My sweet, my love. You’re off on your first trip with grandpa and grandma with no parents. I can’t lie, I felt like bawling as I kissed you goodbye. There is nothing like a mama’s love. You often tell me, “I love you more than you do.” But you don’t understand, that’s just not possible and you can’t understand it until you’re a parent yourself. It’s just how it is.
As we were driving to preschool this morning talking about your big trip you said, “Mom, if you miss me a little bit, just go look at the snowman in my bedroom.” You’re the sweetest thing. A few minutes later, you went on to tell me, “I can’t leave without a big hug and a kiss,” and true to your word, for the first time in weeks (maybe months?), you kissed me smack dab on the lips, wrapping your arms and legs around me, all thirty-two pounds pressed in tight. Be still my heart.
I packed your bags for your trip, made sure the iPad was charged up and even mended the hole in your dinosaur travel head rest, something I’ve been promising to do for months. What really got me though, was looking through the toys you collected for the weekend. At four, these were some of the things you couldn’t go three days without: the monster truck we painted together this week, the green superhero cape (you double checked to make sure it was the one I made for you), mama’s black leather gloves that you like to use as part of a batman costume, a little horse figurine from Toy Story, your skateboard, bow and arrow, a knight and horse, and then this, the real heart tug, of it all, blue bear’s pillow (the one you made in pre-school) and your blankie.
There are days now that we find ourselves at odds. You kick as I try to get you dressed, and yell right after I’ve reminded you the babies are sleeping. You can be defiant and stubborn. But then at end of the day when it’s all said and done, there’s my little curly-topped baby sound asleep. You still look so small in your bunk bed, because you still ARE so small. And then as the house grows silent and the toys are put away and I can hear myself think again, I begin to look forward to knowing that in a few hours you will come silently up the stairs in the dark of the night, crawl between your daddy and I, and snuggle in tight. It used to bother me, and I would try to strategize for how we might get you to sleep in your own bed, but now, I just realize, more than ever, you won’t always be little, it won’t always be like this. And oh how I love you my little love bug. Oh how I’ll miss you there in the middle.
And so, tea time is quiet today, and I can actually write and send a text or two, but hear this loud and clear: I miss you. I miss reading chapter books and playing games and listening to your chatter. We’ve made the decision to keep you back a year from kindergarten, and I couldn’t be happier knowing that you’ll be here with me another year. Life is better with you here.
I wish you the happiest of happy weekends with your Grandma and Grandpa, but know that at home I’m not only looking at that snowman, but this mama is counting the hours until you return and all her little baby ducks are back in the nest, right where they belong.
Love you to Africa. And back. And there again. And back. Times a million.
Tonight, as I tuck my babies in, completing tasks that are so very ordinary, I sent my mom a text, “There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.” And I’ve never meant those words more because just three weeks ago, I sat in a hospital room, tears silently streaming down my cheeks, and all I wanted was to be doing those every day things. Those monotonous tasks that have been done thousands of times were all of a sudden so beautiful.
But instead, there I was, in room 313.
In the darkness of the night, my husband lay asleep on a fold out bed, my baby girl beside me in a bassinet. The only sounds heard were the pump of an IV sending blood thinners coursing through my veins and the steady tick of a clock on the wall. Each second signaled another moment I was still there, another moment the clot hadn’t moved. I went to bed wondering whether I would wake to a new day, to kiss my babies, to see the sun rise.
And those nights, I lay there, struggling with the question, how do I submit my life to God’s will, to His sovereignty when I still so badly want to live, to raise my babies? What if God would answer our pleas in a different way than we hoped? I thought about Jesus, who was God, who begged the Father to let this cup be taken, and yet still walked Calvary.
The weeks leading up to Lucia’s birth I had this underlying fear that something was going to go wrong with labour. I thought about blood clots, about the mom in our church who died after giving birth to her third baby. I told myself those fears were irrational, that her situation wasn’t mine. But I couldn’t shake the feeling. I wondered what would happen if Phil had to bear the full burden of raising three little people by himself. And the song, “I surrender all” would ring through my thoughts, and I questioned how we really get to that place.
But Lucia’s birth went off without a hitch. Nothing went wrong. We had a beautiful baby girl, a daughter, and I was discharged in less than 48 hours. I felt amazing. I took Wyatt skating five days after her birth. Phil went back to work. We were settling into being a family of five and looking forward to all that Christmas held. I had images of nursing Lucia beside the light of a twinkling tree, to dressing the kids for the Christmas Eve service, to sipping cups of hot chocolate and watching the wonder of the season through the eyes of my babes.
