Alistair James Payne


On December 12, 2012 at 11:10 am, we welcomed Alistair James Payne to the world (pronounced Al-i-stir). He was born by c-section at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, MD weighing 8 lbs, 4 oz and measuring 20.5 inches long.

Alistair is proving to be quite a sweetheart. He immediately took to breastfeeding, demonstrating a great ability to suck, and he has already started stretching out his sleeping times. Last night we got to sleep from 1:00 am to 6:30 am! He is steadily growing and is almost out of his newborn sized-clothing into the 0-3 month size. We are so blessed and fortunate that he does not cry much, although he seriously dislikes having a dirty/wet diaper and getting his clothes changed.

Juliana loves “baby brother,” and has already asked to hold him many times. When she first met him in the hospital she was so excited that she basically just ran around in circles all day long. She is a very helpful older sister, and she often brings me toys that she wants to share with him.

Although I have struggled quite a bit with the pain of breastfeeding, we are settling into a good routine, and I have high hopes that the pain will soon ease. We have been so blessed by the continuous visitors who have made the transition to two children so much easier with their baby holding, cooking, cleaning, and Juliana watching. Thank you Nana, Papa, Grammy, Grandma, MeMe, Auntie Katie, Uncle Justin, and Cousin Ellis!




I’ve been reading a lot about ethics and utilitarianism lately, particularly Practical Ethics by Peter Singer. His logic and presentation of Preference Utilitarianism, particularly as it pertains to the person-hood of creatures, is compelling. Because of this, I have decided to change my own behavior and stop eating most meat excepting fish which I’ll address in a moment. Here are my main thoughts on the matter:

  • The small pleasure that I receive from eating meat requires the real pain of other sentient creatures.
  • I don’t want to support the factory farming that supports the vast majority of meat production in this country.
  • I’ve excepted fish and other seafood because I don’t think it meets the criteria of sentience and person-hood of the other most common forms of meat.
  • This isn’t the final answer. As I think more about the ethical ramifications of my life, I may revise this in other directions.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions in the comments.

Father’s Day


Happy Father’s Day to Juliana’s favorite and most wonderful Daddy! Jason: you are a wonderful father in every way. Juliana is blessed to have you! (click for photos)







A quick update for the readers: it appears that Juliana is going to have to start wearing glasses. Her check up with the pediatric ophthamologist indicated that she is extremely nearsighted. Unfortunately this will not improve as she ages, but will possibly worsen (as do most people’s eyes as they get older). Fortunately, she will be able to see clearly with her glasses, and when she gets older will be able to wear contacts. Her little (the smallest size) pink frames with prescription lenses will be arriving by FedEx sometime this week. We will post pictures when we are able.

1/15/10 Two week warning

In football, before the end of the half, is what is called the “two-minute warning”. This is a mandatory timeout that lets both teams make plans for the remaining time left in the first half or in the game itself. We had our “two-minute warning” today.

We met with Dr. Viscardi, one of the neonatologist attendings, to talk about plans for taking Juliana home. We went over the steps that she needs to take to come home. We will detail the steps more later, but we are very excited.

12/04/09 Set Bi-Phasics to Stunned

Juliana is off the ventilator! We called in this morning and they have moved her to a bi-phasic CPAP mask for breathing. She is extubated and doing well. The bi-phasic mask helps push air into her lungs, but she is doing the work. The damage done to her lungs by being ventilated for so long stops and she can begin recovering lung function. Another benefit is that we will soon be able to hear her cry for the first time. We have seen her face red and mad before, but with intubation, it is completely silent. Soon, she will be able to make some noise! We’ll be heading to the hospital soon to see her.

Update: The nurses took a picture of her before they put the mask on and gave it to us. It is our first look at her face unencumbered.
She had an x-ray earlier today of her chest and her lungs look very clear. The orthopedist also stopped by and let us know that her femur should be completely healed in 2 weeks time. We will be spending most of the evening visiting with her. I’m on schedule to kangaroo tomorrow. Good stuff!


So many things to be thankful for this year . . .

–a beautiful, precious, perfect little miracle baby Juliana
–the most wonderful and supportive husband ever
–amazing family members who regularly call, comment, and drive long distances to visit us and take care of us: we love you all
–our second family, the Howes, who are always here for us
–loving friends who constantly call, text, and visit. Alita, Jamie, Meredith, Nikki, and Cara: your continual encouragement gives me strength. Stephen and Robby, thanks for being you.
–friends from all over (even Ireland–thanks Gleesons, Sarah, Lesa, Maire, Tom, Claire, etc.) who have uplifted us with their kind words, thoughts, and prayers. Thanks Monica, Susan, and others for sharing your experiences. There are so many of you, but each of you has touched us with your support.
–our supportive and exceptionally generous church and school community: you have let us know that we are not alone, even when family is far away. The food and house cleaning has been such a blessing to us. Thanks especially to Sheri, Louann, and Sergio for constantly checking to see what we need. Thanks also to Jesse and Tarah for being willing to do whatever we need while we are away from the house.
–everyone at UltraCamp who has been working extra hard to make it possible for Jason to be with me and Juliana through all this. Dan, Adam, Alex, and Dave: you guys are awesome!
–my dear students who keep sending me cards and emails. I miss you a lot, and I appreciate your notes.
–an amazing medical team here at the University of Maryland. The doctors have been great and the NICU nurses are wonderful, especially Deborah, Renee, Rachel, Jenny, Michelle, Jen, Jane, Julie, and Iris. Cheryl has also been especially helpful to me personally. We love you all!
–a loving God who hears and answers prayers and continues to bless us, even when we don’t always understand His answers and blessings
–the hope of heaven and the reunion with our precious children Eden and Zoe, as well as other dear loved ones

Thanksgiving will never be the same for us. We’re thankful for so many things, and the presence of our miracle baby has given us an entirely new perspective on life. Thanks to everyone who has helped us (and continues to help us) cope with this experience.

Lots of love,

A few special organizations . . .

Hey Everyone,

You all have been so wonderful, and so many of you have asked if there is anything you can do for us. Generally the answer is that the best thing you can do for us and Juliana at this point is to continue praying as you have been. Your support is very special and meaningful to us. However, I thought I would write a post detailing some of the wonderful non-profit organizations from which we have benefited, and if you have an opportunity in the future to give money or service, these are some that are now very dear to us.

The Ronald McDonald House: serving families with seriously ill children. We stay at this very modern, well-managed facility in Baltimore for several nights a week for a small nightly fee. We have our own room, space in a very nice kitchen, access to laundry and other useful amenities. This organization, established by McDonalds, is such a blessing for families like ours who have to drive long distances to the hospitals where their children are being cared for.

The March of Dimes: conducts research about premature births, facilitates community services and advocacy to save premature babies’ lives.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: the non-profit photography company that has made it their mission to reach out to parents of seriously ill children and take high-quality, professional photographs of the child in the hospital. They came to take photos of Zoe, and we will receive them in a few weeks, free, to use as we choose. A beautiful ministry.

The American Red Cross: blood donation. Although the babies haven’t used a lot of blood compared to an adult, they each received several transfusions, and Juliana will continue to get blood products for weeks. Giving blood is easy, free, and important. The Red Cross saves lives.

If you ever have the opportunity to give to or volunteer at any of these organizations, you will be contributing to a wonderful ministry. We are so grateful for the help that we have received from each of these services.