At last, at last, at last!
At last, I got to hold my baby girl in my arms. At last, I got to feel her tiny weight nestled against my chest. At last, I had to chance to look at my daughter and to have her see me without a plate of plastic obstructing our view. At last.
Was it everything I imagined it would be? It was more. Definitely, more.
Our visit this evening started off like any other. We went in, washed our hands, put on our scrubs, then took our place besides Alicia's incubator. She was sleeping as usual. We greeted her quietly without wanting to wake her up, and then for the next half hour, proceeded to take turns holding our little girl with the palm of our hands. As we sat there, Linda commented on how things were a lot quieter tonight than in the morning. And told me, "Maybe you'll get to hold Alicia tonight." I just kind of brushed her comment aside, not wanting to get my hopes up.
About 20 minutes into the visit, one of our favorite nurses came over for a chat. We got to talking about how well Alicia was growing and Linda shared with her that she got to hold Alicia yesterday morning. Knowing Linda, she wasn't sharing with the nurse just for the sake of sharing with the nurse. Linda has an amazing ability to suggest things to people without actually coming right out and saying what she means. And somehow, people always understand her. So upon hearing that Linda had held Alicia the day before, the nurse got really excited. She was really happy for Linda and said that actually Alicia is doing a lot better, and she's really stable, which is why Linda was able to hold her. Then she said the magic words that I'd been waiting all day yesterday and today to hear. She asked, "Daddy, would you like to try holding her?" I didn't dare believe it. The moment I'd been waiting for. "Really?" I asked, "Could I?" "Sure! After visiting hours just wait a while, and we can let you hold her." My heart lept. Could it be true? Was I finally going to hold my little girl?
The nurse stood by us and talked to us a bit longer. She even said that from her observation of Alicia, she's stable enough to do Kangaroo Care. And actually she and the other nurses really want us to be able to do it as soon as possible because they know what a difference it can make for the kid. But, she said, it depended on whether we were OK with it, and of course, whether the doctors felt Alicia was stable enough. Of course, Linda and I told her emphatically that we were OK! And we were ready, whenever the doctors felt that Alicia could do it.
I stood there listening to Linda and the nurses conversation, but I could barely concentrate for anticipation of what was to come. Usually, I feel that visiting hours end too soon, but tonight, I couldn't wait for them to be over. The sooner everyone left, the sooner I could have my baby in my arms.
Finally, we heard the announcement that we usually dread. "Dear Family Members, visiting hours are over, please come back tomorrow to see your children." Suddenly from across the room, these pink partitions started floating over in our direction. I was confused. These are the partitions they use to give parents privacy as they're doing Kangaroo Care. I didn't think we were doing Kangaroo Care, so I thought maybe the screens were for someone else.
But suddenly, the partitions stopped beside us, and the next thing I knew we were being enveloped in a curtain of pink. Were we doing Kangaroo Care? Linda, I guess, had the same thought, because as the nurse went over to the incubator to get Alicia, she asked, "Are we doing Kangaroo Care?" The nurse kind of smiled and said, "Oh, no. Not yet. Besides to do Kangaroo Care, you'd need to take a shower first." OK. Slight disappointment. But who cares! I was going to hold my daughter.
One of the other nurses pulled a stool over, and Linda told me to sit on it. The nurse opened the incubator and there was our precious girl. One of the other nurses poked her head around the partition and asked what was going on. The nurse handling Alicia told her that she was taking her out so that we could hold her. Then one after another the other nurses started coming over wondering what was going on. One by one the nurses were told that "Daddy is going to get to hold Alicia." All the nurses started to get excited. Eventually, one of the nurses was like, "Why do you have these partitions up? We want to see too." So the partitions were removed, as the nurse picked Alicia up, wrapped her in a towel, detached her ventilator, pulled her out and placed her in my arms.
My arms accepted my daughter like they were created for the sole purpose of holding her. She fit into my arms so perfectly. I had the biggest, goofiest grin on my face and I could feel my eyes watering. At last. My daughter. At last.
Alicia did so well in my arms. She didn't cry or give any sign of being uncomfortable. She did flinch a little at the light, but she was so content in my arms, and I was so content just holding her. I could have sat there for hours.
We took picture after picture of the momentus moment. Family shots, close ups of Alicia, Daddy and daughter, then a big group shot with all the nurses. We were quite the site. Good thing no one else was around, except Kai Ge's mom behind us. She was happy for us too. The doctor came over at one point just to check and see if Alicia was OK. And she was, so he left us alone.
Too soon, it was over. The nurse asked Linda if she would like to hold Alicia, because we needed to put her back in to rest. I handed Alicia over to Linda and let her hold her for a few minutes. Then it was back into her plastic royal chambers.
The nurses kept joking that Alicia was going to get addicted to being held. I think Linda and I are already addicted to holding her.
Linda and I compared notes about how we felt the first moment Alicia was placed in our arms. And the feeling that we both had was that it felt right. It felt like she belonged in our arms. She is ours.
There is nothing like, holding your daughter and having her look at you with her big doe eyes. Granted, she did look a bit confused, kind of like, "Uh, Why you all up in my face?" haha. But she did settle down and just kind of looked around like, "I like this. This is cool."
It's strange to think that it took 2 months for us to be able to hold our daughter. Before yesterday, I hadn't given any thought to how odd it is that we hadn't held her yet. But after hearing about Linda holding her, and now having held her myself, I can't believe we went that long.
Great news is that us being able to hold Alicia means she's on the up and up! 1026 grams today. Who knows how much more she'll be tomorrow! Keep growing baby girl! Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you and we can't wait to bring you home when we can hold you and love on you whenever we want. =)
Update: Linda just read the blog and informed me that when she shared with the nurse about getting to hold Alicia, her sole purpose was only to share the great news with her, since that nurse has been so sweet to us. She was not trying to hint at the nurse in anyway. So the whole thing was all God. Thank you, Daddy, for the amazing opportunity to hold our little girl. Thank you for opening the doors and placing it on the nurses heart to give me the chance to hold her. Thank you for loving us and blessing us with so many little gifts each and every day. I'm sorry, that sometimes we forget to acknowledge your goodness, for truly every good and perfect gifts comes from you.