This is what happened the day you were born

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Gavin — you have become an awesome young man.

Gavin — you turned 21 years old on Friday. Congratulations.

I am proud of you and pleased with the man you have become.

It is important to take some time to ponder life when you reach a significant milestone like this one. With that thought in mind, I am going to share something “old” with you that I have never shared before.

I possess several personal journals. I wrote my thoughts down so that I could remember them later. I still have the one that contains what I wrote the day you were born.

In case you ever wondered, here is what happened the day you were born from my perspective. Consider it a gift from me to you.

Note — the italics indicate actual text from my journal. I did some minor editing for readability.

Journal Entry — Gavin’s birth, 23 Nov 97

Today my life changed in a big way. Gavin Douglas Keating was born at 12:34 AM, 23 Nov 1997 weighing 8 pounds 13 ounces and 21 inches long.

What a great day for the Keating family.

It all started early Saturday morning. We woke up around 8 o’clock and Patty said that she thought her water had broke.

We were both excited since she was already past due by almost a week.

We ate breakfast and waited for labor to come.

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Gavin and Riley in Iphofen. They are standing in front of the house we lived in when Gavin was born.

We left for the hospital

Well, by 1200 nothing had started, so Patty called Dr. Contino. She explained that her water had broke (or so we thought) and that she wasn’t having any contractions. He told us to go to the hospital, he would meet us there.

We waited for a little while then went to Wurzburg. The nurse checked and said that Patty’s water hadn’t broken yet. Dr. Contino checked and agreed.

We planned to go to post for a while and walk around, but that changed. Instead, we walked around the hospital and ate some lunch. The nurse checked progress around 1430 hours and said that we were in active labor.

They hooked the machine on Patty and we watched her contractions start. After about an hour the contractions were faster so they decided to admit Patty to the hospital. After filling our forms we were settled into the room around 1600.

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Gavin was born in Wurzburg. Riley and I visited there a few summers ago.

Labor progressed during the day

We decided to walk around some more. Man, did that work. Patty was feeling the contractions big time. About every three minutes. We only managed about 45 minutes of walking before we figured it was time to get back.

A funny side note — we ran into Chaplain Rogers while walking around. Of course, he called me George Kennedy.

Note — Chaplain Rogers was a great guy, but he always called me by the wrong name whenever I saw him. He did the same thing in this situation which was quite funny.

Patty was progressing quickly. The nurse was very helpful and supportive. Dr. Contino checked occasionally to see how things were going.

Patty ate ice, relaxed and worked with the contractions like a champ. I figured the labor would go quickly since she was doing so well.

My part was easy — just make her as comfortable as possible and relax her when necessary.

The big event was approaching quickly and we still hadn’t picked a name. I pretty much had my mind set on Gavin but would leave the final decision up to Patty.

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Gavin is named after General James Gavin — one of my heroes.

Not all details are meant to be shared

My journal contains a surprising amount of detail about labor that I am going to skip out of respect for your mother.

Instead, I will highlight three important facts.

First, your mother is a strong woman.

Second, she did not take any drugs during your birth.

Third, you were a big baby with a large head which leads to challenges during delivery. It took much, much longer than expected.

I will pick up the action around midnight after several hours of your mother pushing hard to bring you into the world.

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I have saved several journals over the years.

You finally arrived in the world

Patty was beyond smoked by now. Even I was tired and I had the easiest job.

I could tell that we were approaching a C section. I didn’t want Patty to go through that, if possible.

Around midnight the nurse and I talked Patty into changing positions. Her intensity increased and it worked.

Suddenly we were in the delivery mode. Dr. Contino came in and I moved to the left side of the bed for the final pushes.

They tried to suction the baby’s head with a vacuum pump for two pushes which helped, but it was Patty’s will that pushed out the baby.

Patty screamed loud, real loud, pushed and out came the baby. I looked down to see him come out — what an amazing sight. Our little, well kind of little, baby boy.

He was blue because the cord was wrapped around his neck. They cut the cord quickly and placed him, all 8 pounds 13 ounces of him on the warming table.

He was still blue so the nurse rubbed him to get him breathing and crying.

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Gavin Douglas Keating — born in Wurzburg US Army Hospital, Germany.

Childbirth is a divine moment

I held Patty’s hand and hugged her. She was exhausted.

We both looked over at the baby on the table as he opened his eyes for the first time. I think you truly see the face of God the first time you see a baby open his eyes. What a sight.

I told Patty she could name the baby since she had gone through so much during the birth. She chose Gavin Douglas. I was elated.

I went over to cut the umbilical cord and then comforted Patty.

I was proud of her. She had the patience, strength, courage, and drive to go the distance because of her faith in Jesus.

I could never have done what she did. I would have quit, asked for drugs, or something. Not her. She did it. Man did she do it.

I knew once again that I married an angel. She had brought so much joy into my life and now she did all this.

I don’t know if I can ever repay her for all that she has meant to me.

10An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.

Proverbs 31:10–12

Spreading the good news

Patty’s parents called. I told them the good news — they were overjoyed.

I helped Patty get around — she could barely walk, and get ready for bed.

Around 0300 I left the hospital. I almost cried in the car on the way home — my emotions were so high. I was a dad now until the day that I die.

I was so happy I didn’t know what to do. Probably a good thing there was no traffic on the road because I wasn’t paying attention to driving. I was enjoying the moment.

After getting home — I called my parents and told them the good news. They were giddy.

Somehow I felt a new relationship with my dad, now that I was a father. A proud father of Gavin Douglas Keating.

As I got ready to go to sleep I had visions in my head of my son and what he would become. Seems corny to me, but somehow deep in my soul I felt that Gavin would grow up to be a great leader of men.

I don’t know how, when, or why, I think that will be revealed to me later.

The last thing I did was get down on my knees and thank God for a great day, wife, and baby. He made all three possible.

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Like many boys, you enjoyed playing with trucks when you were young.

Never forget God’s blessings

Gavin — that is what happened the day you were born according to my journal. It was a wonderful day. I will never forget it.

You are an awesome son. You have so much potential for greatness. I see it in you, even if you do not. I love you and am here for you.

Happy 21st Birthday!


I write a blog for my sons called Doug Keating Letter to Sons. I am sharing content from my blog here. I hope you enjoyed it. All feedback is welcome. Thanks for reading it.

Originally published at on November 25, 2018.

Leader and learner. Father of two young men. Novice blogger,, Founder of All The Way Leadership!

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