Wednesday, August 8, 2012

On the Occasion of Your First Birthday

Sweet Caden,

It is currently well past one in the morning, and I will go ahead and admit the possibility that your first birthday party might be a little out of control. I've never been awesome at showing restraint. I'm certain that you, my little one, will discover this fact about your mama for yourself soon enough.

In this instance, it's just that I want so badly to celebrate YOU: your birth, your life, your overcoming, your miracle . . . But no party, no words, no fabric garland, no blog post, no nothing will ever be able to adequately describe how much you are worth celebrating.
family photographer Meg Davidson the Stanley Clan
A year ago today was one of the best days of my life. Anticipating you for so long, all our hopes and dreams culminating in three pushes and your snuggling in our arms. And then the fear and sorrow that followed so shortly after such heights of joy. Your diagnosis, your transfer to CHOA . . . it was all so fast and crazy and scary. I can scarcely go back there in my mind without breaking down. Hope seemed a distant dream, dim and hard to make out in the midst of the shadows and darkness surrounding those days and nights. I also can't think back, however, on that time without also remembering the light and joy that somehow emerged from the shadows.
Atlanta sibling photography at the goat farm by Meg Davidson Photography
At our girls' Bible study in the neighborhood a while back, my friend Caz had us draw a picture of how we saw God. I sat for a while, staring at my blank notecard and chewing on my pen. Then closing my eyes, I thought about what God looked like for me. And I started to draw, startled as your bed in the CICU emerged beneath my pen. I drew myself, sitting next to you with your tiny little chest open from surgery. My head is in my hands, desperate, praying, bowed low by the weight and fear of it all. But then I realize I am sitting in God's arms. And He is holding us both, surrounding us with peace and cloaking us in His strength.

I will always, always, be grateful for how you brought me to a place of experiencing God's love in new and real ways.  And I pray that your heart will always somehow remember that intimacy, the closeness and joy that comes from relying so completely on the Lord.
picture of mom and one year old boy
I can scarcely believe it has been a whole year, in fact, since those days that we sat beside your bed-space, listening to the beeping of machines and anxiously watching the numbers that reflected your heart pressure and oxygen levels. Now, every time I hold you close and you nestle your little head into my neck, I breathe deep and inhale sunscreen and sweat and all little boy. You clap excitedly, dance to any beat within a five mile radius, point at every picture of yourself in our house and insist we take a closer look. You crawl faster than any other baby I've met, one leg stuck out to the side so you sort of move with a quick and cute little limp. And if there's an open door you're headed towards, you really kick it into high gear and I just know we're going to be in big trouble as soon as you get the hang of walking. And let me tell you, little one, you are oh-so-close to that point already. Eating is still slow-moving, and sleeping is basically non-existent. Although you are getting a LITTLE better and only waking up two or three times a night rather than every two hours. You say "mama" and "dada" and "ack" (Zack) and "uh-oh" and "bye bye" and "hey" . . . And every little thing you do basically makes me exclaim over how cute and precious and perfect you are. I'm sure it doesnt annoy everyone around me in the least.

At your one-year check up, Dr. Stan checked you thoroughly before reminding you to "keep defying all the odds little dude." one year old antique radio flyer wagon
I left the office a little choked up at the reminder of just what a little miracle you really are. How every scar on your chest, every beat of your heart, is a testimony to the Father's hand in our lives.

And my prayer for you is that you really will keep defying all the odds. Not just that you will defy the odds physically (because trust me, my sweet boy, I pray for that every day), but that you will defy every odd the world throws your way. That in an increasingly "de-churched" world, you will learn to BE the church. That when divorce rates top 60%, you will always remember the value of keeping covenants. That when peer pressure moves in, you will stand strong and hold fast to what you believe in. That you will descend the ladder to be nearer to the Savior, even when those around you are clamoring to the top. That in a world obsessed with more and bigger and filling ourselves up, you will always pour yourselves out. That when your friends take things for granted, you will be thankful. That as more surgeries come your way, you will abide in peace and trust. That you will be the one who goes back with thankfulness to those who help you along the way. That you will never lose sight of how "fearfully and wonderfully made" you are, even when you're in middle school and kids are less-than-kind. That you will choose beautiful over easy, and right over convenient. That you will wake each morning and turn your face and heart towards a loving Father, content to follow Him wherever He leads, because He has been and will always be Faithful and Just and Good.
 photography of motherhood with baby boy
My prayer for you is that you will always be known for your extraordinary heart, for the way it beats in a unique and beautiful rhythm. That you and I will always remember, but not remain stuck in, those days when God held us close to His heart while He kept your heart beating. I pray that every day you will grow in faith, in joy, in hope, and in love.

And that you will forgive your mama for getting a little emotional and crazy from time-to-time upon the remembering and celebrating all the amazing things our God has done in your first year of life. You, my son, are a gift to our family and we could not be more grateful for all the ways you bring us joy and deepen our faith on a daily basis.

Happy birthday baby, we love you more than you will ever know.
Mommy (and Daddy and Jayci too)


  1. This is the sweetest! Happy Birthday to Caden....I really can't believe it's been a year, either!

  2. Beautiful post! Happy birthday, sweet boy!

  3. BEAUTIFUL, just absolutely beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Happy birthday!!!! What a special milestone!

  5. Wishing a very Happy 1st Birthday to a little miracle all wrapped up in an adorable boy's body. Caden, you are loved so very much!

  6. Happy, happy birthday sweet Caden. I absolutely love your prayer for him - what a beautiful heart you have for your children!

    I hope today has been AWESOME!

  7. He is such a beautiful baby! Happy 1st birthday!

  8. Happy belated birthday to your miraculous gift of a little boy.

    Much love.

  9. I'm SO behind this summer in reading blogs! I just caught this one. LOVE it! Caden holds a special place in my heart... he's the first heart blog I started following. Our boys had surgeries within a month of each other. Hard to believe both boys are already 1! Happy birthday Caden and God bless you!!!

  10. what an amazing post for and amazing little boy. Hope he had the happiest of birthdays!!


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