A is for Abigail

This book is a gift from Nana and Poppi. (Photo by Brienne Michelle, of course!) On Mother’s day this year, they took me to the Ronald Reagan Library to celebrate at their Mother’s Day Brunch. In the gift shop, we saw this book on the shelf. Everyone got all excited because Anthony and I had just announced, about a week prior, that if Peep turned out to be a girl, we would name her Abigail. Her Tia (which means “Aunt” in Spanish) wanted to get the book, and pouted when I pointed out that we still didn’t know if it was a girl. So we left the book on the shelf.

But the book had touched us all. My parents agreed that they would go get the book as a surprise for me in September if Peep was in fact a girl. 3 weeks later, Abigail arrived. So my parents made a special detour to the library before coming to visit me at the hospital the day after she was born. I was so touched. I thought it was so cool! And it wasn’t until I had held the book in my hands that I realized the tag line of the title: A is for Abigail; An Almanac of Amazing American Women.

The title is referencing Abigail Adams, the second First Lady of our country. I couldn’t believe how appropriate and poignant that was for me. She was less than 24 hours old when the book was purchased and she was already amazing. And Anthony and I have joked on several occasions that our children could not be more “American” if they tried – Our daughter is a true melting pot of heritage which makes us so proud. The book talks about who these women are (Abigail Adams, Emily Dickinson, Harriet Tubman, Sacagawea, and Susan B. Anthony,  just to name a few) and what they did for our country. The book encourages little girls to become the best American Women they can, and join their ranks. I’ve realized over the last 2 months that the sky is the limit for Abby – she can do ANYTHING. I know it in my heart. I feel it in my bones. She is destined for great things.

It dawned on me that I have spent most of my time writing about Abby’s conditions, rather than writing about her as a person. Truth be told, viewing her in a box every day makes it hard to realize that she is just that: A person. I mean, I understand the concept, but she is sort of one of those things you get scolded for touching in a really nice store. She’s meant for display only, and if you break it, you buy it. But in reality, she is so much more than that! She is a person! And she has a major personality to boot.

Abigail is almost 2 months old (and 32 weeks gestation) and boy has it been fun to watch her come to life! She has so many nicknames already that I can’t keep track of them all! Here are my favorites:





Little Girl

Drama Queen

Squirmy Worm

Those are just a few.

That face!!! Oh, melt my hear why don’t ya?! Honestly, when Bree sent me this photo the day she took it, I truly did not see the mask. I was so focused on her eyes and her nose and her smile (and her hair!!) that I never noticed the tube and the tape. That is what Abby does – she makes me forget that I am in a hospital. She makes me forget that she is “sick.” She makes me happy to be alive!

I wrote one of those Acronym poems using her name. I used many of the words we use to describe her daily. The poem is below and an explanation of each descriptor follows:

A is for Abigail

B is for Beautiful

I is for Intelligent

G is for “Grabber!”

A is for Active, Alert, and Animated

I is for Impressive

L is for Lovable

A is for Abigail: I know, that is cheating. But I make up for it later, using 3 words for the second “A” in her name. And really, it is a descriptor in addition to her name. Abigail is a Hebrew name. I have found two meanings for it. The first is “Rejoicing.” The other is “Her Father’s Joy.” I assume the reference is to God the Father. But it fits in so many ways. She is such a miracle. She is such a fighter. She is such a joy in our lives. And she truly is Daddy’s little girl. She sleeps her best when she is in his arms. She loves to look at him and she smiles more often for him than she does for anyone else. Anthony holds her during the night shift every night. I hold during the day. And while he was away on a trip for three days this past weekend, I was so excited I’d get to hold her twice each day! But the first time I held her at night, she stared at me… and she just wouldn’t stop staring. She really did look confused. I think she wanted her Daddy! No surprise. She really is her father’s joy.

