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He’s My son

Many of the memories of my life have a correlating song.  Or a song will remind me of a person, place or thing. Music has always been an integral part of my life. My experiences with Ryley’s premature birth are no different.

Mark Schultz released his song, “He’s My Son” in 2000. Ryley was born that year. Once I was released from my hospital, I went to Ryley’s NICU every single day, for three months. His NICU was at least 45 minutes away from our home, so I spent plenty of time in the car, always with music on. I listened to that song almost every day, singing along, often with tears rolling down my face as I drove to or from the NICU.  It gave me the words to pray when I had no words. It said everything I wanted, needed, to say. 

I’m down on my knees again tonight
I’m 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?
Can You see him?
Please don’t leave him
He’s my son


Seeing, hearing, even thinking those words moves me to tears. It brings back so much of our time in the NICU – all the heart break, all the fear, the exhaustion, the worry, the abnormality and foreignness of it all. I can’t begin to count how many hours I sat next to Ryley’s isolette, and eventually open crib, helpless and unable to do anything more than stare, cry, and pray. Ryley’s original March of Dimes ambassador video played to that song. I learned I had to speak before playing the video because I would be a bucket of tears after watching and hearing.

Since Ryley came home from the NICU, and in the past 12+ years, other songs have equally touched me with regard to our journey.  Wake Me Up When September Ends is a clear description of how I feel when each September is approaching. I would be happy to sleep through at least the beginning of September every year. There are just too many memories of how everything went terribly wrong in my pregnancy, beginning on September 6th.  Permanent by David Cook spoke to me the first time I heard it. I sat there in my car on the side of the road, shaking and crying.  And the first time I heard Phillip Phillips sing Home, I was speechless.  Ryley’s first home was the NICU. But we were finally able to bring him home.

Ryley has overcome so very much.  He was “big” for a 26-weeker at 2 pounds. He had only a minor brain bleed which resolved on its own. He bounced back quickly from a staph infection. He had/has no hearing or vision problems as a result of his prematurity. He never had a PDA. Never had to have any surgeries. He has a small mark on his face from a nurse mercilessly pulling some tape off his face (which still didn’t have all its layers of skin at the time), some small scars from all the IV’s, and successfully manages ADHD. The last song on Ryley’s newest video is Amazing by Janelle. That says it all. He is truly amazing.

I am sure many more songs will become attached to my  memories of Ryley’s incredible life.  They play like a playlist in my mind, especially at this time of year, and again in September.  That I get to watch him life his life like any other normal 12 year old is an incredible gift. And I’m sure there’s a song out there about that.



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