Nyana’s Hairbrush

One of the gifts we received shortly after Nyana was born was a huge basket of baby-care items: shampoo, nail clippers, wash cloths, and other baby goodies. Included in the basket was a tiny little hairbrush with a pink handle and soft bristles. We initially took it in to the hospital to help with her cradle cap, and soon discovered that she responded well to us brushing her hair. It was as if the soft bristles were giving her tiny head an all-over massage, and she would settle right into it, and her sats would go up and her oxygen would slowly come down.

Gettin' my hair did

One of our favourite ways to calm her when she was on the ventilator.

During the Intubation Era when her O2 requirements were upwards of 100% and we were so often unable to hold her, I spent hours just sitting beside her and staring at her, singing softly to her, brushing her hair with that little brush. Sometimes she’d push back with her head and give me the little half-smile she’s become so good at. Sometimes she’d get so drowsy yet try so hard to keep her eyes open, looking up towards her forehead trying to see the device causing such a sensation. And almost always, her numbers would improve.

And so her little brush sat for weeks on end inside her crib, near her head, and inevitably, nearly everyone who tended to her through the day would pick up the brush and give her a few strokes. Every day I’d be told by an RT or a nurse that she’s just so cute!, they just had to stop and straighten a few astray hairs for her. For the first two months or so, Nyana was the only girl in our nursery, save for the few overnighters who would come and go and never be seen again. So when she finally was big enough to be wearing clothes every day, all of the nurses would stop in on their way to their break just to see what cute little outfit I had our little princess in today, and to check out the receiving blanket I’d paired her with for the day. The nurses loved that in addition to her little pink brush and the tube of lotion for her dry skin, she had enough onesies and matching blankets to last a week. Mum was making sure Nyana was the perfect little princess she deserved to be.

But to be perfectly honest, I didn’t want a daughter, at least not as my first. I’m not a girly girl, I don’t wear makeup, and I never played with dolls as a child. I hate to shop, refuse to use a blow-dryer, and think that a place is too fancy if I can’t wear jeans there. The odds of me being able to raise a princess were not in my favour. But it’s not fair to raise my daughter as a tomboy just because I’m one. So I went to work embracing Nyana’s girly side on her behalf. And go figure, I’m noticing that I’m starting to embrace my girly side, too.

I can’t wait to dress her in the hundreds of little outfits that her army has sent her that she’s yet to grow into. I can’t wait to spend a week tied to my sewing machine just so that she can be a perfect Princess Cinderella for Hallowe’en. I’m even looking forward to the day when my 16 year old daughter looks far too good for her own good but I can’t say anything, because there is nothing at all inappropriate about the way she’s dressed or done her make-up. I’m looking forward to manicures and pedicures and afternoon shopping adventures, trying on clothes that we’ll never buy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to raise my daughter to be my BFF. But it’s nice to know that I can use her as an excuse to do fun girly things that I would otherwise find frivolous and wasteful.

I’m looking forward to teaching her about the trials and tribulations of being a girl; teaching her how to respect herself and how to love herself for who she is, inside and out. I’m excited about talking boytalk with her, and telling her stories of her Dad and me, and of our first weeks and months and years together. I’m almost even looking forward to those big, uncomfortable, awkward talks. Almost.

Mommy and Me

We haven’t been able to use her hairbrush for as long as she’s been on the CPAP, though we did have a wonderful ten-day reprieve during Nyana’s high-flow adventure where we tried to reintroduce the brush to some success. She seemed to have an aversion to nearly anything on her head (hats, brushes, hands), likely due to the constricting hat that she must wear while on the CPAP, but I’m certain once we show her in the mirror what a pretty girl the brush makes her, she’ll be on board with it again. She is her mother’s daughter, after all.


About Mrs. B

Wife, mother, marketer--not always in that order. Lover of fine food, good company, and exceptional grammar. Mother of one former micro-preemie and one full-term monster baby. Building childhood memories in Vancouver's suburbs.
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10 Responses to Nyana’s Hairbrush

  1. Stacey Feehan says:

    Wonderful post! I’m with you, no make up or frilly things for me. I only have boys, but I have a niece who turned one in November that I get to do girly things with.

  2. Kaili says:

    Ahhh…Karen, I am the same way. We vowed- No pink! No bows! And who was wearing a little pink frilly tutu the other day? Uh huh. Granted, we bought it for a one time laugh- but it was cute! And the bows…well she needs them! How else do you keep the hair out of the eyes? And yeah, it’s cute.

    Hoping you get to use Nyana’s hairbrush soon! And save it! We have a plastic tote for each of the babies that we’ve been keeping stuff in for when they are adults- a few preemie outfits, their little hospital issue hats (one was turned into a little sleeveless sweater for Eli by the nurses to keep him extra warm), etc

    (PS have you seen Blades of Glory because the talk about Nyana’s brush kinda reminds me of Will Farrell’s special hairbrush in that movie-in a good, cute way)

  3. Olivia ♡ says:

    I wonder if there are any studies as to how many of each gender are in NICUs…..just out of curiosity. There was only one girl at the Stollery NICU too.


    • Mrs. B says:

      I must clarify that I was referring to “nursery”, as one of five nurseries in the NICU. We were in one of 2 ‘special care’ nurseries. Wonder if that gives leverage to the argument that girls do better than boys more often… all the girls were quickly graduated to the Intermediate Nursery.

  4. 🙂
    Hadley hates having her hair brushed… I hope that when she’s got more hair she wont fight me on it because I plan to do her hair ALL THE TIME.

    I’m girly enough.. I love shopping and dresses, and my friends and I get pendis all the time. I can’t wait until H is big enough to take to get her toes done, too.

    Ny will be so happy to have a mom that wants to do all those things with her !

  5. Linda Angell says:

    Maybe you can now understand why I loved to make all of those beautiful overalls for you and Kimberley with the ruffles on the straps and the frilly dresses with matching hair clips and ribbons. Yes, I enjoyed making clothes for your brother but it just wasn’t the same!!! And I loved brushing your hair too but I never did master how to French braid and I was a complete 150% failure at cutting bangs ~ my promise to Nyana is that I will NEVER cut or trim her bangs.

    • Mrs. B says:

      But you were quick enough to learn that you couldn’t curl bangs, either! Glad you were good with the sewing machine… remember the little fleece headband you made for me to wear so you wouldn’t burn my forehead? Haha!

  6. Tamara says:

    I had also hoped for a boy for my first… I just felt it would be easier for me. I was raised in a house of boys and don’t make the best ‘lady’. Having a daughter has been a real change.
    I still remember how strange it was when I emptied the lint trap after her first load of baby clothes. It felt so strange to be removing pink lint. lol.

    Raising a little girl is gonna be a great learning experience.

  7. Jen says:

    Up until I was 8 months along I totally thought Xander was going to be a girl and I remember thinking the same things. How am I supposed to raise a girl to Be a girl when I look at the kind of girl I am and have been in my (then) 23 year career of being one. The thought scares the daylights out of me.
    When Aaron and I finally come down to the buisness of baby-making, the goal is to have a girl…and the thought still scares the daylights out of me. Though, I’ve found that Aaron himself has started to bring out my girlish side, and if I have one, you’ve definately got one too. Your enthusiasm for the project is Wonderful *smile* tomboy or not, your lil Princess is gonna make a Queen outta you *L*

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