My sweet baby boy. When you were born, I let out a breath I’d been holding in tight for over a year. I hadn’t even noticed until it came out in one big whoosh as the doctor called “it’s a boy!” from behind the drape. I was so sure, I would never meet you. Never sit, blinking away my exhaustion, and trace your delicate features in the muted glow of a 3am night light. I spent most of my pregnancy mourning all the things I’d never watch you do and then like a miracle, you were here, on the outside with a little cry. Seven pounds, nine ounces. Perfect and pink and soft and new.
We didn’t have a name picked out. Nearly 10 months to prep and we showed up in the operating room without a sure plan. As your daddy peered over to see you for the first time I asked “Does he look like a Hank?” and he studied you for a moment and decided you did so we named you Henry Christopher. Hank to your friends and worth the wait, the loss, the uncertainty, that paved your wandering path to us.
A year later you are still decidedly a Hank. Today is your birthday, my rainbow baby’s first birthday, and even though you are my third, I still have a lot of questions. Most related to and confused by time’s ability to make itself more squat with each passing hour. How is that first terrifying, wonderful, exhausting first year done? Why does it have to go so damn fast? How did you go to sleep one night as a baby and wake up a toddler the next?
While your story was founded inside the narrative of all the babies we never met, you are more than a rainbow baby. You are you. Right now that means you are gentle and calm. The snuggliest of all my babies. A good sleeper and a voracious eater. Prone to giggle fits and squeals of frustration when your brother and sister ignore you calling out “me! me!” as they sprint off leaving you’re strapped in the stroller. A joyful boy who dances to any song whether it’s whistled or piping out from the radio on the kitchen counter. Already so quick on your feet. A strange mix of your sister and your brother that lends itself to something familiar but all your own. All Hank. Our Hank. Every dang thing we could have dreamed up and more than we let ourselves imagine. How lucky we are get the chance to love you.
Happy first birthday, Baby Hank.