Because I promised –- Kaj

I first learned of you on April 4, 2005. Anne -– my wife, your Mommy -– had gone to the doctor for blood tests, because the doctor was worried about Mommy's health. Mommy was a very frail woman before you were born. On our second honeymoon, at Rehoboth Beach -– maybe three years before you came into our lives -- she took a spill on a motor scooter, ripping the lining of two of her lower vertebrae. Those are the bones down at the bottom of her back.

Well, that hurt Mommy a lot, and she couldn't move very well for months after that. Daddy had just been made partner at his work, and so he could decide for himself when to go to work and when to stay at home. So, he took six weeks off from work -- that's a long time -- trying to nurse Mommy back to health. Her back hurt so much Daddy couldn’t even sleep in the same bed with her. He slept on the floor next to the bed.

To help Mommy sleep, Daddy used to play the DVD from the movie Forrest Gump for her, letting the main theme song -– they call it the “Feather Theme” -– play over and over again all night long. It’s a very restful, calming song, and Mommy would fall asleep with this beautiful, blissful smile on her face.

Only then could Daddy go to sleep.

But Mommy got better. It turned out it wasn’t as bad as we thought, and they gave her lots of medicine to make sure that she never hurt very much. I resigned my partnership, and took a new job where I wouldn’t have to travel, so everything was kind of OK.

The only problem was that we both thought that she could never have a baby after her accident. From the first day we met each other, we both saw you in our minds. We knew that our family wouldn’t be complete without you, so when the doctors said that it was a bad idea for her to have a baby, we were very sad.

Then there came this glorious day, April 4, 2005. Your mother -– Mommy –- had to go to the doctor, because her body was doing things that the doctor didn’t understand. Well, to find out what was wrong, he took a little bit of her blood –- not very much, just about the same as when you get a shot, and that’s not so bad, is it? And do you know what he saw when he looked at Mommy’s blood?

He saw you. That’s because what happens between a Mommy and her baby is very special. Did you know that you shared your Mommy’s body for more than 9 months? That’s a Summer, Fall, and Winter all together. You shared little pieces of her, and she shared little pieces of you. So when Mommy gave the doctor a little piece of her blood, he could see you, even though you were still inside Mommy.

The story about how Mommy told me about you is kind of funny. You see, Daddy had taken this job downtown, so he could be near Mommy. That meant that Daddy had to take the train to work, and then back again.

So what happened on this April afternoon -– the sky was grey and cloudy, I still remember -– was that Daddy got a telephone call from Mommy saying that she had some important news. Well, Daddy knew that Mommy had been to the doctor, and Daddy was afraid that Mommy had some bad news to tell.

“Please, tell me now,” Daddy said.

Mommy said, “No, it’s too important to tell over the phone. I’ll tell you when I get there.”

Well, you know that Daddy has no patience, and can’t wait very well, so he made Mommy tell him over the phone. So Daddy first heard about you standing outside a Metro station at 7:00 in the evening, talking to Mommy over the phone.

But I’ll tell you this, John Tyler. Daddy started grinning from ear to ear the second he heard you were coming. And I don’t think he stopped for a whole week. The muscles in his face hurt because he was smiling so much.

Then we found out how old you really were. You see, Mommy’s a very good Mommy. She was carrying you for six months and didn’t even know it. Her body was so ready for you that being a Mommy felt like the most natural thing in the world for her.

In fact, I’ll tell you something even more important. Do you remember how I told you that your Mommy had hurt herself years before you were born? Well, Daddy tried to fix Mommy for months, years even, but it didn’t do any good. Then, all of a sudden, she started feeling better. Nobody understood why, but for some reason, Mommy stopped needing so much medicine. She could walk, and smile, and laugh again. I thought it was a gift from God. It turns out I was right, just not the way I thought.

You see, you were our gift from God. Mommy and Daddy didn’t know it yet, but Mommy’s body was getting better just because you were coming. And Mommy wanted and needed you so much, her body was crying until you came along.

Daddy didn’t know that back then. You know, sometimes Mommies and Daddies don’t know everything. That doesn’t mean we’re not there to take care of you, it’s just that sometimes we worry about things that aren’t really a problem.

