July 30th has become a meaningful day in the Campbell household. It’s the day that Cameron James was born! At 7:59am he breathed his first breath. It was slightly labored, but… I’m getting ahead of myself.
Every baby born to us so far has come before the due date. Anywhere from three days all the way to a month early. (That was a special circumstance, of course.) Since that has been the track record, we were ready for baby probably about two weeks before the due date. About once and hour I would ask Jen, “Baby coming yet?” to which she would respond, “Nope, not yet.”
And that’s how it went, until early Thursday morning.
This past week I was on even higher alert as we were only a week away from the due date. Despite the heightened alert, I did eventually get tricked. There is always work to be done for my web business, and a decent amount was building up on Monday and Tuesday. So, with no sign of baby yet on Wednesday, I decided to do some late night work, knowing that I would soon not be able to get much office work done for a while.
I worked until about 2:30am or so, and was in bed just after 3:00am. Again, figured that was alright as Jen had repeatedly told me that there were no signs of baby coming. Unfortunately… I had grown a little too confident in her repetitive responses, and decided not to ask her the all-important question as I laid down in bed for a “good night’s rest”.
Turns out, Jen had likely been having some contractions since about midnight (though they were minor enough that she wasn’t thinking they were contractions). She seemed to be sleeping peacefully when I got in bed, so I thought nothing of it when she got up to go to the bathroom.
She thought differently, however.
It was right around 3am that Jen started to realize this was probably the real deal. She knew I had just gone to bed and wanted me to get some sleep, plus, she also wanted to go through a good deal of labor at home, so she headed downstairs to do some contracting. (Is that a word?) Of course, she didn’t want to just sit there having contractions with nothing else to do, so she pulled up some episodes of the Wheel of Fortune on our Tivo!
The contractions were not that close together—though Jen did report that they were intense—so she just let it continue, asking God to let her know when it was really time to go. She noticed that they would increase in frequency and strength whenever she moved, so she tried to lay still and get as much rest as possible.
This continued for a couple hours until it finally got closer together and more frequent. Jen figured this was her sign that it was time to get going, so she came to get me.
At 5:42am I awoke to Jen leaning over the bed saying, “I’m having the baby.” I was not privy to the events of the past two and a half hours, so, her matter-of-fact statement both caught me off guard and made me chuckle! Where was the excitement? Where was the understanding, “I know you just went to bed two and a half hours ago, but…” Nope! Just, “I’m having the baby.”
I tried to get my bearings, rolled over to see the time on the clock, and then looked back at my wife’s very serious face and said, “Alright! Let’s do it!” I asked her a couple relevant questions I think, but I knew she wouldn’t joke about such a thing…
Time for a brief aside…
Speaking of joking about such things…
Earlier that day (Well, technically it was the previous day. But at that point it felt like the same day to me!) our son Alex decided to play a practical joke on me. I was working in my office around lunch time (close to 1:30pm) when I got an IM from Mom’s computer simply saying, “mom’s having contractions.”
I was slightly startled, but since I was on heightened alert it did not surprise me too much. I began to wrap up what I was doing, contacted the clients whose projects I was working on and let them know that it would be delayed. I began going through the list of people to call, things to do… and began to get a tad excited as well.
I had an online meeting scheduled for 1:30pm (a meeting that had actually be rescheduled a couple times already) so with only a few minutes to spare I sent off a communication letting him know what was going on. Finally, I wrapped everything up (including a couple messages to friends saying, “Looks like we’re headed to the hospital!”) and was downstairs just about 10 minutes later.
When I came downstairs, Mom was not on the couch—where I expected to perhaps find her—she was at the dinner table, having lunch with the kids. I was perplexed, but quickly surmised that my prankster 7-year-old had been fibbing to me.
“So, you’re not having contractions?” I asked.
“No! I just saw that he wrote that! He was just supposed to ask if you were going to have lunch with us!” Alex had a sheepish grin on his face that turned a bit more concerned as he saw my demeanor changing from slightly frustrated to visibly disturbed.
“Alex, I had a meeting that I just canceled because of your ‘joke’ … and now I have to go tell a lot of people that I was ‘just kidding’. I hope I can still do the meeting!” I was not happy, and told him so.
It turned out fine. The meeting still happened, and my other client got a chuckle out of the whole thing. Perhaps it was a tad early, but, our friends were also praying for Jen and a safe delivery. They were just 18 hours early or so.
End tangential anecdote…
Things Were Moving Fast!
I managed to get myself up and into the shower where I began going through my mental lists of all that needed to be done before we headed to the hospital. (Mind you, it’s not quite six in the morning, and I was working on, well, mostly adrenaline and under three hours of sleep.) But, adrenaline is a good thing and I got through most of the lists before I was done getting cleaned up and quickly set about them once I was dressed.
