It wasn't that long ago that Jodi and I woke up to go to the hospital for the birth of Olivia. It was snowing that morning, not the kind of snow that shuts down airports or makes you stock up on bottled water and batteries, but the kind of snow that reminds you of childhood. Waking up and hoping school would be cancelled so that you could sled down the hills behind your house, putting on your gloves and boots for the first time, or that magical snow on Christmas morning. I woke up this morning to that same snow and realized that for the rest of my life that first magical snow of the year will always remind me of my sweet little girl.
In the months leading up to Olivia's birth, many of my friends who were fathers said, "This is going to change your life. Nothing will ever be the same." One even said, "I know what you are thinking, everyone keeps telling you that your life is going to change, but you don't think it is going to change that much. Well, I used to think the same thing, and life does change THAT much." I smiled and said, "Yeah, that is what everyone has said." Not thinking that life would really change that much. Well, they were all right. My life will never be the same. Having a girl didn't help matters. Of course I have no frame of reference by having a son, but it only took a matter of seconds to realize that Olivia had me wrapped around her little finger. There are even some photos to prove it.
The first few days in the NICU were a little bit of a blur. Olivia was transferred so quickly, and the first surgery came so soon, that I hardly had time to think about what was going on. I was thankful that the hospital relaxed their visitor policy that first day so that my mom could come back to the NICU with me or else I would have been a complete wreck. But as soon as Jodi came in the door, my mom had to leave. Jodi still required a lot of rest, so most of the first few days I was alone with Olivia. The nurses kept me sane, explaining all of the devices, tests, and people. Being an engineer, I found some small solice in the numbers.
The numbers didn't change that much over the course of the next few days. That was a small gift in itself from Olivia. It got me to stop focusing on the machines and start focusing more on my baby girl. I began to appreciate the small things. The way she would squirm just a little when you rubbed her back, the way she would grab on to our fingers when we touched her hands, and the ticklish spot she had on the right side of her belly. See Olivia gave me memories in those 9 1/2 days that I will be able to hold on to for the rest of my life.
I would sit by her bed and allow myself to dream about what a remarkable little girl we had. All of the surgeries and procedures Olivia went through only to keep squirming when we touched her back, grab our fingers, and shake just a little when we tickled her stomach. Olivia kept surprising us every day, and kept us dreaming. Jodi and I go back and look at the support we received from our families and friends, and realize that there were a lot of people out there dreaming for Olivia too.
Olivia was surrounded with love. Jodi and I know that. Her family and friends from afar sent her love and prayers constantly. Jodi and I thank you for that. The outpouring we were shown is a testament to the love that Olivia had. We thank you all for your support and generosity, and hope that you too can continue to dream with us for Olivia. We know that there is a special little angel now, looking out for all of us.
As I finish writing this post (it has taken me most of the day), I look out the window and I can see that it is snowing. That means I get to dream of my sweet Olivia, again.