Jax. Little Buddy. Nubbins. Sweet tiny little butter bean. Someday when you are big and strong and you can wrestle with your cousins (they are waiting patiently) I will tell you the story of visiting you in your tiny incubated baby grower. Of the time I walked in, not knowing either how tiny your sweet body would be – all 2 pounds and 10 ounces of it – or how much I would love you. An underdog? Only by defining your situation, certainly not by your stellar performance in the NICU so far. Ounce by ounce, you will grow stronger, even though turning your tiny head from one side to the other while lying on your belly this week was more than impressive already.
Seeing you hooked up to all those monitors and wires and watching you receive a blood transfusion the other night was nothing like I ever imagined. Not only was I blown away at what the human body, particularly your tiny body, is capable of doing, I was also amazed at the nurses watching over you. A NICU nurse might as well be a saint in my book to maintain a cool disposition when your tiny body forgets to breathe, as you often do (your brain isn’t mature enough to give that signal to your lungs every time…not just yet).
Your mom and dad are learning so much, and they need reminders to take care of themselves and of each other so that they can be strong for you. I can only imagine what this time is like for your mommy, who is not only dealing with the emotional tornado of new motherhood, but also doing it while not even being able to hold you whenever she wants. I believe, for most people anyway, once someone becomes a mother – however they become a mother – the instinct and the fierce need to protect your child never quite goes away. Not at age five or at 15 or even at 40, but especially not at two weeks. There is no honeymoon period for the parents of preemie babies – that time when all you can think about is how amazing your child is – that time before the excessive worry kicks in. The worry for you has been there from the moment you were born. Your mom has always had a heart as big and as wide as they come, but now she knows what it’s like to make a deal with the heavens, to offer up her own health just to keep you safe. Motherhood is both a blessing and a curse – once she knows that feeling, she can never go back to the Kelley she was before you came along. Your daddy, while he keeps strong for your mommy, has been changed already by what it is to be a dad. You, sir, have been born into a long line of wonderful, caring and funny Willaredt boys – your daddy will teach you well and I know one day we will comment on how wonderfully you fit into that line.
I hated leaving yesterday because I can’t stand being so far away from you or your parents. I want you to meet your Uncle Steve and your cousins, sure, but more than that, I wish you were closer so we could be more of a support – not just by phone or text or email. I want to hate San Francisco for taking you so far away from us, but the truth is that I loved the city where you were born and I know we’ll be making visits there as often as we can. We’ll make it work, and soon you will know all of your crazy relatives, people who would literally lay down their lives for you. I’ve never met a bunch like them and wouldn’t trade them for the world. You, my little Pea, are a very lucky boy.