JASON ATEN | MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHER

MADISON IS THREE TODAY!

Beth came up the stairs, and I could tell something wasn't quite right.  She had just gotten home from work - a 12.5 hour shift as a nurse - and she was 9 months pregnant, so the look of discomfort wasn't all that unusual, but this was a bit different.  I had been making her something for dinner, but before she could sit down and eat it, she had to go the bathroom.  

Less than a minute later, I heard her call my name, "Jason," she said.  "My water just broke." 

Out in the kitchen I heard what she said, and suddenly everything became a blur.  "Are you having contractions?" I asked.

"I think so," was her reply. 

"How often?" 

"About every four minutes?" she said.

Wait, every four minutes?  Are you kidding? Suddenly "soon-to-be-dad" mode kicks in, and the only thing in the world worth thinking about is how to get my wife to the hospital before the baby comes out.  "Okay, let's go."

"Where are we going?" Beth asked. 

"We're going to the hospital, now!" I told her.

"I don't really want to."  Beth said as casually as could be. "I just want to have dinner, and take a shower."

"Well that's nice, but I'm taking you to the hospital in the next 10 minutes, so whatever you'd like to do is fine, but showered or not, I'm putting you in the car in 10 minutes."

See, I don't know how to deliver babies.  There are people who know how to deliver babies, but I'm not one of them.  I'd much rather one of them deliver my children, so waiting to go to the hospital with Beth's contractions only 4 minutes apart, and her water broken - not my favorite idea.

Of course, who knew Maddie would take 24 more hours.  Who knew we'd spend the next day in the hospital just waiting?  That time seemed like an eternity.  In fact, that time seemed longer than the three years that have followed.  The last 3 years have changed who I am, and I know Beth would say the same.  In the 3 years since Madison was born, we have become different people - for the better.

This morning I went into her room and woke her up.  I asked her if she knew what day it was.  For about a month, she's been telling everyone that her "berfday" is on July 16. 

"Maddie, do you know what today is?"

"I don't know."

"Today is July 16."

"Oh....." she said.  "Daddy, does that mean today is my berfday?" 

"Yes Maddie, it does."

"Oh...." she said again. "Daddy, does that mean I'm fwee (3) now?"

"Yes it does." I told her, as the biggest smile I've ever seen started to creep across her face.

Madison, you've taught us so many things, and for that we are thankful. We are thankful for your smile, your energy, your compassion, your gentleness, your excitement, your hugs, your kisses, your songs, and your love.

Today you are 3 years old.  I can't imagine how fast it has happened, but we are so blessed for the last 3 years.  I can hardly wait to see what happens next!