Well, that’s what Daddy did. He was afraid that Mommy would be hurt when you were born. Well, it was just that Daddy was being extra careful –- Mommy was so much better after you were born that Daddy couldn’t believe it. But Daddy was still afraid that Mommy might get hurt when you were born.

So were your doctors. That’s how you were born, actually. Just between you and me, you weren’t ready to come out, were you? I could feel it in every picture, every test they ran on you.

You wanted to stay with Mommy.

But, you know, sometimes doctors worry even more than Daddies do. And your doctors were worried that Mommy would get something called preeclampsia. That’s a big word that just means that they were worried about how hard your Mommy’s kidney would have to work if you stayed inside her much longer.

Did you know your Mommy only has one kidney? You have two, and so does Daddy. Most people have two. But a long time ago your grandmother got very sick, and both of her kidneys failed her. So you know what your Mommy did? She gave your grandmother -- that's Mommy's Mommy -- one of her very own kidneys so she could be better.

Anyway, this made the doctors and Daddy very worried, and the doctors decided that you needed to be born soon. They wanted you to be born on July 21, 2005.

Your Mommy and I were so excited that we would be seeing you soon. We couldn’t sleep for a whole day. But you were a tough little boy, weren’t you? You didn’t want to come out, you were so happy living with Mommy weren’t you? So the doctors decided the next day, July 22, 2005, that they had to do something called a C-Section to bring you to us.

We can talk about C-Sections later, when you’re older. Just remember, the “C” stands for a man named Julius Caesar, who was one of the truly important people this planet has ever produced. But this C-Section produced you, which was the most important thing to me. And your Mommy.

Now please don’t get upset, but I have to tell you what your Mommy went through so that you could be born. Because of her back problems, the doctors had to try eight times to give her something called an epidural. An epidural’s a kind of medicine that helps Mommies hurt less when they bring their babies into this world. When doctors have to try eight times to make it work, it’s like getting eight of the worst shots you’ve ever had, all at once.

Daddy tried his best to help Mommy hurt less, but it didn’t work. But you know what? Mommy didn’t care. All she wanted –- more than anything -– was to see you. So she was braver than any person your Daddy has ever seen, when she let the doctors stick the needle in, over and over again.

Finally, it worked, and the doctors and your Mommy decided you would be coming that afternoon, after all. By 3:00 that afternoon, they had broken Mommy’s water –- that means that they opened the door to let you out –- and they put your Mommy and Daddy in clean gowns to see you being born.

When we went to the operating room, the doctors tried to do something called a spinal block on your Mommy. That’s a way to fix the pain that’s even better than an epidural. Now, what I’m telling you now is just so you know how much your Mommy loves you. They tried to give her a spinal block for a long time. It couldn’t work, because your Mommy’s back was so hurt.

Your Daddy was sitting outside the operating room, and he could hear your Mommy crying. You know how your Daddy cries at anything sad. Anyway, the doctors inside could hear Daddy sitting out in the hall, and they sent a wonderful, nice doctor to talk to him. It turns out, this doctor’s family was from the same place your Daddy’s family came from, and he just kept talking and talking so that your Daddy wouldn’t be afraid.

You know, it’s OK for Daddies to be afraid. That’s how we know how scary it is for little boys like you sometimes.

The doctors decided they couldn’t do the spinal block, so they just put more medicine in Mommy through the epidural. Then they let Daddy in to see you being born. Daddy saw Mommy, and felt how cold her hands and cheeks felt. The doctors didn’t know it, but Daddy was something called an EMT in college. That’s like a doctor on wheels.

So when Daddy saw Mommy shivering, he knew that it was something called “shock.” That means that Mommy was hurting very badly. But Mommy didn’t care. She looked up at me, held my hand, and just asked me to make sure I told her how you were doing. She made Daddy take pictures of you being born, and that’s why you have a movie of your birth you can see over and over again.

Because Mommy loved you so much.

Mommy can tell you the rest of the story. How we had to sleep next to you in your bed in the NICU –- that’s a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where they take care of very little babies -– because we had to wean you off of the drugs that I and your mother had unwittingly exposed you to when she was holding you so close to her heart. She can tell you how much we both have loved you, how much we’ve tried to show God how grateful we are for such a beautiful child, when we should have had none. She can tell you how much we’ve both given from ourselves to see you grow happy and strong.

And she can tell you, if I never see you again, how desperately I loved you.

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