But then there was a leg twinge.
It was nothing big, nothing alarming, except that I couldn’t account for why it was there, and I had the knowing feeling that something was wrong. So even after Health Link advised that I didn’t need to go to ER, I packed up Lucia and drove to Raymond. I felt silly because I had been to the doctor the day before for abdomen pain that had been dismissed as nothing serious. So when I pulled into the parking lot that night, I almost left, but I knew Phil wanted me to get it checked out and wouldn’t be settled until I had. While I waited for my name to be called, I almost left again. It just seemed so ridiculous. I told the nurse, “I’m sure it’s nothing, but my husband wanted me to come in.” Unable to do any testing that night, they administered treatment on the premise that it was a blood clot and sent me home with an appointment for an ultrasound the next morning. I later asked a doctor, what would have happened if I hadn’t gone that night? “Things could have been really different,” was the response.
God’s protection was over me.
The next morning, at the hospital, during my ultrasound the nurse left and came back with two doctors. At that moment, I knew things weren’t good. Even still, we were told that blood clots were common following pregnancy, given drugs and sent home again with the instructions to carry on as normal, with a follow-up appointment scheduled for a month away.
By that evening the pain and swelling was escalating, I called ER, and they told me it was to be expected. But by Saturday, the next night, I couldn’t even walk across the living room, and I wondered how on earth I supposed to carry on as normal? We decided to go back to ER.
Again, God was there, leading, sustaining.
The next few hours were a blur. Words like limb loss and STARS were tossed around. Nurses and medical staff were far too kind. At one point, I was told I was being sent to Calgary by ambulance, but as plans were being made, they realized that because I was still in a critical period of post-partum recovery, there was no use; I would bleed to death if they administered further treatments. Phil asked the doctor how bad things were. He said if a 10 was a “Hail Mary, let’s give it one last shot,” I was an 8. One step away from 10. It was a sinking feeling.
The next days were spent on the labour and maternity ward. It was such a strange feeling to be in a place where there was so much joy, where new life was just beginning, yet I was begging for mine to continue.
The morning after being admitted, I woke up and my phone started to play, “I need a miracle.” I hadn’t pressed play, I don’t even have that song on my phone, but the words were playing clearly through an online radio station. I truly believe there was a spiritual battle taking place, yet God was there. I literally felt His peace surrounding me. I wanted to write letters to my children in case I couldn’t say the things I wanted to, I wanted to tell Phil what an amazing husband he had been, but I simply refused to give power to those thoughts. I was walking in faith that I was going to have many years to say those words in person.
In the next five days, that hospital room became a holy sanctuary. Phil and I would grasp hands, our prayers coming out in desperate whispers, tears streaming down our faces.
“Please Jesus, spare Jana’s life.”
“Jesus, we submit to your will, but we claim your promises.”
“You are good, you are faithful, you are here.”
“Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner saved by grace.”
And no, it wasn’t how I anticipated spending Christmas, but I knew the presence of God in a way I never have before. God shouts in our trials.
We recited Psalm 91 to one another over and over. Claiming that we were not to fear anything. We talked about what it meant to really surrender.
And we listened to this song.
Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me
Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well it is well with my soul
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You Lord
Through it all, through it all
It is well with me.
And even now, when I hear those words, my heart squeezes, and I am back in that place.
Because it was scary.
But I can honestly say, it was well with my soul, and it remains well with my soul. And perhaps for the first time in my life, I truly surrendered, knowing that God was good and could be trusted and was in control. Even if things didn’t turn out the way I hoped…
Before I’d go to sleep, I’d recite my childhood prayer:
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray thee Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray thee Lord my soul to take.
Angels guard me through the night
And keep my safe to morning light.”
And then I’d go sleep, and wake up to another new morning. We’d open the blinds to the sunlight. Phil and I would look at one another and say, “Hallelujah. Praise Jesus. Another 12 hours of life.”
I can’t write this story without writing about the sea of prayers. It’s what I will always remember most. Literally every time I looked at my phone, there would be messages of care and concern, of prayers and love. There was this enormous ripple effect as countless people petitioned for my life. I can’t tell you how many messages I received that started, “You don’t know me, but…” And even as the risks of the blood clot moving decreased, people still continued to pray. And I will be forever equally humbled and grateful. I am so undeserving. Near the end of my stay we were told that the chances of the clot moving and ending it fatality was now at 1 per cent, and that sounds so promising, but I couldn’t assume that I wasn’t that one person in one hundred. Somehow, I just knew I couldn’t take it for granted that I’d be going home. And so we continued to pray, and I continued to ask others to pray with me.
