Dear little boy,

This week I’m overwhelmed with emotion as I think about your life. I never could have imagined you even 6 years ago; at that time, you were a dream I had laid to rest, and an area of life I had given over to God years prior. Here we are, almost 5 years later.

Life at the time— sleep a little, teach, coach, work part-time as a bridal stylist, coordinate weddings, run, and never slow down.

Backtrack to 2017. I would be a wife, dog-mom, teacher, coach, and runner for the rest of my life, according to my narrow-perspective. Joy filled my life as a teacher. Those students were my babies. Those track kids were my wild teenagers. They were the ones who kept me awake at night as I’d pray for them. Little did I know that God was preparing me for you, little son. Little did I know that the years of teaching children, years of studying child psychology and development, learning about nutrition to fight disease, and experiencing God’s miracles were paving the way for you—for you to transform my life as a miracle, and for me to be your mommy.

Someone once told me that whenever you feel the worst, try the hardest to smile and see the positive. So that night, as sick as I was, I put on a little makeup and a smile. Mind over matter does work wonders!

Five years ago, I had no idea that I had pre-eclampsia. I’ll never forget waking up mid-day and hardly being able to move or see. I knew something was wrong, but couldn’t get myself up off the floor. When I almost fell back asleep, I felt a, “Call Dr. Hill now. Go to Lakeside.” It is a blur of how I actually got to Lakeside from Papillion that day, but I remember my nurse telling me to get there ASAP. I remember praying the whole way there—for eyesight, for my heart to stop racing, and for the cramping, intense swelling, and nausea to subside. I remember red lights turning green faster than they should have. Cars moving out of my lane so I could drive and not be in anyone’s way. Looking back, it was a miracle we got there and Daddy met us there. I vaguely remember that quick appointment, but my doctor grabbing my hand and saying, “Ready to have a baby? It’s time, Christine!”

One of the best days of my life was meeting you. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” -Psalm 139:13-14

The hours between 4:15pm on September 5th and 4:21am on September 6th are ones that are seared into my memory. Your birth was the most intense in many ways. The epidural didn’t work. Pre-eclampsia was awful, to put it lightly. I’ve never worked harder or fought pain like that in my life. I’ve never seen doctors and nurses fight for us like I did in those hours. While your birth was the scariest, God’s presence was so real in that room. Your daddy was a hero, little son. I couldn’t have gotten you here without his help.

Lunch at Ollie and Hobbes, complete with an appetizer and a decorate-your-own-cookie dessert.

Yesterday you and I went on a date. It was the best time. You’re such a little gentleman already. I love how much you like to talk, ask questions, and how even at a young age can look an adult in the eyes and communicate well. You are an absolute joy to have as my son. As we talked, laughed, and of course ate our food, I kept thanking God for you. I don’t know where 5 years has gone.

One morning, back in February, God woke me up with 3 words. At first I thought, “No way,” but He said, “Just watch.” Full caption for a future blog about another of God’s surprises.

From the time you were 4 months old until this past May, you’ve gone to work with me. First daycare for 2 years, then preschool for another 2 years. You’ve gone through all big life changes right by my side. Tomorrow, on your 5th birthday, our next big change comes as you go to your new school and I stay home with your brothers. This is our first time parting ways for a season—bittersweet for us both, but so perfect for now. God has been preparing us for awhile now, and His timing, like always, is good.

I am so proud of you. While you’re still my baby and hours away from turning 5, you are already a little man falling in love with Jesus. You’ve taught me more in 5 years than I learned in 5 years of college with 3 degrees. While you can read faster than I could as a 2nd grader, learn piano better at 4 than I could at 7, read/follow instructions to build something better now than I will ever be able to, I hope you know that although it’s exciting, none of that matters. Who you are becoming as a little boy and what’s in your heart is what matters. Your empathy for others, your joy in life, and the way you already talk to God is beyond my comprehension. The way you take care of your little brothers, make others laugh with your goofy personality, sing your heart out to music, and so much more, is astounding.

Happy 5th birthday tomorrow, Rylan Zachary, and happy first day of your final year of preschool. Just like the dinosaurs we drew in your room say, you are brave, kind, and strong. We’ve had 1826 days of adventures together, and I pray that we have thousands more in life. Tomorrow, in many ways, is a dream come true. I love you!