when it has been 20 weeks

Dear Jackson,

You have a name! You love to remind us with every ultrasound visit that you are a boy, and the name belongs to you in the best way – it’s been yours for so long. I love using it when we’re on the go, you and I, grading papers or dancing in the kitchen or sitting on the porch, just being. I love talking to you with your name, Jackson, rolling off my tongue.

This week we learned a little bit more about you, Jackson. We learned different things from different places – a phone call and a follow-up detailed ultrasound and a genetic counseling appointment. It’s been a lot, but I think you probably know and feel my hand over the place where you’re moving, that sense of change in the air, new plans, new preparations.

You’ve got a facial cleft. From what we have learned so far, it extends up from your lip and involves your right eye and that side of your nose, and it goes back into your palate too. It happens sometimes; our bodies do unexpected things.

You have some unique things ahead, Jackson. We are so grateful that we know now, when you’re still wiggling around showing off your arms and legs, letting us hear your strong heartbeat. We are grateful because we can start to make sure we are ready to take care of you when we finally meet you this fall. And every single person who comes into the world needs taking care of. Me, your dad, the people who will meet you and take care of you in the hospital in September, the people at church, your grandparents. You will need some particular things – you’ll need help eating, maybe with breathing at the beginning, and the doctors will do some really amazing things to help you with the cleft so that you can grow, grow, grow – so that you can become your full Jackson self. But everyone needs. Everyone has scars that help tell the stories of their lives – I am praying that you become proud of yours, even as I am proud of where they come from, proud of your mighty self here at 20 weeks, proud of you.

Listen to me, my beloved first son: you have been befriended by the Almighty God. God is walking into every room, every waiting area, every surgery, every MRI or ultrasound or counseling appointment or wellness check, ahead of the three of us in the wild journey of becoming the family that we could not be without you. God is walking out ahead of us, and whenever we look around at the waves or the walls or the unknown-ness of it, when we cry out or you cry out, I want you to hear me: Jesus immediately calls back to us, “Take heart, it is I! Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid of needing help in the beginning. Do not be afraid of what could happen. Do not be afraid, he whispers to me as I look at your ultrasounds on the fridge –  do not be afraid of the many statistics that cannot add up to the story of your one impossibly precious life.

So, Jackson, you whose name means God has been gracious, and whose middle name, David, means beloved, friend. At this the end of our twentieth week together, I put my hand over you and feel you push back at me, defiant already, sure of your own becoming, and we are making our hearts ready for you. We are making our hearts ready for the bigger wonder of who you are – the wonder of taking care of you, of learning your favorite things, of your discovery of the world.

We can’t wait for you to be here with us, Jackson. We can’t wait to hold you and kiss all these places that bear the marks of being human, of being alive. I can’t wait to meet you. Every piece of you.

All my love,


19 thoughts on “when it has been 20 weeks

  1. How stunningly beautiful. I began praying before I even finished it. I found myself praying for a miracle, but then it hit me – Jackson is already a miracle, a precious gift from God, so instead, I prayed for healing if it is in God’s will, but mostly I prayed that Jackson will have a happy, fulfilled life, full of joy and love and adventure. Jackson – God has been gracious, indeed. Congratulations on becoming a mother….

  2. This is simply beautiful. I’m a Momma who unexpectedly became acquainted with a cranio facial team and the world that comes with that.
    We will lift you in prayer as you walk out this journey.

  3. This is beautiful. We are praying for you!
    Also, a college friend of mine – who was herself born with a cleft lip, and is now a pediatrician – is, I believe, in Dallas. Could I put you two in touch? She is a lovely, believing woman with an incredible heart for children.

  4. Jackson is so, so, lucky to have you guys, this is beautiful. I can’t wait until you introduce him to us, however you choose to do so. 🙂

  5. I am confident he feels your love, with every beat of your heart. “Jackson. Jackson. Jackson.” He is named, he is yours, he is loved. Happy Mother’s Day, Hilary. Eshet chayil.

  6. These are the words of a warrior mama ready to march. Praying for you and Jackson and Preston as you make plans and wait and anticipate.

  7. Hilary, you already have that fierce, vulnerable mama heart even as Jackson is still forming and growing. Thank you for sharing this piece of your heart here with us. Sending much love to you and Preston and Jackson.

  8. Praying so hard for your beautiful family, Hilary. Thank you for sharing these tender and sacred spaces and for what can only be described as wild love. Wild beautiful love.

  9. So much love and prayers to you! Jackson Yancey ~ You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and we celebrate who you are, and who you are becoming.

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