Two days late, my much-anticipated son still managed to surprise us with his arrival.
Even more discouraging was the growing likelihood that I was going to have to go in to work on Monday. I think even my coworkers were getting tired of seeing me again and again, after hinting every day at 5 p.m. that they probably wouldn't.
Still, a Sunday it was, and a sunny and breezy summer Sunday at that, so we made sure to make the most of the end of our weekend.
Jen, Katie and I hooked up with Jen's mother right away, hanging out for a couple of hours in her room at the Hale Koa Hotel. Katie showed off the new puzzle her Nana had gotten the day before, we introduced Nana to the oddity that is "Spongebob Squarepants," and we all relaxed out on the balcony, people- and plane-watching.
The lot of us then headed out to Ala Moana Shopping Center, and I explained to Nana that as far as Katie was concerned the mall exists solely to house the three or so small koi ponds that she insists on visiting at least once a week. So, we saw the fish, which Katie helpfully (but not consistently) named. While there, Jen also got her glasses tuned up for free at Lenscrafters, and we all took a short tour of Jen's former place of employment.
When we were leaving Ala Moana, we caught a most unusual sight: a crew unloading giant Japan Airlines crates outside Shirokiya. Instead of being filled with Japanese stoneware or fancy TVs and appliances, though, these crates were filled with snow.
We know it was snow and not just ice because one of the guys was giving out handfuls of the stuff to every kid in sight, including Katie, explaining that fact.
So, there it was. For some mysterious reason, someone had arranged to ship a ton of snow from Japan. It was clearly a complicated procedure, and we just happened to witness its last stages. They stacked, then unwrapped, the refrigerator-sized, snugly packed blocks of snow perhaps ten feet high on a wide, wheeled platform. Then, while a team of about eight people started chipping at it, the whole thing was wheeled into the store. I can only guess that Shirokiya would soon be the home of a snow sculpture of some kind.
"That was snow," Nana explained to Katie. "I don't suppose you've seen that before."
"Hey, I still haven't seen snow," I said.
Next stop, Aloha Tower Marketplace. Jen was experiencing unusually strong contractions, so we went ahead and indulged in their valet parking. We then wandered aimlessly, Nana picking up a few cheap T-shirts and some plumeria perfume, and admiring the Norwegian Cruise Lines ship docked nearby. By Jen's estimates, the vessel was about the size of the new hotel tower at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, just turned on its side.
We ate lunch at Gordon Biersch, of course requesting a table near the water. All three grown-ups had their barbeque pulled-pork sandwich and garlic fries, while Katie had a giant cheese pizza. We took our time, enjoying the conversation and the much-appreciated afternoon tradewinds.
We also talked a lot about Honolulu neighborhoods, transportation, rents, and general living costs.
Jen's mom and dad mentioned a few weeks back that they were considering relocating to Hawaii. Although one wouldn't need much reason besides Hawaii itself, they had the added incentive of being closer to Jen, as well as Jen's brother Mike, who by sheer luck of the draw is going to be stationed here with the Navy in December. By then there would be four grandchildren living in these islands, shifting the family's center of gravity far west. And while Jen's parents love living just off the shore at Daytona Beach, living in Hawaii has been a lifelong dream.
Of course they know there are advantages and disadvantages, and we talked about them at length. Truth be told, the chances of Jen's parents being able to move out here (also in December when their condo lease is up) are about one in ten. But, since Mike's chances of getting his last-ditch attempt to be stationed here were far slimmer, we figured we might as well be prepared.
After lunch, we returned to the Hale Koa, where Jen, Katie and I napped while Nana read and smoked on the balcony. Mere seconds after Katie woke up, though, she was asking to go to the hotel pool a place she had visited literally every single day since Nana arrived.
So, we all went down to the kiddie pool, where Katie frolicked for nearly two hours. Since the main hotel pool was closed ("there was an accident earlier today" is all they'd say), the place was packed with kids of all sizes. Even with all the splashing and jumping and kicking, though, Katie held her own. She did a fair amount of splashing and jumping herself, sometimes to the chagrin of her very cautious (and not very mobile) mother.
