SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been nearly 11 months since 14-month-old Paetin Mulvain has seen her parents.
Her dad, Spc. Preston Mulvain, deployed to Afghanistan right after she was born. Her mom, Spc. Brittany Mulvain, also headed off to war when Paetin was only 3 months old.
Paetin’s grandmother took care of her while her parents were away. Monday night, around midnight, her parents finally arrived for the big reunion.
"(It’s the) first time we've seen her in 11 months, so (this is) pretty amazing," Preston Mulvain said with a big smile on his face.
Paetin cried a little bit when she saw her parents and wanted to return to Grandma's arms. Preston says it’s because it was late and she was grumpy. It could also be because the toddler may be a little confused since she doesn’t know her parents yet.
She’s seen them in pictures and over video chat a few times, but this is all new for the whole family.
“There’s nothing like the real thing,” he said.
The Mulvains sent out a videotaped holiday greeting to the friends and family in Tennessee and Utah with a greeting for Paetin that was broadcast on TV.
"We'd like to say Merry Christmas to our friends and family back home in Jackson, Tennessee and Ogden, Utah," Preston said in the greeting, "especially, our daughter Paetin Lee. Happy first birthday and Merry Christmas. We'll be home soon."
Now the young family is together for good. The Mulvains are stationed in Germany and won't stay in Utah long. They head back to Germany next week. But the important thing is that Paetin is back with her parents, who are ready to make up for lost time and plan to cherish every moment they have together.
Grandmother Shannon Palmer, who's grown close to Paetin over the last year, said that it will now be tough on her to part with the baby.