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December 25, 2002


Dear Jacob,


You were conceived on February 24, 2002 at 16 Chicory Lane, San Carlos, California.  At that time, Lisa and I had just decided to move to Milwaukee so I could take a faculty position at Marquette University.


For almost a year, Lisa had been overproducing prolactin, which was interfering with her normal menstrual cycle.  The doctors had several guesses about how to address the problem, but they were just guesses.  Therefore, we were unsure if she was able to conceive at that time. 


In late March, Lisa took a home pregnancy test and it came out positive.  That was our first hint that you were coming!  However, because of her medical issues, Lisa scheduled a blood test to confirm, but we received a cryptic voicemail saying she was 7-8 weeks.  Still unsure, we scheduled an ultrasound test for April 9, and there you were!


I ended my job at Epinions at the end of May, and Lisa ended her job at Sun Microsystems in early June.  We moved to 9339 N. Regent Road in Bayside in late June.  Several people referred us to Dr. Berkoff, Lisa’s ob/gyn, and he was affiliated with St. Mary’s Hospital on Milwaukee’s East Side.  Because we knew so few people, and because we were scared by the horror stories of labor, we also hired a doula, Maggie Graff.


Our friends Tosha and David were pregnant during this time, and developed the nickname “Choco” for their baby (I believe this was shorthard for chocolate, although I’m not sure why they associated the two).  In any case, I misheard this and thought they were saying “Chaco,” which through repetition became your nickname in utero.


Your “official” due date was November 14.  However, knowing that first pregnancies are often late, we really didn’t expect you until later in November.  Personally, I was hoping for a Thanksgiving delivery, which would have been ideal in terms of my class schedule.


At about 5:45 am on Monday, November 18, Lisa woke me up and told me she was having pains that she thought might be contractions.  I started timing the contractions and they were lasting about 40 seconds and coming about every 5 minutes.  We did this for a half-hour or so and then called Maggie.  She thought that Lisa was having pre-labor and we should relax and plan for a long day. 


We called Grandma Barbara at about 6:45 (4:45 am her time!) and told her that today might be the day.  Our hope was that she could catch an early flight and arrive for the last stages of labor.


Meanwhile, Lisa’s contractions did not grow stronger, and at some points—especially when she rested—they grew further apart.  We spent the time from 6-10 eating, showering, taking a walk, preparing a bag for the hospital and generally not stressing.  During this time, several construction workers showed up to finish some remodeling projects we were working on.  They really didn’t know what to make of Lisa’s labor.


At 10, Lisa called Dr. Berkoff’s office to let them know what was happening.  The nurse she spoke with said to come to the hospital immediately.  Everyone had drilled into our head that first labors take many, many hours, and you don’t want to check into the hospital too early because it’s more comfortable at home.  Therefore, we thought the nurse might be overreacting, and we leisurely continued to talk on the phone, prepare our bags and give instructions to the workers.


We finally got into the car around 11 and arrived at St. Mary’s around 11:20.  Suspecting that we were going to be told to go back home and come back when Lisa had progressed more, we left our bags in the car.  We went to the labor and delivery check-in, and after a wait, were sent to a labor and delivery room for triage.  (Normally we would have had triage in a triage room, but they were full).


Maggie arrived at the hospital around 12.  At 12:15, the admitting nurse finally was ready to do an initial assessment.  Before she could conduct a vaginal exam, Lisa’s water broke.  At 12:20, Lisa was 5 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced.  We were shocked to learn how far along things were!


Around this time, Dr. Berkoff came in to check on how things were.  Seeing everything was under control, he left, assuming he would come back later many hours later.


During our time in the labor and delivery room, Lisa’s contractions got progressively more intense.  We tried a few pain-management techniques, but her favorite was to stand during a contraction while I held her.


Around 12:45, I ran down to the car to get our bags.  During this time, Maggie reported that Lisa started grunting, meaning she was pushing already.  I returned at 1 to find that Lisa was in serious labor, and we tried some more pain-management techniques.


Around 1:15, the nurse came back to do a routine check.  She instructed Lisa to get on the bed so that Lisa could be monitored, but Lisa was unable to get on the bed because, we discovered, your head was already coming out!  Needless to say, everyone was stunned at how fast things had moved.


The nurse paged the central nurse desk and barked out an order to get Dr. Berkoff along with some other necessaries.  Meanwhile, she instructed Lisa NOT to push until Dr. Berkoff arrived.


A few minutes later, Dr. Berkoff arrived and things moved very quickly.  During this time, Dr. Berkoff recommended an episiotomy.  Lisa said OK, but before he could do anything, your shoulders popped out and at 1:40, you were born! 


You immediately started crying and wriggling.  After a quick examination and clean-up, the nurses put you on Lisa’s chest, and we all celebrated.  You were born 7 pounds, 8 ounces, 20.5 inches, and your Apgar scores were 9 (you lost 1 point for coloring). 


As you can see, you were born about 8 hours from when we first timed Lisa’s contractions.  Lisa did not use any pain management drugs, have an epidural, get pitocin, have an episiotomy or otherwise have anything but an all-natural birth.


At around 3:30, we transferred to a post-delivery room (room 566).  Grandma Barbara arrived at 4 while you were still awake from your birth.  It was a wonderful day!


While Lisa and Grandma Barbara stayed with you the first night, I went home, built a web page with some digital photos and sent the URL to dozens of friends and family.  This URL then got forwarded around at our prior places of employment, to family we’d never met, and so on.  The web page proved so popular that it ran over the bandwidth limits, and many people were anxiously awaiting their first look at you!


During the initial labor period, I tried to line up a guest speaker for my class on Tuesday, expecting that labor would take all day and night and that I’d be in no condition to teach.  Instead, given how fast you came, I was not nearly as tired as I expected, so I cancelled my efforts and taught the next day.  (My students were a little bummed!)


We took you home on November 20.  The bris was on November 25, and you were surrounded by friends, both sets of grandparents, your Aunt Sandy, Dr. Berkoff, Maggie and Kitty.  You didn’t exactly enjoy all of the celebration, but there were no shortage of volunteers to hold you.


Your loving father,