One afternoon, my closest friends gathered around me, and literally hundreds, maybe thousands of others across this nation joined with us in prayer. It was such a holy moment, a moment where time was paused as our eyes looked towards heaven, our hearts humbled.
And if I know one thing, I know this: God heard those prayers. He continued to reassure me, to send me messages of hope. One day, the theme was Immanuel – God is with us. My mom came into the hospital that morning and said that was the word on her heart. Later, my Aunt Joanne came in, and while grasping my hand, through tears spoke assertively, “Jana, God is with you here in this room.” Weeks after, a dear friend told me that one day during my hospital stay she was driving and the song “Immanuel” came on the radio as she thought of me. I’m certain she heard that song the same day that word was spoken over and over.
On a different day, the theme was about bravery, to be strong and courageous. It was only so appropriate because I almost wore my MOPS “Be you, Bravely” shirt to the hospital, I only took it off before I left because I thought it would be too difficult to nurse Lucia in. God wants us to know that He is for us, not against us, that He is with us, that we can do all things through Him who gives us strength. This is His truth.
Finally, the night before I left the hospital, I woke up and the words, “The storm is over now,” were ringing through my thoughts. I knew I could go home. While I had images of the destruction a storm causes, I also had images of the calm in the aftermath, of rebuilding.
It was time.
The battle was over.
Phil pushed me out of the hospital the next morning – Christmas Day.
Now, nearly a month later, the whole thing can seem like a bad dream. Except that I continue to wear a stocking on my left leg, and every night at eight an alarm signals it’s time to administer a needle to my belly. It seems distant until I remember how the first day we went home I had to calmly tell Phil, “We need to go back to the hospital, I’m having chest pains.” Or a friend, who is a nurse, tells me that everyone in the ER was really worried and kept asking about me for days after. And then I remember how I couldn’t even walk out of the hospital, that I was on round the clock pain medication, that Phil wanted my mom to sleep at our home in case something happened in the middle of the night and we had to rush to ER. Just this past week, one of my maternity doctors said, “Well, that was pretty scary.” And it’s then I remember just how serious things were, just how grateful I am to be home, to be alive.
I heard from A LOT of people before Lucia was born that three kids was a really big adjustment. I half jokingly have told friends that perhaps everyone just needs to have a life-threatening experience to appreciate the chaos – because it is chaotic, and there’s lots of tears and laundry and I have a four year old, an 18-month old blender whirring without a top and a newborn in the mix, so I’m changing a lot of diapers, and neither I nor Phil get a full nights sleep. I’m forever sweeping cheerios off floors and folding itty-bitty sleepers and swaddling blankets. Currently Wyatt is slamming a remote control car into the wall. Moments earlier Lucia was crying and Colt was standing precariously on the table. Be still my heart, I have great, great joy. I love these moments, exactly like this. I rock my baby girl and try to bottle in the smell of sour milk that only a mama can love. I watch my squinty blue-eyed toddler stumble around, trying out words and kissing his baby sister. And there’s the brown-eyed one, with his long lashes, who still wants to crawl into our bed every night and cuddle in close. And I am here, getting to mother my babies. And like my pastor said to me while I was in the hospital, “Of course you want to keep living, your assignment isn’t done here yet.” I’ve taken those words seriously. God sustained my life for a reason. There is a great purpose, and I don’t want to miss it. In the evenings, Phil and I have been finishing our day praying together for our children, our friends and family, and asking how we can bring glory to God. Because that is our most heartfelt prayer, that God would receive glory, that others would know him more deeply, and that we ourselves would be transformed to be more like Christ, to have a heart for the hurting, to show His love to this broken world.
We are changed.
It’s a story that will stay with us, one that we’ll tell our children as they get older. For now, it’s enough for them to know that mama had a sore leg. One day though, I will tell them of how our God spared my life, how it was the beginning of great things, a catalyst for our family. It will always be a major chapter.
But it wasn’t the last chapter.
And for that, I am beyond grateful.
As for this chapter, the one I’m in right now? It’s full of small things, little people and mundane moments that are not only shaping their character, but equally shaping mine. The true beauty of it all is that it’s part of a larger tale of redemption, one that speaks of His goodness and faithfulness through all trials and joys, through tears and rejoicing.
To Him be all the glory for all that He has done, and all He is going to do.
And to those that prayed with me, I can never thank you enough. God’s greatest blessings to each one of you.
My sweet Lucia Faith,
It’s snowing softly outside, your mama has a cup of tea and a silent house, lights twinkle on a tree, and there you are, swaddled in a moses basket, as sweet as can be, my Christmas blessing, my wee babe. This mama’s heart couldn’t be filled with more joy.
