Tomorrow is Jackson’s 1st birthday, and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone! Having this little boy in our lives has been an immeasurable blessing, and I am SO thankful for the privilege of being his dad.
When Jackson was only 10 days old, I wrote him a letter while sitting in his nursery late at night. One year later, I know a lot more about him, but this letter still reflects how I feel:
September 29, 2011
My son, I’m sitting in your nursery as I write this letter to you. Today, September 29th, you are only 10 days old. Yet, I feel as though I have loved you my entire life. I’m sitting in here at 11:50 PM as I begin to write this, because I’m a paranoid new parent. A little while ago you choked on some spit up – probably a very normal and common thing for a newborn. But I feel this new sense of responsibility on my shoulders. If sitting in here and watching you breathe will help avert any pain or trouble, then sit here I will. I’m not foolish enough to think I can do this for you your entire life. It will be my job to toughen you up; help mold you into the man that you will need to be. And yet, I find myself spontaneously praying for you whenever these worries enter my mind. You see son, I love you. And although it’s only been 10 days, the love that I have for you was immediate and overwhelming the first second I saw you – before that in fact.
I want to tell you about our journey with the Lord and how He brought you to us. I’m sure we’ll want to tell you this story when you’re a few years older and can understand, but will probably substitute birthing rooms with storks and tries to conceive with wishing on a star or something. Here though, I’m going to tell you the whole and complete story.
So let me briefly (ok not so briefly) go way back to the beginning, since it is relevant for the story…
I first met your mother in 8th grade. She was shadowing at the school I was attending: Christian Central Academy. It was love at 1st sight. Ok, not really. 8th grade isn’t really the age for that. We were friends and grew closer as the years grew on.
Our friendship continued until a few years into college, when we both realized that we liked each other. We began dating and I think we both realized almost right away that we loved each other. I know I did. We dated for a year and nine months before I asked her to marry me. We were in New York City, ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza and I got down on one knee and asked her to be my wife. She balled her eyes out and said yes…
Ok… Just one clarification to make sure the record stays straight. Your mother will contest that I never actually asked the question but instead just held the ring out and, in her words, had a big, dumb smile on my face. I still hold to the fact that I asked her the question (or at least, the words were uttered in my head – maybe cause I couldn’t breathe). Also, I didn’t really get down on one knee. I more fell and got up on one knee. I’m not that graceful on skates and figured this was the best way to ensure being in the right one-knee traditional position.
We got married on June 9th, 2006. We honeymooned in Orlando, Florida and moved in to a rental house on Elm Road in Amherst. The next February, we purchased the house on Morton Drive – the house I’m sitting in tonight as I write this letter to you. We were married for four years before we both agreed it was time to add some children to this family of ours.
We began the process, but getting pregnant proved to be a bit of a challenge. God taught us both so much as we prayed and relied on Him during this time. It was a struggle, but one that in hindsight was such a blessing, as the Lord taught us even deeper about truly waiting on Him and having faith that His timing was perfect. 10 months went by; many of them, especially the later ones, were very emotional as we were still unsuccessful. And then – then God saw fit to grant us a miracle.
It was in January, just a day after your mom’s birthday, that she called me upstairs. By this point, pregnancy tests were somewhat routine and kind of dreaded for me – it was an emotional rollercoaster as we got our hopes up again and again. Anyways, your mom called me from upstairs. When I got to the top, she told me to go look in the bathroom. On the counter, a pregnancy test with a red plus – your life had begun! I kissed your mom; she was so emotional that her lips were quivering as I gave her that kiss. We were both SO happy!
A few weeks later we got to see an early sonogram of you – just a small black circle on the monitor at that point, but this little fast flutter near the center. When the nurse explained that this was your heartbeat, it was incredible! Right then God began to do a work in me to prepare me to be your dad.
A few more months went by, and we got to go for another sonogram. This time, a tiny human form showed up on the monitor. As I stared at what I saw, the technician started to explain certain things and then – your whole body moved around. It was a miracle. God was knitting you together in your mom’s womb, and we were getting a sneak peek. That was also the day we got to hear your heart beat for the very 1st time. Your mom cried and I couldn’t stop smiling.
A few more months went by; we were preparing all kinds of stuff and your mom’s belly was getting bigger and bigger! Now, you started those little feet to kicking all over the place. We’d spend an hour at a time just sitting on the couch with my hand on her belly feeling for the next kick. It was amazing.
