One year with Brooks Wilder.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Dear Brooks Wilder,

You're one. ONE! This year flew even faster than I thought it would.

A couple weeks ago, I baked vanilla cupcakes for your birthday party. As I whipped the batter and let your siblings taste-test the frosting, my mind went back to a year ago that day. A year before, I was not frosting cupcakes or feeling light and hopeful. Instead, I lumbered around as if I was carrying a baby elephant, contracting every few minutes but not dilating, wondering if you'd ever arrive. Your swift kicks into my right rib confirmed that yes, you were getting stronger and I was getting closer to meeting you. But I still had a hard time seeing the light at the end of what felt like an endless tunnel.

But then one bright June morning, you decided it was time. The hospital room was quiet, only the sounds of deep breaths through strong contractions and hymns playing in the background. We'd made it to a birthing room - my only birth plan after giving birth to Lanie in triage - and I felt safe and ready to meet you, mercifully two weeks early.

Within a couple hours, you were ready to come. There were other patients my doctor needed to see, but I pleaded with her: "I know I can do this in a few pushes. Please just stay." She agreed, gowned up, and I pushed you out in one long contraction. You didn't cry and needed deep suction to clear your lungs after such a quick passage through the birth canal. But you were perfect. As soon as they placed you on my chest, you stared up at me and looked so familiar, as if I'd known you for a hundred years.

The next few months proved difficult. You did not sleep at night. I made my nest in a bed next to your crib for months on end, hoping it would be easier to nurse you every 2-3 hours without making a trip down the hall. But after 5 months of this, I finally noticed a trend: I'd pick you up to nurse, you'd take one good drink, then you'd nestle in and fall back asleep. You didn't want food. You wanted your mama.

Even now, you're not our best sleeper. The other night, after a 12-hour shift at the hospital, I was exhausted and complained to Shawn as I dragged myself out of bed at the sound of your cry,

This feels never-ending.

I meant not-sleeping-through-the-night. But when I said it, I felt a pang of guilt. Because it does end. Seasons change. Babies will not always need their mamas to hold them in the midnight hours. On the week of your birthday, a dear friend buried her 19-year-old son. His death came suddenly and served as such a startling reminder that we aren't promised tomorrow. I've been holding you a little closer, walking a little lighter into your room at night when you cry out for me to hold you. These days are precious and numbered and fleeting.

Since changing your name at 7 weeks old, you've garnered a plethora of nicknames: Brooksie, Brooksie Bear, Bear Bear, Boo, and Mr. Wilder (Lanie). You respond most quickly to "Bear."

Bear, your Daddy and I say it every day, but I'll say it again: you are a dream come true. Our dream come true.

I love you, son. Happy birthday!


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