….& just like that you turned 1.
A year ago today was not the entrance into this world I dreamed of for you. It was not what I hoped for, prayed for, & in moments of extreme pain & discomfort pleaded to not have happen. But because we are not the ones in control (GOD is, sweet boy) & because GOD has a wicked sense of humor, you made your frightening premature way into the world & our lives were forever (wonderfully) changed.
Your birth story has been documented here so I won’t recount details found within these posts again. You do, however, need to know these few things:
Your daddy saved you. He saved me. He saved his family. He was brave & acted like a man whose job was to protect. He took no chances. He didn’t waste time on my “whats ifs” and paid no mind to my “I’ll be fines”. Its a good thing too because if he hadn’t been ‘dada’ that day you & I wouldn’t be here.
This is not a dramatic exaggeration. The doctors let us know that if daddy hadn’t done what he did that you would have remained in my belly and within 12 hours I would have had a seizure episode & we would have both perished. If you know nothing else, know that what daddy did was because he was meant to be a daddy. He was meant to be your daddy. Thats what he was put here on this earth for. He did a phenomenal job on your birthday & has never once stopped loving, doting, protecting, and cherishing you.
I was stubborn. About a lot of things in the hours that led up to your birth. Once the doctors told us “you’ll be having this baby within 24 hours here in Florida” I became a shade of stubborn most hadn’t witnessed before.
Grandaddy & GiGi had made it to the hospital by the time that news had been delivered and I remember (and have been reminded many times by your Grandaddy) that I went into negotiation mode with the doctors. I wasn’t ready to have you enter the world in such a fragile condition and oh.so.far from home. I went as far as to tell our 1st doctor that I would sit very still in the car and that your Grandaddy would drive me home. We could leave now and be back in NC within 14 hours (something your Grandaddy never once agreed to, by the way).
I was stubborn because I thought I could be in control. I wanted a better birth story for you. Again, & I can never say this enough, we are not in control. God is. And even when I wanted a “better” birth story for you He showed us just how great of a story He had written for your birth & has written for your life.
The Doctors Told Us You Might Die. In the 1st few days of your life, there were so many “ifs” and “buts” and “we don’t knows” circling your name that your daddy & I could hardly keep our eyes, ears, and hearts above water. I remember vividly sitting by your incubator not 36 hours after you were born and discussing your state with the doctors.
Our 1st (and favorite doctor) Dr. Abril was regurgitating the various procedures already performed to bring you into the world & was letting us know what to expect next. What tests were needed. What we needed to think about. Words like “Sign this.” “I need to do this – sign here please.” and “I dont know what else to do so we’ll try this – sign here.” were too much for your daddy that day. He turned a shade of green I have only seen him turn that day and he left the NICU. Can’t blame him. After all, he had held it all together for the 1st 36 hours of your life as I remained on bedrest with many drugs to try & help my body heal. And at that moment everything came to a head. So, he looked at me and just said “Yeah, I’m going to step out.” and off he went.
He was gone for 30 minutes or so. During that time, Dr. Abril & I talked (as I signed this and signed that) and I asked the question I know we all wanted to know the answer to: Were you going to live or would we leave this hospital one day with your body and without your soul. Dr. Abril smiled cautiously and said “There’s a 35-40% chance he won’t live. Love him now. And let me do what I can”.
You fought to be here. It is not a secret you struggled during your 1st few months on this Earth. There were days that for you to take one breath was a Mount Olympus obstacle for you. You struggled. But, you fought. You fought like hell.
I remember one conversation with Uncle “Bubba” Parker on one of your particularly rough days in the first few weeks of your life. I was scared. He simply said, “This boy is one of us. He will kick, punch, and claw his way out of this mess if he has to. He will fight. Thats what we do. And he will win.” And, dear, sweet boy, you did just that. You won.
Never forget that you won this battle. You fought harder than most people you will ever meet to have a chance at life. I hope that fighting spirit fuels you for the rest of your days.
We kept the majority of your story private. Not because we weren’t proud (we were, continue to be, & will never not be proud of you). But, because we wanted to protect your privacy during such a delicate time. I wanted to spend my days with you – reading to you, singing to you, preparing for you, and not changing my focus to update others. Thats how this blog came to be. It was a way for us to share our love story (you’re our love story, dear boy) with those who cared for us.
Privacy is important. It was then and should it always be. You do not have to, nor should you ever feel guilty for not sharing personal matters with others. As long as you prayerfully share with GOD, and always know there isn’t anything your father & I won’t love you through, you can be as private as you choose to be. There is no shame in creating shelter for your heart & your soul in a world so quick to tear those 2 important things down.
Now, a few things I hope you learn, remember, & never forget. Now or ever:
Love is an action verb. Your GiGi taught me this. Love is not merely a word we say, it is a way of living. It is putting others before yourself. It is giving without the 1st thought of what you want to get in return. It is serving so others can experience joy. It is building an outdoor dance floor in the sleet & freezing rain 3 days before your daddy & I were to marry. (Your Grandaddy did this – he would never admit he did but GiGi may have snapped a photo & sent it to me).
Love Jesus. Love Jesus every.single.day. Remember you need him just as much when you’re at your height & as you when you’re at your lowest. Your relationship with Him should be a constant one; a conversation that never stops. Seek Him out in every person & every situation you encounter; I promise you He is there. Sometimes He might not be easy to spot but that, dear boy, is where faith & love come into play. Lean on Him when times get tough, thank Him in times of plenty. He is the most important relationship you can have in this lifetime.
Be Like Him. Jesus was a dirty man. And you should be, too. He didn’t stand on the corner of priviledge & politics and talk about how to live. He showed us how to live. He got his hands dirty serving others.
Before his ultimate example of “love is action verb” he served the desolate, the down trodden, those that had been tossed aside by others. He loved them through servantship. He broke bread with them, blessed them, loved them. He truly lived to serve (& He still does). Be like Jesus – serve when you feel called & when it feels right within your heart. Trust me, when you find the opportunity to serve it will bless you in more ways than you can ever imagine.
Never forget where you came from. Never forget your story. Your 1st days, weeks, & months shaped you into a strong, thankful spirit. Never lose that. It will serve you well all your days. Never forget who you come from either. A mother & father who love each other very much; the only thing they love more is you.
Your mother has deep, wide roots in the south that she is unabashedly proud of. Your father is from above the Mason-Dixon line (we forgive him for that, dear). He is proud of where he comes from but knows a good thing (the South & your mama & now, you) when he sees it. Be proud of your roots. They might be a bit gnarly in spots but they are yours. Be proud of them.
You are the 1st grandchild in the whole entire family. And, what a grandchild you are. Your grandparents adore you. You make them proud for everything you’ve been through, how far you’ve come, your happy attitude, and the way you love life.
You are our everything. You are the greatest blessing that GOD could’ve ever, ever given us. You humble us everyday. You have opened up places in our hearts we never knew existed & we are forever grateful for it.
You have our whole hearts for our whole lives. We love you. Happy birthday.
-Mama & Dada