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 third chapter looks at the birth of what many called our miracle baby. To start at the beginning of the story, click here.
Paige and I had spent three days at Florida Hospital-Orlando. She had endured 38 hours of labor before the call was made for a C-section.
Everything had gone smoothly until minutes before the move to the delivery room when J.P.’s heartbeat began to falter. Alarms went off, and the nurses and other hospital staff switched into high gear and got us to the procedure quickly.
I was situated at Paige’s side while the doctors, assistants and other hospital staff were at Paige’s lower body on the other side of a small curtain to keep things sterile. I could see over the curtain and hear the doctors asking for all those things you hear on TV, “Scalpel, sponge, etc.”
It’s not so much what I was hearing at that point as it was the tone of voice, and I was happy that everything seemed calm. The neonatal intensive care unit nurses were also there waiting for J.P. to be born.
I felt like Paige’s cheerleader and coach. I whispered positive thoughts to her and we prayed. It was an emotional time, and we had no idea what to expect in the coming minutes. We were both looking for some sign — someone or something that would tell us everything would be OK. We decided that we just wanted to hear J.P.’s voice and asked God for that.
It had been such a trying time: From the failed pregnancies, ultrasounds and diagnosis, to the push to terminate our baby’s life and the long labor — we were ready for a break.
That’s when it happened: The doctor announced our boy had been born, and the sound of J.P.’s cries emanated through the delivery room.
Tears instantly filled our eyes, and we knew it was an answered prayer. The doctor quickly passed J.P. off to a waiting nurse, and an APGAR score of nine was given. It was a joyous moment and something neither of us expected.
APGAR stand for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration. It’s the first thing done at any hospital birth, and the top score is 10, so nine is pretty incredible for a baby like J.P.
The NICU nurses took J.P. for a complete assessment, and the tears continued to flow.
Meanwhile, the waiting room in the hospital’s labor and delivery unit was packed with all the people who had been waiting for two days for J.P.’s birth. Members of MYAM who weren’t even in our home group were there with our family. I believe it was one of the hospital staff members who told me I needed to go update them on the news.
It was the happiest and proudest moment of my life to share what had just happened. I remember walking into the waiting room, and the room was silenced. They had no idea whether J.P. was even alive at that point. Every eye was trained on me waiting to learn his fate.
I don’t recall the exact words I used, but I believe it was something to the effect of it being a miracle, his APGAR score of nine and that a full assessment was underway in the NICU.
While smartphones weren’t around at the time, cellphones were, and everyone started making calls. Matt West quickly updated the J.P. Hotline, and JP.com was established on the website of another couple, Jason and Karin Dewey. Karin became the photographer of the night.
There were hugs, more tears, prayers and praise, and even more people began arriving at the hospital.
I returned to the delivery room to check on Paige and found our wonderful nurse there doing paperwork and saw that even she had been shedding tears of joy. She apologized, and I told her there was no need for that.
Paige was still there, and we smiled at each other. I asked where J.P. was and learned he had been moved to the newborn nursery with the healthy babies. I was simply amazed.
All the people in the waiting room who at first just wanted to know how Paige and J.P. were now wanted to see my wife and baby. The grandparents got the first chance followed by other family and our MYAM home group.
I think it hit me about this time that we really had not prepared for anything beyond that moment. I would need to learn how to care for this miracle baby, how to change diapers and how to feed him. Was I ready for that? We had nothing at home for him. I put it out of my mind and knew God would take care of it after getting us that far.
I headed to the nursery to see J.P. while Paige visited with her parents. I showed J.P. to my mother through the glass of the nursery and she smiled. Others from the waiting room came to see our boy through the glass and take pictures.
J.P. was then taken back to Paige and I in our hospital room. He was doing very well, and the epic labor process was catching up with us.
There was a bit of resentment I felt to those doctors on the other side of town who told us to terminate the pregnancy. I wanted to call them up at that point and tell them they got it wrong, and he had scored an APGAR of nine.
I thought about J.P.’s future, going to school, riding a bike, taking him on vacations, a cruise, showing him the world and teaching him to navigate his way through life. I looked forward to long conversations with him as he grew up and decided what kind of career he would want. Would he follow in my footsteps into broadcast journalism? Who knew.
It was definitely a night to remember, with so many tears of joy and elation at the incredible delivery.
It all reminded me of a card and gift I got shortly before J.P. was born.
“Little boy, to welcome you, the world is washed in shades of blue. Bluebirds, blue moon, blue stones and shells, blue wishing stars, blue fish, blue bells, the deep blue seas, the blue, blue sky. Little one, sweet son! Oh boy, Oh my!”
Paige and I were on top of the world, but a new day was about to dawn that would bring us back to the cruel thing we call reality.
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