I believe that nothing can top your first Christmas together as a married couple. You begin to establish your own traditions, divide your time between both sides of the family, and you have your own celebrations that will make memories never to be forgotten.
In the summer of 1996, we realized that we would celebrate our second Christmas with a baby. We would have a family, new ornaments, and the joy of a little one to share those precious times with. It was a dream I had had since I was a little girl, and there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to be a wife, and a mother.
Many of you know that the latter part of that dream crashed and burned for us in August of 1996. That baby we had so looked forward to sharing Christmas with, died. She died. In only our second year of marriage we buried a child.
Instead of joy, I looked forward to that Christmas with dread. I didn’t even want a tree. We received ornaments to put on the tree for a little girl that would never be in our home. We had a third stocking that would never be filled with Christmas goodies. Instead of baby gifts, I bought a grave blanket and trudged through the snow to uncover my daughter’s grave and rest the blanket there. I hated that Christmas. The whole focus was on a baby, and my baby was dead. I could barely stand to sing the Christmas carols, and could barely tolerate the family get togethers. My SIL had had a baby 5 weeks after we lost Madison, and though she was very sensitive to us during that time, it was still so difficult to watch everyone hold him, and not be able to share our daughter in the same way. It was the most painful holiday season I have ever been through.
The next spring, we found out we were expecting another baby. Because we were “surprised” with Madison, and she ended up dying, I never got to call her by her name or know while I was carrying her what sex she was. I decided that I would not go through that again. At our ultrasound appointment I found out I was carrying a baby boy. We had already picked his name, so we began calling him “Parker”, and using his name when we talked to him.
Parker’s due date was January 3, 1998. For me, that meant ANOTHER Christmas with no baby. There was the anxious hope of one, but he would not be there for Christmas. I remember crying out to God one evening in the fall and saying, “Jesus, I KNOW this is selfish, but I just CAN’T go through another Christmas without a baby in my arms.” I didn’t believe God would answer that prayer in my favor, but I wanted to let Him know my heart.
All through that pregnancy I was high risk, and watched closely because of what happened with Madison. Late in my pregnancy, it was determined that a normal birth would not be safe or wise for Parker and me. I had a lot of things going on medically, and our biggest priority was to bring a LIVE baby into this world. I wanted the normal birth (I got to have that with Madison), but not at the cost of my baby’s life. It was determined that the safest and best route for us would be a scheduled c-section. My doctor felt it was best to not let Parker go past 37 weeks in my womb, because that is when we lost Madison. I had the same health struggles, and for safety reasons we agreed to it.
37 weeks for me meant that the baby would be born in 1997, and most likely right before Christmas! If I went into labor before 37 weeks my doctor would go ahead and deliver, but he wanted to keep Parker baking as long as possible because an amnio at 36 weeks had determined his lungs were not ready (due to my diabetes). We scheduled the c-section for December 17th.
On December 17, 1997 I gave birth (by c-section) to the most beautiful little boy I have ever laid eyes on. He was not breathing on his own when he was born, so I was only given a split second to see him before he was whisked off to the NICU, where he remained for the next 5 days.
15 hours after my surgery, our nurse (a dear friend who was also with me for Madison’s normal birth) put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me to the NICU. It was 3:00 in the morning, and the lights were dim. I watched a nurse lift a tiny bundle out of an incubator. He had seemingly hundreds of wires and tubes attached to him. She walked over to me, and placed that bundle in my arms for the first time. He was wide awake, and two of the biggest, most beautiful brown eyes locked with mine, and I was in love! I got to hold him for 30 glorious minutes while the nurses tended to other little ones on the other side of the room. Parker watched me as I spoke to him, kissed his face, and sang to him. Those little eyes looked at me with recognition, and I was thrilled to realize he was mine, he was breathing, (with help), and he was alive. This little man would come home with me.
Once I was able to get up and walk on my own, I was down at the NICU every second I possibly could be, spending time with my little man. I was allowed to try to nurse him a few times, but he had to be on the oxygen so we couldn’t keep him out of his bed long. I remember weeping uncontrollably the day I got to wheel him out of the NICU and bring him to my own room to stay. I will never forget the feeling of picking him up and sitting in the rocker with him, knowing he was my son, and he was safely here. This time, I would leave that hospital with a baby in my arms…
One week after his birthday I packed him up and took him to our church’s Christmas Eve service. I have never been more proud in my life, as I was when I walked to the front of the church carrying my beautiful baby boy, to pick up a candle for “Silent Night”. How grateful I was that God had given me the desire of my heart….a Christmas baby. The early birth was the safest thing for both of us, and Parker got strong and thrived fast. He has been healthy as a horse since, and has been the most delightful son ever a mother could ask for.
Parker is my favorite Christmas memory… God’s gift to this world was the birth of His Son, our Savior. God’s gift to me that Christmas was the birth of my son, bringing healing and joy back to our home, and fulfilling a lifelong dream for me.
Tomorrow that precious gift will turn 14! He is becoming a man, and I can hardly believe it. I look up to his face now, and listen to his voice deepen. His eyes are the same, that darling grin is still there, and when we sit together on the couch, he will still take my hand and play with my pinky finger…who needed a pacifier? He just wanted to hold momma’s hand :) I love that boy with all of my heart, and thank God every day for the extraordinary gift that Parker was and is to me.
Happy Birthday Parker Andrew…my heart overflows with immense love for you!
Here is Parker’s first picture in the NICU. His Oma took this, because I was still recovering from the surgery, and had to wait until the anesthesia wore off to get up and walk. I was sad that others saw him before me, but I’m glad to have this first picture of him.
Here is our little pumpkin a week later. We laid him on the couch next to a stocking to show how tiny he was :)
Here is my sweet boy today…sigh…
Happy Birthday darling boy! God has used you to do wonderful things in our family, and I know He will use you throughout your life for His glory. We are blessed to call you our son!