My hands resting on a tiny body in a plastic box: not exactly the kind of embrace I had planned to give my babies on their first Christmas morning. In fact, these babies shouldn't even have been celebrating their first Christmas for another year - they still should have been gestating for several more weeks and born some time well into the New Year. But that was our reality, whether we liked or planned for it, on December 25, 2009. Jordan, Rio and I opened presents at home, had a nice breakfast, got dressed up, and then head to the NICU where Asher and Nolan had spent the past 55 days since their very early birth.
There were stockings at the end of their isolettes. Santa had visited the NICU! I threatened that he might not. The thoughtful staff had given them sweet little presents, in addition to the presents we brought - fleece blankets, baby books, and their stockings from home. It was a nice touch at a trying time.
We smiled and whispered "Merry Christmas" to our tiny little babies. We didn't hold them - they were too fragile - but we managed to take pictures of them with their stockings. Big sister got up on tip toes, reaching a hand into their isolettes to give her brothers the closest thing to a hug that she was allowed.
It was a short visit. We would return later in the day, before a big family dinner, for another quick hello. We wanted to be there but there was nothing we could do for them, so best to keep the day as normal as possible for Rio . Leaving without them that night was one of the hardest, but we would still have to do it almost a hundred more times before they were home with us for good.
I would be lying if I said memories of that Christmas are happy ones, but they are memories just the same. That day, as all other days during their long hospitalization, we navigated through unknown waters with as much grace and strength as we could muster. It wasn't the merriest of times, but, even in a limited capacity, we were together at Christmas. And more importantly than that, we were all very, very loved.
Thanks Ellen, for this week's writing prompt and linkup.