Baby Zion emerges: the Timeline

Dad waving goodbye

Dad pretending to catch a flight - he was always the comedian...

This is a blow by blow account of the birth of our champion son: Zion Nelson Atiga

Hopefully with these photos and the description, you can get a sense of what went on behind the scenes…

(Kinda like MJ’s “This is It” without the choreography, stage, budget, or well, any similarity at all.)

23rd of March

Dad’s birthday, would’ve been nice to have his grandson born on the same day. Dad would’ve been 75… No sign of Zion emerging…

24th of March

4pmI get the call from Tina, water has broken, but no contractions yet. I’m eating Subway with my good friends Josh and Arnie, we drop the sandwich like it’s hot, and try to catch a cab (well actually I ate the sandwich super-fast).

5pmWe arrive at the labour ward, still no signs of Zion.

6:30pmTina is moved to a regular ward room to chill – she has cable – I start watching Benjamin Button.

Benjamin Button - movie about a man born old and lives in reverse. No thanks, not today...

6:45pmTina prefers to sit, and there’s only one seat and the bed… So I get comfy, and turn off Benjamin Button, movie is too depressing.

7pmDinner comes for Tina – steak and mash potatoes… I didn’t know that was “giving-birth food”. She offers, i say no. I prefer to wait it out.

7:10pm our good friends Joy and Jenny arrive bearing gifts. KFC and Mcdonalds. So much for waiting it out. So thankful for great friends.

A meal before birthing with our friends Jenny and Joy...

8pm – visiting hours are over, and so I move to drop the ladies home and start on my way back to the hospital.

8:30pm – as I’m on my way back to the hospital, Dr Paul our Gynae tells us that it’s not going to happen tonight. He says to wait it out til the morning, and if there is no signs of contractions, then we’ll look at inducing. I am told to go home.

9:30pm – arrive home, prepare our daughter Nazareth for bed, we sing a few songs and I ask her: “Do you realize tomorrow that you will be the big sister to…”

She finishes my sentence saying “Little brother, ZAAAAYYYYYIIINNN” – somehow I think she gets it…

25th of March

5:30am – Awaken to the sound of Nazareth singing the Leap Frog Letter Factory Alphabet Songwe can’t sleep because of the excitement. Spent most of the night answering calls and texting family and friends to pray for Tina and baby Zion.

7am – Prepare Naz for school, she seems to know that Zion is coming… When I bring him up in talking to her, she has that open mouth smile that I told you about here. I think Ate Naz is ready…

8am – Someone very close to us (who shall remain anonymous) asks “is Tina having CONSTRUCTIONS yet?” I said no but we’re doing our best to BUILD our way towards them. I drop Naz to school and pick up some Subway Ham and Egg sandwiches for Tina and I – the perfect breakfast sandwich (Subway can I get an endorsement deal- haha!)


8:15am – Drive to the hospital music: They That Wait by Fred Hammond featuring John P Kee

9am – Tina is back in the labour ward, and put on the drip to prepare her for labour. She is still in work mode, and asks for my laptop.

10:30am – We play a new game called “guess the number of nurses that speak to Neli in Tagalog vs guess how many say something about the size of the baby correlating to the size of daddy.” It’s pretty neck and neck.

11-2:00pm – Waiting… Like Erykah Badu says – “They sleep, we grind”… well, sorta… no… not really…

I’ve counted 10 newborn babies cries in the few hours I’ve been here. That’s great to see, Singapore needs to get the birth rate up! I may have to throw a few slow jams on my new album…

2:15 – pop out for a quick lunch at the Delifrance downstairs. I grab my sandwich, chips and drink, and head up to the family room to eat my goodies when I find myself intruding on a “umbilical cord cleansing” session for new parents. Found myself sitting by the elevator watching the uncle operating the lift laughing at me with mayo on my face as he

A great and appropriate song by Mr Hammond and Mr Kee

whistled Hokkien love melodies in that “older man” vibrato. At least that’s what I thought they were…

3pm – Tina is moved into the delivery room. She asks for the gas mask from the last time when she gave birth to Naz, her highlight of the last birth experience, apart from the actual birth of our beautiful daughter.

