“Who Does Dad Love?”

Putting Cam in bed is usually a job for Dad. It’s great fun, actually. Cam and I definitely “bond” at these regular meetings. We’ve come up with plenty of fun regular rituals: which blanket goes where, which book is read first, and so many more entertaining—and important!—routines that perhaps I’ll elaborate in a future post.

As we were wrapping up another fun bed time, I asked him, “Cam, who does Dad love?”

I expected a big smile and a jocund, “Caaaam!” but instead Cam’s first thought was, “Warrmart.”

Walmart?? 🙂

I asked, “Walmart?”

“Yeah… Warrmart.”

Pause. Gathering thoughts. “OK, but, who else does Dad love?” (It was hard to stifle my laughter at this point.)

“Mommmmm!” Cam offered with a smile.

“Yes! Who else does Dad love??” I was determined to get to the supposedly easy answer I initially sought. Apparently, Cam thinks I’m pretty good at loving lots of people!

And Warrmart.

“Adex,” was Cam’s next suggestion.

“Yep! And who else does Dad love???”

“CAM!” At this point both our faces lit up and we enjoyed a big “squeeze hug” and, actually, continued the game. 🙂 Cam came up a few more times, as did Mom, and then the rest of the kids.

Jen suggested that Walmart probably came up because it had been mentioned as part of the plans for the day, but that activity never materialized. The kids have $10 gift cards to spend at Walmart … from Christmas! Guess we should get to that some day…

So I may not love “Warrmart”, but I unabashedly love that beautiful little boy you see above: Cameron James Campbell!

Detective Dad

Sometimes as a Dad, you find yourself in the role of detective. The cases are often thrust upon you quite circumstantially. There may not necessarily be a victim, who comes to you asking for the mystery to be solved. Often, the clues lie before you and it’s up to you, Detective Dad, to solve the unexpected puzzle.

Today was such a day.

This time I found myself sorting through the various clues in reverse order. I had dismissed them previously, as just a normal part of the managed chaos of a home with a two- and a three-year-old. With such folk around it is not uncommon to find a toy here, a puzzle piece there, an article of clothing pretty much anywhere. Very easy to think nothing of such “clues”—missing the fact that they point to a great, unsolved mystery.

The final piece of the puzzle today was the sugar bowl spoon.

As I began to prepare some yerba mate this morning, I opened the sugar bowl to discover that the spoon was coated in sugar. This happens, of course, when the spoon has gotten wet and then is placed once again into the sugar bowl. Being quite fastidiously against this action, I knew instantly that my sugar had been “disturbed”.

A quick recall of (many) past events allowed me to quickly piece together the evidence and reach a(n easy) conclusion. Pieces of evidence like the cars discovered in the hallway… the sugar bowl on the floor, rather than in its proper place—which I had overlooked before, since on occasion in my haste I have left it there, not properly replaced to its comfortable home amongst my various beverage supplies. Everything was pointing convincingly to the obvious culprit.

You see, a while ago Cameron discovered that there was a quite readily available supply of the white stuff just a staircase away. And often, it was completely unguarded! What more could a two-year-old sweet tooth as for???

Now it seems he has gotten a little better at covering his tracks, though. Previously I would find the sugar bowl, lid off, sugary spoon on the carpet, surrounded by piles of white crystalline evidence everywhere. (Plus, stray crystals in and around the various mugs that surround its normal resting place.)

Once—and only once—I found the lidless bowl ON my comfy reading chair, much of the contents all over the cushion, the footsool, and the surrounding floor are.

As I said, that only happened once. 🙂

Another time, the sugar bowl evidence—coated with dampened sugar—hidden around the corner in a narrow storage alcove, well out of view of any who might stumble upon his enjoyment of the “forbidden” treasure.

He’s no dummy. And he sure loves his sugar!

So today, thankfully (I think?) there was only the mess of a wet spoon returned to my sugar bowl. Otherwise all is well. Not sure how much he ate, but the bowl is only half-full now … could he have eaten half?? Hopefully not, for his sake!

When I next speak to Cam, I’ll remind him again that this delight is off limits. Again. Not sure what effect it will have. I’ll just have to keep a vigilant eye towards all those small evidences of crimes against my beverage stand.

And for now… remember to lock the door. 😉

Imitation: The Highest Form of Flattery

Tonight at the dinner table, our youngest boy—who bears a good deal of physical resemblance to his Daddy—was particularly tuned in to my every move. He was watching (and mimicking) everything that I did. When I leaned forward onto my elbows to rest my head in my hands and wipe the tired of the recent past from my face, so did Cam. Whichever way I moved, just about any posture I assumed, Cam followed to near perfection.