Soon, it was time to head off to our last Sunday engagement: an unexpected and most appreciated dinner with dad and Gayle at their house in Aina Haina.
It was a last-minute thing, but of course dad and Gayle still put together a wonderful evening. (Gayle, who spent most of the day showing a cottage she was trying to rent out, especially deserved a break.) The sky was clear and the breeze was light, so we all hung out in the backyard, listening to the waves and watching the sun set. Family friends Uncle Guy and Aunty Michele joined us for dinner as well. Dad grilled an assortment of meats, including thick garlic teriyaki ribs. There was lomi salmon, grilled eggplant, watermelon an eclectic yet somehow perfect array of food.
We talked about dad and Gayle's recent vacation in Japan, Nana and Papa's prospects in Hawaii, and the ongoing debate about our son's name. We only succeeded in eliminating Keiran from the slate of possibilities, though, and reaffirmed our plan to wait until we saw him in the flesh before deciding.
"Eat up, Jen," dad said at one point. "For all you know, this could be the last real meal you have in a while."
"Don't even get me started I've given up hoping," I said.
Jen sighed, "This is never going to end!"
Contractions started again as we were leaving. We started timing them again seven minutes, more or less and they continued as we dropped Jen's mom off at the hotel and returned home.
Jen was saying they were more painful than usual. And they stuck around, for once, for nearly two hours. At about 10:40 p.m., I called my mom in Mililani, and told her, "We're at yellow alert. Stay tuned."
Less than ten minutes later, after a call to the on-call obstetrician, we were on our wait to the hospital.
We were honestly dreading being sent home once again. But this time, for whatever reason, they accepted that we were there for the long haul. Perhaps the monitors somehow told them Jen was in real labor. Perhaps the fact that the baby was overdue meant they had to just admit Jen by default. Or perhaps her groans of pain were finally convincing enough.
Mom got there in record time, and we finally had to tackle the question that we were hesitate to answer in advance: where would Katie spend the night.
The original plan was for Katie to go home with my mom. Of course, the original plan also called for a baby to be born already. With Jen's mom in town, Jen presumed that meant Katie would go with her instead. In the end, I decided that minimizing Katie's stress was the top priority, and Katie went home with my mom not to Mililani, but in my van to our apartment a block away, where she could get to sleep earlier in comfortable and familiar surroundings.
I returned to Jen's side, and helped her as best I could to breathe through her contractions. To her great disappointment, though, the nurses said she was still less than 4 centimeters dilated. Before the show could really get started, she would have to walk around for an hour or so to move things along.
So, we walked. From 11:45 to 12:45 p.m., we saw all of the second and third floors of the hospital, and part of the fourth. We spent most of our time on the second floor, though, where the newborn nursery was, and paused often to admire the babies inside. Every half lap or so, Jen would have to shuffle over to the railings along the wall to endure another contraction.
When we got back to triage, there were signs that Jen's water had broken. They put her on an IV, and also, finally, gave Jen some mild painkillers to "take the edge off," allowing us to wait the additional hour or so the hospital needed to ready a birth room for us. (It was, in the words of many staffers we saw, a "crazy night.") Finally, at about 2:15 a.m., Jen was wheeled into room 415 of the Kapiolani BirthCenter (Katie was born in 401), which was where the remainder of our adventure was to take place.
It was there we met Candy, our attending RN, a very warm and chatty woman who made an immediately positive impression. And Jen remarked early on that she looked a little like Angelina Jolie, to which she replied, "You've just made a friend for life!" I suppose we were just making small talk to pass the time, but it didn't feel like it. She soon knew every basic detail of our lives, and we learned a lot about her. She was a University of Washington grad, now on the job for a little over three months. Her husband was a pharmacist at a local drug store, and they both worked the night shift. After Jen turned on the TV, she said she wanted to commission a study on what women in labor liked to watch, since she thought easily 80 percent immediately tuned to the TV Food Network (like Jen did). "But you can't eat," Candy said. "Isn't that just torturing yourself?"
