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I've generally avoided explicitly personal writing on the blog (preferring instead to focus on matters whimsical & pop-cultural) but there's a time and a place for everything. That time is now. That place is here.

At 12.16 a.m., on Friday the 16th of January 2009, our daughter Willow emerged into the world - 6 weeks earlier than expected. Jess's labour was long and exhausting. Her strength and composure were (predictably) astonishing. She's always been my hero. She's now my idol.

As I write this, with pen & paper, it's "quiet time" in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The lights are dimmed, the blinds are drawn. Machines bleep and whirr. Tiny babies cry out and then fall silent. The white light from Willow's phototherapy lamp illuminates my notebook page.

Outside, January is doing its thing. Chucking down sleet and snow, clearing up for a time, then clouding over and darkening once more. Inside her incubator Willow sleeps serenely - naked and impossibly beautiful. Growing strong. Changing daily.

I've never been more aware of the inadequacy of language. Attempts to communicate precisely what we're feeling sound clichéd and platitudinous.

Music, laughter, and (buckets of) tears speak more eloquently than clumsy, clunky words. I sing to her every day, through the little portholes of her temporary home. It helps me, and (I know) it helps her. The tightened grips on my finger testify to that.

Love is such a physical force - deep and shattering. Beautifully painful.

6 Pounds, 3 Ounces: a great weight (I repeat endlessly to myself and others) for one so premature. She'll be home soon. I know this.

Here it all begins. A journey measured in minutes and hours. In feeds and measurements and cuddles and song. It's gut-wrenching beyond belief - but boy, is it wonderful.

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39 Responses to “Willow”

  1. A Doubtful Egg says:

    Congratulations: on Willow’s arrival, Jess’s fortitude, and your wonderful words. A Happy New Year indeed!

  2. Penny Century says:

    Aw, congratulations to all the family! She’s lovely, and what a cool name. Is it after Ms Rosenberg, by any chance?

  3. Alexia Golez says:

    Congrats to you and Jess :) Welcome Willow!

  4. Darren says:

    Oh wow! Congratulations! Willow is a beautiful name.

    And what a wonderful, uplifting post.

  5. Chimp says:

    I was wondering how long before you’d crack and let Willow be the subject of your blog! Great words though. You wonderfully encapsulate what I imagine to be some of the emotions you’d feel at such a momentous moment in your life. I’m sure she will be a constant source of pride to you and Jess! Is there any award for Best Childcare Blog?

  6. Pig says:

    Crying AGAIN!
    So beautiful..I am so proud of you.

  7. Hello Blogland | DarrenByrne.com says:

    […] in wonderful, wonderful news, Willow has landed on planet Fústar […]

  8. fústar says:

    Thanks so much all. Your thoughts and wishes genuinely mean a lot. I’ll whisper them all to Willow tomorrow morning.

    Is it after Ms Rosenberg, by any chance?

    Not really - though given that we’re both huge Buffy fans I’m perfectly happy for the association to be made.

    There wasn’t any one inspiration. The Wicker Man probably played a part. Oh, and the lovely tree of course.

  9. Green Ink says:

    CHUFFED for you! All the best. You are now obsolete, no longer the sum of your line, and you merely exist to protect and nurture this child. And you know what? You’ll want to do that so badly it’s as if you’ve never actually felt anything in your life before.

  10. Jo says:

    I must go to bed. My teether didn’t sleep last night. But I could look at that photo all night. So beautiful!

  11. Owen Van Dien says:

    A beautiful post. Touched me deeply and conveyed so much of my own feelings when my children were born.

    Hold those fingers tight.

  12. Helen says:

    Damn you for making me cry at my desk….

    Thinking of you both and can’t wait to meet little willow.

    Take care of yourselves and each other.

    Helen x

  13. David says:

    Congratulations to you both!

    Hope all is well.

  14. Nana Eve says:

    Words cannot express how much love we feel for Willow and you and jess - but you’ve done a great job trying!
    Thank you, thank you for our new granddaughter. Moments to treasure for always.

  15. Sinéad says:

    “I’ve never been more aware of the inadequacy of language. Attempts to communicate precisely what we’re feeling sound clichéd and platitudinous.”

    Wow, you did a pretty good job above. What beautiful sentiments.

    I know I’m repeating myself (thanks Facebook) but big congrats again. When you’re up in Dublin in the future, we’ll get our little ladies together.

  16. Nana Merce says:

    Tears flowing again, our sweet Willow is so precious to us all, she looked so happy yesterday in her daddy’s arms and so tiny. I am so glad you have experienced the best feeling in the world, I cannot express my feelings as well as you can but you know well how I feel.

