Neal Freeland

Engineering/marketing manager, family guy. My personal blog with a few work thoughts mixed in.

The Other Child

with one comment

Though we were very focused on Amelia the last few months, Zack was with us the whole time and maintained his cheerful outlook. He worked diligently to make sure all open doors were closed and closed doors opened, and brought smiles to passers-by with a quick wave, bright smile and enthusiastic "Hi!" He often caused traffic jams in the hospital corridors as patients and staff stopped to say hello in return.
Since I didn’t have this blog going when Zack was born, I thought I’d write his birth story down. Here it is:
Zack Ryan Freeland was born in the University of Washington hospital in Seattle on St Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2004 at 8:46 am. He weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces and was 18 1/4 inches. His birth was a bit of a surprise, as he arrived 3 weeks early. I vaguely knew what to pack for the hospital, but as Julia went into labor at 1 am we were caught off guard and I had to scramble to collect our things. I guess it’s emblematic of parenthood: we knew it was coming for months, yet weren’t fully prepared. One of the things that was still up in the air was his name.
I had been calling him Jack since the day we found out the gender about half way through the pregnancy. I loved the name. It reminded me of Jack Aubrey, the dauntless sea captain in Patrick O’Brien’s massively erudite and entertaining 20 book historical fiction series about the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. I picked up the first book in the series, Master and Commander, while stationed aboard my destroyer in Pearl Harbor in 1994. The books kept alive my passion for the sea and the navy, even while my daily experience with my job threatened to crush them. Russell Crowe starred in the movie adaptation, which earned 10 Academy Award nominations, just a few months before the baby’s due date, which added to the sense that Jack was an appropriately timed name for my first born son.
However, I made a tactical error. By revealing my hand so early, Julia was able to slowly build up a resistance to the name: it was too common; kids would call him jacka**; it was the name of my best friend’s dog; her mom didn’t like it. We were at an impasse, which we had decided to resolve the very weekend Julia went into labor.
So there we were in the hospital, things moving so quickly the anesthesiologist didn’t have time to administer an epidural. As Julia was pushing, one of the nurses gave encouragement: "C’mon Julia, there you go, push the little guy out." Then, turning to me, she asked, "What’s his name?" Slightly stunned by the whole rapid process, I replied, "Umm, well, we haven’t really decided. It’s either Jack or Zack." At that moment, another contraction started, and as the waves of drug-free pain rolled over her Julia cried, "This child – Huff-huff – Will not – Shee-shee – Be named – Huff-huff" and then, as the contraction reached its’ zenith, she gave an ear-piercing shout, "JAAAAAACK!!!"
With the law laid down and still echoing around the room, I turned back to the nurse and mumbled weakly, "Umm, Zack it is, I guess." Seeing how much Julia was going through to bring our child into the world, I knew there was just no way to overcome a verdict burned in the indelible fire of labor pain. As the other nurses and doctors smiled in the back of the room or behind their masks, the nurse kindly said to me, "You’d be surprised how often this happens."
I spent the next few days in the hospital trying to think of a name that I liked as much as Jack, but which could get by Julia’s labor veto. Alas, my enthusiasm for Captain Jack Aubrey blinded me to all other options and I couldn’t come up with anything else. Defeated in my natural right to name my first born son, I was reduced to insisting that we name him just Zack, which sounded and was spelled almost like Jack: Zack, the shadow of Jack. Though Julia preferred the more biblical Zachary, she took some pity on me and didn’t push it.
I stewed on this defeat for over a year. In fact, it wasn’t until Julia and I went through this experience with Amelia that I realized how much I love the name Zack. Of course there were times over the last few months that Julia and I used each other as punching bags, hurling our distress at one another like angry boxers. But for the most part we took turns keeping each other going. A marriage only endures when two strongly independent people decide to make it work, which requires many meetings in the middle. Because we have continuously done this over our 5 years together, Julia and I were able to come through this storm with Amelia in pretty good shape. If compromise is the foundation of love, then there is no sturdier name I can think of than Zack. I hope he’s as proud to have it as I am to have given it to him.
Ryan is my brother’s name, and Julia really liked it, so we made it his middle name. I’ve also developed a few nicknames for the boy: Z-dog, One-eye (like a pirate, see photo), and Valentino (in honor of St Valentine’s day birth).

Written by nealfreeland

October 27, 2005 at 11:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. hiYour space is interest.C u again. สวัสดีคะ


    October 27, 2005 at 11:56 pm

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