It’s hard to imagine that just four days ago, you were on the inside, we were wondering when you might arrive and who you would be.
The story of your arrival of course goes back nine months. Wyatt will always hold a special place as our firstborn, Colton was the baby we prayed for incessantly, but you, you were our surprise baby. Have you heard about how Wyatt started to ask for a sister, and I told him he should pray about it? At the time, we weren’t planning on having another baby, at least, not yet. But God heard those little prayers and formed your life.
So yes, you took us by surprise, but my sweet, know this and let it sink deep down into the very roots of your soul: you were not an accident. You were created by God our Father with great intention. He knew the very hour you would arrive. He loved you and formed you and has a plan for your life. He placed you in our home. And while yes, you came unexpected, I cannot possibly think of a better gift – a little girl, with the softest of skin and silky black hair. From the very moment you arrived, you stole my heart. I was and remain completely smitten. At night, I press my lips against your cheek and my soul how it thanks God for you, a girl, my daughter.
I was sure you’d come early, but your due date, December 4 came and went and turned out to be terribly anticlimactic. For days, I was crampy and thought, “this must be the day,” but night after night I went to bed literally dreaming of labour and evaluating every twinge to see if it was the real deal. On December 8, it was a day much like any other, I took Wyatt to his swim lessons and we went to Toys R Us after to buy him a treat for completing his level. We stopped for pizza on the way home and spent the afternoon reading books and playing Spot It while Colton napped. In the later part of the afternoon, I had two very strong contractions and thought, it might be time. I decided to take a short nap myself to prepare for what could lie ahead. While I was sleeping, Wyatt ate a whole cup of fuzzy peaches and watched a movie. In the evening, Wyatt was making Christmas cards for his preschool teachers and the “cramps,” although not very strong, started to feel more regular. Even though I was sure it would probably halt labour, we decided to take your brothers to Grandma’s for the night. And as predicted, once we dropped them off, I maybe had one contraction in the next hour. Your Dad and I were just killing time, walking around Henderson – me 41 weeks pregnant, in my winter boots and pajama pants. The only telltale sign I had of labour was that I was bleeding more than I thought I should be, so after a call to Health Link, we decided to go in. I packed a hospital bag and continued to putt around the house, cleaning up toys and folding laundry. We sat in the living room and discussed exactly which name we should give you – at this point I realized I really thought you’d be a little boy and was a little panicked by our uncertainty as to what to call you. We arrived at the hospital, not sure whether we were staying or going. I thought they’d probably keep me there because of the bleeding, but in terms of where I was at for pain, I was certain they’d send me home. I was still cracking jokes between contractions and felt fairly composed. My moment of pride came though when they put the monitor on and Phil overheard the nurse say, “She’s in more pain than she’s letting on.” You see, with my first baby, it was not that way, I took every pain medication offered. At this point, our 12-year-old doctor wandered in, ok she wasn’t really 12, but she was fresh out of med school and even though I had been worried about who would deliver, at this point I felt incredibly calm. She broke my water and the nurse declared a baby would be born within the hour. I was sure she was going to be wrong. But true to her word, all of a sudden, there was two crazy pushes, a blur, and the words, “It’s a girl.” I couldn’t believe we were finally going to be adding pink to our mix.
Your sweet cries heralded the end of labour and the beginning of new life, your life.
How do I describe the joy of a new baby? The smell of milky breathe, the kind of moments that literally make your heart hurt, the ones you so badly want to bottle up and remember… It’s impossible, really. There’s no other feeling like it on earth.
Welcome here my love, welcome here.
Know you are loved more deeply than you can imagine and that our hearts are overflowing. God gave us you, and oh, what a gift to be your mama.
I love you forever and ever.
It’s the end of the day, the dishwasher hums, the boys are freshly bathed and soundly asleep, tucked into flannel Christmas sheets. The last of the toys are picked up, another load of laundry tossed in. There are traces of children to found everywhere from the toys in the playroom to the handprints on the mirrors And as I take it in, look around, my heart squeezes, because these boys, they’re growing up too fast, and all of a sudden I just want to sit and play with them for hours, paint, giggle, tickle. I want to forgo quiet times and read books together. They are the most precious things I have ever laid eyes on.
And this advent season, it’s more real, because we’re awaiting a baby of our own, anticipating the labour pains that bring forth joy. The allegory of it all becomes so impacting. The reality that God became a wee little baby, that there was a mother who was wondering and waiting when he would arrive, she was preparing, anticipating, hoping. And the world was hanging on that promise of a king, a deliverer.
