*SCAN OF MY ‘NONEXISTENT’ BABY BOOK

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All of my childhood and adulthood, I and my siblings were told that “Linda does not have a baby book.”  My siblings had one.  My mother repeated over and over again as a part of her abuse litany:  “Linda, you were such a bad, horrible, difficult, impossible child from the time you were born that I could find nothing good about you to write in a baby book.  If one has nothing good to say it is better to say nothing at all.  Therefore you do not have a baby book.”

Fast forward to 2002, the year my mother died and one of my younger brothers retrieved  a massive amount of her belongings from a long term storage unit she kept for many, many years in Phoenix.  (There were three other storage lockers full when she died.  One was in Tucson, and two were in Alaska where she died.)

As my brother and I went through this collection, three baby books showed up in that locker.  One belonged to my youngest sister, one to my oldest brother, and one to me.  (The other three books were stored elsewhere).

There it was.  The nonexistent baby book.  I mailed the other two off to my siblings.  When my brother received his in the mail, he told his wife, “If my sister Linda does not have a baby book, I don’t want mine, either.”  He threw it in the trash without opening it.  His wife secretly retrieved it.

I sent my baby book home with one of my daughters years ago for safe keeping because I feared I would destroy it.  Last month when she came to visit me I asked her to bring it back to me, and here it is.

I took it to show a friend of mine when we had lunch last week.  After she carefully read it and looked at all the pictures, she said, “Linda, if I didn’t know you and your story personally, and I looked at this book your mother made, I would not believe a word you said.”

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My original birth certificate with my footprints and my mother’s thumb prints is in the front of the book, followed by pages listing my diet, weight and growth.  Here are the pictures and comments my mother wrote:

My eight-week picture with a little poem my mother copied. There are erased faint pencil lines that she used for guides. What a beautiful, beautiful baby I was, and oh I how wish I could, as I said, snatch her from the childhood she had and put her somewhere to grow up loved, cherished, protected, safe, secure and happy.

Me at one month with my gorgeous auburn haired, green eyed mother, with my older brother, with my father.

A list of shower and baby gifts. What strikes me as troubled and strange (with my hyper-what's-wrong-with-Mildred senses) is that "My Mother" has both words capitalized with quotation marks. In the little book I found with the actual b & w negatives from this era, that contains the list of titles that go with them, my mother used that same format not when she wrote - carrying John - but when she wrote "carrying Linda" - same quotations marks - the invisible something that connects me with my mother's experience with her mother.
These are the notes my father wrote on the inside covers of what was a slim Western, 'Bugles in the Afternoon' by Ernest Haycock. It feels so strange to me to read his words and realize that within the span of time he covers here something terrible, terrible, terrible happened to my mother's mind while she was in labor with breach-birth me. I weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces when born, a normal size infant. The problem was that this Catholic hospital banned my father from my mother's side, and back then there was no C-section for breach births - as always happens now. But for my mother as she labored with me it was me who was sent by the devil to claim her life.
There are conflicts in my mother's accounts of the moves made before the move to Alaska, but here are the first two houses of my life, and me with my mother.
My young father (25) looks so proud, so pleased, so happy

