The doors swung open and he pulled against my restraining hand yanking me to the sink where he bounced from one foot to the other while I washed his hands.
Is that her bed there? Is she still in the same place?
Up on tippy toes, he jiggled and wiggled as I tied the strings that held the back of his gown closed.
Walk, don't run, I said. Remember, we don't run in the NICU!
I raced to catch up with his speed walking while I tried to tie my own gown and juggle the bottles of milk I had brought in to be mixed for her tomorrow.
I looked back over my shoulder and saw Jimmy methodically washing his hands and adjusting Jo's gown.
With the 'divide and conquer' mindset, I had ended up with the loose bee-bee, and he was streaking toward the unsuspecting bundle in the crib.
Sweet baby Hazel Grace.
Hi, my love. I have brought your brother and sister to visit you!
A glance at the monitors tells me that she recognizes us. She knows our voices and sats high.
Gabriel is jumping up and down almost in a panic now. I can't see her! She can't see me! Pick me up! Pick me up! I can't see!
To save my toes from getting trompled, I lower the crib to its lowest position, and a sigh escapes my 3 year old son.
Hi, Baby Hazel, he breathes.
Jo peaks in, a much more restrained six year old. She sits on Jimmy's lap and Gabriel sits on mine, and we read to our baby Hazel. She learns the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, and she enjoys poems about the different farm animals and what they do and say.
Her eyes are closed. She sats high.
She is bundled in a blanket and wears a tiny hat that my mother knit for her. It's still huge on her head, and she is lost in the soft pinkness of it. She's on her tummy, her favorite position. The tubes curl out from her mouth and disappear into a metal box that jets her lungs and vibrates her bed.
And the big brother and sister stand together and look at the tiny one, and the hands can't help but reach out and touch the little mound that is their future playmate, confidant, friend...
She's great, Mom, he says. Just great.
So tiny, she says.
And we sit and talk with Hazel about the things we like and what we will all do together 'when she gets big'...
because that's what has to go with everything.
When baby Hazel gets big, then we can play...
When baby Hazel gets big, then she can sleep in my room...
She can share my bed, she can share my toys, she can sleep with my dog...
when she gets big.
We have to go now, I say. Baby Hazel needs to sleep, and we need to get home.
I don't want to, he says.
And then he says, We should just stay here with baby Hazel until she gets big. We can sleep right here with her and bring our lunch in to eat by her bed.
Lord it is good for us to be here. Matthew 17:4
Yes, yes. It is good!
But we have to go because we don't fit in the incubators and cribs and we can't bring our lunch in anyway.
Later, as he recounts the story to a friend, when asked how sweet baby Hazel Grace is, he answers
Beautiful. She's just beautiful.