Jennifer Bridgman

Letter to My Third Son

July 2015

Dear Kellan,

Although we won’t officially meet for another few months, I wanted you to know how treasured you already are. As baby number three, you’ve secured an undeniably special place in our family. While all three of my boys will always be my “babies,” you will be my last “first smile,” my last “first steps,” my last diaper change, and my last heart-wrenching wave goodbye on the first day of preschool. This pregnancy has been my most challenging, but knowing that it’s my last, I’ve come to tolerate and even appreciate even the worst parts of it: the all-day morning sickness, the achy, stretching pains in my abdomen, the insomnia, the varicose veins that may or may not ever go away this time. If anything, they’ve kept me cognizant of the miraculous event taking place inside my body. As Erma Bombeck once stated, “If I had my life to live over…instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I’d have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.”

I feel your movements now, stronger by the day, each one a tug on my emotional heartstrings as I envision your miniature fist or foot busy inside my belly. First pregnancies are a mind-blowing experience, this is true, but subsequent pregnancies are possibly even more thrilling. It’s no longer just a cute hand on the ultrasound monitor--it’s recalling exactly how it will feel to have those velvety-soft fingers grasping mine during twilight feedings. It’s no longer just a tiny foot on the monitor--it’s imagining the pitter-patter of wobbly toddler feet coming to find me in the morning, a favorite blanket dragging on the floor, a sleepy grin topped with a halo of silken, bedhead curls. And then there’s the countdown to our first meeting. There aren’t words to adequately describe those first moments and blurry days between mother and newborn. I know from experience that I won’t be sending you to the well-baby nursery at night, even at the nurse’s suggestion so I can get some rest. I will doze in and out of sleep, but every waking moment between will be spent gazing at you, trying to memorize every detail, trying to comprehend how I ever got to be so lucky.

Daddy and I chose to name you Kellan because it felt beautiful, strong and fitting. The name, Irish in origin like our lineage, means “Mighty Warrior.” And mighty warrior you’ve already proven to be. After Daddy’s paralyzing accident five years ago, we weren’t sure if we could have a second child, let alone fulfill our dreams of a third. Yes, there is science driving every step of human development, but you are a true miracle to us. Our odds of conception “weren’t zero,” per the doctors, but they weren’t that promising either. And yet here we are. It wasn’t just family, but an entire team of nurses and doctors that cheered upon hearing confirmation of our mighty warrior on the way. Just as your big brother Hunter before you, you’ve defied great odds to come into this world. While Daddy and I remain sad at times about his injury and him being in a wheelchair, we wouldn’t dare change a thing about our life’s journey to date. For without all our past experiences, the stars would never have aligned in just the right way to bring us our three beloved rays of “sonshine.”

As you’ll soon find out, you are joining a family full of love and laughter, of cuddles and adventure, of second chances and forgiveness; but it’s also one of chaos and messes, of schedules and routines, of high-energy boys and depleted-energy parents. Daddy and I give each day our all, collapse into bed, and awaken grateful and inspired to do it all over again. As some wise parent once famously declared, “The days are long, but the years are short.” And while no day is ever perfect, each one contains moments so perfectly endearing that I long to sear them into memory, so as to never forget: a wildflower picked by Topher as we cross a field, his long lashes blinking at me in earnest as his small five-year-old voice asks, “Mom, isn’t it boo-tiful? Will you keep it forebber?” Or a squealing grin from Hunter as he spots me across the room, his three-year-old arms outstretched as he barrels toward me full throttle. Or a quick voicemail from Daddy during his busy work day (“I just called to say ‘I love youuuu!’” he sings in his adorably-awful Stevie Wonder impersonation.) Hopefully it won’t take you as long as it took me to realize that it’s not material goods or one’s status that define a life well-lived, but rather a rich accumulation of unplanned moments like these. Like a drop of ink in a bucket, these moments can instantly transform your whole world. So please know that if you ever catch me off-guard with tears in my eyes, odds are that I’m not sad, but rather you’ve just colored my bucket more than you’ll ever know.

As a mom of boys, nothing brings me greater joy than witnessing the bond between brothers. Sometimes I’ll stop folding laundry or putting away the groceries just to sit at the base of the stairs, smiling as I eavesdrop on the conversation upstairs. “Okay, Huh-tern, now it’s your turn to get me!...No, Huh-tern, get down. You aren’t allowed to climb up there until you’re older…like sixty-eight!” To me, there is no sound more magical than two brothers giggling together…except perhaps three brothers?

I do my best to keep our house tidy, our family healthy and our memories cherished, but sometimes--as you’ll eventually discover firsthand--something’s gotta give. I glance up at my bookshelf at the “Pregnancy Journal” I bought weeks ago to document our first exciting nine months together and chide myself for not having started it yet…then wonder if I’ll ever get around to finishing the one I started for Hunter. This week I’m patting myself on the back for finally finishing our family’s yearly album--from 2013, that is. So if you ever wonder why your brothers have thicker baby albums than you or they were thrown far more extravagant first birthday parties, please don’t think for a second it’s because you are any less treasured. With two older brothers before you and a non-stop schedule of school, errands, play dates, birthday parties, karate, basketball, swimming, soccer, doctors’ appointments and family gatherings, something just had to give. I reassure myself, however, that it all balances out: although you’ll have less individual attention from Daddy and me than your siblings received, you’ll never know a day without the love and companionship of your brothers. My greatest wish in life is that as the years and decades go on, the brotherhood between you three will withstand whatever differences, miles and experiences you encounter. If the number of kisses and pats your older brothers give my growing belly on a daily basis are any indication, I’d say we’re off to a good start.

I joke that I’ll hopefully have the whole parenting thing figured out by baby number three, but the reality is that each day as a parent brings new unknowns and challenges. Just as you will go through many stages of childhood, I will continue to learn and grow as a parent, too. Will you be bright, sensitive, cautious and silly like your eldest brother Topher? Will you be charming, physical, strong-willed and expressive like your older brother Hunter? It all remains to be seen. What I can promise you, however, is that I will never stop trying to connect with you and adapt into the best parent you deserve.

So my dear Kellan, as each week goes on, we are one step closer to meeting. It’s odd to think that I know so little about you, and yet you already know so much about me. You know the sound of my voice, which side I like to sleep on, and how it feels when I laugh with my whole belly. You know that I don’t sleep much but stress often, that I love my morning workouts and caffeine, but have limited both for you. You know that I love frozen yogurt and red vines, but supplement them with plenty of spinach and apples in your honor. You know that I love singing along to Taylor Swift, but when no kids are in the car with me it’s Guns ‘n Roses. Loud. And with the windows down. You know that I hum to myself when I feel nervous or shy, and that I feel those ways far more often than people might realize. But the most important thing that I hope you can feel already, now and forever, is how much I cherish you. You won’t remember these first nine months we've shared together, but I will never forget them. And although in a few short months you’ll be out in the world, breathing with your own lungs and growing leaps and bounds before my eyes, our invisible connecting cord can never be cut. What an honor to be your mother. Thank you for filling my world and completing our family.

Party of Five, here we come…