The Ozawa family, now 25 percent larger!
Alexander Mori Kekūanaō‘a Ozawa was born at 9:03 a.m. on Monday, August 16, 2004. He weighed 7 lbs., 3 oz., and measured 19 inches long.
His arrival is what has occupied, obsessed, and overwhelmed Jen and I for the past few months. Now that he's here, all the days spent getting ready are already a blur. My vision is pretty blurry right now, too, come to think of it. It's been a long day.
Okay, the furthest back I can remember clearly right now is the weekend. So let's start there.
Saturday brought a needed break from all things baby, actually.
In the morning early in the morning I drove into town to join a few coworkers in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk around Kapiolani Park. Though I've always sponsored others, I was long overdue to lace up a pair of walking shoes myself, especially since my mother is a heart disease survivor (she had a heart attack when I was ten, and now lives with a pacemaker).
The walk was fun, and it was nice to connect with people from the office in a way that doesn't involve memos or interest rate tables. In the end, thanks to friends at work, outside of work, and even online, I raised just under $400, earning myself a snazzy T-shirt and the conviction to do it again next year.
Of all things, I actually lost my cell phone during the walk, despite the fact that I was whipping it out every twenty yards to take grainy camera phone pictures. (Practice for moblogging the big day. Or something.) Fortunately, after borrowing someone else's phone and dialing my lost phone nonstop for a few minutes, a friendly woman eventually answered, met me near the bandstand, refused a reward and returned the phone, saving me from having to go out and spending money on, say, a nice Treo 600.
"If you came home without that phone, I think I would've killed you," Jen said upon my return, noting that due to a series of little tragedies I was on my fourth expensive cell phone in under two years.
For the afternoon, mom stepped forward to allow Jen and I what will probably be our last movie date for many years, and we darted out to catch "The Manchurian Candidate" half because we wanted to see it and half because it was the only thing playing anywhere near the time we finally got out of the house.
Perhaps tellingly, the first movie preview before the show was for the upcoming Oliver Stone epic, "Alexander."
Comparisons with the original are unavoidable, and indeed, the remake falls just a little short of its predecessor. But, we actually still liked Jonathan Demme's take on it quite a bit, the story told well and the stars (Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep in particular) putting in great performances. Lots of things started to fall apart when we started asking questions... so we just stopped asking them. It was enjoyable, and that's what matters.
On Sunday, it was back to baby business. We headed into town to visit the Berrys, who made the most generous offer of a like-new baby crib that they wouldn't be bringing with them in their pending move to the mainland. Standing in the surprisingly hot Manoa sun, we talked with Beth and Basil about babies and pets and Macs and moving, while little Beckett gnawed on his mother and Katie tried to hide from Annie.
We said our farewells before we started melting, and after a stop at WalMart (which is quickly becoming our in-a-jiffy newborn supply station), we returned home. I set up the crib, while Jen checked that her hospital bag was packed for the fiftieth time, and folded another giant pile of baby clothes. As night fell, it looked like it was going to be an unremarkable evening.
But as bedtime neared, Katie grew more uneasy, and an hour after tucking her in, I found her crying in her bed. I brought her downstairs, and she latched onto Jen like a terrified octopus.
As she had all week, she insisted at first that she was just worried that grandma wasn't going to be able to get her to her school on time, or be able to find her classroom. After filling her with assurances, the truth started to seep out. She meekly suggested that maybe she skip school tomorrow.
"Is that what this is about?" I asked, although we were resolute that she wasn't going to stay home. You could hear the little gears in her head turning, trying to find another excuse or loophole to pounce on.
"It's just so frustrating when mommy's gone," she pouted.
We smiled at her vocabulary. "Frustrating?" Jen asked. "Do you mean it's scary?"
"No," she said. "It's just frustrating!"
We continued to try to cheer her up with stories of how great it's going to be to have another little brother, how much fun Zac is going to have with a new playmate. "We'll have an even bigger family, and we'll have even more fun!"
