Faces pressed to the hard plastic where their little sister lay breathing, you could see their wonder.
Is that my sister? Is that my sister? Is that my sister?
Then the tiny head turns slightly and the little eyes open, and the breath is drawn in anxious anticipation...
Can she see me, Mommy? She's looking at me! Look at her tiny eyes! They're open!
The nurse opens the little doors on the side of her isolette, and Gabriel is the first one to touch his smallest sibling. He's been so anxious to see her and to meet her. His little preschool hands, the hands that grab and climb and push and paint and make messes are guided gently by the patient nurse to cradle baby Hazel's tiny head and little feet.
Her eyes close, and she snuggles in to the touch. His nose is pressed against the isolette between the doors. He's balanced on the edge of that swivel chair eyes never leaving the tiny figure nestled in his hands. His hands are gentle, soft on her tiny fuzzy tennis-ball sized head and her miniature feet with their perfect toenails
I watch from the other side. 'Be gentle,' I breathe, but there's no need. He is the gentlest of the gentle. This sister that he has been longing to see is finally in his hands, and I know the touch is permanently engraved on his heart.
Jo is next. Her hands are sanitized, the nurse guides, and we encourage, but she is tentative. She wants to touch...but not. She barely grazes the soft head and shies away from the waving feet.
Elizabeth stands back, watching. When it is her turn, she reaches in and touches her sister with awe. The long fingers curl around the head and fold the feet in to fetal comfort. Hazel's eyes close again, and if she could, I'm sure she would have been purring.
She's so much smaller than I thought, she whispers. She just so tiny. A perfect little baby, just so tiny!
When it's time to go, Gabriel pushes against me unwilling to leave. But where's Geoffery? He asks. I can't leave if Geoffery's not here to watch her!
We tell him that Geoffery has gone to take a break because he knew that we were coming, and the obliging nurse tells him that she will call Geoffery to come back now that we are leaving. Accuse us of misleading a 3 year old, but I figure if it helps him sleep at night to know that his Geoffery is watching over little Hazel in his absence, then so be it.
He's somewhat comforted, and we leave.
We leave our baby Hazel. We leave her with the imprints of our hands like blessings on her head and on her feet,
and we leave with the imprint of her
deeply etched upon our hearts.
We love you, baby Hazel. You are one of us and we love you.