When Jen reluctantly made the decision to request an epidural, we were then introduced to Dr. Chow, described by Candy as "a very interesting man." And, like many anesthesioligists, he was definitely a character. As soon as Candy told us he was into trivia, he and Jen went nuts with the brainteasers, strange facts, and random off-center jokes most revolving around President Clinton's extra-curricular activities while in office. At one point he asked a question about the Ten Commandments to which Jen replied correctly. "That's the first time in fifteen years anyone has gotten that one right," the doctor said.
After Dr. Chow did his magic, Jen was in a much better place. She could feel pressure, but little pain, and from that point she could realy enjoy the company and conversation. Dr. Chow even stuck around a while after his work was finished to shoot the breeze.
Jen's obstetrician, Dr. Simon Chang, arrived a little after 4 a.m. Sometime soon after, things started happening.
Jen developed a slight fever. There was talk of antibiotics, but the doctor decided against them. At first they just urged Jen to drink and sleep. Then, as it became clear her rising temperature was causing the baby's pulse to accelerate, they gave her an oxygen mask and some pitocin via her IV to speed things up.
By then we'd become fixated on the baby's heartbeat as reported by the external monitors, and as a result we noticed another change: every time Jen had a contraction, his heartbeat otherwise a high 180 or so would suddenly slow, sometimes below 100, a couple of times as low as 70.
I'll never forget that sound, that slowing rhythm. It made my hairs stand on end. It made Jen give me a frightened look that made me feel small and helpless.
Of course, the doctors and nurses noticed too, both in our birthing room and at the central monitoring station. Soon, a pulse monitor was put directly on the baby's scalp, and a contraction monitor was also placed internally. They made Jen shift her position a couple of times, but that only helped for a little while. Watching the baby's heart rate charted on the long strips of paper, we'd see the dips only get shallow for a while, before returning to sharp, V-shaped dips.
Dr. Chang disappeared for five minutes. Then he came back.
Then everything happened at once. I'm not even sure I can remember it all.
The doctor explained that the slowing heartbeat was a concern perhaps something serious, perhaps not, but something they hadn't yet been able to stabilize. He also explained that Jen was still maybe five centimeters dilated, meaning perhaps another four or five hours of labor probably remained before we'd even get to serious pushing.
"Baby's not liking labor very much," Dr. Chang said. "I'm not sure if its extra pressure on his head, or a pinched cord, but it seems too risky to me to just see what happens. I would like to perform a C-section."
It seemed at that moment, there was suddenly twenty people in the room, all doing something terribly important.
"Oh no," Jen said, suddenly crushed. I grabbed her hand. She started crying. But we both agreed to take the doctor's advice. Something just didn't feel right about the way things were going so far.
Jen, it turns out, was most upset by the fact that a C-section generally meant all future births would have to be by C-section as well. Both the doctor and the nurses were quite relieved to reassure her that "regular births" following a C-section were not uncommon. Especially in cases like ours, where the C-section was not because of an inability to push, or something structural.
I was handed a gown, some booties and a hair cap, and was instructed to put it on immediately. Meanwhile, Jen was given more substantial anesthesia while her bed was unplugged from the wall. Then, just like that, she was wheeled out the door surrounded by people blue scrubs, and I shuffled alongside, holding her head and whispering all the confidence and encouragement I could muster.
She was shaking like a leaf, a reaction to the anesthesia. Through clenched teeth she said, "I'm scared."
"I am too," I confessed.
Like a climactic scene in the movies, Jen and the army of medical personnel suddenly turned a corner, but I was directed down another hall. "Wait here," I was told. So I did.
At first, part of me was having an out-of-body moment, watching everything from a distance, seeing it mostly as an interesting exercise. A new experience. Here I was in some kind of paper space suit, waiting outside a pair of big doors, looking dorky and confused as other people walked by, oblivious to my presence. I realized that Jen had only been in labor for maybe ten hours, none of it "hard labor," versus the 22 hour ordeal she faced with Katie.
Just as I was feeling relieved by that fact, though, another set of thoughts crept in.
I remembered that C-sections definitely qualified as major surgery. I realized the sudden explosion of activity following the decision to perform a C-section sure carried the weight of a medical emergency. I realized that I never said goodbye to Jen or told her I loved her before we were separated, and that she might be unconscious before I was allowed to join her. Then I wondered if I was ever going to be taken into the O.R. I wondered if perhaps they were just messing with me. I wondered if something was terribly wrong, if we might lose our son. Or if I might lose Jen.
