This entry is several weeks late. I can blame Twitter and Facebook for that delay, right? OK.
On December 9th, 2009 at 9:09pm, my dear son Jack Edward Lewis came into the world. Some of the official paperwork says 9:10pm, but I was watching the clock. Also, 9:10pm has one less “9” in it. C’mon.
We took his first name from his great-grandfather Jack Hastings, who passed away in the Spring of 2009 and is greatly missed. Grandpa’s first name was actually John, but everyone called him Jack. (The fact that C.S. Lewis’s nickname was “Jack” is a coincidence. We like C.S. Lewis, but maybe not that much.)
Jack Edward’s middle name is from my dearest friend Eddie Oroyan, whose passion for Christ and totally unbridled energy through creativity are an inspiration to me. I am lucky to call him my friend.
I’d like to tell you a bit about Jack’s labor story, and also about his personality, now that we’ve had the chance to get to know him a little.
Our labor story starts late at night on December 7th. I didn’t tweet about this at the time. (See? You guys don’t just get all the same information later and longer than Twitter. This is new stuff.) Steph began having very regular contractions 5 or 6 minutes apart, and we did the classic drive-85-down-the-highway rush to the hospital at 10pm. But the contractions slowed down and stopped after about an hour, so by 2:30am on the 8th, we were sent back home. No baby.
Early on the 9th, Steph started having more contractions and pains of other sorts, and we thought it would be wise to go in again, so we did. The doctors decided that because Steph was already dilated to 5 or 6 centimeters (!) she was already technically in labor, and since we were in the midst of a blizzard, they would rather start a pitocin drip and get the boy out than send us home. So that’s what we did. And there was much rejoicing.
The pitocin started at 2pm, and things were actually quite calm and pleasant until around 7pm. We watched most of Live Free or Die Hard, which happened to be on TV at the moment. We chatted casually on the phone with family. At around 8:30pm, labor became intensely painful for Steph, for about 25 minutes. Half way through that time, one of the less-experienced delivery nurses made the silly mistake of thinking she would encourage Steph by saying, “Oh, don’t worry sweetie, we think we can have him out by 11 ‘o clock!” Meanwhile, Steph was thinking she could handle 10 or 15 more minutes of that kind of pain before losing it. Note to nurses: when you’re making crazy, baseless guesses within earshot of your patient, make them encouraging guesses, or don’t make them at all.
At about 9pm, everything calmed down, the pain dropped significantly, and Steph knew it was time for Jack to enter our world. I remember the doctor who was to deliver Jack getting to our room only moments before delivery, frantically stretching her blue nitrile gloves over her fingers while the nurses scurried around the bed. She was the voice of calm wisdom Steph needed at the end of the bed, and she performed perfectly. Jack arrived without issue, almost easily. Steph described it later as “peaceful,” which is mind-blowing if you consider what was actually happening.
During the last few minutes of birth, I had my iPhone start recording audio, and I set it on a table beside the birthing bed. I’ve trimmed the recording a bit for time, and Steph has very graciously given me permission to share this audio with you. These are the actual moments leading up to Jack’s birth, and you’ll hear his very first cry here. I like to think of this as a little gift of a magical moment that we can share with friends and readers.
I want to describe Jack’s personality and my and Steph’s experience of Jack to you, but I’ve found it’s difficult to describe a person without describing them in relative terms. So I hope you’ll forgive me if, at least in this entry, I describe Jack as a series of contrasts with Caleb.
Steph’s recovery from Jack’s birth was extremely easy compared to her recovery from Caleb’s birth. After Caleb’s birth, we were in the hospital for 5 days, the first two of which Steph was a little incoherent and extremely physically weakened due to a magnesium sulfate IV. (You do not want to have magnesium sulfate running through your veins unless the other option is likely death.) Steph was hooked up to cables and wires and tubes for several days, and she required constant supervision. It was honestly scary, and we were without family, living in California. With Jack, Steph’s minimal IVs were removed almost immediately after birth, and she was able to get up, walk around, talk to people, whatever. Pretty simple! We used to think nice births were the exception and Caleb’s was more normal. It turns out Caleb’s was a rare exception, and many births are as simple as Jack’s was. Whadda ya know!
That parallel continues in their early personalities, too. Caleb was a screamer, and an incredibly loud one at that. Jack, on the other hand, is really quiet. He cries a little, but not loudly. He quiets down quickly when you give him what he needs. He is generally very calm. We haven’t gotten him to smile very often yet, but I’m sure that will change.
There is just one funny little way in which Jack’s noise exceeds that of Caleb. When Jack is asleep, he often has little bouts of all kinds of noise. He’ll grunt and squeak and strain, perhaps even cry a little. But he doesn’t wake up during the whole thing. Well, heck, we’ve already gone crazy with audio in this entry. What’s a little more going to hurt? OK. Here.
We hear sounds like this throughout the night. Thankfully, it’s become less frequent as he has gained a few weeks of age, but he’s not a silent sleeper by any means. Sometimes, as I lay there in the dark, I imagine him with a tiny weight set, benching iron the size of a drinking straw piercing bagel halves, doing reps in the quiet of the morning. Feel the burn, little one!
The passage from the Bible we chose for Jack’s “life verse” is Jeremiah 17:5-8. It reads like this in the ESV:
Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
Jack, in your life there will be many things competing for your ultimate trust and reliance. For the affections of your heart. You could choose to trust yourself. You could trust money. You could put your trust in other people. But you’ll notice the Bible doesn’t say “if heat comes,” it says “when heat comes.” It’s a guarantee. But there’s another guarantee to match it. Drink deeply of the Water of Life. His streams will never run out, and you will prosper from root to fruit. Trust Him!