  17. Ingrid says:

    Your words confirm what we already know: Willow has a very special Mummy and Daddy, you are going to be the most amazing parents. It’s hard to see your little one lying in that box, but soon Willow will be home and the cuddle feasts can truly begin. Thinking of you all the time.
    Lots of love
    Ingrid, Hendrik, Julianne and Noah

  18. caitriona says:

    oh, amazing! best wishes and congratulations to you three. a very respectable weight - i hope that will help get her home sooner. i’m twiddling my thumbs at 3 days overdue but knowing it can’t be much longer now…

  19. Aidan Courtney says:

    Congratulations and all the very best for you and your family. Delighted for you.

  20. fústar says:

    Thanks (once again) for the kind words everyone. Writing it exhausted me (physically & emotionally), but I needed to do it.

    Oh and hang in there, Caitriona! Willow’s keeping her monkey toes crossed for you. x

  21. Hangar Queen says:


    Welcome to the adventure and thank you for allowing us a glimpse.

    She is beautiful.

  22. Green Of Eye says:

    Aww congrats on the new arrival :)

    That’s a really graceful name

  23. Gobsheen says:

    So thrilled for the three of you! can’t wait to meet up with little Willow. You’re all very much in our thoughts. Beautifully written piece too by the way.

    Gobsheen + Maeve

  24. Simon McGarr says:

    Thank you.

  25. fústar says:

    Tuning in here every day and reading these lovely messages really helps. It really, really does. Thanks again.

    Today was a tough day for us. Not because of Willow - who’s magnificent - but just due to confusion, bewilderment and exhaustion. She’s serene throughout. Ups and downs. It’s all normal I suppose.

  26. Nana Eve says:

    Hang in there both of you! Remember Willow is the important one and she is getting stronger daily - thanks to your love, support and encouragement. Time will pass and she’ll be home with you and your lives will change forever! Follow her lead and rest while you can, you know you have a lot of moral support. We love you all.

  27. fústar says:

    Thanks, Eve. I’ve just learned that Willow shares a birthday with one of my heroes - John Carpenter.

    This is very cool.

  28. Daragh O Brien says:

    The journey indeed begins. Cute kid, great name. Well done all.

    Just remember to put the manky toys on a high shelf now. My hand still burns in cold weather from where the (allegedly) water filled sausage dog burst on me at the blog awards last year…

  29. Mairéad says:

    Comhgháirdeas Fústar agus Jess!! We’re all delighted for you here in UL…word has just reached us in C1056 of Willow’s arrival! Your daughter is incredibly beautiful, and I hope that it won’t be long until she’s home with you!
    Le grá mór, Mairéad agus an crew uilig anseo! xx

  30. A Doubtful Egg says:

    John Carpenter? Auspicious… Will we see, many years from now, an aging, creaking Fustar as executive producer on his daughter’s films like Big Trouble in Little Catherine Street? They Live (in Limerick) ? In the Mouth of Moyross?
    Sorry, I couldn’t resist…

  31. Cnuimh says:

    Congratulations to you Jess and Willow, I can’t wait for our families to meet up. You write so beautifully I’m afraid I’m another candidate for the Kleenex! Thank you, Cnuimh

  32. Darragh says:

    Only seeing this now Fústar. My warmest congrats and best wishes to you both. A beautiful post and lovely tribute. May she remain happy and healthy. God bless you all.

  33. fústar says:

    Thanks once more, lovely commenters.

    The good news is that she’s now out of her incubator and into a cot. Out of Intensive Care and into High Dependency (next step - Special Care and then home).

    We can’t wait.

  34. Jo says:

    Nearly there! It must be such a wrench, but better to get her home without any fears. A newborn is unnerving enough to look after without extra worries :)

  35. Sharon says:

    A beautiful post and a beautiful baby. Congratulations and I wish you both the strength to endure any difficult and stressful times while you wait to take your precious daughter home.

  36. Medbh says:

    She’s beautiful!
    Welcome to the world, Willow!

  37. Aishwarya says:

    She’s lovely! Congratulations to both of you.

  38. Niall says:

    Sheesh, I leave town for a couple of weeks and miss everything. Isn’t Willow a dote! Please accept our belated congratulations from NYC, Fústar, and give Jess our fond regards. {N+L}

  39. fústar says:

    Oops. Some comments got accidentally deleted. Sincere apologies. My mind’s not on the job…

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