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Christmas Memories from our Miracle Families

Merry Christmas from everyone at UNI DM! Some of our Miracle Families wanted to share some of their favorite memories around this holiday season:

Hartwig's: Samuel wants to share about how we open presents on Christmas morning.On Christmas morning after everyone is awake, we start by opening our stockings. Then, after we have breakfast, we begin opening the presents under the tree. The kids open their gifts from Santa first. Then we roll a dice to see who will open a present first. After everyone opens one gift each, we roll the dice again and start over. We keep rolling the dice until all gifts are open. It makes for a fun morning.After all of the presents are open, we enjoy our new gifts and spend the day together watching movies and playing.

O'Brien's: Every Christmas is a joy. There is no experience like the one of watching the Magic’s in your children’s eyes on Christmas. However, Meara’s first Christmas was my favorite. We had just gotten home from the NICU (which alone made it so special) and were coming to terms with the fact that our baby was paralyzed on her left side. I was resting and heard Eric shriek. I was certain that he had dropped our precious child! I bolted up to find that our sweet, paralyzed child had moved her left arm on her own for the first time ever! The amazement in our hearts filled our eyes with tears. What a Christmas miracle that was!!

Huddleson's: Haydn has only had one Christmas so far to date. She had already had 4 different surgeries by Christmas last year - 2 for her heart and 2 for her feeding tube. By the time we got to Christmas, we were just so happy that she was still here with us and starting to thrive. My parents, sister and her boyfriend, and 2 nephews came to visit us from Ohio since Haydn was not cleared to leave the state. We enjoyed family time, good food, and presents. Since Haydn is doing so well this year, we are allowed to travel more. This will be Haydn's first time visiting Ohio and seeing her family and our friends. My parents moved to the lake permanently and we have a small place there as well. We are excited to get away for awhile and allow Haydn to see what life has to offer outside of our house and area. Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wolff's: Three years ago, Rose was inpatient at University of Iowa Children's Hospital around Christmas time and we were unsure if she would be out before Christmas but she was okay with that because there were so many people that came to the hospital and made the children there forget that they were sick or in Rose's case just had surgery. They had a Christmas party for the kids in the hospital with pictures with Santa and snacks and crafts. The children even got gifts from different sponsors in the community. Way to go University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital for making Christmas time special for these children at Christmas time. It's a Christmas my little girl still talks about three years later.

Burns': For our kids, Gabriel and Natalie, from our perspective, just watching their eyes light up in awe at the beauty and wonder of the beautiful Christmas lights. I asked Gabriel what his favorite part of Christmas is and he said "I like Marshall (our air blown paw patrol lawn decoration) and Christmas parties." Natalie loves to point at the Christmas lights in our house and says "pretty." Christmas is just a beautiful time of year and definitely a favorite time for our miracles!

Codd's: In 2011, 3 months before Dashiell was diagnosed, we took all three of our boys to see Santa on Christmas Eve, as is our tradition. It started to snow on our way which got the kiddos very excited. When we arrived they sat with Santa and each told him what they wanted. Dashiell had only just turned 4 and by nature was relatively shy but he managed to whisper that the only thing he really, really wanted was a teddy bear. Well, he had not shared this with us and being that it was the night before Christmas we panicked as to how we could manage getting this for him. Luckily I (Mama) remembered there was a full size, brand new teddy bear I had saved from years earlier in our storage unit. So we stopped to sneakily pick it up on the way home. The next to Dashiell's amazement Santa fulfilled his wish and he spent the whole day hugging that teddy bear. As it got closer to bedtime I asked Dashiell is he had a good Christmas. He shook his head "yes" and sweetly said, "Mama I want to be a little boy forever." It was very precious. And even though the worst times of our life we're just around the corner, I made it a point to ensure while he was going through treatment he was able to retain that sense of joy and innocence. The heart wrenching part is that, unbeknownst to him, that statement was prophetic, as he would never live beyond his childhood and would always be remembered as a little boy. But because of his loving nature, he would only know and be remembered as having had a blissful childhood, despite how it ended. Watching him love that teddy bear will always be a treasured memory for our whole family.

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