I toyed with the idea of editing this story down to a more manageable size for sharing, but realized I’m ultimately putting this into record for myself and my family so I leave it as is: large, untethered, & quite a bit unrevised. I’m one week postpartum with 4 small children; it’s a Christmas miracle I found time to write it at all. If you just scan it for photos, I still appreciate your time. Thanks for humoring me by being here. 

“It’s a BOOOY! I know it is. For sure, it’s a boy.”

Our friendly roofer is working on the house next door. He’s trying to trade me a chicken for two of his backyard ducks and his odds of striking a deal have just plummeted. 

“Clearly, that’s a girl. Look how you’re carrying!” The Costco sample lady shows no hint of being unsure of herself either, but I prefer her assessment. I’m encountering these opinions left and right, and while everyone has 50/50 odds of being right, their unshakeable confidence in themselves is amusing. 

“Oh, actually, I’m not sure. This one is a surprise baby.” I reply. “We’ve done it both ways, and there are so few true surprises in life. We’re just going to wait this time.” 

We’ve done it both ways but, it’s Matthew’s idea to wait to find out again. He truly doesn’t mind if it’s a boy or girl either way and doesn’t understand my hang-up with it in the least. He says to wait is a good lesson for me in acceptance of things I can not control. Plus, he thinks it’s more natural to meet the baby without preconceived notions. And I’m annoyed at him, because I know he’s right. 

That’s the thing about our marriage, we’re not afraid of pushing one another to be better people even if doing that it gets really uncomfortable sometimes. We strive to say what we mean and we love each other enough to aim for honesty over placating. We’re not conflict-adverse, but we also love fiercely and are wildly loyal, stubborn, and committed to the craft of being excellent partners to one another and intentional parents to our children. 

So, I go along with it. And when I’m honest with myself, I know part of it is just to avoid the futile disappointment I felt with finding out at 10 weeks pregnant that Griffin was a boy. I mourned that he wasn’t a girl during pregnancy but soon as he was here, my little ginger-haired, hilarious, sweet-as-pie toddler, I couldn’t imagine anyone more perfect for our family. 

I figure if I don’t find out the gender this time, I won’t have to expel the negative energy and mourn something that truly does not matter, but rather I assume I’ll be so washed in love that, even if baby four IS a boy, I won’t care in the least. And when he is first born, before I know his gender, I don’t. 

I’m not even thinking about it. 

But, here I’m ahead of myself just as I was when I wrote out Griffin’s birth story. I want to remember this time in it’s entirety and there’s so much more to reflect on when welcoming a new family member then the birth day itself, so I’ll start again. 

While it took me a solid year to talk Matthew into having baby Griffin, I don’t remember us ever making the decision to have another baby afterwards, it just felt obvious. We both had LOVED having a baby again, dare say more than we had the “first round”, & now that we had reset ourselves into this chapter of teensy laundry, diapers & baby toys: why not have one more? “Two sets of two” I’d explain to people when asked about our 6 year age gap, and it just made sense to us and felt right.

Matthew jokes one day he would like TEN more, and I look at him sideways because I’m always going to hold some frustration that it took me a full six years to get him to start our family in the first place. So, let’s talk about our generation’s elephant in room. 

I feel the message I received, culturally, during my 20’s was to live for myself first & that this message was, and still is, a terrible disservice. There was zero pressure, from neither our families nor communities, to get married or have kids. Instead, it was accepted as completely normal to just live together as partners, without any actual legal commitment. This is essentially telling your partner “I love you. But, also, I’m free to go if something better comes along.” 

Beyond that, the idea was simply to “enjoy it”. And so we elongated our youths and avoided true responsibility. We wasted our time, money, and energy pursuing self-centered pleasures. We built our careers, we traveled, we ate at amazing restaurants, and drank to our hearts content with a boisterous group of fantastic friends. It’s not that it wasn’t fun, it was fun. But, inevitably, after every night out or vacation, I’d come back to an empty feeling.

Despite feminism drilling into me I need be concerned that I was equal to a man, I was never held back in any workplace for being a woman. In fact, it was more often of direct benefit bartending in college and then as a female photographer when I built my career. I realized being told I could do everything a man could do wasn’t what I needed to hear. It was that being a woman, truly embracing my womanhood through maturing into a wife and mother, is what was missing. 

