We were beyond excited. Family surrounded us. Bags were packed. Tiny first outfits were washed and ready. The infant seat was strapped in tightly and awaiting your deliciousness.

I had taken off work one week early to just wait for you. I would walk around the house, fingers trailing the awaiting dresser and changing table. I counted diapers. I read. I laid my hands on my belly and flirted. When you weren’t moving to my satisfaction, I’d drink some orange juice and you would kick and punch me relentlessly.

The morning of your birth day, we took this picture. Then we got into the car and drove to the hospital, each pretty quiet and caught up in our own thoughts of what the day would bring. We held hands.

We had a little time in the room before the grandmothers and aunts arrived. I changed and the doc came in to help me start laboring. It took a while, but soon it was only your Dad and me, walking, spending time in the sauna, and more walking until I couldn’t anymore.  He so patiently and painfully watched, while he could do nothing to stop the intensity of it, and placed ice cold washcloths on my forehead and chest. When I thought I couldn’t stand it a minute longer, you were ready.

It was at that moment that you were born. You were perfect. Wild and loud, wondering what the hell had just happened. There has never in my life been a more primal moment of “yes!” and welcome and wonder as in that moment. And then I watched and listened as your Dad called Granddaddy to tell him your name, which we had kept a secret. He could barely get the words out through the thick emotion of it, but finally a broken, “Robert Holden Pantier” came through. You are the latest in a long line of firstborn Roberts; the fifth I think.

That night, when all of our visitors had gone home to sleep, the three of us curled up so tightly in my small hospital bed, clinging in amazement to each other with you wrapped up like a little glow worm right there. I loved you. I loved you so much.

There was one moment more that hit me with the same intensity as the moment you were born. It was two weeks later, with you tucked into my arms nursing away while we rocked in your room, and I was was looking around at your things just daydreaming. I had a sudden urge to look down at you and there you were, with a penetrating yet inviting gaze in those eyes, welcoming me to love you more. I fell so hard. I was in love. Deeply, madly, fiercely, and openly.

Happy 5th Birthday, Holden. You are my “in the moment” child, one who teaches me everyday how to embrace all of the joy there is in being a family. You are my Thunderfoot and Running Thunder, and your attack on life is both fierce and full of heart, mixed in with all of the sensitivity that you can wear and carry on your strong shoulders. You never say never, and “go big or go home” is your motto. Rock on, little man. I cannot wait for each new day that dawns to hear what crazy thing you say or see what mania you dream up.

I love you forever. And I love you to Pluto and back.