Dear Baby V,
Today is our biggest milestone yet: viability. If you were born now, you’d have a 50/50 chance of survival. Those odds are comforting for as long as you are inside me, so please don’t think about arriving before the end of October at the very earliest. (Of course, our OB might have other plans for you, but that’s another story.)
I don’t know if you’ll ever read this blog in its entirety. Maybe you’ll find it interesting or reassuring to know how much you were wanted, and how much we struggled to have you. But I will share this, my first love letter to you.
I talk to you all the time in my head:
This is the beach — I’ll take you here next summer.
How does a burrito sound for lunch?
That’s London, where I was born. We’ll visit some day.
Like me, you’ll be both a British and an American citizen.
¿Qué te parece esta lengua? Un día visitarémos a Andalucía, dónde yo crecía y adonde viven dos de tus seis abuelos.
Ohhh, I love this song!
I think you can hear outside noises now, and I think you hear higher-pitched noises more. A few nights ago, we were sitting quietly, you and me, and our dog started chewing his squeaky toy. Squeak! You kicked. A pause from both of you — then Squeak! A-squeak! A-squeak! and kick-kick-swipe-roll-kick.
So I’ve started talking to you aloud. So far it’s just Hi, sweet girl… or I praise you when you move. Some of your kicks and jabs make me jump, others make me giggle. All make me glow with pride. Soon I’ll pluck up the courage to tell you about Nellie. The closest I’ve come is mentally telling you about her. The thing is, I’m not sure how to say those words aloud to you yet. Maybe I’ll look at pictures of Nellie and tell you about her and why we chose her.
More difficult is talking to you at all. I am still so scared of losing you, I guess. I’m relatively calm and confident, despite all the placenta issues, but there is an undercurrent of anxiety. It’s like I’m walking alongside a canal (I picture Camden Lock, where I hope to take you one day). The canal is my anxiety, but I’m safe and dry on the towpath. Still, towpaths have the occasional puddle, the odd patch of green slime to trip you up. I’m still staring at my feet as I walk because looking up and towards the horizon feels unbelievably cocky.
So I sing to you. When I was a girl, I’d sing a Welsh love song to my (Welsh) great-grandmother. This is the woman I so loved and for whom you are named, so now I sing this same song to you:
My love is a Venus, a goddess so fair,
No flower more lovely, no jewel more rare:
Wherever you wander, no other you’ll find
So gracious and gentle, so tender and kind.
My darling is merry, my darling is free,
A spirit of beauty, a bird in a tree.
I’ll love her forever, she knows it full well –
But whether she’ll have me, I never can tell.
If not her genes, then this song — like her name — I can pass down to you.
When I sing this song to you, you’re usually quiet for the first verse and more active during the second. (Maybe because you hear the higher notes better in the second verse?) When I play music in the car, I favour beats and you seem to keep rhythm. When I play the piano, it’s as though you settle down and listen. I wonder if you will be musical. Music is very important to your dad and me. Although our donor claims she isn’t musical, she says her own mother, aunts, and uncles are. I want to encourage your love of music.
I wonder about your personality. I don’t believe in horoscopes, but I used to, so have consulted Linda Goodman (who, I just found out, shares my birthday!), just for fun. You kick all the time, even when I am hungry — a state when a lot of fetuses are less active. Some studies say this means you will be an irritable child. I can see how you might take after me in the ‘hangry’ department.
My dreams are so vivid. I often dream in French or Spanish, and sometimes English, French, and Spanish all in the same dream. This has happened plenty of times in my life, but never so frequently. I wonder if this means you will be a talkative or linguistic child. Will you love language as much as your dad and I do?
I wonder about the epigenetic influence my body will have (and has had) on yours. Will my height boost yours? What other biological influences will I have on your development? I often look at the 3D ultrasound of your little face and it is so unfamiliar to me. I see our donor’s wide mouth and her bone structure, so similar to my own; and I see your dad’s jaw. We know your eyes will be blue or green, and I can tell they’re large and well-spaced, the opposite of my brown, close-together, deep-set pair. I do not recognise my genetic family in your features. You don’t look like the child I’d imagined since I was a child myself, but I love your little face so much. I can already tell that you are an old soul.
A few months back, before we knew you were a girl, I had a dream in which I met my adult daughter. I don’t remember the dream content, but I was so happy to see my daughter all grown up. You were a strong presence, pale olive-skinned like me (and our donor), with brown hair that had a little wave to it. As I write this, your hair currently has no pigment, but I picture you with this same chestnut hair, olive skin, and green eyes. I think you will be born with a full head of hair — like me — and maybe we’ll see the first suggestion of this at Friday’s ultrasound.
I’m adjusting to the idea of being a vessel for your life, and am more or less at peace with the idea of going on hospital bed rest and having a c-section. I’d do anything to protect you. Nothing is as important to me as keeping you safe.
The last time I went to the grocery store someone helped me retrieve a shopping cart that was stuck inside the next one; and the checkout girl asked how many months I am. Just like that — apparently it is now that obvious that I’m pregnant. Every offer of help, every belly rub, every question about you is a celebration of you. I’m not sure if I’ll have a baby shower because I don’t know many people in San Diego. But I am determined to find a way to celebrate your life — if not before your birth, then certainly after.
Please hang on a little longer. Today’s 24 weeks is a wonderful milestone to reach, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Keep doing what you’ve been doing so well, and I will keep you as safe as I can for as long as I can.
I love you, my sweet, strong, beautiful girl.