This time of year can be so wonderful and yet filled with so many triggers of painful memories and happier moments. Our first son, Donovyn, was born at 32 weeks in 2005. He was born the week of Thanksgiving that year and spent 21 days in the NICU. It was our first family holiday and we shared it together at the hospital. We ate the hospital holiday meal in a room full of strangers while he was a few floors above us fighting to grow stronger. A few weeks later, we had the amazing opportunity to take him home and make him truly ours. I'll never forget the feeling of finally walking out of that hospital and clamping his car seat into that base in the backseat of the car. No more asking permission if it's okay to do this or that. We could be his parents without signing in, wires, or data sheets. To have him discharged a week or so before Christmas was such a blessing and of course the best gift anyone could give us.
When his younger brother, Tristyn, arrived at 34 weeks in the Fall of 2007, we were beyond thankful and so excited! We had never had a baby room with us. Although he was probably eligible for the NICU due to elevated bilirubin levels, we were told to follow up first thing at the peds office. We did just that and sure enough, his levels warranted an at-home bili blanket. For the next two months, I cared for my son who was so uncomfortable trying to rid his body of this stuff. It was heel pricks every 2 weeks at the peds office. By Halloween that year, he was looking a more normal color. I was relieved and happy to dress him as Yoda instead of a Sunkist orange. The holidays were really fun that year! We had our boys sharing their first Christmas together as brothers. It was magical!
Feeling like our family was not yet complete, we were elated when we learned we were expecting again! In mid-December of 2008, I was a little over four months along. We had our ultrasound that confirmed another little boy was on his way. We saw outdoor plumbing before the technician said anything. We had so many plans, so many conversations about what our future would look like. The holidays that year were perfect, absolutely perfect. My third musketeer would complete our family and I would be that crazy mom at the park trying to keep track of all of her boys. I see that Liberty Mutual insurance commercial with the one mom at the car repair shop with two of her three boys and smile, then cry. It was the only Christmas we'd have together. I had gone on bedrest at 21 weeks and bonus, my MFM had discovered a blood clotting gene. I was just waiting to meet him. I had an unwanted transfer of care to a less experienced part-time OB, thanks to the economy, and was not monitored as well as I had been with my previous pregnancies. I had undiagnosed preeclampsia and the protein was off the charts. I had a placental abruption coupled with a blood clot. I lost 60% of my blood and had 8 transfusions to save my life. Naethyn was born sleeping at 30 weeks in March of 2009. Our lives have never been the same.
As his brothers grow bigger, they talk about him. T mentions 'the land of the remembered' quite often. D reminds me all the time that I have three. They probably talk about him more openly than I do, but they know when they see my eyes instantly fill with tears that he's on my mind and in my heart every second of the day. The holidays can be tough as the memories flood the mind. We have an angel on top of our tree. I look forward to seeing that each year and get bummed when it's time to pack it away. I still find ways to enjoy the holidays even though it does feel like someone is missing. I'll watch these two cuties open their gifts from Santa with wonder (and I'm sure disappointment as D is never satisfied). I'm still finding my way through grief, it's hard, but Christmas can still be awesome.
Leaving the NICU in December of 2005
Tristyn's 1st Christmas in 2007
Naethyn on his way, one of the happiest moments of my life . . .
I know I once swore I'd never put them in matching outfits. Oops! They keep me going:)
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