nicu

dear abby

In ALL, SUGAR & SPICE by Stephanie Klein51 Comments

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You’re nearly 35 weeks gestationally here, 4 weeks old, weighing in at 3 lbs. 10 oz.  You’re up to two bottle feedings a day, and when I give you my nipple, you go for it right away then decide you’re bored.  Because you don’t get the immediate satisfaction, you wait for a bottle, then DOWN IT in five minutes, without spitting up.  My girl can eat!  And it’s wonderful.

If you were a boy, you would have been a Simon. Your father insisted any boy named Simon was begging for a wedgie and a donnybrook or two on the playground.  I liked the Sunday morning cartoon, when I was younger, of a smart boy named Simon with oversized spectacles who liked to draw.  “Simple Simon” the kids might have chanted, which didn’t frighten me.  Toughen you up.  The sad fact is, no matter what your name, kids will find a way to pick on you.  For your red hair or freckles or your height.  And you’ll come home and cry, and we’ll want to fix it for you.  And when you’re tucked in bed, behind the safety of blankets and a nightlight, we’ll talk about it in whispers.  But all we can do, as your parents, is equip you.  That’s what parents do, teach you to protect, defend, and comfort yourself.  Teach you what really matters.  Your father is a wonderful teacher; he teaches me still. 

He threw in some veto power over Simon, so if you were a boy, alternatively, you might have been a Jacob.  We feared Jacob was too popular, though, so you’d always be known as “Jake B,” which wouldn’t do.   Though I do think “Jake” is a whole different animal than “Jacob,” in the same way “Luke” isn’t the same as “Lucas.” Jake drives a Porsche and likes awkward redheads who dress in pink.  Jacob is argyle smart and wears pocket squares and corduroy patches on his elbows.  You would have always been Jacob, not Jake, to me. Though I think I like the name Jonah more.  Be thankful you’re a girl.

You were such a surprise to me.  I wanted a girl and felt guilty for it.  “As long as they’re healthy,” everyone said.  But really, come on!  I wanted you, my little girl, to pull your hair back into rag curls and watch Grease II, singing songs about bowling.   Kerri lotion and foot massages in a big bed.  Ruffles.  And let me tell you now, I already know your color is Lavender; you glow in it. And while I’m sharing the little things a mother just knows: we always knew, without a doubt, if you came into the world, you’d be Abigail. 

When the doctor delivered you, he told me I had a daughter.  “She looks just like her mom,” he said.  And I remember thinking, mom?  I’m a mom?  A second ago I was pregnant, probably with two sons, and now I’m a mom?  “Really?” I squealed, “Oh my God!  We have to call Phil.”  Yeah, that’s right, your dad was on the phone, but that’s a story you’ll hear over and over again… and so will he.  The thing you don’t know is when they first presented you to me, swaddled, your eyes covered with a hat, all I saw of you was your nose and lips behind a manual plastic pump, helping you breathe.  But you were my little girl, and I loved you before I even saw your eyes.

In the following days, I acted like a newlywed, enunciating things.  Instead of “Oh, I’ll have to check with my HUSBAND,” or “may I introduce you to my WIFE,” your father and I began to hold onto our new words.  I’m her MOTHER.  I tell it to you every day, so close to your face, our noses nuzzling.  “That’s right,” I tell you, “I’m your MOTHER.  And I’m going to show you how to walk in heels, break hearts, and dress like you’ve just shed ten pounds.”  Yeah, yeah, and I’ll teach you how to make a phenomenal bouillabaisse, to write from the heart–or at least your name and phone number–and to live fearlessly, my brave, sweet girl.  Your father will teach you to play the guitar and how it feels to be loved unconditionally.  I’ll teach you to wrap presents, when to use nutmeg, to build a fort, and how to hear the ocean in a seashell.  You’ll teach us, every day, how much more there is to see and love in the world.  Patience and laughter and what it feels like to love so much it hurts.

