This letter is premature. You are supposed to be 33 weeks today. You are 33 weeks today. However, you are also 1 week old. Well, not old. You are so very young, unexpectedly so. This has been such a long week. Each day has been full of laughter, tears, and just plain-out exhaustion. All my knowledge of newborns feels useless with a preemie. I’m reading books again, asking doctors questions, and trying to figure out the basics of motherhood under the tutelage of NICU nurses who keep telling me, “She won’t break.”
We’ve had so many blessings in one week, the most of important being that you were born with strong lungs. One of my fears was that they were going to whisk you away immediately to the NICU; however, the nurse put you right up on my chest. You looked at me and I think we were wondering the same thing, “What just happened?” It was a quick and dramatic birth. I’ll tell you about it later.
You’re so very small, each of your features perfectly formed in miniature. Your NICU nurses tell me how adorable you are. I laugh that they have to tell NICU moms their babies are cute. No, is their clinical response, not all of their babies are cute; but, you are beautiful and also very sweet. I don’t protest because I think you’re just lovely. You remind me of your sister: You have the same chin, lips, and nose – all Sproul features. Still, I think you might look like me, if only just a little bit.
Leaving the hospital without you was surreal. It’s anticlimactic and lonely; It’s left me a bit raw. People fail as much as they succeed in providing words of comfort. It’s really been moms who have gone through a NICU experience themselves who know what to say. Come to think of it, it’s merely, “I’ve been there, too.”
Your dad and I take turns visiting you everyday so that we can split the kangaroo holds. We take photos and videos to email to each other. This week you are learning to take a bottle. You took 12cc’s during your dad’s visit today – a real accomplishment. He was so proud. I’m just excited you love you pacifier, something your sister never liked.
Talking of sisters, Auntie Mandie has been there for all of us. She held my hand while I labored and delivered you, visits you in the NICU all the time, and has even been washing all of your clothes and blankets at her house. I keep expecting her to tell me that she’s burned out, but she shows up consistently. She’s always ready to help and has patience in spades. I’m happy I gave you her middle name, Leigh. My intent was to name you after someone I’ve loved my whole life. Someone strong and intelligent, kind and loyal. Plus, you’re both “little sisters.” Our pediatrician has warned us that sisters being best friends is a mother’s dream, not necessarily our daughters’ dream. I’m not going to count on you two skipping through childhood hand-in-hand. However, I hope that you grow up to be close. A sister who is also a friend is your constant so many times throughout adulthood. You’ll need each other more than you know.
We love you very much, little Savannah Banana. (Your dad nicknamed you already). Grow strong so we can bring you home.
After struggling with completing her naps, Avery decided to show us all that she could sleep for infinity. Of course, it was on Easter Sunday and we were aiming to beat the traffic up to my aunt’s house in Orange County. We finally just had to wake her up so we could get going. Predictably, we hit traffic and ended missing the big Easter Egg Hunt. I tried to play it off like no big deal. But, truth be told, I just had this vision in my head of Avery running out into the backyard and collecting eggs like a little champion. So, when Livi and Sophia said they would hide a few painted eggs for Avery to hunt, I was just very happy to get a chance to take photos of her egg run. Well, it ended up being more of an egg sit. Avery wasn’t really sure what this hunt was all about, but weren’t these bright things kind of interesting? And, hmmm, there are more of them over there. Oh, and, look, there’s this shiny stuff inside.
What I ended up loving most about this whole experience, is that I only later realized that I had, coincidentally, taken photos of Avery’s first egg hunt in the exact same patch of grass where I had my first egg hunt. In this last photo, you’ll see me at 10 & 1/2 months holding up my Easter eggs in triumph. Maybe it was that I had a lot more competition (Notice Natalie photo-bombing my pic in her own egg search) or that I just take things more at face value (Go find eggs hidden in a yard? That doesn’t seem weird at all. Yeah, I did it!). I just love how I’m beyond excited while Avery is simply curious about and pleased with her find. It’s so Sproul. Or is it Ernst? Or is it just like her dad? Well, it’s not like her mom!
