My first baby.
The one who made me a mom and made Stephen a dad.
We would lay in bed with you between us and just look at you, Shepherd. Dad and I continually marveled at how much we loved such a new human we hardly knew. We would laugh the hardest we’ve ever laughed at the faces you’d make or the situations we’d three get in. We spent a lot of time just being together, the three of us. And we loved it.
You and me, Shepherd, we have a unique bond. When Dad had his third surgery, it was just you and me. Yes, people helped and some even spent a night with you so I could be at the hospital overnight with Dad, but day in and day out, it was you and me. We’d wake up, pack our ten million things and head to United and camp until bedtime. You napped there, I pumped there, we even celebrated Dad’s first Father’s Day there. You were my buddy, my piece of Dad to hang onto when things were scary and hard. For better or worse, you gave me a huge sense of purpose and comfort for those few weeks. We were a team, you and me.
You, my first baby. My now one year old baby.
My baby who loves to swim and play with animals. My baby who slams his head against my belly when he’s tired. My baby who rubs his nose face down against the mattress before falling asleep. My baby who is a daddy’s boy and cannot get enough of whatever Dad is doing.
My baby who moved four times in his first year of life.
My baby who has a Thai Visa.
My baby who became a missionary with his mom and dad.
My baby who slept in our room until recently.
My baby who is so known by God and so loved by his mom and dad.
My baby who will live among people and lead them through service and dedication.
My Shepherd boy.
As your turn one, my love, know that there are feelings and moments and memories that will only ever live in our hearts that have literally changed us. You won’t know what’s happening tomorrow, this year you will not remember. But we will.
You, in making us parents, have made us become more the woman and man God created us to be. Part of His call on our lives is being your parents. And part of parenting you, my love, is allowing Him to parent us in new a deeper, harder ways.
So yes, we know this first birthday (and honestly probably the next couple too) is more about us. But it’s about us in that we are yours, now. We joke around that you know we belong to you. Joke or not, there’s a lot of truth in that as a family, we go together.
A year ago you came into our lives and made us different. Your presence in our lives has made us more of who we are.
So, Birthday Boy, thank you.
Thank you for showing Dad and I that yes, we can do hard things. Harder than we thought. And for teaching us that our capacity, our capacity for struggle, for frustration, for lack of sleep, for love, for understanding, for compassion, is much more than we thought it was.
Thank you for showing me a whole new kind of love, Shepherd. A love that can keep going when it feels impossible, a love that has no bottom, a love that endures and chooses the other consistently.
Our family was born in the midst of pressing and hardship, and you were the light through it all.
It is an honor and a joy to have you, to raise you, to parent you, to get to call you ours.
Dad and I are committed to hitting our knees on behalf of you, You belong to God, and we have been gifted you for such a short span of time. We take the weight and the responsibility of raising you as God wants seriously. Just as we waited on Him for words about you and direction on how to be your parents before you were born, we do even more so now.
You are better than I dreamed, Shepherd. And I will love you forever.
Happy Birthday, my dear.
(professional photos curtesy of Everbranch Photography)