After more sobbing, she whimpered into my chest, "Yeah, but I kind of like things the way they are now."
Jen and I just looked at each other, as we both knew exactly how Katie felt. We just held her and calmed her on the couch for a while... until her mind wandered from the massive upheaval in her life to the episode of "Iron Chef" on the television. Finally, with the promise of a special dessert the next night, I carried her back upstairs and put her to bed.
Shortly after midnight, she called out for us. She'd gotten a nosebleed, something that's proving to be an indisputable symptom of stress in her (just like they were for me when I was a kid). We cleaned her up, and she spent the rest of the night on the floor of our bedroom.
As Zac found his way into our bed later that morning, and Jen and I woke up to greet the big day with our kids stirring around us.
It was 5 a.m., and as Jen and I got ready, Katie settled down at the dinner table and drew us a card to give to the baby when he came out. She again expressed doubts at her grandmother's skills at suburban navigation, and reminded me to bring home orange creamsicles.
At 5:30 a.m., we were off. My mom had been trying to rush us out the door all morning, and I was just about to ask Jen what that was about when we hit it: rush hour.
"Oh, that's right," I thought. "Just because I'm staying home from work doesn't mean the rest of the world is."
Despite two separate accidents snarling the H-1, Jen and I made it to the hospital right on time, strolling into Labor & Delivery at 6 a.m. We were put into a room, and Jen was hooked up to a bunch of monitors, and after discovering that the TV didn't get the Food Network, we closed the curtains and shut off the lights and Jen tried to get a little sleep. Peeking between the blinds, I studied the Pearl City/Salt Lake skyline, and watched airliners launch themselves into a perfect blue sky.
Jen channel surfed while we waited, at one point stumbling across the diner scene from "When Harry Met Sally." I urged her to turn the volume all the way up to see if Meg Ryan's rapturous exclamations raised any eyebrows in the hospital, but she wasn't particularly impressed with the idea.
At 8:30 a.m., it was time to roll. I put on scrubs including a face mask and shoe covers and Jen was taken to the Operating Room.
I was called in, and saw the surprisingly familiar sight of Jen's head poking through of a big blue curtain, a crowd of doctorly heads bobbing around on the other side muttering amongst themselves. I sat on the daddy stool and pushed Jen's hair out of her face, and we made small talk with the anesthesiologist. By the time the tugging and yanking began, the woman knew everything about us.
Extricating this baby seemed to take a lot more physical effort than Zac's birth did, and holding Jen's head while the whole table shook it felt as if an entire football team were holding spring training on her stomach. After a final couple of jerks, and a tell-tale blur of new activity off to the side, and we knew the hard part was over. A tiny, gurgly cry confirmed it.
I walked over and tried to strike up a conversation with my new son as the nurses wiped him down, measured him, weighed him, and generally annoyed the living heck out of him. He found his voice pretty quickly, and howled nonstop for fifteen minutes.
The nurses stepped back for only a second to allow me to perform the purely ceremonial snipping of the already snipped umbilical cord.
He looked absolutely perfect. Surprisingly perfect. Maybe having two kids already had adjusted my definition of what beauty was, but I was expecting something much wrinklier, darker, hairier... something. This baby almost looked like one of those impossibly shiny, clean babies you see in movies about childbirth, ready for a hat and a cute shirt and an afternoon stroll around the neighborhood, where you go, "Aw, c'mon, that baby looks nothing like a newborn!"
The nurses swaddled him up, and placed in my arms as I sat down beside Jen. I spun this way and that to try and give her the best view of his face. "So," I asked. "What does that look like?"
As with Zac, we said the various names we had on the short list out loud, trying to find the one that best fit the little person before us. I even tried extra hard to see if he might be a Xavier a name that had inexplicably popped into my head as we drifted off to sleep the night before but none was a better match than the one we pegged as our favorite months ago: Alexander.
Alexander. This was Alexander. I forced myself to memorize the stats. Born 9:03 a.m., seven pounds, three ounces, nineteen inches long...