The first priority was to make sure the kids were taken care of. Our neighbors had already said to call them without hesitation any time of day or night. The bonus was, they are super morning people, so I knew even though it was just six o’clock in the morning, they’d be up.
What I did not take into account was that 6am might have been the worst time for them.
When I called, the dad of the house answered and sounded like he wasn’t quite sure how it would work out, since he had to leave for work. (I figured they would have considered the possibility of this timing…) After talking it through he said he’d have his wife call me back to figure out what to do, but he was fairly certain I’d need to get a replacement for when he had to go to work in about an hour or so. (That was about 7:15am!)
This was not good… but we did have a backup plan or two.
I called backup plan number one. Another friend had very recently said that if we needed anything, especially any help with the kids when we head the hospital, just let her know. Well… it seemed that we did! So, I found her phone number (which was strangely difficult to find) and then realized that I actually had to call her husband since her phone is currently at the bottom of a lake. (Long story…)
I found his number after more searching and dialed it… no answer. I figured they knew our circumstance and wouldn’t mind a second call at 6:00am. STILL no answer! So, I left a message, just asking her to check in and make sure everything was taken care of. But, now I was really stuck and racking my brain for the best Plan C!
The people who had offered to help with such things were far away. That was not the best option, I didn’t think, so I went next door to our neighbor’s house. (They are super morning people, too, so I knew they’d be up and at ’em. And, they were. I explained the situation to them and we settled on their 13-year-old son being a back up backup option in case our Plan A friends needed to leave when the dad went to work.
After getting a reasonable plan in place for our still-sleeping children, I called the hospital and we explained the situation to them. They responsibly made sure that we were actually needing to come in, and after verifying that we knew what we were talking about, we were set to go!
I called Jen’s parents who like to be at the hospital for the birth (but live and hour and a half away) and then I called my parents (who live 8 or 9 hours away) to get them in on the action as well. Our Plan A neighbor arrived to stay with the kids so we loaded up the suitcase and the technology—like the laptop I am typing this story on—and headed off to the hospital.
The contractions had continued through all of this, and though it was more running around that I had hoped for, we were on our way at 6:44am. As we drove I monitored the length and frequency of Jen’s contractions… they were scary on both counts. Four minutes apart, lasting a minute or more. That’s… not good.
I decided that I would push the speed limit a bit more than normal on this trip. I hadn’t done that on any previous delivery-day jaunts to the hospital, but this one seemed a tad different. The trip is most of half an hour long, so, not that close! Thankfully, traffic, traffic lights and traffic cops all played along for the speedy journey.
T-Minus 45 Minutes
We arrived at the hospital just after seven, and—following another contraction—were getting out to head in and have a baby! But again, this time was different.
Jen was in obvious pain (much more than normal arrival-time pain) so I said, “Do you want me to get a wheel chair??” She said that would be great, so I quickly hurried inside to find a wheel chair. I found them right away and brought one out to her. (I picked one with a little flag proudly flying from it. Seemed more fun.) I pulled it up next to the passenger door of our van and asked Jen if she needed help getting in. What I didn’t immediately notice was, she was still having a (pretty intense) contraction! It started when we first got there!
When it finally subsided (maybe 4 minutes long or so?) she managed to get to the wheel chair and I began quickly rolling her to the quite familiar birthing center. I knew where to go, but they had just changed a security policy so, in due diligence, I checked with an information person to see if I had “clearance” to proceed. She said I did, so off we went.
The new security process requires that all visitors obtain a pass from the front desk. The front desk was not manned (or even womanned) at the hour at which we arrived, so that would not have been possible. The reason you need a pass though is that no one can enter the birthing center wing without one. No one.
That would have been really very bad, except, as “luck” would have it, a nurse was leaving right as we were coming in, and being apparently very astute, she was able to see that we clearly needed to be beyond that door, so she let us in! 🙂
(It turns out that there is a “buzzer” button there, so we could have pushed that to get in, but we didn’t know that at the time, so… we were glad for the fortunate timing!!)
I whisked Jen back to the nurses’ station and was grateful that they were ready for us. We quickly explained all that had led up to that moment and the nurses agreed that speedy work would be our best choice.
In previous visits to the Birthing Center, we had time to sign in, leisurely get Jen into hospital patient attire, and even take a stroll or two around the hallways of the center. Not this time! Jen quickly got into her baby birthing clothes and got on the bed, still in pretty intense pain. Usually there are many tests performed, equipment attached, and all sorts of things casually leading up to the “big moment”, but at this point it seemed we may just want to skip to the end of the book!
When the doctor arrived shortly after we did, she agreed that it was most likely “time” and her examination confirmed that. So they happily told Jen, “Whenever you’re ready!”
And Jen happily complied!
After much rushing around by nurses and doctor (to get all the stuff done that they needed to do before baby came) a nurse from the blood lab showed up wanting to take Jen’s blood, which is again, normal procedure.
