Lindee and I have been through a lot over the years. We have traveled and lived in strange and exotic places, including Gyumri, Armenia for a little over two years in the Peace Corps, we traveled to Tunis, Tunisia during some riots where the US Embassy was set on fire in September 2012, and we also lived in Flint, Michigan for a stint... Flint was by far the strangest place we've been. We've seen and done some amazing things, including horseback rides through the Tuscan countryside, relaxing on beaches in the Greek Isles, and walking through ancient ruins in numerous countries.
While all of those experiences, the good and the bad, taught me very valuable life lessons, I still realize that I have a lot to learn. Not just about raising a child, but also about life in general.
Lindee and I decided we wanted to wait to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. We thought it would raise the anticipation and excitement even more as October 10th got closer and closer. We also thought we could teach ourselves some self-discipline and patience. When people asked us what we were having and we told them we were waiting to find out, most people thought that was cool and exciting; however, a few just thought we were crazy because we couldn't plan and get completely prepared for our baby. Some people thought we were being untraditional by not finding out our baby's gender even though modern medicine has only allowed people to find out their baby's gender via fetal ultrasounds since the 1970's... and I think the human race has been around for a bit longer than that.
We thought we were teaching ourselves patience by not finding out. During pregnancies, a woman has numerous ultrasounds and the ultrasound tech could tell you at any one of these doctor's visits the gender of your baby. If during one of these visits the screen was pointing at us, we would turn our heads if we thought we might sneak a peek at our baby's bits or lack of bits.
Now, there are some times in my life that I feel I am definitely being taught something... this is definitely one of them.
On July 13th, Lindee started having contractions, so we went to the hospital. The doctor told us she was in active labor, and they would do everything they could to stop the contractions. Lindee was put on Magnesium Sulfate which made her really loopy, but it bought us and our baby time. She was able to get two steroid shots which greatly help to develop our baby's lungs in case he or she came early. We met with one of the Neonatologists who told us about the NICU and what all they can do if our baby came early. We had numerous visitors and a ton of people were praying for all three of us. After a few days, Lindee was pretty stable. She was still having contractions, but they weren't regular and they weren't progressing the labor. The doctor told us that Lindee would be on bed rest and in the hospital until she had our baby. Since Lindee was doing good, I went back to work on Wednesday, and I was just waiting for a phone call from her or the hospital saying that I needed to get up there because baby was coming... but I didn't get the call. Since things stayed the same, I went back to work on Thursday, July 18th, and I was still anticipating the call. Then at 1:40pm, I got a call from a Tulsa phone number that wasn't in my phone. It had to be the hospital, so I immediately went on high alert, and answered the phone, "Hello!" The person on the other end said, "Are you the guy selling the 3-wheeler on Craig's List?" (asked in a twangy voice) I felt both relief and a heart attack at the same time. I told him that I wasn't, and he then asked, "Well who are you?" So I hung up on him and caught my breath. I set my phone back down and I was both relieved and I was still anxious. Then, at 4:10pm, I got a call from Lindee, and she told me our baby was coming. I made it to the hospital in less than 5 minutes.
Our baby boy, Jude Isaac Johnson, was delivered at 7:23pm on July 18, 2013 at only 28 weeks. He was 15.5 inches long and weighed 3 pounds even (which is actually a good size for only being 28 weeks). Watching our baby boy come into this world was more amazing than any other experience Lindee and I have had together. Right now, he is doing really well, and we still would like as many prayers as possible for his continued good health. He's breathing really well and the doctors have raised his feedings so he's now starting to gain some more weight. Numerous nurses have told us that he's very strong willed (which I assume he gets from Lindee) and also that he's really cute (which I assume he also gets from Lindee). We assume that Jude is so strong willed that he already decided that he didn't want to have costume parties for his birthdays for the rest of his life with an October birthday, but that he'd rather have pool parties for his birthdays, which is why he decided to come almost 3 months early.
We thought we were teaching ourselves patience by not finding out Jude's gender. However, that is nothing compared to what we will endure over the next few months. The Neonatologists told us to expect for Jude to be in the NICU until right around his original due date of October 10th. These next three months will be very long and hard on us. We will be in the NICU more than we will be at home. There are a number of milestones that Jude has to attain before he will be released, and he has to consistently pass them before he can come home. Everyone has told us that having a baby in the NICU is like a roller coaster ride because your baby will make two steps forward and then take one step back. We will have to try to keep patient and know that Jude is being taken care of really well at St John's NICU. They are doing everything they can to help Jude grow and develop.
We have had a lot of help from friends and family over the last few weeks. We ask that you continue to pray for all of us, but especially for Jude's continued growth and good health. We also preemptively ask for your forgiveness when we inevitably snap at one (or all) of you over something stupid. We are trying to stay patient, but we are only human.