I’m not sure how to end this—this thing that began as a way for me to process my emotions during battle, and then, with each paragraph, somehow became so much more.
It’s a handbook on perseverance—a field companion for the weary.
It’s our story—how you and I became a “we”.
It’s a love letter to you—the greatest love of my life.
There’s so much more to the story than the words I’ve written here. We are an epic poem, you and I. Like Beowulf, but worth reading.
There are more stories that I’ll tell you in person someday, and there are parts that I’ll purposely leave out. Your story is one with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows with the best ending imaginable.
You’ll have rainy days and storms, my son. As much as I wish that I could be your umbrella for every rain drop, I cannot. But on those days when you struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel, always know that you are my Happily Ever After—the rainbow after my storm.
It is currently 4:15am and you are in my arms after a middle of the night feeding. You make the sweetest moans when you eat and when you first drift off to sleep. As I write this I am listening to your little noises—the soundtrack of my happiness. I should probably put you back in the bassinet and get some sleep, but I don’t want to let go quite yet. So, in the meantime, I’ll tell you the story of the day we met…
In the days leading up to your arrival, and amidst all the recent chaos, I was overcome with the greatest sense of peace. I can honestly say that I didn’t have one ounce of nervousness about giving birth or going into surgery. I don’t know that I slept at all the night before you were born. This restlessness was not born of anxiety, but of me wanting to cherish every last second of feeling you move as part of me.
To be at the hospital at 5:30am, the alarm went off quite early. Your dad and I readied ourselves, grabbed our bags and an empty car seat, and headed to the hospital. Your dad kept asking if I was nervous the whole drive…and the answer was a simple “no.” We talked about the how the next time we were in the truck together (and every time after that), you’d be in the backseat.
At 7:47 on March 7th, a little over two hours after arriving at Labor & Delivery, you entered the world.
Being awake for a C-section has to be one of life’s most bizarre opportunities. I could feel the pressure and tugging and pulling of everything that was happening, but not an ounce of pain. I remember Dr. Mitro saying, “ok, Stephanie, he’ll be here in less than a minute.” And then he told me to look up as they dropped the curtain separating us to only a clear plastic shield as he pulled you from my body.
Your dad talks about watching them pull you from my stomach by your legs. He says this is the moment he got over his fear and realized he wasn’t going to “break you.” I’ll never forget the sight of you in Dr. Mitro’s hands. You were folded into a seated position. He had one hand behind your neck and the other at your ankles. With greyish purple skin and a head of black hair, you came into this world screaming your little raspy cry. This was the second best moment of my life.
The first came a few moments later when they laid you on my chest. Though only minutes, it felt like ages between the time that I saw you and held you. The entire time they were checking you out, cleaning you up, and putting my body back together, I heard you crying and the sweet anesthesiologist repeatedly telling me how perfect you are.
She wasn’t lying. You are perfect.
I am in awe of every tiny perfect feature. You are the very best of me. My heart outside my body.
Someday, when the time is right, I will gift you all of these words that I have written during the wait, as well as the ones I will continue to write to you as you grow. But I hope you hold these first 42 close to your heart and realize just how wanted you are. I will also find a way to preserve all the comments left by others as well—those who have become invested in the story of you. You were wanted and celebrated by so many.
As you read these I hope you take away a few things:
First, if you want something bad enough—persevere. If you wake up thinking about it every day, don’t give up. Life isn’t supposed to be easy. And if it is easy, you’re probably doing it wrong. You, like a pearl, were made by grit.
Second, learn about other people’s journeys. Give a damn about everyone’s walk—not just your own. So often we have blinders on that prevent us from fully opening our eyes. We judge before we understand. My son, seek to understand first.
And last, but most importantly, I love you. That is all. More than anything in the world and everything combined.
And here we are at the end of this chapter, which is really just the prologue of your life. So, I pass the pen to you, Jude. My turn is over. The rest is yours to write.
With more love than I ever thought capable,
four. twenty-one. twenty-three.