Our family is about to start a new chapter, a new wee one of our own is about to make us five, to shake our routines. I always feel so competent before we add a new member, like I’ve finally figured things out a bit. The laundry gets done, to-do lists actually get completed. Two seems easy. I know it, I understand it. And I’m about to be so exhausted, pushed to capacity, about to tackle the challenge of making each of them feel cherished. But I’m also about to fall in love. To see the divine collide with earth, to see a baby take its first breaths. To look down into a little face and say, “oh yes, of course, it’s you.” And I cannot wait to lay my eyes on my third child, my surprise baby, my Christmas bundle and kiss that little head, and count those tiny fingers and let the very miracle of it all magnify the Lord.
Don’t I always start blog posts along the lines of, “how fast the days go…” or “it’s been too long…” but here it is again… Nearing six months since I really sat down with no intention to write. How is this possible?? This outlet has been left so abandoned, but not forgotten. It’s overwhelming in a sense, I almost don’t know where to start….
Largely, the everyday moments already escape memory, but there are a few memories that stand out from the past few months, ones I never want to forget…
We had the 20 week ultrasound and Phil sat in that dimly lit room with me, looking at that sonogram, those grainy black and white images, and he said, “It’s unreal every time.” And for the first time, I cried during an ultrasound. The news of this baby was such a surprise to us. Nearly nine months later and we’re still wrapping our heads around the timing. Yet God knew. God picked the time this child would enter our lives. And the nursery is still occupied by two other little boys, but the other day, while debating where everyone should sleep when baby arrives, Phil said, “What a fabulous problem to have, to wonder where our new little bundle of joy is going to sleep.” Because we know that we’re going to be exhausted and stretched, yet we know love multiplies, how these boys bring life to our home and fill our hearts.
Then there was Disney. And honestly, we knew we weren’t going for Wyatt – even though we knew he’d have a blast, we were going to cherish the memories that we would have of when he was still innocent enough to truly believe. We went because it’s important to me that my children are given opportunities to believe in what they cannot fully explain, to imagine, to wonder, to believe in make-believe. And that most magical place on earth did not disappoint. I will not forget Wyatt’s face watching the parade, holding up his miniature buzz light year figurine as the “real buzz” passed, shouting, “I have a buzz, too.” Or his look of awe when he met Lightning McQueen. But perhaps even more so, I will never forget watching the look of love in Phil’s face, because it was an exact mirror of my heart. Wyatt didn’t want to ride Peter Pan, as we were about to get on, he burst into tears, so we skipped out, but the ironic part is that he still picked out a green hat complete with a red feather to match Peter’s later that day. So on our last day, when I saw that mug in the gift shop that had a picture of Peter Pan with the words, “Never Grow Up,” tears unexpectedly sprung to my eyes. I knew I had found my keepsake. Because those words are my hearts cry, oh baby, don’t you ever grow up. Don’t let the world steal your joy and innocence. Keep that childhood wonder and gentle spirit. This is the constant crux of motherhood, I want to keep you small forever, to shelter you and protect you, and yet, I want to give you the wings to fly, the courage to try new things, the confidence to know you’ll succeed. I want you to remain my little boy, but grow into a man of integrity. But maybe, just for a little bit, can we agree, baby of mine, to stay little just a bit longer?
Because the next big milestone that came our way was pre-school. And that phrase about your heart walking around outside your body was never more true. I was sending my boy into a room of people I did not know, a room of people who did not know him. I honestly couldn’t and still can’t figure out how we got here already. Didn’t I just bring him home from the hospital to a lawn covered with some cheesy ornaments announcing his birth?? There were a lot of hidden tears from this mama leading up to that first day, but on the morning of, I put on my happy face and determined to model a brave spirit for my little boy. And I prayed, and I prayed, and how I continue to pray. And I trusted Jesus to go with my shy little one with a soft spirit. Wyatt, you love preschool and for that I celebrate. But you must know, even though it’s only two mornings a week, I miss having you home, I miss the freedom to cuddle in our jammies all day and have picnics on a quilt in the morning light pouring in from the front window. I miss that luxury to plan nearly every one of our days according to our whims. In some respects, I gave up my career to stay at home and mother you. We don’t have a lot of extra money and we live a small house by the standards of our society. We don’t drive new vehciles. But know this, without a doubt, it is my greatest honour and calling to spend my days with you. I’m sorry for when I fail or do a sub-par job or check my phone too often, because these days are fleeting and short and I see that more and more with each passing year. Even now, tears are streaming down my face because my heart is so grateful to spend my hours with you and your brother, to read you stories, sit with you during lunch chatting about nothing and everything, stroke your little heads before naps, to bake cookies and to explore parks. To simply live life together. Thank you for that gift. Tomorrow, there’s no school, so let’s squish play dough and paint and build tracks for your train, ok my sweet?