Thanks, Livi and Sophia, for helping Avery with her first Easter Egg Hunt! My Auntie Rosa has been hosting the family Easter Egg Hunt for over 30 years and it would not have been complete without the next generation of Kirstine girls. Just remember that you cannot take her to college parties when she is still in high school like your mom did with Michelle! See you next year at the same place and, hopefully, at an earlier time!
Well, so much for my recommitment to blogging regularly. What can I say, life happens. Let’s see. Since last time, we got on a roller coaster ride of home searching, went on vacation, I ended up in the hospital due to pregnancy complications, had to cancel our one trip the year to go see Seth’s parents, we bought a house, I ended up back in the hospital, and now I’m sitting on the couch since I’m on bed rest while my mom kindly packs my house for me. Not that it’s been all that restful. I called about 428 places looking for temporary housing since our lease ends July 31. Two Craigslist finds bailed on me at the last minute – SHOCKING how many flakes you find on the good ol’ Clist! I finally found a place and am counting down the minutes until we get ink on paper tonight.
Luckily, we have really wonderful friends and family who visited me in the hospital, have brought us food, taken care of Avery, and really just checked in on us regularly. Also, my mom. Moms are the best! Avery – if you are reading this years from now, know one thing. Be kind to your mom. I’m sure I will make mistakes, embarrass you, butt into your business, and maybe just really annoy you (most like during years 13-17). However, moms are the ones that come through for you. If you are lucky, so are sisters. Remember that when Savannah is stealing your clothes, pushing all your buttons, and wants to hang out with your and your oh-so-you-think-you’re-so-grown-up jr. high friends.
All is to say, here is the first of several belated posts.
Dear Baby Babe #2,
If you look back into the archives of this blog, you will find several love letters to Avery starting with the Dear Baby Babe letters at Week 12. We are at 21 weeks today and I’ve written you all of zero letters. Between you and me, I think I went a little overboard with all those letters to Avery. I mean, how can we say, “yeah, that girl has never been pregnant before!” Let’s make fun of her together, shall we?” What can I say, I had a lot of time on my hands that is now spend running after your sister.
It’s not that this pregnancy is any less special. It’s just that first pregnancies are kind of like an initiation and you are already part of the club the second time around. My comadres don’t ask how I’m doing and then listen patiently as I tell them about every little happening. Instead, they give me a knowing nod and I respond to questions about how I’m doing with “I’m pregnant!” as I laugh. My body has already given way to things it fought off until the third trimester with Avery. I’m already sporting my super bedazzled FitFlops to help with the plantar fasciitis and my back massage pillow is my BFF.
As for kicks, I’ve barely felt any so far. My placenta is in the front this time, so we completely bypassed the entire fluttering butterfly feeling. I can go days without feeling so much as one little bump inside there. However, yesterday, as I was holding Avery for the second part of her nap, you started moving around. There I was, just grateful that I could catch a few minutes of rest, even if it meant holding a teething, feverish toddler and you started stretching out! It was a tiny reminder that two will leave little time for rest. I just hope I have time to hold you when you are feverish, too.
I can already see how there are certain characteristics that are caused by birth order. I’m bossy and Auntie Mandie is…wait, she’s really bossy, too! Well, I’ll say that I’m naturally bossy and being a teacher has really helped Auntie Mandie’s realize her bossiness potential! It’s being in-charge of the little ones that does it to you! Your dad keeps telling me, “In a year and a half, it will be so much easier because Avery and the baby will be playing together.” Yes, that’s a bit naïve. However, I really am looking forward to saying, “Avery, watch your sister while mommy goes to the bathroom…all by herself, with the door locked, and fan on so that I can just decompress for 3 minutes.” I’ll be really sad if you both end up crying at the door.
I’d feel really bad if I didn’t mention Patch. You know how I said he started sleeping on daddy’s half of the bed when I was pregnant with Avery? Well, either he really loves you or he’s just over babies, because he is all curled up to me at night on my side of the bed. In fact, I’ve woken up with his head draped over my back or legs twice this week. Perhaps he’s realized another little hand to feed him is on its way and want to be extra loving. Or, he’s just happy to have me all to himself – if only for bedtime. Like I said, birth order hones particular characteristics.