The day you were born the newspaper headline in the East Bay Times boldly read in all caps, “CAN’T HOLD US BACK!”. Those words, describing a current political movement led by young people, poignantly framed your arrival into the umbilically detached world, as you entered center stage 5 weeks before your show was set to begin. I had every intention of writing a series of messages to you that would have been nicely wrapped up before you came, sort of like the way you are currently swaddled in a blanket, but life does life stuff.
It’s hard to find words that can possibly capture the magic, mystery, and miracle that you, your mom, and I have lived these last few days. Where can I even begin?!
First of all, your mother is amazing. Anyone who ever tells you that women are not as strong as men has likely never spent any time in Labor and Delivery.
Her water broke at about 10:30 pm on Wednesday March 14th. We had house-guests that night and we were so not ready. After calling the hospital to check in about her symptoms, we quickly headed over filled with anxious anticipation. Over the previous few weeks and months we talked constantly about meeting you. Once we arrived and checked into the room, the room that would be the place of your first breath and touch, the nurse told us that you were coming.
The human body is a mystery. I’m told we still don’t know what makes a woman go into labor or what makes her water break. Maybe it was hormones, maybe it was the Mexican food she had for dinner, or maybe it was something more divinely orchestrated.
One of the many overwhelming experiences of the next 12 hours of labor was watching your mother beam with expectant fear and joy, even in the midst of tremendous pain. As the contractions swelled like a rising tide, there was a palpable sense in the room that something immense, life-changing, and sacred was near. There was also a sober awareness of life’s precious fragility as one drop in blood pressure or shift in heart rate could turn the tide completely. Those moments were unlike anything else I’ve experienced.
Before the final push came, our hearts were beyond overwhelmed as we were about to encounter the emergence of life itself. It was then that your mom asked if we could pray. We asked for God’s protection and strength and offered our thanks for the unspeakable privilege of being present to all that swirled around us at that moment. There was energy in the room and our job was to let go. We cried and kissed, completely carried by the currents of labor.
She pushed in increments of ten. We counted each number off, slowly growing louder and louder as the breaching tides of contractions rose higher and higher. From somewhere deep inside her being, your mother pulled from the primal strength of creation and you began to emerge like the glimmers of first light.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. GOOD! BREATHE! YOU GOT THIS, PUSH AGAIN! ONE, TWO, THREE….”
Finally, your head plunged into the atmosphere. Then your blue and pink body.
Our Doctor immediately carried you to your mothers chest and I wept tears of total and uncontrollable joy. You cried as you breathed air. We kissed your soaking head. It was beyond overwhelming. In my life I’ve experienced a few moments of joy and transcendence, but nothing quite like the first time we met you. It was pure, vulnerable communion. Ecstatic and elated. Holy and home. It was a glimpse of God.
You Elliott are a glimpse of God.
As family and friends showered us with their company and their gifts over the next couple days, we soon took you back to our home, though it came after some time in the NICU since you came so early. We couldn’t be happier having you here. Watching you receive life and sustenance from your mothers body is amazing. Holding you on my bare chest as you breath and nap is so special. Having to get up every few hours in the night to make sure you get fed isn’t so bad, though it’s a lot more work for your mom (be sure to thank her one day).
Yesterday I went on a jog and was brought to tears as I thought about how blessed we are to have you. I’m sure folks who saw me must have been confused as I cry-jogged around our neighborhood.
Son, I want you to know that you are a gift to us. We are so in love with you. I hope and pray that you hold that deep inside of you for the rest of your life. And I hope you know God’s love. It’s really hard to explain it, but it’s the one that all other loves reflect in some way. It’s the one that filled the room as your mother held you for the first time. It’s the one that brought me to tears yesterday. And it’s the one that I see in your eyes.
Elliott, we can’t wait to learn that love together from here on out. There is so much to explore and experience and encounter my son! Welcome, welcome, welcome!