Today you are viable.
If you were born today, you might respond to resucitation. You would be more tubes and wires than baby for a long time but there would be a tiny glimmer of hope that we would witness your first unassisted breath, your first smile, your first day at university and your wedding day. It would be raw and intense and agonising for a long while but we would watch your chests rise and fall and know that you still had a chance.
If you were born today we would think of Hugo, who didn’t make it. We wouldn’t breathe for weeks. We would touch your tiny starfish hands and feel grateful for every minute that we had with you, and guilty for every minute that you had with us. We would hope that you could stay together, as you were in the womb. We would hope that you could stay with us. And what would we do with the boys, if you were born today? Toddlers aren’t welcome in the NICU but we’re not ready to leave them with other people yet. How could we close the front door and leave them behind? How would I juggle work, and who would walk the dog?
If you were born today would you need us? Would you know if we were there?
Until today I have thought of you as extensions of myself. You have been cravings and nausea, the hint that stretchmarks might be coming, acrobatics that wake me in the night. You have been the subject of discussions with obstretricians and consultant midwives, my insistence that ‘a healthy baby is not all that matters’. You have been joy and excitement, you have been fear.
You have been assigned names but you are not your names. Not yet. There is still time for us to change our minds.
But today, if you were born, you would be people. You would have translucent skin and impossibly small eyelids fused over eyes not yet ready to open and see. You would have rights. That first, forced breath would give you independence from me.
If you were born today we would marvel at you. If you were born today you would look like sea creatures, like an artist’s idea of a person. We would give you your names to hold on to, as something to grow into. We would will you to grow.
If I am honest I have not spent very much time feeling lucky this pregnancy. Smug, yes – you are just what we ‘ordered’ and I’m so excited to welcome two girls to the family – but I haven’t indulged much in that quiet glow of gladness and gratitude. Today I have felt you somersault and kick and I have closed my eyes and allowed myself to feel happy, to feel excited for you. We are more than halfway through this pregnancy and still it doesn’t quite feel real.
We have so much to do before we welcome you. It’s not just a case of decorating a nursery but finding a house, making it a home. It’s hard to visualise a home birth where you don’t know where home will be or what it will look like. My daydreams revolve around feeding you on soft patterned quilts that we don’t yet own, and basking in the July warmth of the garden that we don’t yet have, snuggling you and watching your brothers play. Please try not to come early, if you can help it at all. It’s not just the terror of the unknown, the strangeness and the wrongness of seeing your baby in a plastic box when she should be tucked up underneath your heart. It’s the logistics too. I don’t know how we would manage those.
The thing is, I’m just not there yet. And neither are you. So today you are viable and you would have a chance, but please don’t take it. I want to fall in love with you slowly first.