I gave you the middle name Ruby because it’s red and sweet and sounds juicy like the grapefruit you made me crave when you were busy kicking my ribs.  You’re named after your father’s grandmother, Ruth, whom I haven’t met either.  But you’ll learn about her from your grandmother Barbara.  I wanted to give you the middle name Brave, but your father said it was a made up name, so you’re a Ruby, which suits you perfectly. And be thankful your father stepped in when he did or you might have a stripper name like Savannah or Emanuelle. 

And whether you like it or not, despite how embarrassed you’ll grow to be, part of you will be just like me, the way part of me is just like my mother.  Because that’s the cycle of mothers and daughters, trying to outgrow their reach on us, their habits and particular ways of speaking, but we inherit facial expressions, intonations and cadences, and wherever you go, you’ll know you’re mine.  And I’ll be yours, always.  So forgive me for holding on so tight, now that I can, because soon you’ll be walking, and learning to talk.  Your first word will probably be "no," and at some point you’ll scream that you hate me as you lock me out of your room.  You’ll ask for some space, and I’ll invade yours and learn when to give it.  And before all of that,  I’ll have to cry myself, probably outside your bedroom door, as I listen to you cry for me in the middle of the night.  But for now, I’ll rock you to sleep on my chest and let you wrap your small fingers around my finger or a curl, and I’ll sing to you, my daughter.

Comments

  1. Oh Stephanie, as the mom of four wonderfully unique and beautiful daughters, you have summed up all the emotions I had with each one of them. As well as some of the emotions I am currently tending to.
    I can hardly type for the tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat. I wish I could write as well as you, and then maybe, just maybe, my girls would truly know how much I love them.
    Thank you for not stopping at Straight Up and Dirty .. I like the Mommy Stephanie just as well as the Single Stephanie.
    Frannie

  2. This is absolutetly beautiful… i love it… so heartfelt and touching… we ALL have a piece of our mothers in us, no matter how much we resisted…

  3. That's so sweet! I think your writing is fantastic these days. I'm so jealous too, I wish I could have a red headed daughter (or son) but neither my husband nor I have the genes for it!

  4. Dear Stephanie, I have been reading your blog from Germany for a long time and have never written any comments until today. Today reading your post made me cry. I just have to tell you how wonderful it is, how wonderful YOU ARE. I wish so much I had a mother who loved me the way you love your daughter. I have been thinking about whether or not to have kids with my boyfriend for quite some time now and you have really contributed to my decision: Yes, I do want children, I do want to feel this way, too… Thank you! You are far away and we have never met and probably never will, but you have enriched my life!

  5. I just love babies and love the ideea of a new life comming to our world. I can't wait to feel as you do, to feel that every little bit is living for my baby. Until then, I am glad I can understand now what my mother felt all this years, when she was crying outside my loked room (where I was also crying because she didn't understand me…).

  6. That is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. I'm so happy for you and your new family.

  7. This should be framed & hung on your daughter's bedroom wall….with an additional letter to Lucas Beautifully put!

  8. good lord….it WAS the most beautiful post that I've read here since I've been reading. And you made me cry for the very first too.

  9. Dear Stephanie,

    first of all congratulations on your two adorable children Lucas and Abigail, the photos make me laugh and smile. I discovered your blog a while ago and have been reading it every day. I just discovered these lines in one of your earlier posts (2004) and just wanted to tell you: "Look how far you've come! Look how your dreams have come true!"

    Be thankful, you seem to have a wonderful life!

    Best,
    Pauline

    "If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I would be a mother of healthy children, a wife, and a writer. I would live in a new house, with steam showers, full tubs, and dimmer light switches. I'd have land, a pool, a hot tub. I'd have a lovely SUV, and no one would ever suggest a minivan. I would be connected in a deep meaningful way to my husband, and we would keep our marriage a priority and a goal throughout our lives together. We would have trust, respect, and friendship.

    If the best of all possible worlds were reality, I'd have a husband who was intellectually stimulating, who supported me, who made me laugh until I cried, who would cherish me, who I would deeply cherish back."

