I started my morning feeling sluggish due to the lack of sleep. I wanted to sleep in so bad but I ended up leaving home before 8 to avoid the crazy traffic. I knew it was going to be a busy day at the office, with several meetings to attend to as we’re going to host a gathering of vendors soon to be after. To top it all off, I need to leave for Sydney in a few days for a month’s break, the longest I ever had in 3 years. So, it is only natural that my team chased me down like a goose for many things to be decided and directed upon. That day was November 30th, 2015.
My wife, Ilona, was already in Sydney since October for her last wedding assignment before the birth of our beautiful Madeline. That day, she texted me: “I hope this was just some braxton hicks contraction. But I am already feeling continuous pain since this morning.” Our baby’s due date is scheduled to be December 10th. It was an exciting season in our lives where it’s been 7 years since the last time we had Ryan, our second son. And for that text alone, my heart races unsettlingly with the thought that I might actually miss the birth of our third baby.
This was around midday in Jakarta. It was around 4 PM in Sydney. I left my office as planned and the traffic wasn’t too bad. As I was nearing home, she texted me again: “Looks like today is the day. I don’t think I’m ready.”
I wasn’t ready either. I wanted to be next to her and next to our baby so, so bad. So I stopped my car and gave her a call straight away.
“We can only plan but God directs our paths. What’s most important is the baby, not how we feel.” I can only try to reasure her. She was, without no doubt, still is one of the strongest women I have ever met in my entire life. I had faith in her that she can let go the months of planning and preparation to this spontaneous, unplanned birth day of our baby.
We had a video call as soon as I got home. Having witnessed the previous two, I could tell Ilona was calm but still in the state of disbelief that today is the day. However, thankfully, she looked fit and ready.
I was with her during the whole time before she left for the hospital. Thank God my family acted fast and took her to the hospital. My pastor’s wife was also there all along, being a confidante and helper. Bless her heart. I had the full confidence that my dear wife was in such good hands.
That was around 9 PM in Jakarta. First hour of summer in Sydney.
I just sat there staring at my phone. My family members reported me on every progress with photos and videos. “Ilona was in so much pain right now but the good news is that it’s almost over.” I rang her quickly.
“I am doing alright! I am ready.” I could sense her smiling at me to assure me everything is going to go well.
Few minutes later, I received a video.
Madeline Ryan Lee was born at 2: 27 AM on December 1st, 2015. Ilona became the talk in the hospital, as she delivered in such quick manners. We named her Madeline because Ilona had a gut feeling she was going to be a lawyer someday – a strong girl who fights for justice to be done.
That moment instantly became a priceless memory. It lets us understand the futility of humans’ ability to plan. We are never in full control. But we know who does, God Himself. I treasure that first day of Summer 2015, where God’s plan interferes with ours so beautifully and gracefully. It is more than what we could ever ask or imagine. It made us more appreciative of each other and those around us. Our heart swells with a new life that God has entrusted in our care. It made us forget about the petty, insignificant things that don’t matter.
My only wish was that I had a photographer and videographer ready on that day to tell this story from a different point of view. But well, what’s most important is today, I get to hold two of the most beautiful creatures in my life – my wife and my daughter. I’ll make sure to treat them well to make up for the time I was away from them. “Today” is what matters most.
My boys and I flew to Sydney on the 4th as planned.