It’s funny what triggers my memories. Sometimes it can be a song, the way the sky looks when the sun sets, a phrase someone has said, or a certain smell. Tonight, it was wrapping gifts. I came home from the hospital in time to get Liz off to the movies, make dinner, start the dishwasher and move the laundry. I also came home to many presents that needed to be wrapped. First I had to wrap the gifts I bought for my designated person. Chris’s family does the name out of a hat thing so we don’t make ourselves bankrupt in the process of gift giving. I had the good fortune of getting my brother in law and began putting the gifts together. As I wrapped his presents I thought about last year’s Christmas; of how we knew we were expecting but didn’t say anything to anyone our of superstition. Chris was desperate to tell everyone at Christmas too but I was too nervous to let the cat out of the bag just yet. We were so excited and keeping it to ourselves proved to be a challenge.
Some of my favorite christmases are those I didn’t technically celebrate. I grew up watching my friends get excited about Christmas, about Santa and their trees. One of my favorite Christmas parties was in the 4th grade in Mrs. Philips class. She played Christmas carols on the record player (yes, I am totally dating myself), and we decorated her aluminum tree while eating cookies. We had a grab bag, and I got some bath oil beads which I had to throw away later because I had a reaction to them. It had snowed out and we walked home together, truly enjoying each others company and wishing each other a happy holiday. I think it was the first time I got a glimpse of how special the holiday can be.
Our first Christmas as a family was special, finally being able to celebrate the holiday the way it is supposed to- with family and lots of food. At first it was overwhelming but as the years went by Liz and I became more used to the ‘Christmas Chaos.’ Very big difference from years past of Chinese food and movies! As I wrapped my husband’s gifts I thought about how much he does for us and how excited I am to give him these gifts. Then it hit me- there’s a good chance I will be in the hospital with the baby.He will have to open these without me.
I started to wrap the kids’ presents. I placed the cute little outfits into a box and began to arrange them with tissue paper. Hmmm. Perhaps we should have bought two piece outfits because of her new tube. Will she even get to wear these? We were told that she can’t have anything rub up against where it is taped. One of the outfits says “Daddy’s Princess”. We weren’t even sure she would be with us for Christmas six months ago and I am worrying about whether she will be able to wear an outfit or not?
I have seen a lot of loss this year. We lost an aunt, an old friend of mine lost her father, we saw other families lose their children to congenital heart disease. Isabelle is still with us. She keeps fighting and growing, in spite of her feeding issues and compromised circulation. We heard so many times recently that she looks amazing for a hypoplast. That baby we were so excited about a year ago has changed our lives in ways I cannot express with words. As I think about my Christmases and all of the happy memories I have of them, this one will be my most memorable because I will be spending it with her, alive at Children’s. I will miss seeing my daughters open their gifts and my husband enjoying his, but there will be other Christmases we will spend together, all five of us. It’s not easy making this sacrifice. I’m sad to be missing the festivities that our family will be having Christmas Eve. Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate being left out of things, and this is no different. But amidst all of the loss I have been around recently, I know how fortunate we are to have her with us and there is not enough wrapping paper in the world for that gift.