You will remain for the rest of my life, the best birthday gift I have received. I did not expect to become a dad at 30. I thought I had a few more months, a little more time to prepare for your arrival.
On this birthday, your mom and I checked out of the hospital. It was extraordinarily tough leaving there without you, but getting home did make us smile. We can’t wait to bring you here. Aunt Kendra cleaned up the entire house. There was a giant balloon that said, “Baby Girl!” (a note from the present day: the baby girl balloon was still aloft, but slightly deflated, three months later when we finally disposed of it) and there were two smaller balloons that read, “Happy Birthday!” and “Welcome Home.”
Kendra left a birthday cake in the fridge for us too. It was about as good as a homecoming could have been without you there.
Your mom and I were very tired so we fell right asleep for a nap before Nana and Papa arrived. Their arrival woke us up. I brought them upstairs and we all talked about you for a while in our room before we went downstairs for dinner. During our meal, I retold the story of your birth and what it was like seeing you for the first time.
After dinner, we took Nana and Papa to meet you. They instantly fell in love with you. Nana called you a miracle and of course they both shed tears. After a while we prayed over you, like we have been doing every night since you first arrived.
We eventually went home. What I want you to know about home on my birthday and, until the day you come home, is that it is just a shell where we eat and sleep. It is incomplete without you. Our hearts are always besides yours at the NICU. Here at home, we fall asleep trying to fill the void with videos and pictures of you. And then we dream of you. Sometimes we cannot sleep because of the worry at our core for you. As soon as we wake, you are our only concern. Our home’s potential is latent. We bought it just weeks ago with you in mind and it is only you who will make it what we so badly want it to be.