B is for Beautiful: Oh, gosh. Don’t get me started. I mean – you’ve seen the pictures haven’t you? I know, I’m SUPER biased. She is, after all, mine. But look at her! She has the “Francis” nose. It is a cute little button shape. And she has her Daddy’s eyes (Yippie!). She got my cheek bones, my forehead, and a combination of both of our hair. While it still hasn’t decided on a color, it is growing like a weed! It is thick and soft and CURLY!!! It is going to be curly. *sigh* And it isn’t just the “who does she look like?” features. I love her little face. It seems to have grabbed all the best qualities possible from both of us. At some angles, she looks just like her Daddy. At other angles, her pictures could be mistaken for my baby pictures. She is truly “our” child. And her body is perfect – in every sense of the word. I’ve explained before that many Preemies her age are born with deformities. Not the kind that last forever, but they look “weird” because they aren’t done growing. Abby looked like a miniature full term baby – perfect fingers, perfect toes, round head and all. She truly is a beautiful miracle.

I is for Intelligent: Ok, seriously people – We are in trouble! We’ve got a cognitive thinker on our hands, and that is dangerous at any age!!! At 3 weeks old, I took a video of Abby in her giraffe because I wanted to capture what the nurses were calling her “Daily Yoga Poses.” I got more than I bargained for. See, Abby is very strong for her size. And she was determined to show it. She would (quite literally) do “butt-ups” (a form of push-ups, without lifting the head). She could actually get herself into a yoga pose called the “downward dog” where her butt is waaaaaay up in the air, and her feet and hands (and head) are all on the bed. Well, when I went to video this crazy phenomenon, she decided now would be a good time to show off. Instead of just giving me the push-ups and the yoga pose (as if that wasn’t enough!) she showed me a new trick. She pushed off of the bed with her feet, and (at the same time) pulled really hard with her hands and managed to scoot herself forward. For all intents and purposes, she had just crawled, if that is possible for a 3 week old!!! And I have it on video. The Dr. had apparently seen it before and laughed. She told me she is one cute smartie-pants to have been able to figure that out already. Technically she shouldn’t be that strong OR that smart at this stage. Well there you have it. After this, I was also told by several other nurses of their adventures with trying to keep Abby in the center of her bed. Turns out she had managed to scoot herself all the way forward one night and hit her head on the plastic wall of the box. Yikes!!! Time to seriously baby proof our house!!!

G is for Grabber: Abigail has a major grip! As I’ve said, she is super strong. And she likes to grab at things. At first it was just Anthony’s and my fingers. And she’d hold on for dear life, as if to say, “please don’t leave!” But as time went on, she started grabbing other things. Actually – pretty much anything within reach! She grabs all of her tubes. The ones on her face have to be tapped down REALLY well because she grabs at them. She has actually grabbed the nasal therm and yanked it out of her nose. Because the tape was pulling at her cheeks when she did this, she quickly shoved the nasal therm back up her nose. And the result was her very first bloody nose. AHHHH! And I was there to see it. Even more AHHHH! She grabs everything. Her favorites, though, are her nasal therm and her feeding tube. They had to adjust it several times when it went down her throat because she kept yanking it out a little and that isn’t good. Finally, they just put it down her nose so she couldn’t yank it out anymore. But she still plays with the tail, ALL THE TIME! She grabs fingers, she grabs arm hair, she grabs at her clothes and her blankets, she even grabs her own pacifier! And she’ll hold it there so she can suck on it (although I guess that should have gone under “Intelligent”). Oh, and she grabs things with her toes, too. Yup – she got her Daddy’s monkey toes. Boo! Man, am I going to have to keep an eye on this one. I guess Pup is going to learn the hard way about getting too close to her! One good grab of fur from Abby and he’ll steer clear! 😉

A is for Active, Alert, and Animated: Abby is a mover and a shaker. While she does sleep about 85-90% of her day, that 10-15% she is awake, she is AWAKE! She loves to look at things. She has tons of black and white pictures in her house because she loves to look around, and those are what is best for her eye sight developement. When she is out of her house, you will see her looking all around. She stares at faces. She stares at patterns. She stares at light fixtures, which we try to discourage, but we can’t win them all. She is so alert. And she loves to wiggle. “Wiggle Worm” is such an understantment. I’ve always been told that once babies are 3 months old, you really have to keep an eye on them because they start to roll around. Yea – she’s been moving around (and even rolling out of her nest in her house) from the moment she wasn’t connected to a ventilator. So no one, nurses, Dr.s, or parents alike, has been able to take an eye off of her from the get go. She LOVES to bust out of her swaddling. It is almost like a game to her. She thinks it is so funny! And she does this stretch that involves her whole body, and if you aren’t careful, she’ll roll right out of your hands. So we have to hold on pretty tight. And she makes the best faces! She is so animated. It is easy to tell when she is happy, sad, grumpy, tired, comfortable or uncomfortable…just read her face. She has no problem expressing herself. She uses her hands, too. She is a bit of a drama queen in that respect. She covers her face with her hands when she is upset. When We”ve fixed whatever was making her upset, she’ll place her hands on her forehead in a “woe is me” fashion. And when she’s happy, she covers her mouth like I would if I was laughing to hard. She smiles a lot, and only cries when she needs to. Yup, she’s a teeny tiny girl with a HUGE personality.

