Dear Shepherd : 1 Year

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KK was in the kitchen when the contractions first started. I didn’t tell her for over an hour because I didn’t want to scare her. Just 3 days before, my midwife said I had at least a week. We had spent the day picking up the mail & prepping for Thanksgiving, just in case.

It was hot in that kitchen so I asked her to come into the living room. I told her about this feeling I was having every 7 minutes. “Don’t worry, mama, I think I can hold off til Bobby gets back,” I assured her. I did everything I could to stop you. I tried to sleep but couldn’t. I tried relaxing in a warm bath, but there was no hot water. She rubbed my back but I just needed to walk. So I walked that tiny apartment, from room to room with a pending game of Yahtzee at stake.

We got in touch with Daddy just before he boarded his flight home from Cairo. He was worried but we were fine. Uncle J & Aunt Susan loaded up from Kaabong with the kids at 1am and started the 15 hour journey to Kampala. Word spread quickly and people world-wide were praying for us. You were front and center, little man.

It was the middle of the night. My contractions were getting stronger and my Yahtzee scores were getting worse. We timed the contractions… 5 minutes apart, then 4, then 3. My midwife wanted me to stay at home. To sleep, relax, breathe. I hadn’t been able to in hours. This was not first-time-mama jitters. You were coming and we went to the hospital against her advice. She joined us there after her bowl of cereal, and at 8am I was already 6cm dilated. Her tuned changed after my check up.

By 11am I just HAD to start pushing, again against the midwife’s advice. Daddy was stuck in Nairobi but KK was there, reminding me to breathe. And I did breathe. And pushed. And yelled. And prayed. You overwhelmed me, body and soul. You still overwhelm me. “I CAN’T!” But I could, and I did. At 11:37am that pedantic midwife caught you mid-air, slippery & squirmy & screaming. I collapsed over the back of that plastic Ugandan hospital bed mattress and it was nothing like the movies. No one yelled “It’s a boy!” so I yelled at them, “is it a boy???” You were. And you are… all boy. All 7 lbs 5 oz of you was boy. My boy. KK got to cut the umbilical cord. The midwife made mention about your chin right away. You have your daddy’s chin and I cried because you do and because he wasn’t there.

Naked you came from my womb and naked they laid you on my naked chest. Everything was naked about that moment. Our skin but so much more the raw emotion of it all. A person really sees the depths of a woman during child birth. And the woman sees the depths of herself. A girl becomes a woman and that woman becomes a mama. It’s bare and it’s laid out and there’s nothing that can be hidden when a girl-turned-mama holds her babe for the first time. 

Aunt Susan was your first visitor & I made them let her come into the room. Daddy was able to get his plane ticket changed but he still won’t tell me how much it cost him. You were almost 3 hours old when you first melted into his arms and his tears melted us all. There we were, a brand new family blissfully happy and desperately tired. God was there in that delivery room.

The sleepless weeks passed by and you grew and we grew. Papa & Granny Wade enjoyed you for 2 weeks and left just before you amazed us all by rolling over at 3 weeks old. We spent the most emotional Christmas ever together as our little family of 3. Nammy & Grandaddy joined us just before New Year’s and we brought in what would be the most challenging year of our lives yet on Mt. Elgon.

You nursed and slept perfectly during difficult road trips and started smiling and were the first white newborn the Kaabong Dodoth had ever seen and they gave you Karomojong names and Shelli came to help us and we lived in a mud hut and I sang you to sleep and you started laughing and you slept through the night and we took you to the Middle East and you learned to sit up and KK came for another visit and you started eating solids and you moved into your own room and you rode on a camel and we packed up our house & moved and you were taken care of by Ugandan nannies while we learned Arabic and you started to crawl and you started saying Dada and started pulling up and you weaned earlier than I wanted you to and you took one step and your hair got longer and you started to clap and you cut a tooth and we packed up our house & moved again and TOMORROW YOU WILL TURN ONE.

You’re wild as they come. You are so happy and can reduce a full grown man to baby talk with that smile. You love your paci and sing yourself to sleep. You say Dada when I try to get you to say Mama. You lick floors. You can destroy a room within minutes. You once loved baths but now cry the whole time through. You’re really good at climbing up and down stairs. You eat an adult portion of chicken curry. You look just like Papa. You have a farmer’s tan. You would die a happy baby if we’d just leave you alone to eat the grass outside. You laugh hysterically when you pull up on my legs while I’m doing the dishes. You clap when you hear music. Your stroller is your happy place. You sit still only if I read you “Little Blue Truck.” You are the most beautiful boy and it is joyfully impossible to keep up with how you change every day. 

It was one year ago tonight that you decided Daddy Or Not, Here I Come. My life changed forever that long day. I’m grateful for the grace and that you’re still too small to see my infinite imperfections. Being your mommy has changed me, is changing me, and will always change me. Thankful this season especially for you. Happy First Birthday tomorrow, little one. 

I love you forever, 
Mama

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9 responses to “Dear Shepherd : 1 Year

  1. Oh Maridith, so well said. Bless you dear daughter in law, bless you.

  2. I weep , I cry and I long to hold my little man , his mom and dad . Happy birthday shep , papa loves you and I can’t wait to see you again. You have changed the lives of your family and I will forever cherish you , even from a distance . Please tell mom and dad to call so I can talk to you ! I can’t wait for you to meet our Jesus !!

  3. Oh Marideth…this is a beautiful treasure of a letter to your son. Beautiful. Happy birthday to your #1 son, Shepherd. Love you!

  4. So beautiful! Happy Birthday, Shepherd! You are loved the world over!

  5. Oh Maridith, you’ve written a letter that your son will treasure all his life. Your descriptions were so vivid that I felt I was right there with you. Good job!! You, Bobby, and Shepherd are a wonderful little family on a very special mission from God. Happy First Birthday, Shepherd!

  6. You beautifully express the feelings of us mothers the world over!! Your boy, my boys, are all treasures to be cherished. There is no feeling like being their mama. Savor every moment…they pass way to quickly.

  7. Incredible, a blessing to all who will read it. Mostly a blessing to a young man named Shep, when he gets to read it again when he is expecting or right after the birth of his first child. Thank you Maridith!

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