I remember Hazel's first Valentine's day so well. We've never celebrated big on Valentine's Day, just a nice supper made at home and a cheesy card - and maybe a couple chocolates for a treat - but it's never been a day I've gotten excited over, nor a day I was dreadful of... I was simply impartial.
But in the NICU, every holiday is a reminder that your baby is stuck in a hospital bed, and it's one more holiday they've missed at home. And it sucked. I found myself feeling dreadful over the sadness that came with yet another holiday spent in the NICU, and also trying to find a way to make it special for Hazel.
So I did what I always did in the NICU - I made the best of it. I reminded myself how fortunate I was to be snuggling my daughter close and put on a positive attitude.
That day, I changed her crib bedding to a black and white xoxox pattern and bought her the most darling little pale pink preemie sized onesie with the outlines of teeny black hearts. I made her a valentine, and brought in valentine stuffies from us both, and Hazel's grandparents and aunty's.
But this year, this year was special because in true NICU fashion - it was Hazel's "first" Valentine's Day OUT of the NICU so to make it a little extra special I dressed her in a darling heart patterned romper and a pink bow from Macey and Co, and gave her a couple special little treats from her daddy and I. My heart was so full watching her figure out how to open the little valentine mailbox that held one individual Purdy's chocolate and a custom made rose gold bar bracelet that was hand stamped reading "little nut".
I need to take a moment aside from telling how our morning went to give a HUGE thank you to Ebony and Sparrow for not only designing and creating the most beautiful bracelet for Hazel, but for reaching out, offering to make it and for gifting it to Hazel purely out of kindness with no expectations back. When I read the message I cried. My heart is just so dang full seeing the love that is out there for our little girl, and the kindness that fills people's hearts. So please show some love to Ebony and Sparrow - they won't be expecting it - but I had to share because truly, what a blessing.
Our valentine morning continued with a valentine story and Hazel eating her first Purdy's chocolate - a decadent raspberry cream, and when she wakes from her nap we'll be making heart shaped sugar cookies for daddy.
All this goes without saying that regardless of whether a holiday is validated, whether for a purpose, or a commercial holiday - holidays in the NICU are tough.
So I got together with 5 other NICU moms across the USA and Australia and we created a letter to NICU moms to be shared with you today, on this day full of love.