Today you are 3 years old. I am so proud of you and how far you’ve come. You are a hardworking and brave little boy!
I’m having lots of memories today about your birthday 3 years ago. I was teaching dance when I got the phone call that you were likely on the way. I had let my phone run out of batteries. I think I was feeling rather confident you would stay put in your mommy’s belly at least a few more weeks. So Ma had to call other people who were at the dance studio to reach me. As I drove to the hospital I had butterfly’s in my stomach, but deep down there was a steadfast peace that was very significant to me. I felt if you were coming now, the time was right. I thought of how hard your mommy had worked over the previous 4 weeks to give you the best possible chance to survive. I somehow knew you would be fine and I was almost relieved to start this next part of your journey.
When I got to the hospital I found your mommy definitely in labor. She was so brave. I remember at first she was saying, “this really needs to stop!” But as time went on and every resource to stop the labor was used, her mindset started changing. I could tell she began to accept this was happening, surrender to the inevitable. Your Ma was there, your daddy (of course), your Grandma Gravitt, Pa and Grandpa Gravitt too. I remember timing your mommy’s contractions by looking at the clock and writing them on a piece of paper. The machines were not picking up anything so I felt unless we gave the staff an accurate picture of what was going on, they may end up not being ready for your birth. That was my biggest concern as the afternoon wore on. In retrospect they are very experienced and I don’t think they would have been caught off guard. But Ma and I made sure they knew our family history of lightning fast births.
Once we got to the delivery room I stood in the corner with Grandma Gravitt and Pa. Ma and your daddy stood right by your mommy. Grandpa Gravitt was sick so he waited outside in the hall. Your Mommy didn’t really want to push you out because she knew you would be so tiny and that you would have to fight really hard to live, but the doctor made it clear to her- this has to happen and the best thing you can do for Jimmie now is to help him be born.
You were so so tiny when you came out that I couldn’t really see you in the doctor’s hands. He held you with his hands cupped together as he carefully passed you off to the NICU staff. They took you over to a table a few feet away from your mommy and began working on helping you breathe. You made sounds when you were born and while they were working on you. We could hear you squeaking across the room. That made me smile through my tears Jimmie. Your daddy stood pretty close to the table and the NICU staff encouraged him to talk to you.
Though his voice was a little shaky he cheered you on Jimmie. I know it made you fight harder when you heard his voice. There were some pretty tense moments while they were intubating you. It seemed they had to try a few times before everything was in place to assist your breathing. After they got you somewhat stabilized there was a visible relaxing of the NICU staff. I remember one of them smiling and looking over at your daddy and saying, “congratulations dad!!”
Then they carried you over to your mommy. She talked to you and kissed you on the head.
I remember her sayng, “oh he’s so small, he’s just so small.” I felt the same way. We all knew you would be tiny, but nothing prepares you for the reality. Seeing a human being that small is a shocking, but awe inspiring life changing experience.
As they took you from the delivery room to the NICU I felt good about how you were doing. Your cries had been surprisingly loud and they told us your apgars were 6 and 7 which I thought was amazing. Your daddy went with you to what would be your new home for the next 88 days. I stayed with your mommy for a while. Your mommy was in quite a bit of shock. That evening we got reports that you were stable. Your mommy went in to see you briefly and so did your Uncle Eric who took some pictures.
Everyone was very sober because we knew the long hard journey you had ahead of you. But Jimmie we never want you to think we were sad about your birth. We were not! We were filled with joy to meet you! We love you so much Jimmie. Any sadness was out of our love and concern for you.
As I remember that amazing day I feel joy unspeakable and excitement. I thank God that He has redeemed my grief and my fears and now your birthday to me is the most exciting day of the year!
Jimmie since the day you were born you have gained 21 lb 4 oz! You are 23 lbs 4 ozs now. At birth you were a mere 1 lb 8 ozs... You have grown 24 1/2 inches. You are 36 1/2 inches tall. At birth you were a mere 12 inches in length. You have learned to breathe, eat, sleep and now you are learning to talk. You are a bright, beautiful boy. You have so much joy inside you. To look at you, to see and feel your love of life is to see and feel God’s love and mercy.
I just love this picture Jimmie! It shows your joy. And your silliness, you colored this beard on yourself.
I am so blessed by you Jimmie. I think I say this every year but it will always be true, "you are my hero"! I love you Jimmie!