I write this letter to you because I know that time changes our memories and feelings about events, and I wanted you to know what I was feeling in the first year of your life. I also wanted to let you know who I am now, and maybe what I’ve become as a result of you being in my life.
I will begin with the day you were born. We were at the hospital already. One of many trips we had taken in the last couple weeks as your mother’s blood was racing in excitement for you being born. Well that’s a nicer way of saying she had abnormally high blood pressure and we need to check her health and yours. We knew that day, which was 3 weeks before your due date, there was a possibility they would want to take you out to make sure she was safe, and that is exactly what ended up happening. I’ll proudly admit that I was rather calm. Perhaps because I had to do none of the hard work, but I also have a lot of faith in statistics. Problems with deliveries in our part of the world are rare, and we were at one of the best hospitals in the area with excellent doctors and nurses. I just knew everything was going to be alright, and I just wanted to make sure that your mother and you were fine and be calm and as in control for her as I could be. Since all the hard work was your mothers, my panicking would have served little purpose anyways. As they induced labor on your mother she got contractions quickly, and they started to impact your heart rate and so they decided that a cesarean section was necessary. They wheeled your mother away and got me suited up so that I was sanitary and when they let me into the operating room they told me to not touch anything covered in blue. The whole room seemed to be covered in blue and it was frightening obstacle course to get to the small stool next to your mother. I held her hand and she smiled at me. There was a large curtain separating the bottom half of your mother from our eyes so I couldn’t tell what they were doing. Apparently they were making a big slice into your mother and taking you out. The nurse handed you to me, all swaddled in apparently the same towel design they use in every hospital in the United States. You were born at 9:59 pm on Dec. 27th, 2014 at 5 pounds 5 ounces, 19 inches long. You were so light and I looked at you and said to myself “So that’s it then?” But your mom was tearing and she was too drugged up to really hold you. You were so light and I brought your face close to hers and she smiled and cried at how beautiful you were. I think it was a different experience for her. She carried you around for almost 9 months and could feel her body change and feel you grow. I would say at first I was more like a curious scientist, observing the whole process. It did not feel like you were my son yet. I hope that this doesn’t make you sad if you read this someday. I was emotional because your mom was, but I have to say I didn’t feel like a father yet.
For the rest of that evening I continued to play the scientist as I watched them put you in a little warmer since you were so tiny, and found it humorous that you were under a heat lamp like a burger at a restaurant. My feeling of being a father wouldn’t come until the next day when you didn’t have to be in the warmer anymore and we had be moved to our post delivery room and you were being fussy and unhappy and I picked you up and you quieted right down and became peaceful in my arms. It was at that moment that my eyes begin to water. I felt like you knew you were safe. And I felt like you knew you were with your daddy and I knew you were my son. And I knew that once someone feels safe with you, that you must be responsible so that they always feel that way. I began to feel this surge within me out of nowhere, wanting you to be healthy and strong, wanting to make sure that I safely guided you to be someone that could handle this world that can be both terrifying and wondrous at the same time. My head began to fill with dreams of what you would look like walking and talking, and questions you might ask, advice that I would give you, nursing tears and sharing joys. That’s when you know you are in love, and that’s when I knew I was in love with you.
But time teaches you patience. Perhaps that’s one advantage of having a 40 year old father. As I process this past year I think about all the amazing moments I’ve been able to see. These moments are small in comparison to what any human is capable of, but they remind me that in the process of growth even the most insignificant things can be great triumph because they happen along the way of great journeys. And you have a great journey ahead of you. I remember your first smile, the first time you opened your hands, your eyes following an object around the room for the first time, your first steps, your first crawl. However, if I were to pick a favorite moment, when I think of your first year, is the first time you made vocalizations. It happened one evening in between the age of 2 and 3 months. It was like for the first time you wanted to greet the world. It’s like you suddenly realized that you were no longer an extension of your mother, but you realized you were a separate individual entity and you wanted to announce your presence. Or perhaps it was that for the first time you realized that the world wasn’t just happening to you, you could happen to the world and you were just glad to be alive. You made the cutest gurgling noises, and were smiling and waving your little arms about. Your mother and I laid at your side on the bed and we just watched you. It was the most entertaining and amazing thing I’ve ever seen and your mother and I were incurably happy next to you. We would look at each other and just knew that as tiring as this might be some times it was also going to be incredibly rewarding and full of joy. We knew what family meant, and we felt an incredible amount of love for you and each other.
Tomorrow you will be a year old. You are now eagerly walking around and getting into all sorts of trouble. You are curious and exploring and it reminds me how important the process of movement is to discovery. In human history, the building of boats, cars, rockets, they all have allowed us to discover and learn more. Now that you can move the rate in which you will discover grows exponentially and I find myself continually blown away at how quickly your strength, dexterity, and intelligence grows. As I look back on the day I first fell in love with you I realize that my love was a beautiful house that is empty on the inside, and each day you fill that house with amazing memories. That love is now a home, and we are happy there, and excited for all the new memories that will fill that home. Sometimes I get really scared that something might happen to you, and that being in that home alone without you, with only those memories to look at, would be the saddest thing imaginable. But I would not dishonor your joy by getting lost in those fears. I keep in the back to keep you as safe as possible without taking away from your desire for self-determination and knowing that ultimately what we learn from risk and failure is as important as any other way there is to learn.
My heart is full of love and excitement because as your development continues I can show my love for you in so many new ways and I am anxious for you to experience it. I am also anxious to experience your love in new ways also. Though my appearance may change little, make no mistake that we are growing together. And as I sit here and write this I know one thing for certain. There are no words to express how much of a gift you truly are to my soul. It will take a lifetime together as father and son for those words to manifest and even then it will be in no language that can be spoken, but I guarantee that you will know it.