To Fielder Luke, On His First Birthday

Dear Fielder,

I can write now because I snuck you into your own bed, but I know you will not stay there for long. We just brought in the first moments of your first birthday doing what we do best: cuddling.

My sweet son, I don’t know where the year went, but I do know how we spent it, and we spent it well. You have rarely left my side.

Your first day in the world was one of the few you didn’t spend with me. After your tumultuous birth, your Daddy quickly brought you into my line of sight. I sobbed and declared you to be perfect. Then I was whisked into surgery and spent the next twenty-four hours unconscious. I didn’t witness your sisters meeting you. I’m not actually sure if I nursed you for the first time or if you received donor breastmilk for your first feeding. I heard tales from the nurses of how you charmed them despite coating one with your first poop, and how family and friends were happy to finally meet you. Oddly enough, knowing I missed your first day doesn’t make me very sad, because I was so grateful you were finally here. My mission had been accomplished.

We spent a lot of the summer with you napping on my chest. We flew through three seasons of Fixer Upper, we let the dishes pile up, we let the sisters trash their rooms with dress up clothes and dolls. Daddy would come home from work and steal you briefly, but Mama was your person.

In the fall, I had to give you up for a few hours per week to do my job. You became acquainted with Grandma and Gramps, but as soon as I came home, back to my arms you went, greeting me with your dimpled smile that melts me. We made it through football season and picking up sister from school every day. The hour trip always interrupted your nap. Almost nothing made you cranky, except for missing a nap. You cried for the entire journey every school day for three months, but you always sighed and fell asleep in my arms when we arrived home.

We snuggled our way through the winter that wasn’t really wintery. You graduated from the bassinet but we couldn’t bear to kick you out of our room, so you started sleeping in the Pack & Play at the foot of our bed. You slept there briefly, at least. You almost always ended up in mama’s arms through the night, thanks to your Owlet sock that monitored your vital signs and reduced our worry.

We took your first road trip in the spring, and you were happy just to be with us. You started accompanying me on work assignments, nestled in your baby carrier on my chest as I tried to shoot sports photos around your noggin. I cooked meals with you on my hip, I rocked with you in my lap, and I tried to keep your sisters from mauling you when you did venture away from me.

I’m still in awe of how perfect you were on our long drive to the beach to kick off this summer. I recall you crying once on the drive down, when your Daddy was stopped by a Mississippi state trooper (Dad failed to make a complete stop at a stop sign). Your cry came at an opportune time. The trooper was speaking to your Dad about his infraction, but upon hearing you the trooper understood the reason for it, apologized for waking the baby, and wished us well. On the twelve-hour drive home, we never stopped because you demanded it, but because we knew you probably needed to eat and be changed. You spent the week at the beach in my lap (of course) under our umbrella, watching the ocean between snoozes. We were the only pale people to leave the beach still pale, but it was perfect.

You are affectionate, giggly, fun, and always happy. You just started to walk this week after observing your cousin running. The mood at our house is much more light-hearted with your giant smile and easy-going personality.

Fielder, you arrived in my life at a time when I needed to stop and consider everything around me that was good, and you made it easier to do that. You forced me to stop my busyness for busyness’ sake and I learned to let things go that didn’t matter. I had never really been late to pay a bill or forgotten to do something major on my list until this year. I had never ignored piles of papers for months at a time and let the laundry accumulate so much that I hid it in the bathtub – not that I’m super proud of these things – but the world kept turning anyhow, all while we were happily joined at the hip. I knew from experience that these baby days were fleeting. We were focused on our family time, and I don’t regret that.

When I desperately wanted to conceive a child, I used to dream about a baby boy with blue eyes and dark hair. I would wake, so sad to realize it was only a dream. Your dark hair quickly faded to blonde, but you are the embodiment of my dreams. You are the missing piece we didn’t know was missing. Thanks for one of the best years of our lives.



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