As I write this letter to you, you lay silently asleep in your mother's arms and your brother, Noah, is watching The Polar Express. The reason for this letter is so that long after I am gone, you will have my memories of the day that you were born to read over and over to your heart's content. It was important for me to write this down soon after your birth so that no detail would escape me.On the morning that you were scheduled to be born, your mom and I headed out to Baptist Medical Center (downtown) at 6:30 am for the 7:15 induction. Your grandma McDonald spent the night on the eve of your birth and slept in your future room so that she could watch over your brother on this special day, and so that we could leave early in the morning with minimal complications. Despite heavy traffic on that Friday morning, we arrived at the hospital on time, and thanks to pre-registration with the hospital we were in the room you would take your first breath in by 7:30 am, and hooked up to the fetal heartbeat and contraction monitors, shortly there after.
At 8:30 Doctor Natasha Eliz came in to check on us. She set our expectation that since your mom had to receive fluids before the epidural could be given, we would wait for around 4 hours before we should expect any sort of serious contractions to begin. So we the patient waiting period, while your delivery nurse, Jessica, monitored you and your mom and made sure the induction was progressing on schedule.
At just after 10:00 am Dr. Eliz broke your mother's water with a thing that looked like a crochet needle, and the contractions picked up very quickly. I guess technically it was your water... actually, it was communal water, shared between your mother and you.
Heather and Brad Arrowsmith had, for the previous three months, been our on-call emergency plan to come over and watch your brother, in case grandma Lois was not in town. They had felt quite cheated when we told them that you were going to be induced. That being said, Heather didn't hold that against us and hung out with us while we were waiting for the pitocin to kick in.
I imagine that the first time you actually read this will be sometime around 2015, depending when I let you in on the fact that I write every detail of your life on a blog for complete strangers (and friends) to enjoy, and in case it is not obvious, I am a bit of technology junky, which back in 2007 was commonly referred to as "being a dork". While we waited for you to be born, I was using technology, to keep our friends and family that could not be in the room with us abreast of the situation.
I was using my phone to "text" messages to our baby blog. Ask me if you don't know what either "text" or "blog" mean, as times may have changed by then and those words will most likely be decommissioned. Anyway, the point is, your mom and I were posting and reading comments from our friends and family all across the world, while we waited for you to be born.
Around noon, your mom received her epidural. The anesthesiologist was not very nice, and your mom called him bad words (behind his back) until the drugs set in. You had moved your head into a good position now, and your mother was 6 cm dilated.
By this time your grandfather had shown up to keep us company and join in on the wait for your arrival. He had tried to be nice and bring me lunch, but I had already eaten, just in case you decided to make an earlier arrival. So around 1:30 he said he was going to go get something to eat, but waited until the dumba#$, s&*thead anesthesiologists figure out how to get the left side of your mom's body to be as numb as her right. They came in around 2:30 to up the flow of medicine and everything was good so "Daddy John" stepped out for a bite.
Shortly after he left, I noticed that there was something dripping on the floor, upon examination and talking to the nurse, we realized that your mom had not been getting the pitocin for about 3 hours!! This is the drug that she was getting through an IV, that was suppose to be increasing contractions! But we soon found out that it didn't matter. When the nurse examined your mom, presumable to see how bad her screw up had set us back, she could already see the top of your head! You had dark hair (although it was hard to be certain, as real childbirth is not quite as clean as they show it on TV), meaning that your mom had one the hair bet. So at 2:50, Jessica the nurse told us that it was time to start pushing.
We waited for Dr. Eliz to get there, which was not long at all, and at 3:00 PM your mom began to push you into the world.
Apparently, you were ready to come out because a mere 12 minutes later you were laying on top of your mother's belly. You were very blue and you took a few seconds to take your first breath and your mom and I held our own breath with you. My first words to you were, "breath Jude, breath." The 10-15 seconds that it took you to begin crying seemed like an hour to me. I was later told that it is normal, but those were some of the most helpless feeling seconds of my life. But at 3:12 PM on October 12th, 2007 you finally took your first breath, and after that glorious moment the color quickly came to you and within 2 minutes of being under the baby warmer, you were looking the pink color that was expected. You were also showing us how strong your lungs actually were.
I went over to your corner of the room, and watched to make sure everything was ok with you, while Dr. Eliz tended to your mother. One thing I want you to know, for the time when you have your own children, is that no matter how safe it feels or how far science comes, childbirth is a very serious event for both mother and child, and one that you should never let your guard down on.
