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Birthday letter

Dear Ryley,

Five years ago you were born too early, born too small. You changed my world, and you changed me. I look at you now and I am completely amazed. You simply cannot be the same little tiny boy that I saw for the first time that day. Then, you looked like a baby bird – so red, wrinkled and with thin skin, covered in tubes, wires and tape, and the blondest hair I had ever seen. You were all there. Perfect in your miniature-ness. As the neonatologist who first saw you said, you were a “feisty fighter” from the beginning. Praise God for that….I’m sure that’s a lot of what saved you.

You are my hero. That sounds really corny, but it is the honest truth. You went through so much, endured so much, and yet still kept fighting every step of the way. All I could do was sit there by your bed and watch, wanting with all my heart to take it all away or take your place. Everyday I would go to see you I would play a song in the car, going and coming, called “He’s My Son.” That song still moves me to tears when I think about it or hear it. Your outcome was out of my hands. All I could do was place you in God’s hands….that became my job, my mission. So I would pray the song:

I’m down on my knees again tonight,
         hoping this prayer will turn out right.
         See there is a boy that needs Your help,
         I’ve done all that I can do myself.
         His mother is tired, I’m sure You can understand.
         Each night as he sleeps, she goes in to hold his hand
         And she tries not to cry as the tears fill her eyes.

Can You hear me? Am I getting through tonight?
        Can You see him? Can You make him feel all right?
        If you can hear me, let me take his place somehow.
        See he’s not just anyone, he’s my son.

Sometimes late at night I watch him sleep.
       I dream of the boy he’d like to be.
       I try to be strong and see him through,
       but God who he needs right now is you.
       Let him grow old, live life without this fear.
       What would I be, living without him here.
       He’s so tired, and he’s scared,
       let him know that You’re there.

Can You hear me? Am I getting through tonight?
       Can You see him? Can You make him feel all right?
       If you can hear me, let me take his place somehow.
       See he’s not just anyone, he’s my son.

Can You hear me? Can You see him?
       Please don’t leave him….
       He’s my son……….

You’re five years old now. The time has gone so quickly at times, but yet taken forever as well. I look back on that time of your birth, and the time we spent in the NICU. I cannot believe we went through that. It blows my mind that we actually LIVED that. Today, I watch you run, play, yell, jump just like I longed for, prayed and hoped for when we were in the NICU and in the months that followed with all the follow-up care, doctors’ appointments, developmental evaluations, therapy, shots, and scares. You challenge me, you move me. I watch you sleep sometimes. I see the little hairs on your neck that are so blond, just like you had in the beginning. I see your hands in the same fists you used to make from day one as you would sleep. I see you kick your left leg out just like you did in utero, and in your incubator. That’s how I know that you are that same tiny little boy. I pray that you don’t somehow ever remember all the pokes and prods, all the tests, blood draws, transfusions, iv’s, heel sticks, and eye tests. I pray you don’t somehow remember the times I would cry by your bed, or the times I left the room and left you alone because I just couldn’t watch another “procedure” being done on you. I pray you don’t remember the times you would cry during the night and no one was there right away to pick you up. I don’t want you to remember those things because I remember them enough, and sometimes I think I have more scars than you do. You see the pictures of yourself from those days and you know they are you, but I pray that you never really know all that you went through.

You came home to stay on Christmas Day, 2000. In my heart, you will always have two birthdays….your “birth” birthday, and your NICU graduation birthday. So this is your first fifth birthday.

You are my greatest gift. You are my miracle. You are my son.

Happy 5th Birthday, baby boy. I love you more than ever.


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kids easter

10 thoughts on “Birthday letter

  1. WOW!! What a testimony to your son that letter is!! I love that song “He’s my son” & it brings me to tears also, Donna!! Ryley is beautiful & looks so happy – and he knows I am sure what a great mom he has…you are an inspiration to all of us here & you still never cease to amaze me!! You gave me goosebumps, and that doesn’t happen often!! Thanks for sharing Ryley’s birthday letter with us -that there is scrapbook or frame worthy!! Happy birthday, Ryley!! Big hugs to the birthday boy from his Share buddies!! What a five years it has been, Donna!! 5 years & 2 children later & you still have energy for a cruise? What a woman!! Thanks for sharing
    Hugs & angel kisses

  2. Sharlene, Thank you so much for your words. Most of the time, I am just my kids’ mom, just my husband’s wife, just living my life. When I come here to SHARE, I get to be that tenfold, and I get back so much more from all of you….. HUGS!

  3. I am glad you come here to Share, because you are so much more!! YOU are Donna Schweitzer (whew that’s a tough one to spell) – woman extrodinaire!! You are a stronghold here at Share and a voice of strenght & reason, a voice of compassion & understanding, a voice of love & friendship!! At home you are more than just mom & wife, you are a teacher, a nurse, a mind reader, a calmer of the storm, a peace maker, a referree, a nutrition specialist, a master in childhood development, and a loving wife & mother. I am sure you are SOOOO much more than that, but you understand!! Have a GREAT WEEKEND!! Enjoy your lovely children & Ryley’s birthday….looking forward to pictures next week!! Tell him we are celebrating today too, yesterday was Taylor’s birthday, we’ll add his name to our celebration song!!!! Hugs & angel kisses!

  4. Donna, What a beautiful letter. It captures for Ryley the emotions you went through watching him fight for his life…and win! He will treasure it always, I’m sure! I heard that song for the first time several months ago. I cried and cried. It perfectly describes the feelings and prayers I said when Luke was in the NICU, and each time he’s been hospitalized since! Thank you for sharing Ryley’s letter with us! Big, big hugs,

  5. omgoodness. *wipes tears* That was really beautiful. Ryley is so very lucky; he is so loved. I know the hardships of the NICU. I know the heartwrenching procedures, conditions, outcomes. Yet, on the same hand, it is what brought us all together. For that, I will always be grateful. Happy birthday, Ryley! Darcy

  6. WOW Donna!! You have done it again, I’m crying!! What a beautiful letter for Ryley!! He truely is a miracle and a blessing. Happy Birthday Buddy!!! I can’t wait to, someday, give you a big hug in person!! You are so very loved by your Mommy and Daddy. HUGS

  7. Donna, What an incredibly beautiful and deeply moving tribute to your son. You have captured, with the strokes of a few computer keys, the extreme emotions that it *is* to have a preemie child. Bless you! I am crying too. What a dear sweet woman you are….and your children are incredible…beautiful…unique….and wonderful…each one…oh! *sniff* I am going to find some tissue. That truly was an amazing blog, Donna! Thank you so much for trusting us with your heart….and with the precious stories of your beloved children. Hugs! Melissa

  8. As I’m crying, I must say… WOW. What am amazing letter. And what a lucky little boy.
    Happy Birthday to Ryley. Happy Birthday. Denise

  9. Thanks ladies. He may drive me nuts sometimes, but all I wrote comes straight from my heart. I know you all echo that with your precious babies. HUGS!

  10. Donna, It is so wonderful to be FIVE, and even more wonderful to have such a beautiful Birthday Greeting from a great Mother!!! You tug at my heartstrings and tears well in my eyes…..because each and every birthday is such a gift!!!! As Ryley came home on Christmas 2000, we were celebrating Benjamin’s first Birthday and first Christmas at home……something I thought would never happen!!! Our paths had crossed even then!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY RYLEY!!!!! Hugs,

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