you're here. finally.
It was a long time to get you out into the world. Actually, it felt like a really long time considering I was ready for you to be born at about the 32 week mark. And then on the day you were to be born, I so hopeful that it would be quick and you'd be in my arms by lunchtime. Alas, you had other plans and we ended up having to wait all day for you to arrive.
In my rose-rimmed glasses of my mother's heart, I knew it should be special and cherished, this last go at labor and delivery. And I really did want to hold on to each little piece of your birthday. But I'll be honest with you, Rust, there were several times that it was just Dad and I in the room and I looked at him with tear soaked eyes and whimpered, "I just want this to be over. I just want him to be here and to be done with this."
And then, like all hard things in life, suddenly the enduring part was over and the doing part had arrived...and then...
you were there.
I cannot tell you the relief that washed over me when you were placed in my arms and I heard you cry. I whispered over and over to you, "Just cry, Rusty." And, "It was hard for both of us, wasn't it? But we did it. You're here."
It felt like getting to the finish line, Rust.
Like a sweeping feeling of accomplishment and relief and triumph and joy to have you out here in the world.
Not only to just get you here, out and into our arms where you belong, but that we finally had all of us was finally present and accounted for.
We, our family; our team - we could all be together now. Cheering and encouraging each other, leaning into and comforting each other and facing this world that is sometimes paralyzingly scary, but most times overwhelmingly beautiful too.
And then it was time to bring in the cavalry.
I gave a you kiss and a quick warning, "Your family is coming now, Rustin, we're a little weird and loud and crazy, but they love you. You'll get used to us."
And then the room blossomed with love and joy and giggles and palpable buzz of excitement.
Rusty, just as I've done at your siblings' births, I have etched the smiles of our family upon seeing you for the first time onto my heart to keepsake for all of time.
These people love you to the deepest pits of their bellies and there is nothing you could do that could ever take that out of them. You are blessed and loved. Don't ever doubt that.
And then, Rust, you were lovingly passed around and snuggled and kissed - gosh, how many times?!- and photographed, and admired far longer than the visiting hours allow. We sang your first happy birthday song to you, snacked on chocolate cake, and hugged and congratulated each other on getting the chance to love you, another one of us; of our tribe, fiercely for the rest of our lives. How lucky we all felt, still feel, will forever feel - to be a part of your life.
Your big brother told us each multiple times that it was a fact that his team had won their first baseball game this season just a few hours before in honor of his baby brother.
And your big sister Gemma kept peeking at your face with shy pride and adoration asking over and over if I was okay and when we'd be home all together with her new baby brother.
And your big sister Violet stomped about the room grabbing everyone's hands and dragging them over to see her "Baby! Rusty!" giving you kisses on your forehead and taking inventory of your body parts while pointing to them; "eye. nose. ear...."
And your grandparents smiled, and teared up, and hugged each other and passed you and your siblings around like real life baby dolls leaving kisses and tickles on each of your faces. The gratitude that I feel that you have all four of your grandparents in your life is more than I could ever, ever explain. You, and your siblings, will never be less than the brightest stars in the whole of the universe to those four people. You bring a sparkle to their eyes simply by existing. It is so wonderfully beautiful.
And your aunts smiled and giggled and made your tired mother laugh and smile while they circled the room. Aunt Uch with her video camera and making sure to snap pictures of all the things I would want to capture for you (thank you), and Aunt Kitty being all weepy eyed over Facetime, weathering motion sickness from all the passing around of the phone and staying on so long that the phone battery died.
And your Uncle Juice swinging in full of life and goofy stories and making us all shake our heads and laugh. And our cousin Meg, also our midwife, who lingered in celebration with us telling everyone that I had done a great job (when really it is always she that does the great job), and letting too many people stay for too much time because to break up a first ever birthday party like that just didn't seem right.
And then because we are so blessed to be surrounded by infinite amounts of love and support; you, dad, and I holed up in our hospital room for two days snuggling up and talking in whispers while all three of us drifted in and out of sleep between the visits from our family and friends who peeked in on us to bestow us with hugs, kisses, and congratulations. Your big brother and sisters were off having adventures with our family, and so it was just the three of us in what felt like time suspended while we stared at your sweet face and marveled at your big paw hands and tried to guess what it would be like when we were all at home together.
And we knew it was the last time to live in this little bubble of the first two days of a new baby cradled in the security and calmness of the hospital. And that made it feel special, somehow less like the closing of a book, but more like the start of a new chapter.
A new chapter for you, obviously, our sweet little darling getting your life started. Thinking of all the things you'll learn and experience and who you will grow up to be - little by little. We cannot wait to watch with pride and love - to learn about the good man you will be become.
But a new beginning for us too, your mum and dad. This is the part where we grow up with our kids. We've been doing it all along with your siblings, but always with our foot on the brake because we knew we were holding out on growing our family bigger too. And now, we've lifted that foot and it feels like a steady cruise into the next part of parenthood for us. The growing up part. The part where we watch the four of you turn into your own selves while we get a chance to turn back into our own selves a little bit each day too.
It feels like we're all here now.
And you did that for us, Rust.
You both opened a door and closed one too.
There will always be a little magic in you because of that.
You are so loved already, Rusty. You've been so loved since the moment we knew you were growing. And now that you're out here in the world - we are overjoyed at just the sight of you. All of us. Each of us out here that make up a part of the tribe that will surround you and encourage and cheer for you as you turn into whoever it is you are going to be.
I'll ask, my sweet little darling, that you try your best to extend some grace and patience to your Dad and I as you grow through this life. You will be the last of all the things that mommas and daddas talk about with giddy smiles before they go to bed at night. You'll be our last first word, our last first steps, our last baby to wear onesies, our last baby in a crib, our last baby to get on the school bus. Forever, the mere sight of you will conjure up nostalgia, and that is just a blessed curse you'll have to bear because you'll be our family baby from here on out.
Sorry for that Rust.
But also, thank you.
my littlest love.
my last darling.
who I'll love forever and ever.
even when you get so big.