A corner of my heart kept whispering that there had to be more to it all than this. Even though I hadn’t so much as seen a baby up close hardly at all in my life, I knew what was missing was children. So, I put my foot down. Marry me and start a family or I’m out. Thankfully, the man of my life already had a ring waiting and felt pulled to finally follow my lead out of our extended adolescence. But what about all the women out there now that are just waiting until “later” only to find, if they can even still hold a healthy pregnancy without complications, the options for siblings is even further limited. I resent that we live in such an overly sensitive time that I even have to say this, but of course not every woman shares these feelings. I can only speak for myself. and this is simply my truth.

And so that’s where I sit today. I want a fifth, but I’m forty. 

Not twenty minutes after Atticus was born, four little words escaped my mouth “Just one more, babe?” And his response is “Don’t tempt me.” because we both know we would in a heartbeat if we were a little younger, a little richer, or (ideally) both. And so these words are exchanged playfully, led by the heart, but not by logic. Still, it reveals a bigger story of regret, of “what if”s, and of cultural commentary. Why weren’t we asked all those years why we didn’t have kids yet? 

To have another baby takes so much. It was a sacrifice for everyone in our family, at one point or another, to bring both our baby boys to us. I tried to wait the full year after Griffin to get pregnant again to ensure the best odds for a healthy baby & pregnancy. I obsessively checked my LH hormones and basal temp, researched ways to time conception for a girl, and looked at the school calendar to see what time of year a due date would be more opportune for our schedules. And right before the boy’s birthdays, I was able to surprise our oldest son with one his biggest birthday wishes: another sibling on the way. 

No body takes pride in his family quite like my son Thelonious. He seems to identify deeply with his role as a big brother to Griffin and as a boy that will become a man of the house. He wants to provide, serve, and protect us the way he sees his father do. And so no one else in our family kissed my belly the way Theo did in Griffin’s pregnancy or showered it was attention and tender whispers during my pregnancy with Atticus. I’d joke when the whole rest of the family had forgotten I was pregnant, Theo never did. He loves that we have a big family and it seems to feed his soul to be part of a big pack. I get it, kid. 

But, pregnancy sucks. It sucks the life right from your bones and uses it to build an entirely new human. 

In conjunction with discovering I was pregnant, I finally got a diagnosis (I wasn’t even looking for anymore) for an auto-immune disorder I’ve battled unknowingly for many years. To discover it with pregnancy has made it difficult to know what’s working and not to care for myself, but the changes I made did help ensure a healthier pregnancy & I don’t think it coincidence Atticus was also my largest.

Having an increasingly busy toddler in tow didn’t help much this round either. Griffin was clearing the scale at 30lbs. by the end of my 3rd trimester, but I still had to lift him and haul him around often because he’s only a year and a half or so. And despite going viral on TikTok with a couple million views dancing around with my big ‘ol belly at Fly (I don’t have TikTok, but I saw the clip), my fitness level while pregnant could only sustain me so long before my body needed more careful rest.

One highly bizarre evening landed me back at SMH, when I had a contraction that wouldn’t die down with a constant pain on the top of my belly. After 90 minutes staring in disbelief at a belly that wouldn’t soften, Matthew pulled me out of an epsom salt bath and took me in to the OBECC. Of course, it lifted as I was brought into a room. The attending physician told me I was in labor. He said my contractions on the monitor were regular and due, to being term, I should stay and have the baby. I laughed and told him I wasn’t in labor, that it would be weeks more. Thank heavens I know my body well, because I see how if I was a first time mother I could have been sucked right then into the, perhaps well-meaning but none the less, intervention tornado that hospitals are so acutely known for.

My body continued to contract for the final months of pregnancy, near constantly. As the weeks wore on, I felt them more and more. I knew when the baby dropped and felt the difference, but I was still working. I wanted to take every opportunity to provide for my family before the new baby would have me put down the camera for a while. 

I’d scheduled my final Sarasota Sunset beach family session on a Monday evening. Matthew has been coming with me to haul my gear and act as a “voice-activated light stand”, so after the shoot we celebrated my maternity leave with Screaming Goat tacos. But, it was short lived. The very next morning, after baby play group, we were chatting with the head of our school and she starts talking about the yearbook photos. Theo’s sweet kindy teacher had traditionally done the school portraits, but had her own first baby recently who then ended up with a very serious heart condition that had landed them in a hospital up north for months since. As the photos were not finished, and yearbook deadline drawing near, the school was exploring other options. 

