That's what my badge says that allows me to access Maelee's room 24/7. It's a title I wasn't sure I wanted. If you don't know us well, we have been married 9 years and this is our first child. It took me a while to be ready for the idea of having kids; then we got pregnant, and it took me a while to get used to the fact that we were actually going to have one.
God had his own ideas on how to help me with this. Reflecting on the last eight weeks, we can definitely see God's hand in Maelee's birth and the circumstances that surrounded it. I believe God is using this to help me transition into the role of Mom.
When pregnant, I didn't really feel a connection like some women, even when I started to feel her move. The first time I saw her in the NICU the day after she was born, it didn't seem like she was mine. But as she grew day by day, and I studied her small features and how everything was perfectly formed, just tiny, I slowly realized I loved her. When I held her swaddled for the first time and was really able to see her face, it reminded me that I've always been drawn to all things small (and therefore cute). Just one of the ways God has used this extra time with her to help me.
Having my own kid has always terrified me; I'm not naturally good with kids, I don't ever know how to interact with them. Everyone always said "it's different when they're your own," but I wasn't convinced. Because she's so little, there really isn't much we can do for her at this point; the nurses care for her round the clock. But we do change her diaper, take her temperature, and are able to hold her. So gradually, we are being shown how to care for her while having the peace of mind of the nurses to show us what to do. So while it's not ideal that she's in the NICU, we are able to "practice" taking care of her before being on our own.
The other main thing I can do for her right now is provide her food. With preemies, breastmilk is best for their development and immune system. Her doctor stressed this from day one. Well, that quickly helped me get over the awkwardness I had felt. I was being told that's what she needed, and I wasn't going to not do "what the doctor ordered."
Maelee is now almost two months old; sometimes it still feels weird to say I have a daughter, especially since she hasn't been home. But we love her, can't wait to have her home, and yes, it's different when they're your own.