Last Christmas I was overwhelmed by the generosity of a variety of people and organizations who brought gifts to the NICU for both the babies and their parents. Some of Bekah’s favorite things are those that she received last year as she lay in her tiny bed.
She drags us across her room at least once a day to look at the tree she received, and she still often plays with a tiny pink rattle that was given to her, although she uses it more as a drum stick now.
When Miranda Dailey, the mommy of Bekah’s NICU TLC roomie Tailyn, suggested we take gift bags to the parents of this year’s NICU babies for Christmas, Chris and I were in.
The four of us, (Chris and I and Tailyn’s parents) spent a few weeks gathering up some of the items we used most during our stays in the unit – lip balm, bottles of water, snacks, toothbrushes and some other things.
My mom made fleece bags to put everything in, and we wrote a letter to tell the parents a little about our girls and how their lives have changed since they were born 13 months ago.
Everything was going great, until, that is, we actually entered the NICU at Akron Children’s Hospital. We started in TLC with Santa. Last year, Chris and I didn’t let Santa hold Bekah. Most of the other parents had Santa hold their child while they took pictures.
I’ll admit, we felt a little awkward posing with Santa, but there was NO WAY he was holding Bekah without a complete scrub down after he had held all of those other kids…yuck.
This year, Bekah and Tailyn were in a little wagon together so that we could pull three other wagons filled with gift bags around behind them and Santa came to see them.
I’m happy to say that neither Chris nor I had a meltdown or anything when Bekah put her hand out and curiously felt the white fluffy trim around Santa’s sleeve. (She’s still not going to visit a mall Santa…we haven’t completely lost our minds.)
The bad part came when Miranda and I entered the back of Pod 3 to deliver bags to a set of quads. The sounds and smells suddenly brought me back to just 13 months ago and all I could see was one tiny open bed in a room cleared out in case of the need for the ECMO machine, a heart-lung bypass machine that Bekah narrowly escaped needing…a machine that one can only survive on for a matter of days.
I quickly turned and looked into the hallway in time to see Bekah pulling at Tailyn’s toes in the wagon, and smiled, knowing that I wasn’t coming into Pod 3 to pace and pray. Instead, we were bringing something back—a bag full of random items that will hopefully give some of the other parents not only a smile, but a little bit of hope.
It turns out that more than handing out gifts with Santa, we enjoyed the chance to catch up with old friends, and to share our stories of long days and nights in the NICU and the incredible appreciation we have for the gift we’ve been given thanks to the staff at Akron Children’s Hospital—two healthy, happy, and ornery girls who have to grow up best friends…because their parents say so!
Read the rest of Sarah and Rebekah’s story through her blog, Following Your Heart.