“I think we’re just going to hire Lifetouch” she says to us, and Matthew and I shoot each other a horrified glance. No, there has to be a better way to keep this in our community and not outsource to a monster like that. I feebly volunteer myself, despite my giant belly practically bursting from my dress. She graciously offers us the opportunity if we’d like to take it and I go home to obsessively research and learn everything I can about high volume portrait photography. A couple Amazon orders for some new light modifiers later and before I know it, hundreds of kids are lining up in the hallway in their dress uniforms.

Matthew and I photographed nearly 800 kids over the course of two long days. I not only enjoyed it more than I’d anticipated, but also learned such a tremendous amount. But, despite all my spreadsheets and careful systems in place, there was no avoiding the following 3 days spent on the computer dawn through dusk culling, editing, organizing, and publishing the portraits. I wanted each family to get their own link to just their photos, I wanted it all organized with correct names, grade level, and teacher for yearbook publishing ease, and I needed a storefront attached properly because the only payment for this gig would be if parents liked their little one’s portraits enough to purchase them. 

Pregnancy insomnia worked in my favor, I’d sleep a couple hours, wake up to pee and work on the school photos in the night when the house was quiet. Then I’d sleep another couple hours and get up with the family to start our days. It was like a version of nesting to get them all done. But it couldn’t truly all be done because about 30 students were absent on the days we shot, so I scheduled a make-up photo day, despite being a hair away from my due date. I never had my babies early anyway, it should be fine. I reorganize and pack the gear on a Wednesday night so we can set the studio up again at the school in the morning and go to bed. 

In my three prior births, the first tell-tale sign of labor has never been the cinematic water breaking scene. Rather, my water has always broken, or been broken, very late in labor near pushing. So to wake up at 1:35am Thursday morning with very wet underwear, I was met with a bit of confusion about what had happened. I went into the bathroom to investigate, found it was clear, and much more coming out as I walked and sat on the toilet. 

My water broke. 

How could that be? I’m only 39 and a half weeks pregnant, a full 2 days before my due date! And here’s where logic seems to leave the building for me for the rest of the night. 

I put on some period underwear, thinking that would be enough, but discovered shortly it would not be. Postpartum pads got torn into, and I would find myself a bit worried at the pace I was blowing through them, changing these out for the rest of the morning. 

I tell Matthew and get him up, he’s sleepy but I know I’m on a clock now. Especially with my age, they won’t let me stay like this for more than a day or so. I’m not having contractions yet, not more than I always do anyway, but I know I have to tell my midwife so I give her a call. She advises me to get some more rest if I can, and to call her back when things pick up. I know myself well enough to know I’m not going to sleep. I start picking up the house a bit instead, Matthew is (thankfully) following my lead, albeit a bit groggy about it. He looks annoyed when I tell him I’m washing the sheets. Sure, I’m having contractions, and some of them I can certainly feel more than normal, but I still don’t seem to think I’m in labor.

I find myself walking in the house, back and forth, in circles, in this baby gate, out that one. I want to move, but it feels like there’s no where to go.

I tried to lay in bed, but inevitably found myself back up. Change the pad. Grab a snack. Walk. 

Oh, that was a good one- maybe labor is going to start soon?

Matthew is cleaning. There’s junk all over his dresser that he knows has been bothering me, there’s a big bag still out from an adventure with his dad the night before blocking the floor in the dining room. He’s tasking care of it but he’s also assembling the birth tub at 3am and I think he’s being a bit over re-active to be putting it together so early. He even wants to fill it, but I’m not in the mood to argue. 

I pulled out my phone and timed a contraction at 3:12am. I could certainly feel some now, but they were manageable and their timing nor strength was consistent.

I worried that I’d had a cup of red raspberry leaf tea the day before. Did I put myself in labor? 

I felt so guilty. I told Matthew, as though confessing to sin. I’d drank the tea. I was worried if I didn’t start prepping my body, we would go all Spring Break long without the baby in our arms only to be met with his schedule pulling him back into work before I was ready to have both little ones at once. 

3:14am, another contraction, but they’re only lasting roughly 45 seconds. I give up timing until closer to 4 am. Not they’re lasting closer to a full minute, but everywhere from 2 to 4 minutes apart. I’m getting frustrated and tired.

