To My Dolly, My One Year Old Dolly

Yesterday, I started writing you a letter. We’d celebrated your 1st Birthday by throwing you a party. It had gone smoothly, you’d been a pleasure and seemed to enjoy every moment. Afterwards, we’d revisited the ward that saved your life. Emotions had been high – for all. There was so much I wanted to say to you, almost too much to process.


I tried writing this last night but the hours manically ran away from us. Between you and your Brother, nothing much was accomplished. You were awake late, still demanding we recognised your presence. Your insistent nature makes it even harder to remember life without you.

A year ago today, I could have never predicted the turmoil we’d all be hurled into, I could have never prevented it either.

At some point in my life, I recall, on some random afternoon, stumbling across a quote ‘want to know the value of a month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby’. At the time, it was nothingness. It meant very little to me. I found it hard to relate to, I couldn’t contemplate what that must even mean.

Without warning, life taught me that lesson.

For a long time, I prayed to go back in time and change things. I felt desperate to be able to mend all the hurt.

I longed for just one more day of naivety and ignorance.

For a long time, I clung on to all the negative energy and pain. I think, if I’m honest, I savoured it. I used it as atonement for my wrongdoings. It felt like my fault you had been born early; it felt as though the responsibility was all mine. Mentally torturing myself became a means of paying for my sins.

For a long time, I thought about your birth and cried. I felt guilty and awkward that I couldn’t focus on the joy or delight you’d given me. I felt saddened that I couldn’t look to your birth with the same excitement and enthusiasm that I did with your Brother’s. The day he was born was both the most life-changing and marvellous day of my life. Throughout my pregnancy with you, I’d looked forward with eagerness to sharing the same experience with you.

Then, at 31 weeks, something (maybe fate) intervened and knocked me sick.

There’s parts of your birth I’ve never shared with anyone, not even your Father. There’s emotions I experienced I could never bring myself to share. Maybe through embarrassment, maybe through shame.

As I lay on the bed insisting that I was pushing, I’ve never felt more alone or scared in my entire life. I remember thrusting my hand out in the direction of your Father with every contraction. I was frantic for him to hold it. Distressed by the lack of support, I called to the Midwives. Again, I came up empty-handed. My lonely left hand remained swinging in the air. ‘I need you’ I eventually cried aloud.

Mustering his own strength, your Father came to my side moments before you were delivered. Having him near me shared my burden. I closed my eyes, too frightened to look at the reaction of others.

My eyes were still closed when you were born. My biggest regret? I never opened them. The worry was that you wouldn’t be breathing. Hearing your cry was single-handedly the most joyous moment of my life. Still with my eyes closed, tears streamed from my eyes. I choked out tears of joy, of relief, of fear, of guilt.

Your cry meant I was entitled to a cuddle. As the midwife placed you firmly on my chest, I still never opened my eyes. ‘She’s beautiful’ your Daddy declared. ‘Her features are perfect, she’s going to be more beautiful than Tristan’ he said. I wanted to believe him but cowardly, I couldn’t lower my head to look at you. I was the most scared I’d ever been in my life. For a long time, I hated that I didn’t look at you. It’s a moment that I’ll never get back. Had I known how intensely perfect you’d be, I would have opened my eyes and ingested every tiny atom of you.

A year on, I’m eventually coming to terms with our experience. Tonight, I look at you with my eyes wide open. You’re stunning!

Your outer beauty makes me beam with pride; those delicious eyes, your blissful cheeky smile. You’re cute and quirky. Just like your Mother, your face can’t lie. You wear your emotions in your expressions and may I add, all of them are beautiful.


Your inner beauty makes me equally as proud; you’re placid but not overly. Your giggle is infectious, you’ve already got a wicked sense of humour. You’re passionate and strong. So so strong!


This last year has taught me so many lessons but the biggest lesson of all was strength. You’ve had the strength to overcome pain, you even had the strength to tackle ‘Death’. You won of course and I know you always will. You’re one of life’s natural winners.

Today, you’ve taught me to let go of the past. It doesn’t matter anymore.

Happy Birthday my gorgeous girl, my Warrior Princess, my Dolly, my titch.


P.S – want to know the value of a year, ask a Mother who gave birth to a premature baby also…the 1st year is such a milestone and every moment is priceless xxx

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One thought on “To My Dolly, My One Year Old Dolly

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂 My little girl was born at 31 weeks due to an abruption/placenta previa. She had to be delivered via emergency c-section. I would’ve given anything to hold her or see her face after she was born. I caught only a glimpse of her from the side before they whisked her away. I was barely able to touch her tiny hand before she was wheeled out and on her way to a different hospital, as the one where I delivered her had no NICU. It was days before I could see her again, and I spent that time either crying or asleep from the effects of pain medication. My story is different from yours, but I have shared the same guilt that you have carried. I have never heard anyone else put it quite like you did, but now that it’s in words in front of me, I couldn’t agree more – I guess I felt like maybe it was punishment for something I had done. My daughter is a healthy, happy two and a half year old. She’s not only “caught up,” but has far surpassed many other two and a half year olds, particularly with her speech. But to this day, I get angry with women for their impatience in the months or weeks leading up to their due dates. I get angry with parents who freak out over their baby’s routine vaccinations. I mean, come on! I don’t want to hear them lamenting a shot or two when I saw my baby with a machine breathing for her, with IVs in her skull, and getting a blood transfusion. Prematurity makes a lasting impression on a mother. Many broken parts of me are healed and back together again, but I know I’ll never be quite the same. It helps to share this path – albeit a bumpy one – with others who “get it.”


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