I write letters to my children. I was inspired by my father who wrote us letters on our birthdays every year and then gifted us these letters in beautiful wood boxes years later. In honor of my son’s first birthday, I share the first letter I wrote him. Each of my babies have this letter- an accounting of their birth day. As I re-read it this morning, I laughed, and cried, and remembered the pain and joy; but mostly, I remembered my intense love for this tiny human. Happy birthday, Ryan. Mama loves you
My sweet little Ryan-
You came into this world fast and furious on March 10, 2014…but that isn’t where the story begins. This story really begins in July 2013. Your father and I had your sister 11.5 months before we found out we were pregnant with you. We were shocked, we were overwhelmed, we were (and are) overjoyed. From the moment we knew of you, we loved you. From the moment we thought about you, we felt like you were a part of our family. You have made our circle complete.
Everything about my pregnancy with you was more mellow than it was with your sister. I had less nausea, less heartburn, less insomnia, fewer headaches. You were a mellow resident in my body. Until March 9th. And here is where the story gets good…
The morning of March 9th, I felt big. I felt fat, and tired, and cranky. I was anxious about your arrival. I wanted to make sure everything was taken care of. Something you’ll learn about me in the coming years, is that I like to pretend I am in control of everything. I know, deep down, that I’m not. But, a girl can hope. So…there I was with your father checking last minute items off my to-do list. I had gotten my hair cut, packed my bag, picked out your outfit for the hospital, called those who needed to be called to say “nope…no baby yet!” And, I was anxious because I couldn’t control what was coming or when it was coming…but I had a good plan.
March 9: Your sister needed tending to. PK was on his way. Your father had his last shift to work for a few days. March 10: My doctor (a woman I like and admire- who had delivered your sister) was on call- perfect! PK would be here, Daddy would be home. So, I just needed you to wait to be born until late in the day on Monday. It would be perfect. You had other plans.
On Sunday, I met a friend for a manicure and pedicure. We got our nails done and chatted. I innocently told her that I had been having contractions since that morning. But, not to worry, I told her. With Nina, I had contractions for almost 36 hours before the main event. She warned me not to get cocky. I was so sure.
After my nail appointment, I came home to wait for PK to show up. He was coming to help and was due to land at the airport around 4pm. Nina and I played outside in the backyard. You rolled around in my tummy. Daddy went to work- he kissed us goodbye and told me to keep him updated. I think he was nervous to leave us, but he had a shift to work- he had to go. I promised to call if anything changed. I would keep him updated.
PK arrived at the house just in time for dinner and we got Nina fed, bathed and in bed. As PK and I sat down for our dinner, you got a little more insistent that I pay attention to you. The contractions were getting harder but they weren’t evenly spaced or easily tracked. I gritted my teeth and pushed through them- at this point, I knew you would be a March 10th baby, so I made my list of things to get done that night before heading to the hospital the next day. As it turns out….I was right…sort of.
As the night progressed, I did a load of laundry, submitted a writing sample for a teaching job I applied for (I subsequently got that job), went to Dunkin Doughnuts to get PK doughnuts, built a chair for Nina, got Nina’s food and clothes squared away for the next day and made sure my bag was packed. PK went to bed around 10- he asked me if I was ok. That’s when things started to go sideways, little boy.
I started to feel pretty intense pain. It wasn’t “bad” pain- in that I wasn’t afraid anything was wrong. But it was INTENSE. I started pacing the floor. I thought I was going crazy. I called your Aunt Jaci, who woke up from what sounded like a dead sleep, to talk to me for a while. I let her go back to bed and decided to take a shower and shave my legs. Now, Ryan, years from now, this may gross you out. But, I’m telling you, should you ever have a wife who is having a baby and she tells you while she’s in labor that she wants to shave her legs…you support that decision. It’s an important one. No one was around for me to worry about, so I got in the shower and shaved my legs. I washed my hair. At this point, it was almost 11:30pm and I had had it. These contractions were still uneven but they HURT. “Justin, you have to come home. Now.” Your dad asked if I could wait for him to sign out. No. Get home. Now.
I woke up your PK. “Um, Dad [PK]? I’m going to go have a baby.” I was wearing yoga pants and a tank top. I had my shoes on. PK helped me get my bag to the door. We waited for Daddy to come home and get me to drive me right back to the hospital he was coming from. The contractions were so strong, I considered having you on the living room floor. You were coming and you were coming fast. PK started to worry that I would be cold outside- it was afterall, almost midnight in the middle of March. He got my sweatshirt and, instead of throwing it in his face, I put it on. He’s my daddy and he wanted to take care of me.
I’m going to skip all the expletives I was thinking and shouting. I was in some pain. Your father pulled up to the house with a squeal. He was definitely moving. If I could have run to the car, I would have, but I got in and off we went. I rolled the window down because, despite the coolness of the evening, I was so hot. You may not remember as we have likely moved from the house we lived in when you were born, but we lived less than a mile from the hospital. It was across the street. Literally. And I didn’t think I would make it. Your father pulled up to the hospital and I got out before he put the car in park.
I walked passed the triage nurses without speaking…I couldn’t really. I was making weird noises, I was worried, pissed off, hurting, and somewhere, in the back of my brain, excited. So, I just walked into the triage area. The nurse who chased me in told me that I would need to put on a gown and, as I paced the room she showed me into, making that weird, low animal noise, I started taking my clothes off and throwing them on the ground. “I’m going to have this baby now!” I told the nurse. She was less than impressed. And then she checked me. “Don’t. Push.” And your father and I were whisked to the elevator. The nurse was calling the labor and delivery team in transit. The doctor met us at the elevator and started talking to me. Your father was holding the gurney, telling me I would be fine, and, as another wave of contraction hit me…I bit your father’s hand. That was my low moment.
We got into the birthing room and, while a lot happened and not a lot happened, the low down is I pushed twice and you were out. You, my sweet little boy, were so excited to meet us that from the time we pulled up at the hospital to the time you were born was 13 minutes. You were 6 pounds and 14 ounces, 21 inches long and you were perfect. I was dazzled. The pain of the past few hours was erased from my mind and I was focused on your sweet face. I love you so very much and I am so lucky to be your mama. I love you more every day that I get to spend with you. I’m ready for this wild ride, little one. I hope you are.
All my love, now and forever,