The hose won’t reach the birth tub. He’s on the side of the house grabbing another garden hose, says he’s going to pour bleach in it. I suggest simply moving the tub instead. It’s a workable solution. Griffin wakes up, he takes him into our room and they go back to sleep. 

The house is so dark and quiet. I am alone. 

I try to lay in the bed too, and would be nearly back to sleep, but then a contraction would come. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to sleep through them, they were far too painful. 

I also realize that the other kids will be up soon enough too, and the sun. This is all backwards. I go into labor in the evening and have my babies in the night. Is this really happening? “I can’t possibly be in labor” I still fool myself. 

What I do know is, even if I am beginning labor, I will likely stall out when everything wakes up around me. 

I have a choice. I can try to deep dive into Laborland and get my head in the game, hoping my body will follow suit, or I can lay back down and let the world wake up around me. It’s about 5am. 

I quietly dig my sneakers out of my closet and find a headlamp in the camping supplies in the garage (so I don’t get run over), pull up a YouTube video on my phone I’d found helpful the night I went into labor with Griffin and some headphones off Matthew’s now-more-organized dresser. And then I’m walking down the street in my night dress and my giant belly. It’s surprisingly chilly and I don’t care how insane I look, I just want to help the baby be in a good position. The last two boys being sunny side up has me well aware that I’m really trying to ensure a good position this time. Spinning babies stretches have been all the rage for me these past couple weeks. 

My lower back has been KILLING me for weeks now, and after back labor with all the others, I’m afraid of how much it will hurt when things get going. 

Anything to mitigate that seems prudent, so I walk. 

It feels like I’ve gone much too far from home, but I’m only a few doors down. How long have I been out here? I look at the video. It’s only 12 minutes in, but I’ve had enough. This doesn’t seem to be working anyway. I hardly feel any contractions at all on the walk. 

And I’m oddly a bit lonely. 

My other labors have been times to really connect with my husband, or maybe it’s just a craving for his attention that I feel I really get during labor that’s missing tonight. I creep back in the house and he’s still asleep and, it’s not his fault, but I’m kind of annoyed. 

I’m in the sunroom and I realize my walk seems to have been more productive than I’d thought. 

I pull back out my phone and time a few contractions. It’s about 5:45am, and I time 3 short but quite heavy contractions and they’re all 2 minutes apart. 

I wake up Matthew and tell him, I ask him if I should call my midwife back and just let her know what’s going on. 

I tell her I’m having contractions that are getting more intense, but that they’re still manageable. I’m ok. I just want to let her know, is that ok? "Sorry to wake you up. Did I wake you?"

She assures me she isn’t far and just to call when I’m ready for her to come over. She asks if I’ve had another one since we’ve been on the phone. She tells me we’ve been talking for a minute and a half. I do have one at the end of the call, but I’m quite quiet. I remember my midwife in Oregon hearing me have a contraction over the phone with Theo and telling me to wait longer before coming to the birth center (I didn’t wait more than 10 minutes more and show up only a couple hours before he was born). It feels strange to be on the phone for a contraction again; it makes me doubt myself. 

Everything is clouded in doubt, but most clearly my heart is hung up in two places. 

One is the photo shoot at school that day. I’ve been on the computer in the night to look up the e-mail addresses for the make-up picture day students and send out messages that cancel the shoot. I pride myself on communication with my clients, and being in labor isn’t going to change that. 

The second is Amelie and our special girl’s date to see Wicked. 

Despite the March dates, for Christmas I’d gifted my little musical theater loving gal tickets to her first ever (off Broadway) Broadway show, Wicked. I also pick the book up for her at the goodwill bookstore, which she blows through twice as well as memorizes the soundtrack, by the time we’re in the week of the show. Technically, the show is the day before my due date, but I’m not worried because… “I always go well past my due date.”   *cue eye roll*

Amelie wakes up before the boys, Matthew is there. She sees the birth tub in the dining room. 

“Is it time? Is it happening? I’m so excited, mama!” 

She doesn’t even blink at mention of the show. I tell her I’m so sorry, that I have been thinking of her all night. My eyes well with tears, but I don’t let them drop. “Oh, that’s alright mama. The baby is far more important!” And she’s right, of course she is. What a wise little gal. 

I remember hugging her tightly and letting it go. My heart is clear and I can focus on the baby now. 