It didn’t take me long to notice, and when I did, well, I was certainly heartened by his quite evident love for his me, his Dad.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, and I guess maybe “they” are right.

Paul also said that the people whom he introduced to Jesus should “imitate [him] as [he] imitate[s] Christ”. That thought came to my mind, and I hope that’s just as easy for them to see and to follow as my physical motions at the table.

The best part was when, once he knew that I knew he was imitating me—though for this moment, I had momentarily forgotten—I moved my dish aside, being done with my food. Moments later, Cameron moved his dish in front of me. Typically, when this happens it means he’s refusing to eat more (even though he probably still should). However, once I saw where he had placed it, it was exactly the same amount to his right as I had placed my dish! 🙂

Still makes my face and heart smile as I recall and type the story here. Such a sweet boy.

In truth, it happens quite often, the imitating. More than I’d like. Often I’m quite glad for it, and I hope that it continues. But other times it’s too revealing. It can be unpleasant to hear the way your tone returns to your ears through the mouth of your biggest 2-year-old fan. But, a mirror can also be your best friend. I am thankful for the mirror that my kids can be for me.

Firstborn son, Ian, is more like me than I admit at times. He is creative, talented, gregarious, frequently charming, and also stubborn, confident to the point of arrogance, and often unteachable. At times, I am like all of that, too—the good and the bad.

During a recent clash of our similar personalities, where I felt (maybe incorrectly) that I needed to press Ian on his apparently unteachable/rebellious position or attitude toward me at that moment, I asked, “Ian, what is going on? Why are you being like this right now? Why do you have no humility at all?” He quickly responded, “I really have a hard time being humble!”

Slightly taken aback by his astute observation and open admission, I paused, but only slightly.

Though there was only a slight moment in which Ian’s words were allowed to resonate, his sister, Kirsten—more than five years his younger—managed to slip in the kindest, and perhaps most profound words of encouragement recently spoken in our home.

“That was humble, Ian.”

The kindness and pure, caring heart revealed both by her choice of words and her delivery of them, as well as the depth of understanding of the concept of humility that was evidenced by her quick assessment is overwhelming to me. In the midst of what had been a very draining, tense, frustrating series of moments for me (and everyone else, I think) she spoke such words of life that I had to encourage her, “Kirstie, I think those were the wisest, kindest words I’ve heard spoken here today. Thank you.”

There is beauty in our brokenness. In the moments where we are weak we can be lifted up. Either by someone else who is somehow less weak for that moment, or by God himself whose grace makes us strong, even—especially?—when we are weak. Sometimes the truth of that is revealed in the words, from the heart, of a seven year old girl, or by the actions of a two year old boy.

I hope that I am mostly characterized by a love and grace—toward my kids (and wife) directly, as well as toward every person that I might interact with—that overflows from the Life I have in me in Jesus. I am not him, and I can not be perfect. I will choose poorly, I will fail. But even in my brokenness, I hope that my kids will get to follow my example as I follow Jesus. Even in the way that I handle the images I see in the mirror: be they glass, or flesh.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Perhaps children are the highest form of imitation.

This day, I am so thankful for the mirrors God has given me.

Bible references above are from 1 Corinthians 11, and 2 Corinthians 12.


There are days that it’s incredibly hard to see the good side. Where you’re so completely overwhelmed by the crushing weight of sadness, or failure, or just plain pain that you can’t see a way out of and seems it will never end.

For whatever reason, we’ve had more than our share of those around here lately.

But last night as I was putting the four youngest kids in bed, for some reason I decided to start (quite randomly) naming things that I was thankful for. “Thank you for Mom… and for (insert sibling name here)…” was how I began. Then I began just literally saying any word that came to mind. Some things I saw around their room, or then any related item or word. It quickly exploded into a fun game of who can think of the most random thing to be thankful for!

And the neat thing was, it worked.

The kids were not that excited to go to bed last night, but that little exercise lightened their hearts, and perhaps enlightened mine.

I found it was easy to rattle off all sorts of “good” things that we can be thankful for. Stars, trees, the sun, the moon, Grandmas & Grandpas, other friends we love, books, paper, paint, carpet, air conditioning, and so on. So I began intentionally thinking of “bad” things. (Or at least, weird things to be thankful for.)

“Thank you for toilets. For bottoms. For toilet paper.” Emma (our three-year old) picked right up on that, “Thank you for pee pee… AND poo poo!” And then I actually made myself say, “Thank you for HOT days.” (Reasoning in my mind that, though I loathe and detest the heat, I do love a good, juicy tomato … and they rather enjoy hot days.)

This seemed to work for all of the kiddos from the youngest (just about 2) who would grunt his approval with a little, “mmm hmm” after every word or phrase I’d say, to the room full of his three sisters all spitting out random words as fast as they were able to fit them in. It really was incredible!

