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.