Hello, it's me from the future. I think you need some help; you're feeling very alone. You think you're grown up at 23 with a brand new surprise baby, albeit in an incubator and trying to Do The Right Thing. You will. But right now the weight of the world is on your shoulders, or at least of your world and that of the little girl in the neonatal unit.
She's doing so well, isn't she? She's growing as she should be, she is breathing air by herself. But it's so hard to relax. So many ups and downs. Tomorrow afternoon you will try kangaroo care for the first time. I know it's scary, but it's the most special thing having the warm skin and the butterfly heartbeat placed against your bare skin. Try and enjoy the pure magic of it. Weeks down the line you will crave it, hang on to every second. I'm afraid in a few days she will start requiring oxygen again which she will not be able to manage without until she is 6 months old at home with you. Yes that's right, at home with you where she belongs. Your homes will change but one thing won't, and that is that by your side is her rightful place and it always will be.
I know you haven't come to that decision yet. Everything has been so sudden, so unexpected and so many factors are up in the air. You haven't yet sorted things with work. You haven't yet sorted things with her father. You are so far from sorting housing and finances. You have been told you have to wait until her 6 week head scan which is a few weeks off yet, to see if there has been any lasting brain damage or haemorrhages visible at this stage which may affect her development and if you feel you can manage if there is. Right now you are so badly trying to do right by her, you aren't letting yourself truly acknowledge how deep your feelings are. In the very near future you will realise that actually letting your heart rule over your head is not a black and white choice. Because sometimes your heart and head are in compliance, but it will take time for the fog of your shock to subside. Be kind to yourself, you are playing catch up in emotions what you would have otherwise had near 28 weeks to process internally. Love is the strongest of them all and will give you the power to achieve what else needs achieving. Don't be afraid to love and don't be afraid of the future. I'm not saying it will be easy, but once you have love on your side nothing is impossible. Fear isn't a failing.
Listen to people, but listen to your heart. No one else can tell you the truth but yourself.
You're so worried about being able to provide for her if she is strong enough to pull through and come home. She will be; she may need some extra support which is a theme that will crop up again and again, but it is not as hard as it looks. You think that you ahve already failed her once so why wait to see if you do again: you haven't. 60,000 babies are born too small or sick each year in the UK. If you wouldn't call each of their mothers failures, why call yourself one? It was different, that was all. You're so concerned that you cannot give her what a richer or more traditional family set up could give her. If it helps, I'll show you a secret:
Does that look like a child lacking in joy? In curiosity? In happiness? In love? Children don't care about second-hand or third-hand, about whether the outing was free or cost money and any such prejudice is years off. You can cross that bridge when you come to it; I still haven't yet but I am less scared to now when it comes. But what you need is security and I'm telling you that you can and will provide that. It's so much more intricate than you think and yet so simple. This evening, that same little girl threw her arms around my neck and pulled herself into my lap presenting me with her favourite book. She snuggled into my neck at 8pm, sleepily. Every time I think that someone else may have had that privilege my heart nearly stops. Please let yourself feel, your breed of "rationality" is so far removed from your actual life that it will do you no good to torture yourself with your perceived shortcomings. You are a mother and that is enough. I could tell you all her favourite things, her quirks, her progress, about her funny faces, her noises, her likes, her dislikes, but I'll let you have that fun for yourself.
I can promise you will never ever regret it for a second. You may be tested again and again, you will know grief and sorrow and true fear but you will also know the greatest joys and the most wonderful feelings in the world.
With all my heart,
A bit of background: in the days and weeks following Wriggles' surprise appearance I struggled with the idea that I could be any kind of a parent and provide for her and briefly looked to adoption or foster care, such was my conviction that I would never be able to give her the future I had once dreamt of giving my dream "first child". The further the process got, the clearer I began to actually feel things and realise exactly what I would miss out on, and how that dreams are just that: dreams. That we can create new and better dreams and try and find a route back to our old ones through a different path. And I am so glad I stopped trying to be so "rational" and realised that there is no such thing as perfection, except possibly your own child, who is thankfully only metres away from me asleep now!