On Thursday March 30, we welcomed Wilhelmina Shields Dillingham to the family. Some quick nickname options for those who find four syllables to be too many syllables: Willie, Billie, Mina, and (if you’re dad) Wilbur.
Her birth was reasonably quick and, for her, uneventful. She emerged at 34 weeks and 4 days at a healthy 5 pounds, 15.2 ounces. Quite a big baby for that developmental age.
She was whisked off to the NICU for monitoring, as we expected with a premature baby. Her stay in Hotel Neonatal Intensive Care was similarly uneventful. She just had to learn to eat through her mouth. That’s something you don’t expect one needs to learn, but it is. For the first few days her nutrition was supplemented through an NG tube. What she didn’t take through her mouth was forced into her stomach through her nose. Calories are more important than style, sometimes. A few nights later she pulled the tube from her nose in a grand declaration that she would only be eating through her mouth from then on, thank you very much. And she did!
She was strong enough and big enough that some of the scary things that happen with premature babies—and happened with her older sisters—didn’t happen. No oxygen saturation issues. No heart rate issues. No digestion issues. She’s what the doctors referred to as a “feeder and grower”: an easy, boring baby that just needs a little bit more time to cook under medical supervision. It’s really all you could hope for in the circumstances. Miraculously boring.
The NICU and the related PCICU at Johns Hopkins are hard places for Sarah and me. We experienced some of our very worst days there. And it would be disingenuous to claim we didn’t go into this with that trauma hanging over our heads and clouding our expectations. So to have Wilbur’s stay be so profoundly boring? That was the greatest relief.
On the thirteenth day, she was released to come home. Her sisters, who until this point only had a vague notion that there was another baby on the way and were convinced that mommy and daddy had new babies in their bellies, greeted her warmly and proceeded to try to kill her with a toddler’s kindness.
In the days since, the accidental homicide attempts have continued but so has the love. Fortunately, Wilbur is growing more robust by the day and will soon be able to withstanding her sisters’ clumsy expressions of adoration.
Welcome, Wilbur! We love the crap out of you!
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