Dad’s note: In honor of J.P.’s 12th birthday, I’m writing “The J.P. Story,” which looks back at our journey through birth and now approaching teen-hood. I hope you enjoy. The second chapter looks at life before the trip to the delivery room. To read the first chapter, click here.
I admit the trip to the hospital on Aug. 28 was met with more trepidation than excitement.
Paige and I both had seen over the course of our pregnancy that J.P. was doing just fine in the womb, but what would happen when he had to live on his own?
We packed our bags and loaded up the car knowing J.P. might not ever come home. There was no nursery, no infant car seat, no baby shower and no baby clothes — except one outfit in case there was a need for burial.
Everything was in God’s hands, and we were simply following instructions.
So far, the doctors had told us J.P. had holoprosencephaly, but even that has degrees of severity. Some kids can have the brain malformation and still walk and talk. Others are mentally and physically handicapped. Some require oxygen to survive and others die at or before birth.
We had decided this was in God’s hands, and we were waiting to see what God had in store for our son.
But we weren’t the only ones who were anxious to see what was going to happen. Our parents and siblings were also there for us, as well as our home group through Married Young Adult Ministry at Northland Church in Longwood.
They were doing everything they could and more to be there to provide whatever support was needed during and after the birth.
Remember: The Internet was still in its infancy in 2002, and the leaders of our home group, Matt and Kelly West, had decided to begin the J.P. Hotline to provide updates while we were hospitalized.
Word of our challenging pregnancy had spread through the megachurch and many were calling to find out how J.P., Paige and I were doing. God was providing ample support for us through the birthing process.
When we arrived at the hospital Wednesday night, we were quickly shown to our room in the second-floor labor-and-delivery unit and told our nurse the story of the pregnancy. She was moved and surprised by the number of people who had accompanied us that night.
In my mind, I was thinking that we would have a little boy sometime in the early-morning hours and know what God’s plans were soon. That was a foolish assumption.
I wasn’t the only one thinking that. The J.P. Hotline was getting lots of calls, but Matt had little to tell people — just that we were waiting.
Paige had her IV established, J.P.’s heart rate was fine, but the labor process was going nowhere fast.
The nurse who checked us in had to leave, and we had a new nurse. I remember her saying something like she couldn’t wait to see the baby when she came back the next night, so when she came back the next night and we were still in the same place, she was a bit shocked.
The calls kept coming to the J.P. Hotline, and Matt faithfully kept answering them, and we began asking for prayers to move the process along.
A group of members from our home group even began meeting in the chapel for fervent prayer. However, there was still that bit of Paige and I that felt we were in no hurry to come to the crossroads and have to deal with the implications when J.P. entered the real world.
Things began to change on Friday, and not in a good way.
Our neonatologist, Dr. Franklin Christensen, was growing concerned about Paige and her stamina to deliver J.P. by conventional means. She was pretty wiped out after more than 30 hours of labor.
Christensen decided it was time for a C-section, and as the procedure was being planned, our nurse — the wonderful one from our first night — saw J.P.’s heart rate began to drop and things from there moved in a flash.
The J.P. Hotline was quickly updated by Matt, and the waiting room began filling up with family and MYAM members. I can say with certainty that God was being flooded with prayers for a successful delivery.
I gowned up and headed to the procedure to comfort Paige. I told her I loved her no matter what happened and held her hand as the C-section was performed. Nurses from the neonatal intensive care unit were present to take J.P. as soon as he was born.
The incision was made, and again, something happened that nobody in that room could have imagined.
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