I felt faint. I half sat, half fell into an hard plastic chair. I fumbled for my phone and called my mom.
"Hi," she said, happy and excited. "Is he here yet?"
It took me a while to find the words. "Not yet. They're going to have to do a C-section."
She said she was on her way. My mind was still racing. I called Jen's mom next. Words of assurance and calm came almost magically out of my mouth. I found myself almost convinced, and hoping I was right.
"Okay, come on in," came a booming, but friendly, voice. "Don't forget your camera!"
He certainly didn't sound worried. I blinked. Then scrambled.
I got into the O.R. and saw even more people had gotten involved. I think I was even introduced to a pair of freshly scrubed, bright-faced medical students who were there observing, but I suspect I failed to even acknowledge their presence. I was focused on Jen, her head the only part of her I had any access to.
"It feels weird," she said. Either the drugs were really working, or the medical team did a good job of easing her fears.
"Just a lot of tugging, I think," I said, remembering what a friend had said. "Then just like that, he'll be out. Turns out we'll be done before lunch, I guess."
I just stroked Jen's cheeks and ran my fingers through her hair while a crowd worked busily on the other side of the blue sheet. I heard lots of metal clinking, lots of counting, lots of complicated instructions. I peeked over, for just a second, and decided I wouldn't do so ever again.
The tabled seemed to shake. "That felt... different," Jen said. Then off to my left, I heard a cry.
A loud, strong, decisive, somewhat gurgly cry. My son had been born, and immediately taken aside and swallowed by another separate team of people in blue scrubs. I kissed Jen, then walked over, and watched them as they cleaned him off and wrapped him up.
At some point, someone took my camera and handed me a scissors. I cut the umbilical cord, even though it had already been cut. Then I studied his face intently. Eventually, someone put him in my arms. I brought him over to Jen.
"He's beautiful," she said.
"He looks like a rascal already," I said.
"Zachary," she said. "He's definitely a Zachary."
"Zachary," people started repeating. It sounded pretty good.
Eventually, Zachary was put into a little cart, and I followed him as he was wheeled over to the nursery to be weighed, measured, and checked head to toe. I couldn't believe it was over, just like that. Between the moment the word "C-section" was first uttered to the moment I first heard my son's cry, fewer than fifteen minutes had elapsed.
Zachary Masaru Kauanoe Ozawa was born at 9:23 a.m. on Monday, June 3, at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children in Honolulu, Hawaii. He weighed seven pounds, five ounces even at birth, and measured 19 and a half inches long. Even at only ten minutes old and screaming his tiny lungs out, he was the cutest, smartest, most perfect baby boy I'd ever seen. And he was my son.
The next couple of hours were almost anti-climactic. Because Zachary was born by "C-section due to distress," they had to hold him in the nursery for a while. And of course Jen had to be put back together. While everything looked good, there was still a lot of waiting to do, so I spent a great deal of time calling half the numbers stored in my cell phone with the news. And I asked William to post the news for my friends on the web.
Not surprisingly, the rest of the day is a blur.
An exhausted Jen did get to finally meet her son, of course. So did my mom and Jen's mom and perhaps most importantly Katie. Fortunately, Katie was as thrilled and happy as she could be, saying over and over, "Oh, he's so sweet! He's so little! He's so cute! I love him!" And she announced to everyone she met even after leaving the hospital that she was a big sister now.
Congratulations once again! Thanks for posting some pics - he looks absolutely precious. I bet Katie loves being the "big" sister! Our daughter was the same way when her brother was born.
Cliff (June 5, 2002 6:13 AM)
congrats to you and yours ryan!!
jess (June 5, 2002 8:29 AM)
OMG! Zachary's absolutely adorable...just like his big sister!!! Looks like he might've gotten the Ozawa eyes?! This is just like watching an episode of TLCs "A Baby Story"!!! Can't wait to read the details! Congrats, again!