I is for Impressive: If I had a dollar for every time one of her doctors or nurses told mr my daughter was impressive, I’d take you out to lunch! Day one, she was impressive for taking a breath all on her own. In the beginning, she was impressive for responding to almost every treatment they tried. She was impressive for all the movement she was capable of, for feeding so well, and for how easy-going she was and still is. When she got sick, her recovery was impressive. Now, her growth is impressive. And the latest item of impressiveness is latching on to breast feed. Shee’s been “rooting” for about 2-3 weeks now. Rooting is all of the motions she makes with her mouth to indicate she is ready to try to latch on. In the beginning, it was just her mouth moving, and her tongue licking her lips, and her little sucking noises. Then, as time when on, she got more aggressive with it. She wasn’t just licking her lips anymore – she started licking me! And she got upset when it wasn’t what she wanted. Days before we tried Non-Nutritive breast-feeding for the first time, she was so determined to try, that she threw her head to one side in an attempt to get closer to my nipple. The day she turned 32 weeks gestation, we decided to give it a go. The nurses warned me that she might not figure it out quickly and not to get frustrated. We had 2 whole weeks before she could start feeding that way, anyway – so just let her play. NOPE! Day one, round one. She started rooting and I let her lick me. She knew exactly where she was and what she wanted. She opened her mouth SUPER wide, I brought her head to the nipple, and voila! She latched on. First try. Our nurse was so impressed, she called other nurses over to see. She continued to latch on several times that day, and still – every time we do non-nutritive, she latches on. They do her feedings now, while she does this so she makes the association that this will make her full. We still have a week and a half or so before she can actually feed off of me. But something tells me that she’s not going to have a problem with that either…

L is for lovable: This is a picture of my little princess, taken yesterday. 8 weeks old and 3 whole pounds.I love this little girl so much. And she makes it so easy! She is so loveable! She loves to be held and cuddled. She loves to be talked to, and she especially likes to be sung to. (You are my sunshine and Amazing Grace are among her favorites.) She is so content to be in our arms, and she shows it by having the best breathing readings and highest oxygen saturation when we hold her. What once was our 15 minute holds because that is all she could handle are now hour to hour and a half, plus! And she could last longer if she didn’t need the warmth of her house to keep her well. She makes Anthony and I know that she loves us. She tells us, in her own special way, every day. She is just a joy and such a pleasure to be with. She makes me happy and she truly has completed our little family circle (for now…). I miss her every moment I am away from her. And we are both so happy to see each other when I arrive.

Speaking of which, I must go! I have to see my little angel! If Any of her nurses reading this would like to post more about her personality, I’d love to hear it, and I’m sure my readers would, too. Thanks ladies!!



4 thoughts on “A is for Abigail

  1. Lisa Strand says:

    Jenifer, what a beautifully written description of Abigail! I almost feel like I know her now! I look forward to getting to know her for real! blessings! Lisa

  2. Kathy says:

    I am just speechless …..first, I always get so teary eyed after reading your blog about Abby…I can just feel the emotions and love you and Ant have for Abby, your writing is that descriptive. Second, as Lisa mentioned, I feel like I know Abby. I too can’t wait to meet her in person! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  3. Julie Mazer says:

    I just got home Sunday from two weeks in the mountains and an Abby update was the first thing I looked for! I was so happy to see it on my email tonight! Jen, what a wonderful mother you are and your writing leaves no doubt as to Anthony’s aptitude for fatherhood. That picture is beyond beautiful–she really does get more lovely each day. Love her name, the meaning associated with it, love her traits, love HER!!! Who could not? Again,Abby and her parents are heros!

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