On the page immediately preceeding this one only one thing is written: completely weaned at 17 months. On this page my mother writes what any mother might write about her new daughter - but what cannot be seen here was deadly.
At twenty months: "Where did Johnny go?" At fourteen months, "Boom-boom."
I tried to highlight the lower part of this same page because here I begin to see what I know is a sign that something was already terribly wrong. At twenty one months among my first sentences I see the signs in me that the terrorist had created. "Johnny did it" -- not me, PLEASE not me! And, "Didn't mean to Mama."
I sound like a foreigner ‘adjusting to their ways’, like an alien forcing them to adjust to mine.  And I hear the question in the very hurt little girl that grew up to be my mother — Did I love her?  My father first, my brother next, then the dog — and then Mommy and my grandma.  “As I said……”  Believe me, as soon as my mother could stop me, I was not allowed to love either my father or her mother — nor they me.  My mother could NEVER stop the love between my brother and I.
In her June and July 1957 letters to my father my mother mentions the 'masks' - Mildred wore a mask the best she could as she wrote in this book. I know all was not charming as she began to toilet train me at ten months of age. Not by a long shot. Here Mother also writes my 10-month schedule, which would appear to be one a perfect mother might create for her baby. But when I open the covers of this book I hear her screaming at me. I see the rage in her strangely changed eyes. And I sense it in my mother's words written at the bottom of this page: "Linda always has been a good, happy lovable baby -- she has adjusted to our ways and we have tried to adjust to all of ours - no doubt she meant 'hers' but wrote 'ours And on this page: We love our little girl very much and I'm sure she loves us - 'specially her brother -- her Da-Da and 'her doggie' -- and her Mommy and her grandma too. Well, as I said she's an extremely loving baby - underlined with a little smiley face drawn
My first memory of dissociation is related to potty training - but I won't go into that here.
My mother's first baby doll girl -
My first doll, and there were many dolls yet to come - I did not want dolls, and she hated me for that, too. But look at little angel one year old me in the middle picture -- I was -- against all my mother ever said about me -- a wonderful mother, just ask my three children - and me!
I absolutely LOVE this picture of me! Can a baby be any cuter? Baby doll me on birthday #1
My second Christmas, probably in the Atchinson house. It strikes me as being so strange that during this year for certain my mother's 91 year old grandmother lived with us -- and died at 92 in 1952. There is not one picture of my great grandmother. Nor are their pictures in my baby book of my grandmother.
Eleven months old - very intense blue eyes! Mother is pregnant with my sister, Cindy born July 10, 1953
I finally know enough about my own early history to know that these 'picture perfect Kodak moments' were dissociated experiences that fed my dissociation. Yet that I could still express what looks like joy at this age at least gives me hope - there is SOMETHING built into my earliest forming left brain happiness center!
I think I look old for being just two in this picture. I can sense my mother's disorganized-disoriented attachment in her words here, and yes now I can hear the hysteria my sister-in-law heard in my brother's baby book. My mother is clearly using a mask here, no matter how 'cute' her intentions. That she is clearly writing about my SECOND birthday and yet specifies that there are THREE candles on the cake. Considering insecure attachment and the incoherent narrative, I find it interesting that my mother actually chronicled the events in time and space that transpired here.
Again my secnod birthday, Cindy a newborn, John age three - I believe at the third house we lived in after my birth. Now, after this, the trouble must have seriously begun where my mother could no longer keep her mask on. There are pages following this one that are ripped from the book and gone forever. Yes, there still is a lock of my age two hair in that little envelope.

Easter 1955, I was three and a half, standing beside my mother's only brother's only son - who is serving a life sentence for murder. I know no details about what happened.
Easter 1954, lower picture my brother and I on my third Christmas - someone needed to save us -- but with this picture perfect mask and facade, who knew?
My third birthday, and to my knowledge the last party given for me. Again iwth my cousins, and the man bending over the cake is my father. The little dark hair girl with the so-werious face is Sandra, Charles daughter. Her life has not gone well, either. She was either fetal alcohol affected or suffered brain damage from adult drug use and now has a mental capacity of perhaps an eight year old (so my siblings tell me)

Nothing else in the book except my age 5 kindergarten picture.

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So this was the cast-away baby book — minus the torn out pages — that our family was told never existed because — WHY?

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8 thoughts on “*SCAN OF MY ‘NONEXISTENT’ BABY BOOK

  1. If I were to look at your family from a biological prospective- I’d say your mother and father were a perfect match…beautiful, bright offspring.You were a gorgeous baby; long eye lashes, symmetrical face,fair complexion.Mother nature has her ways of ensuring that beautiful bright people come together.Interestingly your mother and father had no idea that these attributes had instinctively brought them together.Was it your mom’s beauty, intelligence, and creativity that attracted your father? We’ll never know…but I’m noticing a trend among trauma altered people..they’re very abstract, brilliant and physically attractive.I guess Mother Nature wasn’t prepared for the trade off…

    • Nature waits for a better day, finding ways to keep selections of gene combinations alive in our human gene pool. Nature doesn’t necessarily experience compassion. It is disinterested in the suffering of the individual. We have to create our own best life – finding tiny ways each day where we can to get through our life. Many probably millions of people carry selections of genes that will show up here, show up there.

      It is the elimination of severe trauma conception to age two that will allow for the best expression of the gifts in our genes to show up — in the future.

      From an astrological point of view I guess statistically people born on a cusp find a mate also born on a cusp. My parents did that. Mother died on the 27th of January, so not on a cusp, but Father died on a September 20.

  2. Very touching. Very poignant. Thank you for sharing these things with us.

    It breaks my heart knowing that your mother lived in such squalor at the end of her life, refusing help of any kind. I do not know your story, and so I am reading this from a neutral point of view.

    The end of her life is gruesome, and I cannot help but wonder what she must of thought of the way she was dying.

    Very, very thought provoking. Thank you.

    ~meredith~

  3. Very touching. Very poignant. Thank you for sharing these things with us.

    It breaks my heart knowing that your mother lived in such squalor at the end of her life, refusing help of any kind.

    The end of her life is gruesome, and I cannot help but wonder what she must of thought of the way she was dying.

    Very, very thought provoking. Thank you.

    ~meredith~

  4. I just wanted to say that you look so lost in your five-year-old picture. My mother threw away every picture of me, so I have no pictorial record at all. Are you glad you found some of yours?

    Lisa

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