best thoughts for him, wanting him to understand how much I love him and believe in him. And he’ll stare back, and I swear, he knows every thought in my head.

I was given Room by the publisher free of charge, and with no further obligation, as part of the From Left to Write Book Club.


  1. This brought tears to my eyes. I totally understand it when you describe the intense connection you have with your first born. I feel the same way.

    Whenever I feel that my connection with my second child is lacking, I think of this moment: When my second daughter was born she was rushed to the NICU with breathing problems. They wheeled me down to see her about an hour after she was born. She was connected to tubes and had been intubated. When the nurses placed her on my chest, her breathing improved, and she would breathe on her own. It was an incredible experience.

    When my days are long and I feel spread thin, I think of that moment and remember that my baby and I are bonded beyond words.

    Thanks for such a touching post.

  2. Very sweet post Jennie. I believe that our mom connection with our children is always there, no matter what the circumstances.

    LOVE your new blog design. It is fantastic!

  3. I have a very deep connection with my third-born, I think because she was very ill when she was born. Unexpectedly so. I had been busy with my twin 2-yr-olds during my pregnancy, so didn't have the luxury of connecting much in-utero with this one, but once she was born (and so sick), it was amazing what I felt.

    I don't think that connection ever really leaves a mother. It is always there. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post and your memories.

  4. I think you all hit on something interesting. When our kids need us more than usual because of illness or other special needs, we have to invest so much physical and emotional energy that of course we'd feel especially close to them.

    I do feel a very special bond with my daughter as well, it's just very different from the bond I have with Moe.

  5. I can definitely relate to this post! I often wonder if I would ever be able to love or connect with another child the way that I connect with my daughter. It is such an intense and positive connection. I loved reading your perspective!

  6. I think Jennie, what you wrote in your comments is very true... I think we all have a special connection to all of our kids. Its just very different if there is an illness or special need involved. Nicely written!

  7. The thing I really admire about you, is that you are so aware of your connection but still recognize your other childs wants and needs so strongly.

    Having grown up in a home where the special needs sister's needs over-ride the needs of all the rest of us I recognize the pain that can come from NOT being needy as well. Bravo for you for being mindful of this.


I love comments! Respectful disagreement always encouraged.


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