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Sunday, June 21, 2009

His Greatest Gift Ever

Hope all of you daddies had a wonderful Father's Day! Chris enjoyed his gifts on his special day.

The girls got him a golf shirt with an elephant on it to wear on game day...

And I got him a new cover for his grill (which doesn't fit, by the way, and has to be exchanged. Oh, well. What do I know about grill covers??).

And here's a cute picture of Lily "helping" her daddy open his presents.

But you know what? I could give Chris Father's Day presents until the end of time and they would never compare to his Father's Day gift four years ago. Here it is:

This was the first day he ever held Ann Catherine.

She was 17 days old.

Ann Catherine weighed only one pound, 15 ounces when she was born and was so critically ill. I wasn't able to hold her until she was ten days old (you talk about heartbreaking for a mommy). All I could do was sit by her bed and whisper in her ear.

When they finally let me hold her, they would allow me to hold her just a few moments each day. If Chris was with me, they would always ask him if he wanted to hold her. As bad as he did, he would always say, "That's okay. Let Amy do it. She needs it more than I do." He didn't mean that he didn't want to hold his baby girl. He just knew that this mommy needed to be able to hold Ann Catherine so badly. After all we had been through losing Melissa, this was something he could give me.

So each day Chris would come into the NICU, lean down next to Ann Catherine's tiny little ear and whisper, "Hey Ann Catherine. Daddy's here."

He said that every time he visited her. We even have it on video. He wanted that sick little girl to know that her daddy - her protector - was there for her. And he visited her so often. Each time he had a break at work, he would rush to the NICU so he could see her. And if I wasn't there, he would immediately call me to let me know how she was doing.

Seven days after I held her for the first time, Chris got a special surprise. It was Father's Day and we arrived that afternoon to visit Ann Catherine. The nurse looked at Chris and told him that since it was Father's Day, he was going to hold Ann Catherine. (If you are looking at the photo above and thinking, 'is he not wearing a shirt?' you are right. In the NICU they practice "Kangaroo Care" and parents hold preemies skin to skin. It's the warmest place for a premature baby to be.)

What an amazing Father's Day gift! And I was more than happy to step back and give him this time with her. It was so unbelievable watching him hold her. She was still so sick and so tiny. He waited 17 long days to hold her and this day meant everything to him.

He told Ann Catherine about it this morning. He explained to her that four years ago on Father's Day, he received the best gift ever. He held his baby girl for the first time.

No grill cover or golf shirt will ever top that. :)


The Reno Family said...

This was probably one of Braxton's favorite pictures after I helped with the scrapbook. He could not imagine not being able to hold his child almost 20 days after she was born. So glad to hear you all had a great day!

Love my 2 BoYs! said...

glad ya'll had a great day!

Hillary @ The Other Mama said...

What a wonderful and precious story. He'll never forget it and she will always know how loved she was from the tiniest of beginnings! So special!
So glad y'all had a wonderful day!

Holly said...

Looks like a great day, even though it wasn't as awesome as the one you wrote about. :)

BethE said...

So glad he is able to tell that story to her! I didn't hold Sarah Beth until she was 20 days old. I didn't hold her again for another 7 days after that. It was awful waiting that long! But Joe's father's day gift that year was her coming home! We got home on Saturday before Father's Day in 2006... 76 days after she was born. He tells Sarah Beth that story each year.