While the doctor and a small army of others continued to work their magic on Jen's lower body, I wheeled Alex into the recovery room, where he promptly fell asleep. I stood in the corner and punched e-mail addresses into my cell phone like a madman, dispatching the news far and wide.
A groggy Jen was wheeled in a few minutes later, and the next two hours were like a missing scene from "Kill Bill," as a nurse would walk up every few minutes to ask Jen if she was yet able wiggle her toes.
While we waited for the wiggling, Alex woke up, and cried his little cry, stopping now and then to smack his lips. He was hungry. A nurse plopped him next to Jen, and just like that, he was nursing. To think it took weeks for Katie and Jen to figure it out six years ago. Jen was an old pro now, and Alex was clearly gifted.
Once Jen could wiggle her toes, we were moved to the Maternity ward, and given a bed in a room overlooking the golf course. The nurses said I could lie down on the other, unoccupied bed, and I did. The three of us napped, until Jen discovered the television in that room did have the Food Network, at which point we zoned out with and Sara Molton and Rachael Ray.
Rachael is cute, really, but the tenth time she said "E-V-O-O" (extra virgin olive oil) with that little head bob and giggle, I was about ready to flip to the Golf Channel.
Our first visitors were grandma, Katie and Zac. Katie was thrilled to meet Alex, and squealed and sighed and asked thousands of questions. (We seem to be unable to break her of the impression that vaginal births are for girls, and caesarean births are for boys.) She examined Jen's IV and bandages with particular care. Her single overriding concern was when Jen (not me or Alex, mind you) was going to return home. She had plenty of questions, but every third one was about when her mommy would be discharged.
Actually, she proved she got a bit of journalism in her blood, never settling for "I don't know" and asking the same question a different way each time, often building leading questions in the hopes of getting the answer she wanted ("So the doctor said you had to come home soon to take care of us, too, right?") or feeling for an answer by pretending that we'd already talked about it ("When did you say you were coming home again?")
Meanwhile, Zac was pretty oblivious to his overthrow as the reigning baby of the family, and was only slightly more interested in seeing his mom again than he was in climbing under a shelf and pounding on a trash can. He then found the controls to the mechanical bed, and gave Jen a bit of a slow-mo rodeo ride.
Mom got to hold Alex, and as he snoozed in her arms, we all recited his full name, getting used to the feel of it.
Alexander Mori Kekūanaō‘a Ozawa. Mori is my paternal grandmother's maiden name, and is in fact our link to a prominent and well-respected family in Japan. Kekūanaō‘a means "the standing projections," as in the mast of a ship, and was the name of a prominent Hawaiian leader in the mid-1800s. We learned about the name's history after we chose it, though, since we knew it first as the name of a street in Hilo on the Big Island.
Eventually, Zac wound himself up to the point of insanity, and it was all we could do to keep him from climbing the walls or just spontaneously exploding. So, my mom rounded the kids up and headed home.
Our next visitors were the incredible Berrys, of whom one can never get enough. Beth had come straight from work, and looked like she was ready to lead a corporate takeover. We had just seen Beckett the day before, and back then he looked cute and small, like the bright-eyed baby he was. But now, with Alex in the room, Beckett looked positively huge. Although he was only four months old, next to our son I half expected him to stand up and walk out the door.
They brought a wealth of goodies, from snacks for the kids to healthy fruits to especially tantalizing stuff like a thick slice of German chocolate cake and a bag of Nantucket Spice Cape Cod chips. Based on Beth and Basil's glowing recommendation, we busted open the chips. They were uniquely flavored with black pepper, sea salt and other seasonings, and I was hooked. "This tastes like the closest thing to meat I imagine potatoes will ever get," I said.
Jen, whose diet had been limited to lemon jello and chicken broth, pouted.
We hung out for a while, talking and trading more baby stories. Apart from the Berry-filled weekend, we see them so rarely, but relaxing in the hosiptal room we fell into a comfortable rhythm so quickly, and it felt like we'd been good friends and close neighbors for years. We lamented their looming departure from the islands, but also understood the importance and irresistible draw of family.