It made me think of a book that Jen asked me to read, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Jen reads her blog, and so decided to purchase her book, and was challenged (in a good way) to try to change her perspective on life, as Ann has tried to do. It’s kind of a “glass half-full vs glass half-empty” idea, but a bit different. Her challenge was just to write down 1,000 things that you are thankful for. A few each day.

I think we may have hit about 400 last night alone! 🙂

There are so many things that we can be thankful for. It really just depends on your perspective. If you can come at life looking for goodness, you’ll often (usually) find it. If you’re expecting bad, you’ll usually end up there.

So maybe try it tonight. Putting kids to bed… after they are in bed… on your way home from work… just let you brain bounce from one thing to the next and speak it out, “Thank you for _____.” Not just things that God directly gave us, necessarily, but think about the things that are part of our everyday lives, and how they help us. We really do take much of life “for granted”, as they say. Doing so lifted my spirits last night, and four other tiny spirits.

Perhaps it can lift yours, tonight, too.

I’m Such A Baby

Tonight I was noticing just how much I am like our one- and two-year-old children. Now, for the most part I’ve learned to control my responses a bit more (not to mention my excellent potty-trained record) but watching them tonight—and in particular, the way I, their father, interacted with them—I realized just how much I am being the whiny, impatient, uninformed, short-sighted baby.

That’s exactly what you’d expect from a baby, right? The poor creatures can’t talk… they can’t do most things for themselves… they’re at our mercy! So, pretty often then are frustrated to the point of tears (along with kicking and screaming sometimes) and, well, that’s kinda how I felt tonight.

As I was bathing our 1-year-old son, he kept resisting me in various ways. He wanted to hold a toy a certain way at a certain time, but I need to bathe him and so he just had to wait for a bit till he could have it again. But, in his impatient short-sightedness … he cried. Then, once that was over, all was fine. Then while rinsing him off he was crying because the water was going over his face … but again, if he could just think of the bigger picture … he’d save himself the trouble of crying and all that fussing about his (very) temporary discomfort, since he’d be thinking of the great clean, warm, comfy feeling he was about to have in about 3-5 minutes.

After that, the same pattern ensued when we were drying off. He was cold, he was wet … and in the process of trying to fix that, he had cried as I dried him off and dressed him. Again, all was better in the end, but he didn’t like the “getting there” part. And then when we waited for his cup of milk to warm in the microwave—a routine he is quite familiar with—he only whimpered and complained about the wait. I want my milk now!!!

Aren’t we like that? I am. I was tonight. (Maybe am?) I reconciled our finances tonight and we are so far behind at the moment, and besides that we’re excitedly pursuing another opportunity it seems God is leading us toward … but it’s still out of our reach. And our bills are piling up, while income seems to only be trickling in. Ugh. All I can see is that I’m cold, wet, and there’s soap in my eyes. I’m missing the part where my Dad loves me, and he’s taking care of me.

There’s a lot to the idea of living in the moment. It’s important to be where you are, or you might miss it. But sometimes, I admit, just like my two babies … I am way too in the moment. I forget how God has been with us through everything along the way up till now, and I forget that he moves much slower than me. Just like Cameron wants me to get his milk ready in an instant … it doesn’t work that way! It takes time.

God moves like that. He sees the whole picture, and he’s working all things for our good. I do forget that sometimes…

I guess I can be such a baby.

By the way, the photo above is from the end of a photo shoot with all our kids (credit Lindsay Karl), and Cam was very done! We weren’t ramming his head into that tree branch or anything like that… 🙂

A Few Things I Love

Tonight I was noticing several things I love about our family, and I just wanted to write them down.

I love that our family reads. I mean really reads. We took our customary Monday walk to the library this afternoon (with MOM this time, since Grammy & Grandpa were here to stay home with the sleeping babies!) and each time we go to the library we can’t get less than a dozen books! (To be fair, there are MANY of us in this house…) And, when we get home, each kid finds a seat in the living room and begins devouring their new literary treasures. So great.

And then tonight, after giving the babies a bath, I asked Emma to pick out a book and read while I helped her older sisters get cleaned up themselves. I found her a very thick story book (with pictures) and once I showed her what a neat book it was she got very excited and ran to her bed to start reading it. Five or ten minutes later, she was still sitting on her bed, happily “reading” her book. She’s two!

All day long we are reading. Separately, together, doesn’t matter. And often we are telling one or more of the others something we’ve found interesting from one of those books. I love that our family reads.

I love that our family loves music. Tonight after the reading fun, we were finishing up getting ready for bed and I just decided to sing a couple songs with the girls. I didn’t think anyone was picking up on it, so I stopped after a verse of one song. A few moments after I was done, a tiny voice expectantly asked from her bed, “Sing more, Dad?” I looked over to see Emma, face and eyes beaming, slightly tilting her head… how could I say no? I sang another verse and she just giggled when I finished. She loved it!

