Lauren asked me to write a few words about being dad to Kinney, and I feel I should go ahead and disclose there is no way for me to possibly explain the joy and love in my heart because of this amazing gift from God.
I like to call Kinney the best surprise of my life; it all started after my birthday weekend. Well it didn't all start then but that's a different story. My parents had just left town, and I had just gotten home from work. Tired from a crazy day and annoyed with typical Monday stuff. As soon as I walked in Lauren asked my to come sit down. She seemed concerned, and I was immediately worried something had happened to my parents. That's when she said "I'm pregnant." I had never really thought about that moment between the two of us, because I didn't think I would become a father until much later, but I was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of joy and purpose. The first thing i did was hug Lauren (I've always known she was going to be a fabulous and caring mother) and pray to God. I asked Him to give my girl (I knew it was going to be a girl, and i said that) a huge purpose in life that would change the world for the better and to give Lauren and me the strength, wisdom, and patients to nurture His purpose for her. It's funny how the Lord works. He blessed us with a beautiful gift who we never even knew we wanted, but I was immediately so thankful for His plan in my life and so thankful for this little girl that I immediately loved. Overjoyed doesn't even begin to sum up how I felt them moment I found out about her.
You may notice that I'm talking a lot about God which is pretty untypical of me because I am generally more private about my faith. But Kinney has taught me so much about faith and my walk with God, and she is only two months old. That started toward the middle of the pregnancy when the doctor told us she had multiple heart defects. We had already been through a scare because of sack separation. You can imagine how trying and emotional that was for Lauren and me. As soon as we found out about the heart problems I knew it would be ok and we would do whatever surgeries and medical treatments we needed to make our girl healthy. But I must say it was really disarming when the doctor told us terminating the pregnancy was an option at that point because of the bleak outlook. Thankfully, Lauren and I share similar beliefs about that and it was not an option. Instead we prayed. We asked God to heal her heart and make everything ok. He delivered and literally gave us the miracle we had been asking for. When she was born there were no signs of heart defects despite the list of frighting conditions handed to us by the specialist. Even now I put my ear to Kinney's chest and listen to that beautiful heart beat. Because of this life changing experience Lauren and I are very mindful of families who pray for their own miracles and get a different answer. I asked for God to give her a big purpose and this miracle is proof that He has plans for her that only he knows, but Lauren and I will work tirelessly to nurture.
Lauren's pregnancy was great and she was a rock star in the delivery room. She showed amazing strength and courage that I could never match. After an entire day of labor, and hours of pushing our girl was finally here. From the moment I saw her and held her tears flowed from my eyes because I knew what a gift she was, and that this child who wasn't planned and had already overcome so many obstacles was mine and forever a part of my life. I was immediately so grateful. Holding your own child in your arms for the first time is an experience I can't even begin to explain. Knowing that she is literally half of me and half of the person I love most embodied into one person is so marvelous. It was amazing to soak in those first moments of her life. Who knows how her story will unfold from that moment. Kinney could be an Olympic athlete. She could hold the cure for cancer in her brain. She could be a hero who many people depend on. Who knows how it will turn out, but I do know nothing has given me more happiness than being Kinney's father, and I will do anything to protect her and provide for her and make sure she finds and fulfill the purpose God has for her.
I have probably been much more long winded than Lauren intended me to be, but Kinney is such a joy and a fantastic baby. She eats like she should and sleeps over eight hours a night (knock on wood). The absolute best part of my day is when I get to come home and see her and her mom-- and bath time. Kinney is so happy in the tub, and I love that I get to share that time with her. The bath is my duty and we have a great time playing in the bubbles. After that we always read a story and its crazy to see her so engaged in every word I'm saying from such a young age. I also love talking to her and teaching her things and telling her stories about my day, even though she has no idea what I'm talking about. Haha. And there is nothing like seeing her beautiful smile and bright eyes in the morning to spur me on and try to build a legacy that her and her siblings (God willing) will be proud of.
Speaking of legacy, Kinney is named after my grandmother Reba Kinney Hammond. Nana, as I call her, is the most kind, genuine and honorable person I have ever known. As a judge in my hometown she demanded respect from everyone, and every ounce of that respect was deserved. She taught me how to love others, respect people, work hard, spread kindness, and I pray Kinney will take on those attributes. I know Kinney has one heck of a guardian angel watching her every day.
Finally I want to end this by saying I am so proud of my wife. Lauren is such a fantastic mother and I have never loved her more. I find comfort in knowing when Kinney grows up and is raising a family of her own, Lauren and I will still get to share this beautiful life together. From the moment we found out about Kinney she has naturally embraced motherhood, and it is such a dream to watch her with Kinney. I love the two of them more than anything. Nothing bring my more joy than holding Kinney close feel her beautiful heart beat. I have a new respect for my parents also in seeing how they must have felt and feel for me. If I have one message for you in all this it is that life is a journey with beautiful surprising along he way. Everything happens for a reason and is part of a bigger plan you cannot fathom. We all have a purpose, and that ultimate purpose is to praise and glorify God. May you be as blessed as He has been to me.