When I looked from the nurse who was just doing her job down to my wife who was tightly gripping the bed posts with both hands, and shaking from the hard work she was doing—and who had just finished another minute-long contraction, I assumed that the new-to-the-scene nurse would (correctly) assess that now was not the time to draw blood. Especially from Jen. She couldn’t have known that part, but Jen is perhaps the hardest patient from whom to draw blood. No one can do it right the first time. Well, except one guy ever. So it takes a good 10-15 minutes, and lots of pokes, lots of pain, and … well, THAT was NOT what she needed right then!
I asked our doctor to help me out on this one when the new nurse would not accept my assessment that blood work should not be done now, “Doctor, don’t you think now might be a bad time for this?” The doctor called off the “blood hounds” and Jen was able to proceed with her main, arduous task at hand: deliver that baby!
She was really ready, so the rest went very, very fast. She began the “pushing” stage, and we began to see signs of the baby! Amazing!!! It had never been even CLOSE to this fast! Jen was having some pretty severe pain in her back, so I applied counter pressure to her lower back, which seemed to help, and she applied pressure to the baby!
It worked! After only seven minutes of pushing, out popped a very hairy baby head! A very hairy, very LARGE baby head!!! No joke, when I first saw the complete head I was shocked, and I believe literally said, “Whoa!” My next thought almost immediately was, “Oh my… is our baby deformed? Does he have a gargantuan head on a normal to tiny body??” Our doctor also made a comment about the enormity of this child’s noggin, and we all kept encouraging Jen to get the rest of the baby out!
A few more quick pushes and he popped out! I was relieved to see his body proportions matched his giant head, but quickly turned my focus to the color of our monster baby’s skin.
Breathe Baby, Breathe!
The jubilant announcement, “It’s a boy!” definitely took a back seat to the question of whether he survived the birthing process.
I’ve seen six babies birthed now, and none of them were as purple/blue as our son Cameron. The baby had a good, steady heartbeat just before his head popped out, so I was confident all would be fine, but as the doctor rubbed his back a little and placed the floppy, seemingly lifeless purple baby on Jen’s belly I began to get concerned. “Cry, little guy… CRY!” I thought to myself. It was likely only a few seconds, but it was starting to feel way too long. They were moving his body a bit, but he was not.
To my great relief, maybe 4 or 5 seconds after they placed him on Mom’s belly, he just let out a little cry and started to act like a normal baby is supposed to. Then he really started letting it out! As I was letting out a sigh of relief, the doctor handed me a pair of scissors and I got to cut the umbilical cord of my third son. Fun!
I mentioned at the beginning of this story that his breathing was labored. It was. Even more than the purple beginning to his life. Cameron came out so quickly that he wasn’t “properly squeezed” and had a bunch of mucous still in his lungs. This caused him to breath super fast, super shallow breaths. The nurse—our friend, and assistant to perhaps four of our children’s births—worked skillfully and diligently to help our little boy breathe, which helped me to breathe a little easier, too.
What’s His Name?
Now that all was under control, the question of what our little boy would be called was of course raised. The trouble was, we really didn’t know! Jen was in no condition to discuss it on the way to the hospital, and I wasn’t sure she was afterward (though she really did get through a tough but quick labor with more energy and less tiredness than usual!) … so I confessed that we really did not know. We knew the first name, but were unsettled on the middle name.
We chose Cameron simply because we liked it. We were looking through name books a long while ago, I think before our daughter Kirstie was born, and just liked the name Cameron. We thought it was funny that Cameron means “Crooked Nose” and our surname, Campbell, means “Crooked Mouth”. We joked that perhaps he would be an NHL hockey player some day!
The middle name was more of a challenge only because the name that I liked had some “baggage” with it for Jen. We looked at four or five options, and whittled it down to two real candidates, but really couldn’t pull the trigger because Jen had a history with the name “James”.
James is the name of both of my grandpas, three of my uncles, one of my cousins. Jimmie is the name of my father-in-law and brother-in-law. (James is also the middle name of our nephew on Jen’s side of the family.) The problem is that “Jimmie” is the Walker family name, and most definitely NOT “James!” Jen grew up hearing the emphasis put on this and so has always had a slight aversion to the name James.
But as I stared at our new boy and “tried out” the possible middle names on him, not only did I like the sound of our “top choice” but it just seemed cool and appropriate to honor all of the family members who also bore it.
So was named our most recent son, Cameron James Campbell.
In case you missed it… Cameron weighed in at a stunning 9lbs 8oz! Our previous high was 8lbs 6oz!! Crazy! He is 22″ long (also kinda big) and was born at 7:59am on July 30, 2009. He’s awesome, and I hope you get to meet him some day!
I know I’m glad that I have. And can’t wait to get to know him more.