The whole experience is humbling for a man who considers himself a problem solver. Having two of the most precious people in my life, in threatening positions, at the same time. And realizing that there is nothing I could do if anything were to go wrong. I am completely aware that I would have been unequipped to solve any problem that came up, and I was relegated to putting my trust in the 6 or so nurses and doctors that have been randomly assigned to care for the safety of my wife and child. A trust that they have been trained to solve all sorts of problems that could potentially arise and pray that they only need a small amount of their training on this day. It is a humbling situation, indeed.
My prayers were answered and everything went smoothly, you were breathing, screaming and scoring an 8 on your one-minute Apgar and a 9 or your five-minute test. And your mom's prayers were answered when it was obvious that you had a smaller head then your brother, resulting in less damaged and less pain on recovery. For that, we both thank you.
Your mom and I had been keeping your name a semi-secret. I had told everyone that I wanted to reserve the right to change your name if you didn't look like a Jude. We had decided on your name about 3 months earlier, but I didn't want to start getting all these embroidered sheep and blankets with the JUDE on them. I didn't want to feel locked in, because some stupid $30 towel was telling me I couldn't change my mind. But after looking into your eyes, and looking at your face, your name was Jude.
You're first name is not for anyone or anything in particular. We wanted something that was not overly common, but not something that people would have to ask you how to spell. We liked the letter 'J', and we wanted a name that went with your brother's name and was equally as cool (we were trying to give you an edge in high school, cause high school kids are mean, and high school will, most likely, be the most difficult few years of your life, until you are forced to face your own grown-up mistakes later on in life). Your middle name, Williams, is your grandmother Lois's maiden name, and apparently your mom and I like the letter 'W' for middle initials. Speaking of initials we did consider them as well, to make sure we were not giving those pre-pubescent middle schoolers any more targets to use, since JWM is a pretty random assortment, and your monogrammed ordering, JMW, is equally random. You can thank us later.
As soon as the doctors and nurses were gone and had cleaned up the room, you had your first meal. You latched right on with no problem and had some "liquid gold" within 20 minutes of your birth.
In the waiting room your grandma Lois and Daddy John, back from his walk across the river to get a decent bite to eat, were anxiously waiting to be allowed to come in and see you for the first time. After 30 minutes they couldn't take it any more and came and knocked on the door, but I made them wait for another 30 seconds while your mom pulled her hospital gown back up. They were very excited to see you and begin snapping photos to send out to their friends and show off their newest grandchild. Next to show up was your other grandma, "Sheen" (a.k.a Noushin). She brought a dozen white roses and could not wait to hold you in her arms.
At was now time for you to go up to the nursery for some more serious checking out and cleaning. I took you up there with Noushin, and stayed with you until the nurse gave me the thumbs up that you looked healthy, except that your body temperature was not above 98 degrees yet (most likely due to the delivery nurse forgetting to turn the baby warmer on immediately). Since it was going to be a while before you would be ready to leave the nursery, I returned to your mother's side.
Next came the biggest surprise of all. Your aunt Shelley and cousin Caitlin walked through the door to a room full of dropped jaws and speechless people. It took everything I had to not completely lose it at the sight of them. I can only imagine how touched your mother was. They had decided the night before that they wanted to fly down from Chesapeake, Virginia to be here for the weekend of your birth. Given the recent loss of your Grandmother Pearl, there presence was the most thoughtful gift that your mother received. It was obvious to me, that Pearl's presence was on display in the bond that called Shelley to hop on a plane, regardless of price, and be there for your mother. I hope that we can raise you and your brother in such a way that you will both feel the need to be there for each other in times of joy and pain.
I had been telling my family that I wanted more of a TV birth story for you... to walk out into the waiting room, to a big crowd of people, and raise you into the air while a baboon sang the Circle of Life, but it turned out that Shelley, the one that usually plans every last detail, gave me everything that I needed by throwing out her planning and doing what she felt needed to be done. I was very, very touched by their actions, and I will cherish that moment for a long time.
After all the commotion calmed down, it was time for your mom to move into her recovery room. We packed up our stuff, headed upstairs, and waited for you to warm up enough to be cleaned so we could show you off to everyone.
Heather Arrowsmith came back to see you and saved your mom from the hospital food by bringing a ham & cheese croissant sandwich and a piece of cheesecake from European Street Cafe. Your mom described it as the best meal she had ever had.
From there you pretty much slept and ate for the rest of the day. You were a quiet baby and we were able to sleep a fair amount that first night. Our sleep might be partially attributed to us shipping you off to the nursery for 4 hours, but I prefer to think we slept so well because we knew that you were in this world, in our lives, and that you were healthy and perfect. It was a good day.
I love you very much,