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.
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.
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.