I didn’t know then but I guess Matthew had called back the midwife 10 mins. later & she was already on her way; everyone seemed to know I was having a baby shortly but me. Midwife Jennifer and my mother in law begin to show up, it's around 6:45 in the morning. 

I remember being on the yoga ball in the living room with Amelie and Theo when I hear the heartbeat. 

I hadn’t been worried prior, but was pleasantly assured at the first sounds of the baby. The kids are looking anxious, nervous, and excited. The contractions have changed now. I’m not able to control my volume anymore, and each one is a deep, clear call through the home that a woman is in labor.

Next, I remember being in the kitchen. I’ve felt like I was going to be sick a few times, I’m over the sink, but not sick. Matthew says this is when midwife Jenifer asks if I want to get in the tub. She says “It’s that or you’re having the baby right here.” I’m still the only one who doesn’t realize how close I am. 

I want to get in the tub. I say yes. I take off my night dress. The water is too cold, but it’s better than not being in the water.

My hair feels awkward and the ends are getting wet. I feel disheveled. I wanted to wear a bra, even just for the photos sake, but I forgot to put it on. I don’t feel beautiful, but none of it really matters. The baby does. And babies don’t wait for such foolish things.

My friend Morgan has raced from her nightshift at SMH and walks in in her scrubs and asks to borrow a t-shirt. The midwife says “Hey, that’s my favorite coffee shop!” about the t-shirt. I tell her it’s my brother’s company. Grandma is there now, she’s holding up encouraging signs from the epic combo 40th birthday/Baby party she threw me. “Your vagina is HUGE!” she reads out loud for the room & the vibe is casual and calm. Griffin must be up, but I don’t see him. 

I later find out Grandpa takes him, so she can stay. I also later find out just how much she helps and does to clean up afterwards. We couldn't have these extra miniature humans without her love & support.

Labor has picked up in the tub. I’m trying to remind myself to make low noises, to let my body move. 

Everyone is encouraging. I don’t need back pressure this time. How incredible! 

Labor feels so different without the back-labor I’d had with all the others. This I can do, this is fine. I’m fine, it’s why it’s so hard to believe it’s happening. The midwife’s assistant is still running late. Morgan is trying to help Jennifer. Other people are feeling stressed, but I’m fine. 

The only thing I could really use is someone to rub my shoulders during contractions to remind me not to tense up.

I can talk, but I can’t communicate. So, I don’t ask for what I need.

Instead, I’m coaching myself in my head, trying to remain loose. I try to relax my jaw and shoulders. I keep forgetting and catching myself mid-contraction clenching up, . Keep your voice low. Relax your face. Trust the baby. 

I am smiling. 

Jennifer puts an IV in on my right arm. I don’t know if I can put it in the water. I can’t ask. She asks me to reach down, with my left hand, and see if I can feel the baby. 

I place a finger, maybe two knuckles deep, and there’s my baby’s head. I can feel the baby’s hair! I share this with my husband on the side of the tub. And I finally realize how close I am. Matthew later shares this as his favorite part where even he tears up.

It hurts terribly, but I’m completely alert. Maybe the 3 hours of sleep before this party started have helped a lot. 

I am smiling.

I continue to move and let myself push when my body tells me to do so. 

I feel his head coming out. It’s too much. The contraction ends and the baby’s head slides back in a bit. 

It’s better this way. I know it is. I’m stretching out. Take your time, Samantha. Breathe.

The next contraction brings the head out. Jennifer says the head is almost out, his chin isn’t out. This is helpful. I push on the tail end hard to bring out his chin. Then I try to rest and reset. He’s not sunny side up. I’m in the water. I’m completely lucid. This is happening. I was in labor after all, eh? Matthew takes a photo, the head is born between my hands. 

And I am smiling.

I know the body needs to come next. 

It’s hard to get it going, but once it does, I know my baby will be in my arms. I reach down with both hands. I can feel my baby. I listen to the baby and move my body as I’m being told by the baby, not by anyone else. 

My big request this round was not to be guided in my pushing. What well-intentioned nonsense to tell a mother how to birth.

My body knows exactly what it’s doing in this moment. I’m listening to Atticus, not to anyone else.

We’re dancing. We’re working together. It’s how it’s meant to be. I’m so alive & thrilled.

And then he’s born.

The clock reads 7:17am.