Beckett's bedtime soon drew near, and it was time for them to go. As they disappeared down the hall, my dad and Gayle wandered in.
They took turns carrying Alex, Gayle giving Jen motherly advice and dad updating me on family and giving me a brief history lesson on Alex's middle names. First, the story behind Mori and the family name's place in Japanese history. Then, he surprised me with the amount of research he'd done on Kekūanaō‘a son-in-law of Kamehameha I, father of Kamehameha IV and Kamehameha V, and a governor of O`ahu that even merited praise from Mark Twain.
"All I knew about was the boat masts and the street," I noted. "Your story is much better."
It was getting late, and I knew Katie was still waiting for me at home, so when dad and Gayle left, I made sure Jen was in good hands and followed them out. I actually almost forgot the creamsicles, and cringed at the thought of how badly things would have gone if I'd walked in empty handed. Instead, Katie got her dessert, we did her homework together (math, spelling, handwriting and reading), I bathed her and her brother and put them both to bed although mommy wasn't home, Zac settled for me, burying his head in my armpit and passing out.
I woke up about an hour later, cramped and disoriented, still in Zac's bed.
As I'll be on bedtime duty all the time when Alex gets home, I guess I better get used to that.
Wow congratulations to all of you. What a beautiful new son. So glad that all is well.
Carol (August 18, 2004 2:22 AM)
SUCH a beautiful boy. Even when sticking out his tongue! Congratulations :) (Oh, and by the way - those Nantucket Spice chips are my favourite. Really dang yummy!)
Adrith (August 18, 2004 5:22 AM)
Congrats! Love the tongue-sticking-out photo.
Denise (August 18, 2004 11:02 AM)
He's got that cute little Ozawa nose, that's for sure! And I have to say, 17babydaytwo04.jpg looks soo much like you it's almost scary. Just add facial fuzz and glasses :) Poor Katie, I hope she gets her mommy back soon.
lisa (August 18, 2004 1:00 PM)
I dunno ... I think he looks a lot like Jen. Now I know two bebees named Alex. Is "mori" spelled 森 (forest)?
NemesisVex (August 18, 2004 7:42 PM)
Oh Ryan, congratulations to you and your whole family! How exciting!
Lani (August 19, 2004 9:09 PM)
congratulations!!!!!! i love you guys!!!
aunty kreeesty (August 19, 2004 11:50 PM)
Congrats you guys!!!!
Jenn (August 20, 2004 7:13 PM)
Oskie-wow-wow! Cute kid. Congratulations from Meep and me, and we'll call soon to remind you what sleep is like.
Lusus Naturae (August 21, 2004 5:19 PM)
Congratulations from Hong Kong! What an adorable baby boy!
Jenny (August 22, 2004 5:09 AM)
Wow...where did THOSE months go? Congratulations--Alex is stunningly handsome. What a great looking kid. Love his name, too!
lara (August 22, 2004 3:39 PM)
Uh-oh... more kids than parents... here comes trouble! Nah, congrats Ryan and Jen! Your kids are soooo cute!
Sharon (August 24, 2004 11:37 AM)
Congratulations! He really is an adorable, un-wrinkly baby. And Ryan, I'm totally with you on the annoying "E-V-O-O" thing. I cringe everytime she says it....Again, Congrats!
martha (August 25, 2004 12:18 PM)
Congratulations to the the whole Ozawa family! What beautiful children you have! xoxo.
Athena (August 25, 2004 6:51 PM)
Ho da cute photo! Wow, fine times ahead! Congrats to the whole family!
Susan (September 2, 2004 10:56 PM)
Lovely! Congratulations on your beautiful baby.
Christine (September 3, 2004 5:53 AM)
Greg--my f.i.l. confirms that that is the kanji for Mori. He said "look, three trees" as he drew it, so that's how I remember it.
Jen (September 15, 2004 4:22 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