Ladies! Our lives have changed in these past few months! There are five of us now. Obviously we felt like a family when we were four, but there’s something about there being three of you girls that makes me feel complete in a way I didn’t previously know we were missing. These past four months have been a blur in the very best of ways.
Mary, you came into this world during a blizzard that shut the metro area down. You are my sweet little miracle (I know, I know – all babies are miracles, but you… you are exceptionally so). Here’s the proof: I was only seven weeks pregnant with you when our brand new minivan was sandwiched between two UPS semis on I-70. That was probably the most terrifying experience of my life so far, and I began sobbing immediately. I didn’t feel pain right then, I was just so very scared that you were hurt. Later that day, the doctor’s scan showed your beautiful beating heart and I cried with relief.
Shortly after that, and through the rest of the first trimester and into the second, the doctor was concerned about your small and oddly shaped gestational sac. It is so hard and scary to try to be hopeful yet also prepared for the worst.
At 20 weeks, we found out you were a girl. We also found out that I had a complete previa which left us terrified for a few weeks and on edge for the rest of the pregnancy. But you, my smart little girl, made things as easy as possible in this case by lying transverse the entire pregnancy. My doc said this is what saved us from any hemorrhaging, and we made it all the way to your scheduled c-section date at 37 weeks. And since I had gotten the steroid shots a few weeks earlier, and since your sisters were born at 36 ½ weeks with no lung issues, I just knew that everything would be fine and you’d be going home with me when I was discharged in a few days. As usual when I make assumptions, I was wrong. I cried and cried when I was in the recovery room and the neonatologist came in to tell us that you were going to have to be in the NICU for a while. Your lungs weren’t developed enough yet, and you had to be on oxygen. Because of this, the nurses thought it would be best if you would only be held three times a day at most. For the first several days, you were only on IV fluids and I couldn’t even try to breastfeed you. And since I had lost so much blood and couldn’t stand up without feeling like I was going to pass out, any time I wanted to see you, your dad had to wheel me the short distance down the hall to your crib. I felt physically better after my transfusion, but I have to say, it is sucky stuff to want to have a normal pregnancy and delivery and get to do all the things that I assume happen in normal situations – hold your baby right after she’s born, nurse her right away, introduce her to her sisters the day she comes into the world – and instead have pretty much the opposite of all that happen. Sometimes people say that the delivery doesn’t matter as long as you end up with a healthy baby. Rubbish. That’s absolute rubbish. It sucks to have a baby (or three) in the NICU. Regardless of how healthy she eventually is, regardless of how great the nurses are, regardless of how nice the lovely new facilities are. You and I spent 14 very long days in the hospital. And then, almost suddenly, you got to come home! I remember, it was the day before you were discharged when the team was doing rounds. They got to us and were once again debating your feeding/eating. They had finally taken the tube out and it had been your first 24 hours on oral feeds only. You had lost something like 3 oz. Finally the head neonatologist said, “well, what do you think Mom?” I told him that I was taking you home the next day, that we were going to be fine. He nodded and said, “Yes, I’m kind of inclined to agree with you”.
Your sisters were so excited to meet you. They acted all shy but couldn’t stop smiling. Lucy kept repeating, “she’s so cute”. They continue to take care of you, helping with baths and diaper changes and trying to keep you entertained when you get fussy. They can’t wait until you’re old enough to play with them.
You are a sweet, easy baby. You smile so easily. Your eyelashes seem to grow longer and curl upwards even more when you grin. When you’re lying on the bed, you jerk your head around quickly to find Jane and Lucy when you hear them talking or laughing. You poop all the time. You throw your arms up straight over your head and squint your eyes and raise your eyebrows when you’re finished eating. You already want to be a part of everything, wanting to be carried upright and facing out so you can watch. You are my baby. I completely understand how the baby of the family becomes the baby of the family, because for me, that has already happened with you.
Jane and Lucy, you are officially big sisters. And you are officially three and a half. You girls are hilarious and smart and awesome and a complete handful. Did I mention how funny you are? I’m not going to lie – three years old continues to be a challenge. The whining and the fit-throwing are the most difficult parts for me to handle. I have to remind myself not to roll my eyes when you can see me. But, when you’re not whining, when you’re not throwing a fit, you are fantastic. You are best friends except for when you’re not: like when you’re trying to make each other jealous – “look Jane, I’m wearing the Dora socks today” – and Jane, when you’re not pulling Lucy’s hair or screaming in her face.
You all are loving the warm weather and spending lots of time outside. Every evening, you want to run over to visit Nick (our 60 something neighbor who really likes you girls – don’t worry, it’s an appropriate like). You usually ask him for a flower and he cuts a rose off one of his bushes, even de-thorns it for you. He knows which of you is which and thinks you’re both hilarious and beautiful. He never refers to you as “The Twins”. No wonder you like him. You also like to play with the neighbor girls, Lily and Kiley. This is one of those seasons when I’m so glad we moved to the suburbs because if I’m in the back yard and you run around to the front yard, I don’t feel the need to freak out and chase you. If you leave your big wheels at the edge of the driveway, I fully believe they will be there tomorrow. I can go into the house while you’re playing to get everyone a freezer pop. Or a Bandaid. Both happen pretty frequently.
You are picking flowers like mad women. Your dad has turned into a bit of a rose bush enthusiast and I think he probably looks forward to the day that the two of you let us enjoy the flowers while they actually remain on the bushes, but for now, it’s still kind of sweet to me that you want to pick everything. You especially like to make a nice bowl of food for the rabbits. This involves picking a variety of hosta leaves, random flower petals, some grass, a few tree leaves, shredding it all and tossing it into whatever kind of container you can find. Sometimes you leave it in the container, other times you make it into little mounds all across the sidewalk for the bunnies to enjoy.
You know, way back when I was first pregnant, and the ultrasound tech said, “This one is definitely a girl. And it loooooooks like this one is probably a girl, too”, I was shocked. I had some crazy idea in my head that I would be a mom to boys. Then, not so long ago when another ultrasound tech said, “Definitely a girl”, I couldn’t have been happier. I can’t imagine my life or even a day without the three of you being part of it, part of me.
All my love,