_ _ _
I was looking at this old blog post, this one I wrote in January, where I had words assigned to each month, goals of sorts. And if the truth is told, I had completely forgotten about that little exercise. But there was the goal for November, jumping off the screen, “Prepare.” Did I know I’d be pregnant then?? I thought back, no, of course I didn’t. I couldn’t have. And so it seemed eerily prophetic, that at the start of the year, with no plans to bring home a new baby at the end of this month was the word, “Prepare.” And that very truth is exactly what God has been whispering to my heart. Because in many ways, I feel so very unprepared, the nursery remains the same as it did four years ago, baby names are still being tossed around, I debate the need to buy another stroller, I don’t even have newborn diapers… And yet, I’ve heard the whisper of God’s voice to my soul, telling me that the ways the world would have me prepare for another baby matters not. What matters is my heart… He’s telling me, “I know you’re unsure about the timing of this third baby, but trust me, I have a plan and a purpose, I will give you the resources you need in a supernatural way. Prepare the way by coming to me and resting in the fact that I am in control.” And so, as I look to the month ahead, I prepare. And I am longing to meet this wee one who has been kicking and squirming and growing within. I long for that moment I look down at the face of my newborn, and instantly would give my life for theirs. I long to nuzzle my cheeks against this wee one, to whisper “Welcome,” to look at those tiny ten fingers and toes and say, “Of course it’s you.” I long for that safe arrival, to utter the words, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
_ _ _
My sweet little thing, you took your first steps today. At just three weeks shy of a year and a half, you finally wobbly walked for an audience of one – right to your mama. Alone in the kitchen, just the two of us, I scooped you up in my arms and oh how I cheered.
I am so proud of you.
How do I begin to explain how it feels to be your mama? You are my second, the one I prayed and prayed for. So when I look at you, when I really stop and pause, it always hits me – this is the child I pleaded and begged and asked God to give our family. God knew the exact hour and day you would come, He knew of your life, he gave you to us in His perfect timing. You were loved and wanted long before your little heart began to beat.
I look at you my son, and I am in love. I love how your eyes get squinty and your nose crinkles when you laugh. You have this sparky blonde hair and these beautiful blue eyes that almost always have that little twinkle in them. You are spirited, quick to throw a fit when things don’t go your way, but quick to giggle and crawl and play, too. We celebrated your first birthday with the theme, “ONE happy baby” and it couldn’t have been more fitting. You have been a dream baby. When I think back I remember your newborn nights, I think of those hours we spent sleeping on the couch together. You weren’t upset or fussy, you just wanted to be held, drifting off contentedly as long as I was holding you. And I don’t even know when you started to sleep through the night, I believe it was somewhere around nine months but those months I spent in the light of the moon nursing you and rocking, I loved those hours. You adore your brother. In fact even today, it wasn’t until Wyatt cheered for your first steps that your face really lit up. You want to do everything like him. You won’t let us feed you and are insistent on using a fork and drinking from a real cup by yourself. Your favourite toys are balls and cars. By nature of being the second son in our family, you’re pretty tough. Sometimes I’ll find Wyatt sitting on you, “wrestling” he claims, and you’ll just be giggling. You scold the dog, wagging your little finger at him, but you love him, too, chasing him around the house, eagerly trying to pet him. You’re the worst eater, even worse than Wyatt, but I have faith you’ll come around. In the meantime, you LOVE your bottle, and when I warm it up at night you eagerly follow me to the nursery. You don’t use a lot of words. You’ve got mama, dada, uh-oh and hi down pat. We’ve maybe heard a no, ball, and up. So your vocabulary is limited, but don’t let that fool anyone, you know exactly what you want and even though you don’t talk a lot, we communicate just fine. Just the other day I asked if you were done pooping and needed a diaper change, you crawled straight to your change table and pulled out a diaper.
I know there isn’t a lot recorded about your first year of life, my writing and notes are sparse, the documentation of milestones weak, but please know it is not because I didn’t adore you, but rather because I chose to spend time with you and your brother and the hours in my days were limited during these pre-school years.
