By Kate Morrow
Jack and Lilly Morrow, born at 28 weeks gestation, turned one year old on September 14, 2018.
Dear Jack and Lilly,
I will always remember your birthday as the scariest, yet best day of my life. You came into this world in a whirlwind and have been strong, courageous, and brave since day one. You have been through more in a year than most have been through in a lifetime. I am absolutely honored to be your Mommy and as I reflect on this day, I am filled with nothing but pride and joy.
You have changed me so much this past year and in ways I never expected. On your birthday last year when you were born at 28 weeks, I couldn’t understand why this happened to our family. I asked God “Why” so many times. Why did this happen to me? Ashamed, I spent a lot of this past year continuing to ask why and jealous of others who had such a joyous entrance into motherhood— beautiful and snuggling their babies in their hospital beds. I couldn’t get those happy images I longed for out of my head.
But, as you grew, I grew, too. I started to understand, accept, and love our beautiful story. I found reason and purpose— word by word, line by line, page by page. As our story came together, I realized it is the most beautiful story I have ever read.
Today, I confidently now know God gave me you for a reason. He gave me you and our experience to build me. To strengthen me. To make me a rock solid, warrior. You taught me what it means to be strong and courageous. It is this courage that has helped me become the best version of myself possible.
Your courage has given me strength to be brave so much this year when I really needed it. It gave me strength to keep going on our darkest, loneliest days during the NICU and isolation. It gave me strength to resign from a ten-year career and know that a career doesn’t define you. It taught me how to take a leap of faith and not be consumed by what others thought. It taught me to be brave for those around us and how to bring others joy and make them smile when I was absolutely losing it inside
Your birth story gave me purpose. For the first time in my 33 years of life, I have found my calling and I am using our experience to help others. To advocate for women and babies in our situation. To make a difference. To empower others. I feel absolutely alive when I talk about our story and see that it brings others joys and comfort.
Our experience has shown me what an amazing world we live in. The amount of friends, family, and even strangers who came together to pray for us, love us, encourage us, care for you, and just hug us was humbling. I still continue to be in awe by the love that surrounded us. I am so grateful for each and every single person—for sharing with us and allowing me to overshare somedays. I couldn’t have gotten through this year without our village. I could spend every minute of every day thanking them and it wouldn’t be enough. It taught me to take refuge in family. I have a deeper love and connection with all of our family, especially your Daddy. He continues to amaze me. Your strength and courage definitely comes from him.
You have made me realize I cannot plan. I used to be a worrier, full of anxiety and full of creating perfect plans. I’ve learned this past year life can be messy. It goes unexpected. I have learned to go with the flow and I have never been happier.
But most of all, your courage taught me how to be strong when we lost your Poppy and my Daddy. You are absolute miracles. Science only does so much and then there is God. Your medical success is God’s work. You are living testimony that there is a wonderful Father in Heaven and because of this, I know, without a doubt, that Poppy is resting gently in His arms and watching over us.
The day you came into this world so early, your birthday, I accepted that I could potentially become a Mommy to children with disabilities, special needs, or ultimately a Mommy to two angel children in Heaven. It was also this day that I committed myself to making sure I did everything in my power to help you become the best version of yourselves possible, whatever that version may be. Because, darlings, no one is perfect. You have exceeded my expectations in every single way possible.
I no longer ask God why. Instead, I thank God daily for writing the most beautiful story ever— a story I could have never written myself. A story that I would not change for the world. Our story.
You are everything I ever wanted. Everything I ever dreamed. The best book I have ever read.
I love you. I love our story.
And most of all, I love being your Mommy.
Happy Birthday, Jack and Lilly!