Monthly Archives: October 2011

First Birthday from Alpha to Omega

Adele- To Make You Feel My Love

Before you were conceived I wanted you
Before you were born I loved you
Before you were here an hour I would die for you
This is the miracle of love.
Maureen Hawkins

Dear Gracie,
It has been a year since you were born and what a year it has been. I kind of have been dreading this day, because we have become so busy with you that I have been severely slacking on the blogging of your journey. I have plenty of posts, but not enough time to paint your greatest milestones.  The life I used to live is one I was familiar with. With you, my life seems to have a greater and happier purpose, and I wouldn’t ever consider going back to that previous life. The intent of this blog was to capture your day-to-day struggles of growing.  So many people want to know how you are doing and everyone who meets you wants you to be a part of their lives.  Your cuteness still shocks and awes most people. I wish I could take some of the credit, but you have done this all by yourself.
    Twelve months ago I was staring at you through some glass hoping that  I may have the opportunity to at least bond if the worst was to happen to you.   I would have exchanged my life for yours, if I could. It wasn’t fair that your life was so difficult to start out,  but it has made you stronger.
    You may have some delays compared to your peers, but we will try to teach you everything you need to know.  So many babies who share similar circumstances of your prematurity don’t or won’t survive. We chose to never let you go and you reciprocated despite the pain and sacrifices; it would have been so easy for you to just let go.  The decision you made affirmed my belief that you chose us to be your parents.  You will never remember the pain we saw in your eyes or your silent cries filled with tears running down your cheeks when you were in the NICU. I can’t count the number of times my hands were pressed up against the glass wanting to hold you in my arms.
    A birth parent’s ability to comfort their child is something magical. At that moment, I just wanted selfishly for you to live no matter how much pain you had to endure. The decision of letting people inflict pain on you hurt me more than you will ever know and probably explains why I still can’t be the disciplinarian I should be today. You will be a parent one day and understand where I am coming from.  Compared to your peers, you still have a whisper cry, but we have become attuned to your frequency.
    Your life is a testament of what science can achieve, but imagination assists faith by unlocking the mysteries behind science. We all have the potential to generate life, but the final product is out of our hands. That decision is left up to God. 
    Upon reflection, in the beginning I wanted a boy, because I felt that a boy would be easier to raise.  Your grandmother kept a baby book for your mother and in it was a card given to her by a friend apologizing to her for her first not being a boy. I understand now why you were a girl.
    When I was told that you were a girl, it was a difficult realization to swallow because I knew that it would be harder for me to raise a girl than a boy. On this day, I was  given a source of  beauty which I could never imagine.  Your name was also the easiest one to come up with after finding out your mother was pregnant and the name fits you perfectly because you are graceful and embody that sense to others when they hold you. I wish that you could see the warmth you bring into people’s hearts when they hold you and how you make them earn a smile from you.  Your teethy smile accessorized with drool alone puts other people’s’ worries on hiatus.
     Today, you possess more drool than any other baby I know. You have six teeth, no severe complications and although you are small, you are still growing at your own pace.  You are a little over 14 lbs and packed with determination. This can be proven with your constant crawling, curiosity, cries and squirming ability.
     You are no longer on a long list of drugs; you are completely free of wires and machines. Today, you are able to crawl while successfully pulling yourself up to stand. You haven’t mastered the elegant fall yet, but that may be developmental or because your mother has never been graceful at falling. In the past two weeks, you no longer scare yourself when you  face plant.  These days you look around and get right back up to what you are doing.
     You still require that I put you  to sleep on my chest every night and from that point on I move you to the swing and then our bed, but I dread the day that I will have to move you away from our bed. Words can not express the experience of having you wake me up in the morning especially on  weekends with your kitten cries and the constant crawling on top of me. When I do manage to wake up, I see your beautiful brown eyes smiling at me with your six teeth grin while drooling on me. Meanwhile your hands and fingers are constantly in my mouth,  nose, or pulling my hair and eyelashes. These are the experiences in which I will cherish as your father. You will experience this one day as a parent.
    Currently, we have been working on your speech and language progression with flash cards, activity centers and daily interactions. We have been exposing you to sign language along with Mandarin, Spanish, and English , and I can tell that you think we are crazy to attempt this with you, but studies have shown that exposing you multiple languages allows the brain to rewire itself if it is underdeveloped in some areas, which comes with your prematurity.
   I have turned the library into my best friend as I frequently visit it and read you a book from its collection when I get home. Usually, you squirm and want to play instead.  I reposition you until we are finished with the book and then we play. We go on daily walks around the subdivision and talk about our days. I look crazy for doing it but it has a calming effect on you while you try to absorb every detail about our neighborhood. No two walks are ever the same, but you do love them and every walk seems to be a new adventure for you. Some days I walk with you sitting on my shoulders and others I  carry you with one arm. Either way, you are heavy.
    At this age, your peers are asleep by eight and probably sleep for eight hours. You, on the other hand, fall asleep between nine and ten and that is if I force you to sleep by placing your head on my chest while patting your back and your diapered butt. It usually works, even with you struggling to fight against me.
   We have made it one year without an ear infection or a serious cold/ flu. This is an accomplishment which we are proud of because it could  have severely set your development back. However, this was not a task that was easily accomplished alone. All of your friends and family members share the same philosophy that the first year of a baby’s life is determined by cleanliness, environmental awareness and self-awareness. You have not stepped into a Wal-Mart even to this day. However, you have come across the stomach bug which I had the honor of receiving your projectile vomit while  sleeping on a bed of  towels.  
    You have lost a family member, Aunt Shirley’s son.  I have no doubt in my mind that they are both smiling and laughing with you. With that being said, I want you to know that I will always be your father, but I am not immortal nor perfect as I may seem to be in your eyes.  If something was to ever happen to me, support your mother when she finds another life partner to marry because I have good faith that he too will be just as good of a father.  I know he won’t share our connection, but your mother will make sure that he will love you as much as I do. Give him a chance. Your mother loves you more than anything in this world, but don’t force her into being alone. That is the one thing she can’t handle well. Remember  that your family will always remain yours forever, no matter what happens.
    Right now, you have started to consume 1st step baby organic veggie and fruit baby food, water, baby puffs, pork rinds, mealy french fries, along with your formula. At this point you seem to not like juice, but you love mangoes and mango sorbet. We are all looking forward to Thanksgiving, so you may consume your first bird and finally gain some real mass. This family is all about food and you are about to scratch the surface with Thanksgiving.
    In one year you have grown from 23 ounces to fifteen lbs. Which is an astonishing 1400 percent increase in mass and it has been a struggle for us to make you as plump as you are now especially in the thigh area.  The doctors are more worried about you not gaining enough weight rather than gaining too much weight.  You are still off of the growth chart, as to be expected by a micropreemie.
    In two weeks, I will be sharing your story with a local chapter of the March of Dimes in a two-minute speech and am currently just starting to craft your tale. It starts with ” life is a lot like a calculator…”

Thank you for letting us be your parents and especially allowing me to experience fatherhood …