In just a few weeks, my time is going to be even more divided and you’re going to go from being the baby to being a big brother. And even though there will be a littler baby than you, I want you to know, you’ll still be my baby, just like Wyatt at four years is still my baby. I want you to have the time to grow up, so I won’t push you out of the crib or wean you from a bottle. Mama will still tickle your toes when I put you in jammies at night and my heart will still light up when I gather you from your crib the next morning. We will read books and racecars and play at the park. I will look at you and be blown away by the fact that you are mine. I might not have as much time, but I will love you just the same. In fact, every day that passes, I fall a little more in love with you. That will not change. THAT, my sweet, will never change.
Know that my prayer for you remains the same: that first and foremost, you will grow up to love Jesus. That you will not remember a time in your life where He wasn’t part it. That you will grow in favor with God and with men, that you would grow to be a man of integrity and you would follow God’s special call on your life that only you can fulfill. And should you choose to marry, that God would give you a wife who serves Jesus with her whole heart, adores you and loves our family. I pray that you and Wyatt would have a special bond as brothers and always remain friends.
I love you little one. I wanted you more than you’ll ever know. You are loved, you are loved, you are loved. It’s late at night, you and your brother are snoozing soundly in the nursery, just steps away from where I type this. I can’t wait to see you in the morning, to kiss your darling cheeks and hear your baby chatter.
Sweet dreams my love.
Always and forever,
It should be criminal for your baby to turn four and start pre-school in the same week. Tie that to a healthy dose of pregnancy emotions, and I’ve been a wreck. I stood in the kitchen today, listening to my boy play with his wee brother, knowing that tomorrow marks a new milestone, and tears streamed down my face. Why does letting go have to be so hard? He’s just barely four. Talk about a rite of passage. Talk about a mama’s hurting heart. I want to keep him safe. Cocoon him from kids who might hurt him, teachers who might be unkind. He’s naïve, innocent still. And the song, “please be patient with me, I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that way” rings though my head. He has a gentle heart, deep soulful brown eyes rimmed with long lashes, a head of unruly soft curls. He gets me every time, his laugh, his sparkle, the fact that he’s mine. Yet tomorrow I’ll entrust my most precious treasure into the hands of someone I scarcely know. And the fact that I won’t be there to protect him, to rescue him, it kills me. And I honestly can’t figure it out, because didn’t I just bring a new baby home from the hospital, how can we be here already? And I envision the next 14 years, zipping by, and suddenly my little boy is 18 and I’ll be asking the same question, feeling that same depth of love. And so baby, on the eve of a new era, one filled with backpacks and snacks, labels on mittens, routines and Christmas concerts, these words to you…
This week you turned four. The last night you were three your daddy and I cuddled you between us in our bed and I whispered to you the story of your entry to this world. How you were a perfect little miracle, and how even though mama and daddy didn’t have a clue as to what we were doing, we loved you completely. You erupted into giggles when I told you about how you pooped a lot and we were blown away by the amount of a laundry a little one could make. You begged me to tell you the story about how you’d cry in mama’s arms and squeal in delight when passed back to daddy. You asked to hear stories you’ve heard a hundred times – about how you’d hardly eat anything but blueberries, how you snuck out of your bed camping, how you wouldn’t roar like a lion on Halloween. This is your story, the parts of your life that you won’t remember, but I am your memory keeper, and while many of the details will fade with time, I will always remember the baby boy who made me a mama and stole my heart forever. I’ll never forget how there were times when I looked at you and my heart literally hurt with a deep love like I had never known before.
Last week I looked at you eating your dinner. So often now you seem so grown up to me, so I tried to imagine how in another year I would look at pictures of you in this age and stage and think of how little you were. Then there’s times like tonight, when you wander out of your room, groggily making your way to our bed, clutching blue bear that it’s easy to remember you’re just a little boy.
Oh my Wyatt, do you know how much I love you? How I wanted you, prayed for you, and have cherished these days at home with you more than anything in this world? I’m sorry for the times when I loose my patience, check my iPhone too many times or fail to really listen, because you are a gift and I am blessed beyond belief by you.
Tonight we laid out your clothes, picked out a special toy for your backpack and talked about what you’d like for breakfast in the morning (waffles). Tomorrow I will hold your hand and together we’ll walk into preschool together. I wish I could always be there with you to take on the world, just like that, the two of us, but I won’t be able to. So know this, your mama will always be rooting for you, always be believing the best of you and wanting nothing but good for you. And no matter what happens when we’re apart, you can always come home and I will strive to make this a happy comforting place for you, you can always be assured I will be waiting for you. I am your biggest cheerleader, your greatest fan. I’m excited for all you’re going to learn this year, the ways you’re going to develop, the memories you’ll make. Part of me hurts a little that I won’t be part of that, but it’s all part of what I like to think of as growing pains – for both of us – probably more so for me than you.