  10. Looking back over the comment sections of your posts for the last month or two, I feel like I'm one of the only guys here. Did there used to be more? Is it the change in subject matter that has gotten more women here? Huh.

    I'm sure a guy, whether or not he was named Jake, would note that he should be driving a Porsche, as a "Porche" is not really anything (or it's a girl down the block).

  11. I was just looking over the picture of your beautiful babies again. It is incredible how expressive they are! You and Phil are going to be in for a fantastic journey with those two miracles.

  12. Stephanie, I dont know if anything else needs saying but to me you sound anchored, since becoming a mother. Your writing resonates with meaning, not from the words anymore but from the spirit conveyed. Congratualtions as you really do come into your own. Its been fun to journey vicariously alongside you.

  13. Tears! As a 30-something mom of 4, I know exactly who Jake is. He's the hot guy from Sixteen Candles, one of my favorite movies! My oldest, if she were a boy, was going to be Jake. Her "girl" name was/is Stanzi (short for Constanza, from Amadeus) so while I was pregnant we lovingly called our baby Stake. Ha! She is such a Stanzi. Beautiful, independent and unique. Many people thought the name was a little odd, but it's her all over. Funny how important a name is.
    My other babies, Nolan, Sylvia and Phoebe are the same. Their names become them and fit them so well it's amazing.
    Don't feel guilty for wanting a girl. Every mother needs a daughter. And never doubt that we always get what we need.

  14. you expressed beautifully the love that I too feel for my daughter. Thank you for expressing it in a way I simply couldn't.

  15. I wish my Mom had written a note to me when I was born, the last of four daughters. She was looking forward to a son… I hope there was no disappointment. For we are like sisters now, she, 83 and me, 51. I am headed to see my dear Ma in ABQ next week… will ask her to reminisce (over wine & good music) about that hot summer night in May 1955 when I came into her life. Stephanie, you make it all so sweet… (-;.

  16. What a load of crap. Just like the rest of your writing – disjointed and distant. The only thing that is too bad is that Lucas will have to grow up with a mother who apparently doesn't care much for him.

    When writing about the beans in NICU. this pleasant fellow also commented "I can't help to think but wonder that this is God getting back at you. ".

  17. Stephanie,

    Congratulations on your beautiful little family. It must be so hard to not have your babies home with you yet, but they will be in time, and then the fun will really begin. Amazing, isn't it? You don't understand what all the fuss over parenthood is about until you get to experience it for yourself. I wish you the best of luck on your journey.

    On a side note, after being blessed with two charming little boys, this past October first I was given the gift of a beautiful, healthy baby girl. We named her Elizabeth, for the beautiful, smart woman she will become, and call her "Liz" for the spunky, spirited girl I know she is and always will be, deep down.

    I can definitely relate to your post. I would have been thrilled with another boy (you'll find that they are quite simply the most amusing little creatures on the earth!), but I never knew how much I needed… yes, needed… a little girl until I had one. The mother/daughter bond is already there. I can't wait to do some of the same things with her as you described above.

    All I can say is, the best is yet to come! Good luck to you.

    P.s. I agree with the poster who suggested framing it for her room! You have such a beautiful way with words. Thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing this with us.

  18. You made my imagination just dance away, thinking of when i will have my first babies.. thank you.. I have shared your site with many friends telling that you have the power to make me giggle and cry all at the same time.

  19. I think this is the most beautiful blog entry by you, I've ever read…

    So much love and caring…

  20. As the daughter of a mother with whom I share an intense relationship, and as a woman who wonders if I will be able to conceive, and aches to do so, this post was one of your most brilliant yet. Stirring and moving.

  21. Stephanie,
    This post is so very touching. I have 3 wonderful boys so I won't be experiencing a bond with a daughter. My Mom died last spring & we had a Mother/daughter bond. I'm feeling a little teary.