He’s covered in vernix, his cord is short because my placenta is high, but he’s in my arms. I’m in love, all over again. Another piece of my heart has just left my body to lead a life on its own two feet. It is as pure a pride & joy then I can ever hope to feel in this lifetime & I’ve had the pleasure for a fourth time. I feel honored beyond belief. 

My heart aches for every childbearing woman that doesn’t get to feel this rush.

Every woman that either has a real medical reason birth is not safe for them, but more so for the women who simply don’t know what they’re being held back from, what they’re being conditioned to fear. That we, as a people, have so over medicalized something as human and simple as birth. That a woman has to hunt for the resources to learn about home birth options. 

Because, when trusted, it is simple. I’m holding my baby. The baby is here. The baby is perfect. I’m so in love. I’m so f-ing happy. 

I could do it all over again right now if I had the chance. “You just get better and better at this.” Matthew later jokes. I don’t even THINK about the gender, it’s just not a concern to me in that moment. I had honestly forgotten that was a thing. I don’t care at all.

I hear “Are you going to look?” “You’ll have to find out eventually.” I don’t even know who. It doesn’t matter. It’s said out of jest and love but I want to retort with “It’s been like 8 seconds, can I please just have this moment?”  

I’m still in that place where you can talk with your mouth but can’t communicate, not really. When I look back at the video now, I hear how my voice reaches a full octave higher once he’s born and I’m talking to him. I’m high. Leave me here. Let me have this. I’ve earned this. 

But, I feel the pressure of the room waiting. All of this is a handful of seconds in real time, but to me this moment is so painfully stretched out. I pull apart the legs and, of course, it’s a boy. The same little balls and penis I’d caught a glimpse of at the 20 week ultrasound right as she put the doppler to my belly are floating there in the water with me. And my heart sinks. And it’s not his fault. He’s perfect. The only problem here is of my own making for wanting something so badly that can not be controlled. 

And a deep sadness washes over me that clouds this beautiful moment. And I feel angry. 

I feel angry at myself for caring so much. And angry that I was told to look before I was ready. I swing viciously at once for feeling like a wonderful mother for birthing him with my strength and love to guide us, without drugs or the unnecessary chaos of hospital protocols, and like the worst mother in the world for being disappointed in him before he’s hardly had his first few breaths for something squarely not his fault. I feel mad that I didn’t just find out sooner so I could process & accept this earlier. I feel annoyed that, despite saying “BALLS” into that dark room with the ultrasound tech, I still fooled myself into buying a little pink onsie… JUST in case.

I cry as I write this. And this is why I write this, to release it. To examine it. To be honest with myself so that I can then let this go. 

So that I can apologize to this sweet new soul now and then forgive myself and move on.

I want a fifth.

Do I want a fifth for a girl? Or do I want a fifth child?

Can I admit I may not have had Griffin and Atticus had I known they’d both be boys? But, doesn’t that seem wildly ridiculous now that they’re here and I adore them so deeply? It’s only been 1 week and I wouldn’t trade Atticus for the world. He’s a dream come true, maybe it’s just a dream I didn’t know I had. I can’t imagine life without any of my four babies! They’re my heart!

The experience of raising a girl and the boys has been so different. It’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s just different. I always wanted to experience both and know had I had 3 girls and one eldest boy, I’d pine for another boy just the same. 

Amelie wanted a baby girl too, but her attitude has been far more forgiving and positive. 

“Well, looks like I get to keep my own room!” She exclaims in celebration. And I look at her and realize I already have my precious little girl. She’s delicate and feminine. She’s emotional and creative, incredibly smart and a muse to me in her natural beauty. And she’s still teaching me all sorts of lessons I didn’t know I needed to learn. Once I’m healed up, I owe that one a make-up Mamamelie Date. We might not get to see a Broadway show, but that kid has certainly earned some sushi or something super special.

So, here I am a week later & I’m feeling so blessed. If I’m meant to be surrounded as I age by 4 beautiful men, a husband and three sons: so be it. I am honored I get to have a hand in raising up these incredible boys into the strong men they’re destined to be. I hope to find them as adults to be kind-hearted, respectful, honest, responsible, intrinsically-motivated, educated, warm men of true character. And so I dedicate myself now to that mission. 

Welcome to the family, Atticus. We’re far from perfect, but that doesn’t keep us from constantly striving to figure it all out. We love with all our hearts, we work hard, and we promise to do all we can to cherish and raise you well.

I love you, sweet boy. Thank you for joining us.