Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Daniel Joel de Jong

December 9, 2008 at 7:47am

8 pounds 4 ounces (3734 grams)

20" long (51 cm)

About the birth...

This morning after a quick c-section our son Daniel Joel de Jong was born. Since the spinal didn't take completely Jen was put under general anesthesia and 15 minutes later our OB Dr. Brister came out with a beautiful baby boy. Mommy was a little groggy for the first hour out of surgery, but is awake now and we've able to nurse him already. We are now back in our room and will upload pictures soon!

About the name…

Not long after I returned from China to visit my beloved friends, The Kennedys, over Christmas 2006, I knew that I would marry Niels. Shortly after coming to this realization, he and I spent one evening talking into the wee hours about our future. Among the many topics covered that night was the names of our future children. We quickly settled on names for our first girl (hopefully, to be shared later) and boy.

With the understanding that our little boy would someday become the patriarch of the de Jong family (firstborn son of the firstborn son of the firstborn son), we wanted to bestow upon him the names of two men we respect as leaders of their own families: two namesakes to be examples and mentors to him as he grows up to lead his own family.

Daniel Kennedy and his family have become such an important part of my life. In many ways, they are the glue between my pre-injury life and my new life. Dan and I met when he came to work for Family, and I was kicked out of my office to make room for him. Feeling bad about my downgraded digs, Dan invited me over for dinner to meet his family. Pleasantly surprised to learn that they lived in the same neighborhood, I became fast friends with Dan and his wife, Sara, and I feel in love with their two little boys, Zach and Noah. Shortly thereafter, Mia arrived from Korea, and later, my goddaughter was brought home from China.

In the years that the Kennedys were my neighbors before they moved to China, they became my adopted family as well. I spent many holidays with them, and together we celebrated their milestones, as well as my own. When my book released, the Kennedys were first in line at my first book signing. When I sustained my head injury, the Kennedys stepped up to help me with my myriad of therapies. Since board games were recommended to help get the neurons firing again, we began a habit of at-least-weekly tradition of dinner and Catan. Promoted to "Aunt Jen," I was able to observe and participate in a beautifully functional and fun family. The Kennedys family model became my own. In "DK" I saw a strong man leading a strong woman, drawing out her strengths and lending his own strengths to make a more complete whole. I saw a loving daddy who embraces his role as mentor and teacher to his growing family. I saw a man who loves G*d and is willing to sacrifice his own wants for the needs of his family. I saw a man who was intelligent and creative, mature and fun-loving and who, in general, greatly enriches the life of all who know him.

Joel Vriend was Niels' best man at our wedding, and for good reason. To hear Niels say it, his journey to faith was a slow, meandering one. He doesn't have a dramatic, "one day I hit rock bottom" story. Rather, G*d nudged him this way and that, until one day, he knew that following Chr**t was the life he was meant to live.

One of the nods and nudges came in the form of Joel Vriend. In many ways, the Vriend family is to Niels was the Kennedys are to Jen: an adopted family of the heart. Through Niels' second cousin, Chad de Vries, he got to know Joel. Chad and Niels had a trip planned to Lake Placid, NY on Niels' 1997 vacation to Canada. At the last moment Chad couldn't go, but he knew a good friend and co-worker at Christian Horizon's (a group home organization for the mentally handicapped) who was both of Dutch decent and an avid fan of the Dutch National Soccer team ('Oranje') so Chad thought he'd be a good 'wingman' for the trip. And so a new friendship began.

Niels and Joel went on many trips together, both in North America and in Europe. During those trips and later both families met each other on each other's turf and – due to a similar mindset – Niels became a Vriend-family 'brother' and 'adopted' son. One other thing was that whenever Niels was in Canada or the United States he tagged along with the Vriend family on their Gathering events. These events showed him that Gathering events weren't necessarily boring and stiff and only for the 55+ like he saw in the Netherlands. That, combined with modern day event music, was enough of a nudge to guide him back to the faith. So, just by living his regular life, Joel became a major ambassador of Chr**t to Niels and he, along with his wife, Carolyn, have become dear family friends to us and a great role model for our little boy.

The Daniel of the Book is described, along with his friends, as "healthy and handsome, intelligent and well-educated, good prospects for leadership positions, perfect specimens!" Daniel also had a gift for languages, which we love as we will be raising our Daniel to know both English and Dutch. And while any parent would love those characteristics to describe their son, our Hope for our precious Daniel Joel is that he would look to his two namesakes and his daddy as he grows up to be just the man his Daddy knit him in my womb to be.

It was quite an adventure bringing our little boy into the world. Thank you for your Thoughts and support during the last long nine months!

Pictures are available on both Facebook and on Picasaweb

For all our local friends, we're thrilled to show him off so feel free to visit us as of tomorrow (Wed Dec 10, 2008) at Aultman Hospital in Canton.

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