Tutu Sue (June 5, 2002 11:54 AM)
Congrats, dude. Strapping young lad you got there. Plus, the photo-documentary reportage brings the whole screaming nine yards up close and personal. Good work (both in the paternal and photo sense)!
dick (June 5, 2002 1:02 PM)
Wow, great photos. He is adorable- and it looks like he and Katie have the same little nose :) Poor poor Jen having to go through all that- I hope she recovers quickly!
lisa (June 5, 2002 1:53 PM)
Congratulations! What a beautiful little boy. I hope you and your family are doing well and enjoying being with little Zachary. :) I'm so excited for you all!
Kerry (June 5, 2002 3:03 PM)
Congrats! Zachary is beautiful just like his big sister. What wonderful pictures. Give my love to Jen. I wish her a speedy recovery. My best to you all. Love, Hugs, & Kisses from FL!
Vicki (June 5, 2002 3:27 PM)
Ooooh, cute bee-bee! And Zachary does look exactly like Katie (eyes, nose, and chin, IMO) - I bet you and Jen are quite relieved once the whole thing's over and done with. :) Congratulations, again!
Stella (June 5, 2002 6:23 PM)
Great photos! I'm with Stella--little Zachary does look like Katie! They are both such cuties. Hope Jen has a quick recovery and that you all have sleep. (Have you stayed awake all night taking in every little detail, yet?) much love,
ali (June 5, 2002 9:01 PM)
I seem to recall a comment here about 3 or 4 years ago concerning a party at my house, and your being stunned by the noise and bustle of the assorted children. Well ... welcome to the noise and bustle of the multi-child family! It's not just 1+1=2; it's 1+1 can be 2+0, or sometimes 0+2, or even 1+1=14 or so. Enjoy and ease into this new transition! It's similar, but not at all the same, experience as having your first child....
SusanJ (June 5, 2002 11:09 PM)
Congratulations! Glad everyone came through ok!
Starr (June 6, 2002 4:39 AM)
CONGRATULATIONS! Darn, I lost the pool. Ah, well, I'll save my luck for the Stanley Cup finals...best wishes to Jen for a speedy recovery, to Katie as the Best Big Sister Ever, to Zachary, of course, for having the coolest boy name on the planet, and to you, Ryan, for having the nerve to look over the surgical curtain...my husband wouldn've been on the floor in 2 seconds flat.
Denise (June 6, 2002 4:41 AM)
Ohhhhh what a sweet story. Makes me all sniffly! Awwwwww. Congratultaions again! :)
Lani (June 6, 2002 7:45 AM)
I just went through the same thing (emergency c-section due to fetal distress) on May 7th. Reading your entry (via a link in Athena's journal) brought tears to my eyes. I'm so very happy that your story had happy results, too! :)
April (June 6, 2002 10:54 AM)
WHOO HOO! Congratulations to the whole family! Zachary is a handsome feller, and he couldn't have arrived to a more deserving bunch.
Lusus Naturae (June 6, 2002 12:17 PM)
Congratulations to all. I love the name Zachary. Happy for you all!
Carol (June 6, 2002 12:36 PM)
Congratulations Jen and Ryan and Katie!
Mara (June 6, 2002 4:33 PM)
Wendy (June 6, 2002 5:59 PM)
Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful little son, Zachary! Sounds like things were a bit scary there for a while but what a wonderful happy ending! All the best to your whole little family!!!
Heidi (June 6, 2002 8:41 PM)
Ryan!! Jen!! Katie!! Congratulations!!! My Canadian mother (who reads your diary obsessively) emailed me to tell me about the birth! Can't wait to meet the little sucker next time I'm home. Missing you all (and still loving your very unexpected gift of a CD player)!
Martha Shade (June 8, 2002 8:26 PM)
Dear Mom and Dad, a big congrats to you both! A little hint here dad, start now referring to him as 'our son' or you will spend the next 30 years forgetting it took the two of you. lol Precious bundle from heaven!
b. (June 11, 2002 2:46 PM)
E kala mai! Comments have been disabled due to overwhelming abuse by spammers. Please click through to any of the video hosting services linked above to leave a public response, or feel free to send an e-mail. Mahalo!
© 1997-2008 Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: email@example.com · Created: 13 November 1997 · Last Modified: 14 January 2008