Dear Hypothetical Baby,

Dear Hypothetical Baby,

I know it’s strange to be writing to you since you don’t actually exist. At this point you are not even a zygote. You live only in my head. But you might be real someday, so I feel like there’s some stuff we need to get out of the way right off the bat.

I am sorry. Really sorry.

I am already asking too much of you.

Maybe if we just get it out in the open and I play all my cards it’ll make things a little easier for both of us.

At first, it was just that I wanted you to be a girl.

Then I wanted you to be a nice, mellow, relaxed baby.

But now I think my requests are starting to add up so much that it’s getting out of hand.

I want you to be cuddly. I want to be able to carry you around without having to keep you swaddled all the time. I want to get to hold you on my chest and have you snuggle against me.

I want you to be sweet and soft and look around at the world quietly.

I want you to be content.

And, well, there is of course the one big thing…

I don’t want you to be autistic.

You, hypothetical baby, are my shot at having a normal baby. And I am putting all my eggs (so to speak) in that basket.

I want you to be everything I ever wanted a baby to be. And as everyone is always having babies and talking about how sweet they are, my list of requirements gets longer every day.

It isn’t fair. I admit that.

And I hope that when you do make your appearance I’ll stop caring so much about what I want you to be and accept you as you are.

I really hope I do.

But I can’t guarantee that will happen.

The problem is what the problem always will be: your brother.

I want so much for you not to have to struggle with the things he’ll struggle with, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to struggle with him. He is probably going to make your life difficult. I’m sure he’s sorry about that, too. Or he would be if he had any idea what sorry meant. But this is really more about you and me.

Or it should be about just you and me, but your brother is unavoidable. He has changed everything. He has changed the way I look at the world, and he has completely changed my expectations.

This sucks for you. You are now burdened with my expectations. And not just normal parent expectations. But seriously serious expectations. It’s not just that I want you to be happy or have good grades or any of that cliched stuff. It’s that you’ve come to represent everything about parenthood to me. Everything that I feel like I’m not getting.

Here’s the problem, Hypothetical Baby: you are going to be whoever you’re going to be. You will have very little control over granting any of my wishes. You could be difficult and me wanting you to be easier won’t make you any easier. Believe me, I know that too well.

So I will try to appreciate you. Every second of you. Because it’s very possible that you will be the last baby I will ever have.


Your Hypothetical Mama

PS–If you do want another sibling, I suggest you be very very nice. Otherwise it’s not happening.


  1. says

    I totally get it. Then I had my 2nd kid and while I rejoiced in the non autistic behavior I did realize that she was way much more of a handful than my older kid was

    • says

      I know I’m completely not-ready for a neurotypical kid. Unless they’re a screamer. I have vast experience with screaming.

  2. says

    Aw, Jess. You’ll be a great mom – again – no matter what sort of little bundle you’re given.

    If my 2yo came first, I think I’d have an only child.

  3. Christine says


    I realize that I’m pregnant with my first and pretty much everything makes me cry lately, but this made me weep. I love your honesty and heart and openness. All I hear lately is how grateful I should be, which invalidates my hopes and expectations. Your letter made me feel normal again.

    I loved it. Thank you.

    • says

      Thanks, hon. I do hate all the automatic warm-and-fuzzy-ness that goes with such things. I wish we could all be more honest and straightforward about the parts of it that are not so great.

      I wish you so so much luck with your pregnancy! I hope you get to be one of those earth-mama-types who is all in touch with herself instead of like me who hates almost every minute. :)

  4. TB says

    I totally get it. My kids are 11 years apart. The 14-yo is autistic and I was scared to death to have another. Then I tried to stay as detached from the fetus until all the testing was done. I’m happy to have my three year old, but she is more a handful than the older one.

  5. Julie says

    Jess, Christine shared this with me and your words and blogs have really touched me. I just want to say I love you.
    Julie (Christine’s mom)

    • says

      Thanks so much, Julie. I have wonderful memories of spending time with you and your family. I’m glad the internet lets me keep in touch!

  6. Jenny says

    Aw man. What a post. So honest in a way that people are often afraid to be.
    I can relate to the wish for an “easy” baby. My son was a hard baby from the day he was born; feeding issues, reflux, colic from hell that I still think back on with great sadness, delays, scary mood swings & Autism. It isn’t fair. Every child has the right to be happy & I know that my child has been unhappy & anxious a lot more than my friends’ & acquaintances’ children. The one thing the diagnosis gave us was the confidence that it wasn’t us being over-protective when we didn’t bring our son out to all the places that people we know went with their young children. He wasn’t just sensitive & needed more exposure to various situations. He wasn’t just crying & all babies cry.
    A goodly number of people I know who had children the same year as I had my son have recently had a second child. I honestly don’t know how they do it – and then I remember, oh yeah, they had “easy” babies. It’s a whole other ballgame.
    I find it amazing that you & many other special needs parents have the guts to have a second child (or third) when you still have a young child who is battling with so much. My husband & I only planned to have one child from the get-go, before he was even conceived – but when people ask us now, if we’re having any more children, we’re like, “are you kidding me??!”
    I’m so glad that your son made such great progress & Tessa may be a challenge, but so far, she seems from your posts to be a pretty strong & happy kid.


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