Updated: Jan 31, 2021
Like most people, one of my favorite times of the year is Christmas. I love taking time to reflect on and celebrate the birth of Jesus and spending quality time with my loved ones. Laila's first Christmas was the icing on the cake because now I had another reason to be grateful. We had survived a trying three months in the NICU and had started to adjust to life with a little one. We could now shift our focus on celebrating Christmas and getting caught up in the holiday spirit.
It was fun to put up the decorations and watch Laila’s little eyes light up when she saw the lights on our tree. She was way too young to appreciate the gifts and to understand why we celebrate, but it was still a joy to watch her experience Christmas for the first time. We decided to stay at home and refrain from visiting family because we wanted to remain cautious during the winter months. We had gotten through the fall without any health scares and planned to keep it that way. That meant that we had to begin new family traditions of our own.
We played Christmas music and wrapped Christmas gifts for our loved ones. We made time to ride around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. I cherished the fact that we were home with our baby instead of sitting in the hospital like many other parents of preemies. I no longer had to drive back and forth to see my baby every day. Even though it was Christmas, I felt like it was Thanksgiving all over again. I had so much to be thankful for that year.
I quickly realized that Christmas would look drastically different from that year forward. Our focus would still be on Christ; however, our secondary focus would be Laila and her wellbeing. The gifts received would no longer have our names on the majority of them. Our trips to the store would be mostly for her. The Christmas ornaments we placed on the tree would have her pictures on them or were ones she handcrafted. The Christmas stories we read would be centered on teaching her about Christ and the gift of his birth. It would be a different type of Christmas in the best possible way.
I still look back at pictures of Laila doing that time. She was happy and healthy, which was all we ever prayed for while she was in the NICU. We’re still shaping our family traditions and growing in what we want Christmas to look like. Laila is eight years old so she's actively engaged in decorating the tree and baking cookies for Santa. We’re doing our best to teach her the importance of giving to others on Christmas and throughout the year. We’re looking forward to future years celebrating Christmas with our NICU miracle and praying for those who may be waiting to bring their little one home.