My wish for you this year is that you would be brave because you would know that the love of Christ surrounds you. Your daddy and I made a decision many years ago that you were not ours, that we would hold you loosely and entrust you to the one who loves you even more than we do. And so I do, I trust that God will be with you, that he will take care of you, protect you. He created you and knows all the days of your life, he is the one who knit you together in my womb. He loves you deeply.
My prayer is that you would find a special friend, someone to laugh and play with. That you would grow in confidence. I pray that you would find favour with your teachers and more than anything, that they would be another vessel to point you to Christ.
Before I end, I wanted to tell you how proud of you I am. This year has been a huge year of growth for you. You still wore pull-ups to your third birthday and went to sleep with a su, you gave those up quickly after turning three. There was a period of time this year where you asked endless questions about heaven and God. If we’d be driving, and there was a moment of silence, I knew the questions would start. What would heaven be like? When are we going to go there? What will we do? It was hard for us both because a lot of the questions I couldn’t fully answer, and I could see it was weighing greatly on your heart and mind. So I prayed. I occasionally would ask you if you wanted to trust Jesus, and the answer was no. My heart hurt as I wondered when that answer might change, but I didn’t pressure you, I wanted it to be your choice. Then one day, out of nowhere you told me you wanted to trust in Jesus and so while we were driving, we very simply prayed together and told Jesus that you loved him and wanted to trust him. And that was that, literally there was a noticeable sense of peace that came over your little soul. There is nothing more important to me than leading my children to see Jesus. It is my constant prayer that you would grow up to know him and be a man of integrity, that you would have a deep passion for Christ, and walk with him all the days of your life. So we rejoiced in that step of faith!
Your best friend continues to be Niko, but recently you’ve added Walker to the list. You have a very determined opinion about clothing that drives your mama nuts! Your favorite foods are chocolate ice cream (with mini marshmallows, fuzzy peaches and gummy bears), pizza, piggy pancakes, apple squishies and of course, candy. Lately you’ve been really into cars, but you like pirates, hockey, puzzles and games like “Go Fish”, too. You’re not too interested in learning to count and have maxed out at 15, but you love to read and can easily spend an hour looking at books on your own. You like to help mama fold the laundry and always fold your underwear in a neat little pile. You are a fabulous big brother and watch out for Colite. Colt in turn thinks you’re the funniest and whatever you’re doing, he’s in there like a dirty shirt. Considering that you are type A and like things orderly, you take Colt in stride. You think Daddy is pretty much the best and you want to do everything he does. You’re like your mama and like to have a party and make a big deal about the little occasions in life. You don’t like playing group games like, “What time is it Mr. Wolf?” or “Frozen Tag.” This past summer you learned so many new things and it was so much fun for daddy and I watch you tackle new challenges. You’ve learned to ride a strider bike and can motor pretty fast on it now. Only a few days before turning four, we were in the pool and you asked if you could take off your puddle jumper and just like that you learned to swim! You haven’t slept in your bed through the night for months and every night you end up in ours. It’s such a dilemma for us because while we feel like you should sleep in your own bed, we really do love the cuddles and know they won’t last forever. Lately you’ll spontaneously tell me that I’m the best mama ever and nothing could melt my heart more. Your hair is pretty long because you don’t want it cut. You are 31 pounds. We love every little bit of you. Thank you my sweet boy for being you. We’re thankful for you, cherish you and adore you.
I love you to the moon and back and back again. I can’t wait to see what this year holds.
Forever and always yours,
The house is completely quiet except for the drum of the air conditioning. It is still clean from yesterday. My husband is sleeping, I just woke up. It’s life without kids. What did we do, I wonder??
Colt spent his first night away last night, Wyatt his first since Colton was born. I have a hot cup of coffee and no agenda until two this afternoon when we will pick them up, and the toys will be hauled out again, cheerios strewn under the table and in every crevice, mama’s coffee will go cold before it is ever drank, the silence will be filled with noise that never ends, even when they are sleeping. And life will be restored again.
Don’t get me wrong, moments like this, they’re blissful, refreshing, recharging. But only because they are a break from the ordinary, only because those babies will return healthy and happy.
Our lives are full. There’s rarely a moment to just sit, and when there is, I more often than not have tried to use it to open the word, to plug into bite-size morsels of God’s truth. And so this space sits dusty, the memories, they become a bit clouded. But there’s SO much, and can I just say this truth loud and clear, this life, it’s good.