The doctor told us that your due date was projected for October 6th, but…
On Sunday, September 18th we were in for a big surprise! Sundays are early days and your mom and I both were up by 5:00 AM. We got ready for church and were there by 7:00 AM. Morning prayer, both services, and then back home. A typical Sunday consisted of dinner at my parent’s house (your Grandma and Grandpa Cook’s) but summer was drawing to a close, so I asked my dad if he wanted to take the boat for one last spin before we put it away for the winter. Since we hadn’t been out very much that summer with your mom being pregnant, we decided to take advantage of one of the last days of summer. We left the girls at the house and launched the boat, cruising around the island and even visiting the Buffalo Harbor just for the scenery. Later than night, we arrived back and had dinner around 6:00 PM.
Around 7:30 PM, your mom started feeling something different than normal. At 1st she disregarded it, but soon decided that we should head home, not knowing what she was feeling. On the ride home, we were discussing the what-ifs. Could this just be what she ate, is there another explanation…? And then, about 5 minutes from home, your mom’s water broke. Then, we knew it was time for you to be born!
We got home and I have to say I was nervous. I tried not to show it to help keep your mom calm, but I was excited and nervous all at the same time. We packed some bags (since you were so early, we weren’t really packed and ready with anything) and headed for the hospital. It was 9:01 when we arrived – I know this because they had just shut the main parking lot, sending us scrambling to find the emergency room parking. When we entered through the ER, we had to wait before we could be taken back to the maternity section. After a bit, we were escorted through. Your mom was checked in and confirmed that yes, she was going to have a baby that night! I sent a text message to all our family letting them know that we were at the hospital and tonight would be the night.
Once in the room, your mom called her mom to tell her what was going on. She was so excited! Around 2:00 AM, Grandma Wooleyhan and Aunt Andrea showed up to see how things were going. By 4 AM, most everyone in the family was in the waiting room just giddy with excitement to meet you.
At 4:37 AM, I experienced emotion that I have never felt before in my life. I saw your face for the very 1st time. You came out all gooey; a full head of hair! God had been so good to us in bringing you to us. I got to cut the cord as it was sinking in – I am your dad! I knew this, but it was really, really real now. Both your mom and I held your tiny hands and said hello for the very 1st time outside the womb.
Then the nurses took you across the room to clean you up, check you all over, and help prepare you for the new world you had just entered. I took about a zillion pictures which are sure to embarrass you later in life. But I couldn’t help myself – you looked perfect, and the nurses agreed that you seemed perfectly healthy. I thanked God for his protection and provision there.
After you were all cleaned up and checked over, I went out in the waiting room to bring in the family. They were SO excited. They all came in the room and circled around the bed where your mom was laying. One by way, each got a chance to hold you and meet you for the 1st time: all four grandparents, Aunt Andrea, Aunt Kait and Aunt Vanessa were there.
Then, after the nurses told the family they had to leave, it was time for your 1st bath. It was memorable because it was a funny way of getting there. I asked if I could go up with you and take pictures. The nurse said yes and I followed.
Now just a quick side note: the hospital put on all the babies these little alarm detectors to make sure no one walked off with you. They made you wear it until we were released from the hospital.
The funny part though was that the nurse asked me to run with her because we had to go outside this perimeter for the alarm. We had 30 seconds to disarm it or the whole hospital would shut down. I was so nervous watching her push you that fast in this little crib cart. But, we made it there safe and sound and I watched through the window and they gave you your 1st bath. Again, I took lots of pictures.
We stayed in the hospital two additional nights, Monday and Tuesday, leaving the hospital on Wednesday. I stayed over with your mom, sleeping on a chair that pulled out into a bed. We began immediately learning about sleep deprivation, as you needed to eat every 3 hours. In the early hours of the morning, I would push your little cart back to the nursery after you were done eating, just to see you again three hours later.
We left the hospital Wednesday morning, and I drove extra slow back home. It was so exciting to bring you home, knowing this would be where you know as your home as you got older.
I’m still VERY new at this – but it’s at these times of the day (night) when I’m sitting in the rocking chair and your perfect little eyes are staring up at me, that I know I’m SO blessed to be your dad and I can’t wait for all that life has in store for us. I am trusting God for the wisdom to raise you correctly; to teach you all that I can and to help you understand the reality of a relationship with Jesus Christ. I love you my son, and I’m cherishing every moment I have with you.