To his first mommy, on his second birthday

I'm still figuring these birthdays out...

...on his sister's birthday I am overwhelmed with memories and emotions of the day and the miracles that brought her to us ten weeks early. But today, his birthday, feels a little different. I wasn't there. In fact, I didn't know he was being born or existed in this world for another six days. I was clueless... It was a Sunday, and I was in Georgia sharing this adorable photo and celebrating my sister's birthday with my family. 

The day before I was relishing in a Clemson win over South Carolina...

...and the day after I was posting embarrassing photos of Corrie on Facebook for the WORLD to see. (I'll spare you.)

Somebody else did know he existed though. Somebody I have grown to love and admire very much... his first mommy. She was there for every second of his arrival, loving him and looking forward to their future together. I can't reminisce with him today, but I know she is reminiscing, I know that can't be easy, and I just haven't figured all of this out. How do I celebrate this momentous and beautiful day, my son's second birthday, when I know that this woman, the woman who brought him into this world and who gave him to me... how do I celebrate when she is grieving? 

In the days and weeks after we received the call and agreed to take long term placement of Jaiden, I found such comfort in the words his social worker continually shared. How they visited him daily, sang to him, rocked him, loved him deeply. Some days I felt jealous, some days I still feel jealous because I love remembering how precious those moments were in the NICU with Mercy, but most days I'm so grateful that those moments were reserved for her. They impacted him, they will always be part of him. He will always have those moments of love and preciousness stored in his heart.

And if I have learned anything from being a preemie mama... those first days and weeks have an impact on the rest of our children's lives, growth, and development. I have to believe that those moments in the NICU in his first mommy's arms are part of the reason this child is so loving, affectionate, compassionate... she gave him all of these things in abundance in the weeks before I knew him. 

Birthday breakfast in bed this morning looked like pure joy to my son. As we sat with him laughing and chowing down on cinnamon rolls, my mind wondered to his first mommy. Labor, delivery, hopes, dreams... there have been tears mixed in with the joy all day and as this day comes to a close, I believe I'm finally learning to balance these emotions. I am SO grateful that my son's story is different from many of the tragic stories of children who come from hard places, and that the time he spent in his first mommy's arms were filled with love and affection. I'm so grateful to his first mommy for making those days what they were, for bringing him into the world and contributing in a huge way to the kind and loving boy he is growing to become. I hope she knows... I hope YOU know, mama.

You grew him, labored and delivered him, he has your genes and your face, he was your son before he was my son... please know that is a truth that's not lost on me. Your daily and constant snuggles, kisses and incredible love in those sixteen days before I met him were and are building blocks that will enable this boy to become the man I know we will both be incredibly proud to call our son. 

And I want you to know that I'm proud to call you his first mommy. Proud of the way you have come through these last two years, of the grace and love you have poured over our family, of your trust even in the face of adversity, weakness and pain beyond anything any of us can understand.

We've celebrated big, we've laughed and loved all day, and it has been a great birthday! But right in the midst of this awesome celebration, I've cried. I've cried a lot. I've been confused about why this precious boy's birthday has been so hard for me. I know that your heart is grieving, I know you're probably confused too. Thank you for inviting me into your life and your heart, thank you for loving us, trusting us. There will never be a day or even a moment lacking in gratitude for the blessing of you.

"Little Fox paused. 'How come I couldn't stay with the mother who had me?'
'She must have had very big reasons to give you up.
She must have thought it was best for you.'
'Did she have fur like mine? Eyes like mine?'
'Most likely,' Mama smiled softly. 'She must have been as beautiful as you are handsome.
I think she prayed like crazy that you would be safe, Little Fox.
I think she prayed for me as much as I prayed for her.'"
Lisa Tawn Bergren