So, I grabbed my guitar and we sang a few songs together in our extended bedtime routine. As soon as I grabbed my guitar, Emma found her little clay flute (from Argentina) and started playing that. Next thing I knew, she was out of her bed, standing in front of me waving her arms and dancing “ballet” with me. 🙂 She invited her sisters, and without much hesitation, the other two girls were doing the same!

We belted out the chorus, “How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God!” until it was really time to be done. I put the guitar down and hugged each girl good night. As Emma was waiting her turn she continued to belt out, “How greaaaaaat….. is Goooooooooood!” And of course, always with a giant smile on her face.

Just beautiful.

And, just a day or two ago, we decided it was time to enjoy some other people’s music. And to enjoy it loudly. (I think I have passed along a great love for very loud music to my children from their Grammy, whom I believe still enjoys feeling her music!) We were boogying to some Michael Jackson (from his album Off The Wall.) Even Cam, our now one-year-old little guy was smiling, laughing, and dancing!

I love that our family loves music.

I also really love that our family knows God. Really knows him. Not just about him, or the concept of God. But that they think of him as a person, as I have come to know him in my adult life. I mean no slight to my parents (I am especially thankful for them today, too, as we’ve gotten to spend the last two days with them) but I do not recall growing up knowing the reality of God in our everyday life. Where he is part of our everyday thoughts, and speech, and actions. Not just doing “God” things either—like going to church, reading the Bible, and praying—but that he’s just part of who we are; we, the Campbells. I hope that will be a great foundation for all of our kids to have full and rich lives lived with and through him.

It’s been fun to watch it developing already. My morning reading with the boys involves reading some scripture (varying amounts) and then talking about it as we go. I love hearing their reactions, and thoughts, and questions… and then just working through them together. Me not necessarily teaching… more facilitating, and learning just as much as they are as we go.

There’s more, but this is already getting long. No way I could present an exhaustive list here. Perhaps I’ll pick up this thread again later, but suffice it to say… I just plain love my family. 🙂

Grime’s Glen

Grime's Glen in Naples, NY

There’s a very neat little spot, hidden away in the town of Naples, NY, that we finally “discovered” last year, just before Cameron was born at the end of July. We had been told about it by a few people, but finally got to experience it for ourselves last mid-summer.

Yesterday, we “discovered” even more.

Last year, even though we knew there was a waterfall there, we were content to just splash around in the stream and explore a tiny bit from our point of entry. The stream flows over a rock bed with plenty of rocks of all sorts strewn throughout it. So there are tiny “waterfalls” everywhere for the kids to play in, even use as water slides. They love it!

So last year, we weren’t aware just how fun it was, and they had no change of clothes. They just got wet in what they were wearing. THIS year, we came prepared! The kids all had their bathing suits, ready to go. And, even though the water, flowing from the top of a mountain stream (well, OK, a … foot hill stream?) was much colder than they anticipated… they didn’t care! They were in there splashing around as soon as they could be!

This time we determined to find that waterfall! After splashing around a bit where we entered the stream, we began our trek. A trek that involved lots of stumbling on the smooth, wet rocks, as well as several fun discoveries along the way.

At one point, with so many tiny people struggling to continue, Mom was ready to give up, but we all encouraged her to press on. Finally, I (Dad) agreed and we left the youngest with Mom to play around in a big open spot of the stream while the oldest (um, and our two-year-old daughter) decided to push on to see how far that waterfall was.

It was very close!

Just around the bend, we saw it! Hooray!!! We called everyone else to push on and the scout party pushed ahead to confirm our discovery. Indeed we had finally found the big waterfall!

Grime's Glen - Naples, NY

Much fun ensued as the oldest began climbing as high and as much as they could! Everyone had fun getting wet in the falling water. Even Cameron! I brought him up to it and found a spot where there was a “tiny waterfall” he could play with. He got down on this knees and just started playing! Loved it!

We stayed there for a while, enjoying, and then headed back downstream to our van to head home. But no fun family celebration day is complete without ice cream! So, on our way home (well, about 10 miles out of the way… “on the way”) we stopped by an ice cream place we know of there and enjoyed lots of great homemade ice cream!

It was a super fun way to celebrate Cameron’s birthday, and the best part is, he thought so too! A one-year-old, loving treking through a mile or so of a stream up to a fairly large waterfall?! What a fun kid he is!

So, at Cam’s recommendation, you may want to check out Grime’s Glen on your next birthday, too!

Welcome, Cameron James Campbell

Cameron James Campbell

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.