I wrote this to my son Cooper on what would of been his first birthday, 11.27.2009. He was born with a congenital heart defect that required open heart surgery when he was 3 weeks old. He made it through surgery, but died the following morning. You can read more about Cooper, his journey and our story at my blog. I am happy to say that Cooper will have a little brother in February. A boy whose heart is perfectly normal.

My Dear Sweet Precious Cooper,

A year ago today you entered the world, stole our hearts and forever changed our lives. Oh, how i wish we were celebrating your first birthday and making new memories, instead of holding on to the memories of your short time with us.

The night before you were born, your dad and I were about to fall asleep and we told you that it would be perfectly fine with us if you wanted arrive early. I had this gut feeling that you would be born on Thanksgiving day and it would get us out of Thanksgiving dinner. You must have heard us talking and decided to indulge our wish, or maybe you somehow knew you would only be here a short while. Whatever the reason, your early arrival gave us a full 3 weeks with you and for that I am grateful.

I slept fairly well that night and woke up at 5:30 because I was uncomfortable and had to go to the bathroom. It was then that my water broke and I just smiled to myself. I woke up your dad to tell him I thought it was time and went downstairs to call the doctor. He said to make our way to the hospital. I wasn’t having contractions and wasn’t in any pain, so I knew we had some time. your dad made coffee and I headed upstairs to pack our bag. We had been talking about how we should pack the hospital bag, but just never got around to it. I grabbed a diet coke on the way out the door and we arrived at the hospital around 6:30.

And then we waited, and waited and waited. Since it was thanksgiving, the nurses worked shorter shifts, so we had three different ones by the time you were born. We watched a lot of football games and waited. Finally at 10 pm, after 16 hours of waiting your heart rate started to elevate and the doctor decided that it was best if he delivered you via c-section.

You were born at 10:51 pm on Thursday, November 27th, 2008. when the nurses showed you to me, I immediately noticed your blond hair and that your hairline was the same as mine, a family trait without a doubt. You reached out and touched my face, as if you knew what lie ahead and were telling me it would be ok. The nurses then took you, cleaned you up and you met your dad. I love how you held on to his finger for strength and courage. After they finished sewing me up they let me hold you while they wheeled us to recovery. I remember thinking, “I cant believe they are letting me hold my baby, I am so drugged, aren’t they afraid I will drop him?”

Once we got to the recovery room, the nurse was about to hand you to me when she noticed that you looked a little blue. So they took you away and started doing tests. It seemed like an eternity before they told us that you needed to go to the NICU at strong and that you would be transported by ambulance. It felt like someone had ripped my heart out, I just met you and they were taking you away. Little did I know how my heart would shatter in the coming weeks.

All I wanted to do was get out of the hospital and get to you. When we finally were able to see you, love you and hold you, I knew that my heart was no longer mine, it belonged to you and I would do whatever necessary to keep you safe.

Cooper, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss you, that my heart doesn’t ache to hold you, or wonder what you would be like on your first birthday. But I know this: by having you, knowing you and loving you, I am a better person and will be a better mother to your little brother. You changed me and for that I am grateful.

Happy Birthday Cooper Austin!

loving and missing you always. Mom

From Lucinda Snyder of Luc Ends.

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Note from Design Mom: for the duration of my pregnancy, I’ll be posting advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. You can find them all by clicking here. I’d love to hear your story or memory or advice, feel free to submit it to gabrielle@designmom.com.