What follows below is a letter I wrote to my unborn first child right before his birth. I reread it this week, and something struck me about it – I have a friend from college who was pregnant with her first at the same time when I wrote this. She liked this note when I posted it on Facebook. She too was pregnant and anxiously awaiting the birth of her first son. Eli was born healthy and “typical”. Her birth experience was different. Part II, posted tomorrow, will explore the complexities of what a mother thinks and what a mother gets. But for today, read this letter 🙂
Dear Eli – a letter to my unborn son three days (or so) before his birth
Anxiously I have been awaiting your birth as you kick at my ribs and roll around stretching my belly. Your father and I knew we wanted to have a child, but even that want for you to be in the world with us falters in comparison for the desire I now have to hold you in my arms and let your little fingers wrap around one of mine. I know I love you before I have even met you, and as a mother you’ll always be a part of me.
It seems like everyone in the family wants you to jump out today (July 3rd, three days before your due date). Your father is especially excited, rubbing my belly and grinning to himself, singing to you while you’re in the womb. One of your best assets in life will be your father. He is a good man and has been waiting years for the day he could hold his little boy.
There are many things we look forward to, a few we are scared of, a few we have no idea about. As first time parents you will shift our world; you arrive as a game changer. We have tried to prepare by moving to a larger house, filling your nursery, picking a name, asking lots of advice, reading at least a few pages of parenting books. I pray every night for you, for a safe birth, for a God driven life.
Your name is Biblical. Eli is one of God’s priests in the book of 1 Samuel. Eli is a good man, but not perfect, who makes a mistake of apathy that dooms his family. That is one of the biggest challenges of our time: to care enough to change what we know is not right. The name means lofty or ascent. Along with being Biblical, Elliot is your father’s middle name, and his grandfather’s first name. Eli continues a variation of a family name from your father’s side.
Your middle name, Ryan, comes from my brother, Dustin Ryan Bartz. Dustin was born with myotonic dystrophy, lived an extraordinary life where he blessed many with happiness, and passed away at the age of 13. He is the best person I have known. His first name, Dustin, means fighter, and while I admired that quality of my brother’s strength to fight, I did not want you to have to fight what he fought. Ryan means little prince, and while I hope not to spoil you too much, I do hope you act with manners, chivalry, are able to lead, and are willing to give of yourself as a good prince would. Your name is passed from family members on both sides and gives your start in life roots in the Word of God.
Already my father calls you Earl, after your initials. I can’t imagine what other names my father will think up for you over the years, but he is a rascally man and means it in love. You will be born into a family that has been awaiting your arrival since your father and I married, over three years ago. You will have love in abundance from both sides of the family and I pray we have many years to cherish that together.
The world you will be born into is not easy, not always fair, and many things about it are neither godly nor good; however, it is a world of beauty, exploration, and love where you will find many trials and tribulations rewarding to a soul of perseverance and faith. The world moves fast, and I can only imagine what your generation will face in terms of challenges. Some things about life are consistent though: treat people as you would want to be treated, keep love and faith as your top priorities, and value your own integrity more than any other gain.
We have a collection of books we plan to read you every night for bedtime stories. You will be able to explore the Biblical stories with your parents while very young, but I want you to know that faith is a personal journey, and whatever I can teach you about my life, faith, or the Good Book, what you learn about your relationship with God you must learn on your own. That said, I hope you take the time to pray and listen, that you learn early to trust God and think of Him as a friend who forgives, and have a holy fear of disappointing Him. God is good, and walking a life for Him is not easy, but is right.
There are many things I hope for you, many events I look forward to. I watched little boys play baseball, thinking one of the happiest days of my life will be when you wear your first pair of little baseball pants to a t-ball game. I hope your father and I get to coach your first team; that seems like such a joy. If God is willing, perhaps such a wish will come true. I hope you learn to love reading from the joy your father and I will have in reading to you. My mother read to me every night, and then some days I would grab the book and read myself. Literature has taught me many life lessons, and helped me accomplish enough to have a happy life.
We have a collection of Legos waiting for you in the basement. It’s all knights and castles, so I hope you like those. Your father certainly does. We have a little dog Dirk, just waiting for a loyal lifetime friend. He is gentle, and cuddly, and loves to follow around his owners. We bought a house two blocks from a good grade school. I hope you enjoy school. I loved grade school, and while your father liked school too, he couldn’t sit still as long. Either way, I hope you have a passion for learning and self improvement, both of which education facilitates quite well.
Honestly, I don’t know what your personality will be like or what you will enjoy, but I look forward to all the time we can spend together and the love we will share. I hope you are more passionate that apathetic, more caring than calloused, more loving than lazy, and more faithful than fake. When you’re born, I just hope you’re healthy, then your own choices, God, and maybe a little guidance from your parents will help shape the rest.
I love you already, would not give you up for anything, cannot wait to meet you, share you with your father, our family, let your positive light influence others. I never thought I could feel like this, love a child this much, and I have just begun a lifelong journey of an evolving relationship with my son. Thank you for blessing my life Eli, already you have made me a better and more complete person.
My belly 3 days before the birth of my first born
4 years later… I’ve been pretty lucky as a mom, but I know not every mom is. Catch part II tomorrow!