You were born too early. I know, as Christians, we are supposed to believe that God's timing is involved in everything. But from the sole perspective of a mother, you came too soon.
We almost lost you.
Being five weeks premature, your little lungs had not developed enough to let you breathe on your own. But we didn't know that when you were born, screaming and squalling and achingly beautiful. You had a full head of soft, red hair. Long, dark lashes rested on your soft pink cheeks. And perfect little lips.
Five pounds, six ounces. Seventeen inches long. Just a peanut.
And then things went horribly wrong. As breathing became more and more difficult for you, we quickly discovered the problem. Respiratory distress. You were immediately transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. And I thought my heart would break.
The thought of losing you became physical. I didn't know if I could survive it.
We have friends who have lost babies. I have lost one before. And only in understanding the excruciating grief, can this beautiful irony be truly appreciated.
A fighter from the beginning, you refused to stop struggling for independence. You took the tube out of your own throat, infuriated with its meddling. You quickly weaned yourself off of oxygen. You refused to take bottles with my breast milk and instead wholeheartedly and vigorously nursed straight from the source. You defied every doctor and specialist's expectations of you.
And you continue to do so.
The last 8 years you have continued to grow in intelligence, creativity and kindness. You are a perfect combination of being both protective and tender. You are fiercely loyal. You are a beautiful soul.
I love you, Dylan Patrick Smith.
Happy Birthday, son.