We washed up to our elbows with hot water and soap. We pulled on hospital gowns and medical gloves. We were nervous but thrilled.

The NICU staff worked for 20 minutes to prepare our baby girl for her first time in room temperature air since her birth.

Brenna was two weeks old, and it had been a 14-day period wracked with shock and unknown and joy and deep faith. When we walked into the NICU on New Year’s Eve 2011 for our daily visit, one of the nurses surprised us: “We think you’re ready to hold Brenna today. She needs it, and you need it.”

Even though she was wrapped in layers (including a plastic wrap to keep her Aquaphor on her skin as much as possible), even though we had to wear gowns and gloves, it was perfect. She opened her eyes and looked at us, and she slept comfortably in our arms. It was the best ending to the year we could have ever asked for.

Holding your baby seems like such a simple thing – until you can’t do it because she’s too sick. We don’t take it for granted now. We hug our kids until they squirm to get loose, we breathe in the scents of their hair, and we try to memorize their smallness, before they get bigger.

Seven years later, and she still loves to be wrapped in our arms. Seven years later, and we’re still overjoyed by the feeling of her cuddles. She is lively, feisty, opinionated, gleeful, caring and compassionate, incredibly social, determined.Her laugh is deep and rich and makes everyone laugh along with her.She is a night owl, she adores her big brother, and she gives amazing hugs.

Another New Year’s Eve, another day to celebrate the gift of our kids in our arms. ❤️

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