You are one month old today. We weren’t even supposed to have you until this week.
It’s been a heck of a ride so far. You spent 13 days in the NICU; I’m sure by the time you read this, if you ever do, you’ll have heard stories about that so many times that you’ll feel like you remember them.
Since we’ve been home, we’ve realized all sorts of things that we might have known somewhere in the back of our minds. For example, the bedroom is too cold. We live in a house that’s over a hundred years old, and there’s no insulation to speak of. When the wind is whipping in from the west, our bedroom gets way too cold. We can stand it — we have lots of blankets and your mother likes to keep the thermostat low anyway — but we didn’t like having your bassinet in a room that cold. You’re so tiny and you refuse to keep your hands tucked in; you wave them around and your little fingers get so cold!
So we’ve mostly kept your bassinet in the living room, which is much warmer. And because we’re still a wee bit more protective than we probably need to be, I’m spending most nights on the couch. It’s not bad — it’s comfortable, and I’m tired enough that I’m barely noticing where I am. I feed you at 11 pm, and you normally finish up within about half an hour, and then I snuggle up with you usually until midnight. Your mother gets up to feed you at 2 am, and you normally try to make her life miserable for at least 10 or 15 minutes by putting your hands directly in front of your mouth so that you can’t be fed. Then, Mom goes back to bed and I get up to feed you at 5 am.
At 5, our three dogs — Chelle, Buster, and Dash — decide that it’s time for them to be awake as well. They’ve been put into crates for only five hours, but they whine and bark like they’ve been unloved for years. So I start by running them out and then starting your bottle in the warmer. Usually, by the time I’ve changed your diaper and gotten everything ready to start feeding you, it’s 5:15, and you are not happy that breakfast is late. You use the hands-in-front-of-face defense while I’m trying to tuck a spit rag under your chin. Of course, I’m trying to do this with one hand because the other one is propping up your head, with your silken soft hair in my palm. You are incredibly strong, considering you’re so young, and trying to calm your screaming and move your hands out of the way while tucking the spit rag is virtually impossible — then, trying to grab the bottle to put into your mouth while hoping that you’ll leave the spit rag alone is completely impossible. I’ve gotten to the point where I just put the bottle in your mouth without tucking the spit rag, and then holding the bottle in your mouth by gripping the bottom in my own mouth so that I can reach with my right hand to get the rag in place. I’m sure I look ridiculous, but it’s the only way I’ve figured out how to get you fed.
You’re eating an average of two ounces a meal (eight meals a day); usually, when you finish, you fall solidly asleep. But here lately, you’ve been staying awake a little longer and looking at us with an expression that’s somewhere between “What the heck is going on here?” and “Do you have any idea what you’re doing?” I expect we’ll see a lot of that look when you’re older.
You’re trying hard to make eye contact, and there are times that I’d swear you’re smiling at us (even though most of the sources I’ve found said you won’t do that for another few weeks at least). You don’t make too many noises yet when you’re not crying, but sometimes you make tiny little “hoot” noises.
But my favorite thing about you is this: late at night, if you don’t want to go to bed after your 11 pm feeding, I get to rock you slowly in my arms while singing “I See the Moon” to you. Usually, your eyes are closed by the end of it, and I can set you softly into your bassinet, tuck you in tightly with your blanket and the quilt your Great-Grandma Janette made just for you, whisper “I love you,” and just watch you sleep for a while.
You’re generally such a sweet little girl. I’m so looking forward to getting to know you as you grow.
I want you to grow up to be a strong, intelligent woman with a firm sense of right and wrong, and with an understanding of love and mercy. I want you to be happy. And I want you to be who you are. That’s trickier than it sounds.
Your mother and I are so insanely in love with you, little girl. We can’t get enough of you. I want you to know that, not just intellectually, but deep down. You are so, so loved.
One month down, one beautiful lifetime to go.