  22. Ok, I have said it once, and I will say it again. Marco, what the hell is wrong with you? If you are so disappointed with this blog, then go elsewhere!
    For god’s sake, give the girl a break… Once you have been pregnant, had premature labour alone, and then lived with the fear of twins in Intensive care, then you can have a fair comment.
    Honestly Stephanie, why do you let people like him post? Anyway Stephanie, lovely pictures, your daughter is adorable.

  23. Stephanie, my youngest daughter is now 14 and slamming the bedroom door and telling me she hates me….she doesn't…but I have to give her the space of being in her room when she wants, it is hard when she is my last baby girl. Where did the time go? By your writing, I know you will savor every second of it, as I did. You blink and your baby is gone. I loved this entry, so much I forgot to open the door on time for work!

  24. Due to the requests, I've added links to the photos of the kids right beneath my photo on the left sidebar. Now I'm off to the hospital to go attempt more breast feeding, with the help of my very own lactation consultant!

  25. I have never posted and am pretty new to your blog, but I must say that I love your writing and how expressive you are. You fully captured how I feel about my 2 daughters, 14 and 4 now. It is a love that hurts, isn't it? Thank you for this beautiful post. Maybe one day I will be able to write with as much expression as you.

    Congratulations on your wonderful family and new found happiness…

    Kim

  26. This is the first time I make a comment. I almost cried while I read this post, it was wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your life and thoughts with us.

  27. Hi Stephanie, your babies are wonderful.
    I know it's too early, but I think that Abigail looks very much her mother. : )
    I read your blog every day and I'm looking forward to buy your book in Italy. I wish you, Phil, Lucas and Abigail e very happy new year.
    Kisses from Milan

  28. I wish "Caught" could read this on air and see how even though there are those out there that "wish you'd get cancer" (ridiculous) there are those of us that absolutly love you and the posts that you put up. This one really brought me to tears and made me feel warm inside. I have two girls that I absolutly adore. Just last night I stayed up late talking to my 12 year old about boys and how they can be jerks (she was very upset because one of the "populars" didn't ask her to the dance) but there are some really good ones out there too. And those boys are usually the ones that aren't the "populars". But most importantly to have fun with her girlfriends and enjoy life right now. I know I got off track but wanted to share a mother/daughter moment with you. Thanks for sharing your life and feelings wtih us.

  29. I'm glad to see that Abigail's eating so well. I'm sure your doctors and nurses are delighted about this. I love watching babies eat, especially when they start solids, and wait for each spoonful with an open mouth. Anyway, like everyone says, they're both just adorable and really making huge progress.

    Also, regarding Marco, perhaps you should install a douchebag filtering software. . .

  30. I echo Freepie's comments: Marco – take a hike if you aren't enjoying Stephanie's blog. It is obvious that you are going to disagree with everything that she says so why put yourself, Stephanie and the rest of us through having to read your ignorant comments? Sometimes a negative point of view is better left unsaid. Find someone else to harass and insult.

    Stephanie – thank you for sharing. Not everyone will be able to relate to your experiences in life, but I do think that it is quite obvious that both your writing and sharing your feelings is touching people out there; including myself. It is a beautiful post and one that I think Abigail will come to love and appreciate when she gets older.

  31. Marco-You remind me of my grandfather. he would bitch about something on t.v. and not get his lazy butt off the couch and do something about it. If this blog bothers you that much—"CHANGE THE CHANNEL". No one is holding a damn gun to your head telling you to read this. So do you watch a movie on DVD and it competely sucks keep watching it only to figure out why you did. You have control over what you want to read. So if someone sharing their information with you does not appeal to you—DON'T. No offense but she must be doing something right from a writing perspective if she has two book deals and also a sitcom deal. Get over it

  32. Stephanie, this is absolutely beautiful. What a gift this will be to your baby girl when she's all grown up.

  33. I love all my children (2 boys, 2 girls) so very much, but my bond with my first daughter is very different and just as you described. Abigail is beautiful, just as you are.

  34. “And I’m going to show you how to walk in heels, break hearts, and dress like you’ve just shed ten pounds.” teach me this aswell?

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