3:15pmDelivery Room music – Breathe into Me & If Not For Your Grace by Israel and New Breed

4pm – Tina signals that she’s not feeling my gospel selection – too much ad-libing… Quickly create a playlist of old school Hillsong songs from the golden era (if there ever was one)… So thankful for Reuben Morgan’s awesome gift of songwriting

You made it so much easier Mr Morgan - Thanks a lot!

Mighty to Save , Eagles Wings, Through it All, You are Near and Still are among the favourites on the list, and the songs seem to bring a much needed chill to the room. This playlist plays all the way through until Zion is born.

5pm – Contractions are coming thick and fast, this is crunch time… Tina and I pray in between contractions, and by this time I am singing along to every song on that play list.

6pm – on my way to the bathroom I bump into a young Indian man with his newborn baby. I recognize the look on his face, just filled with glee – it’s his first time! I ask him to verify, and of course he says yes. I let him enjoy his moment with his child, but wonder, how does naturalism and evolution explain THAT sense of fulfilment that comes to the predecessor (aka the father) from supposed lucky colliding molecules forming a beautiful baby?

Dr Paul and Zion...

6:50 – 7:10 – This is the longest 20 minutes of Tina’s life I’m sure… By this time Dr Paul comes down to deliver this baby, and it takes everything that my beautiful wife has strength-wise to push.

By this time the oxygen is increased to max, to empower max pushing!

7:16pm – Zion Nelson Atiga is born. Song of birth: Irresistible by Hillsong. Tina officially garners the title that Karyn White refused – I am indeed married to “Superwoman”. Here’s why:

The infamous Atiga Head

  1. Water broke at 4pm – YESTERDAY. i.e. 27 hours ago
  2. Baby weighs in at 4.74 kgs (10.5 lbs)
  3. Baby has the trademark big Atiga head.
  4. Baby is Samoan size, Tina is not

7:25pm Pretty much the whole labour ward is in our room exclaiming how big and cute the baby is – apparently Zion has broken some records. One nurse claims there’s only one baby bigger via natural birth in her many years of nursing that weighed in at 5kgs. God bless the mother of that child.

7.30pm We measure Zion – 57 cms long and that heavy. Still everyones reactions is “fwah!” or “so big this one ah! big like dad leh?”.

Here he is! Chatty and aware at 3 minutes old... and check out those CHEEKS!

7.35pm Tina is now asking for epidural. I am told by Dr Paul that I owe her a diamond the weight of Zion. I sure do… I married a beautiful, strong, resilient woman of God. I don’t know about a diamond, but maybe I’ll tie some helium inflated balloons to our HDB block and steer it towards Paradise Falls.

Mummy and baby ZIon

8pm Let the tweeting and texting begin.

8:30pm forms forms and more forms.

9pm-10pm Zion is taken to the baby room, Tina is taken to her room to retire for the evening – I go on a dinner hunt for Tina. We pray and thank God for His faithfulness to us.

We thank you God for Zion’s cuteness, his health, his talkativeness, and his huge cheeks. And of course for Tina’s strength. It’s so good to lean into you God. Thank you for your continuous grace, provision and love towards us! Although Zion did not get to meet Lola and Dad, we thank you God that he has Lola’s eyes and Dad got one of his wishes so close to his birthday – a grandson to carry on the Atiga name from his children… We love you God!

The first meeting of the Atiga siblings


10 thoughts on “Baby Zion emerges: the Timeline

  1. congrats! and well done tina. you are truly amazing! hope all is going well. nelz, the whole story is awesome! hope you guys enjoy the first few special weeks with your little boy learning about life in the world! lots of love and hugs to all, love karina xx

  2. Congrads Atigas!!!! Great description too, enjoyed hearing about it. AWESOME job Tina!!!! He looks darling and Tina, you look gorgeous. Big hugs.

  3. love the post pastor!!!! this is one of the best post i’ve read and is the first for Zion, for sure more write-ups to come to a great great man of God!!!!!

  4. felt like i was there with you guys – thanks for all the details Neli! Tina deserves a medal and Neli should get 10 grilled chooks!

  5. Never seen a mommy looking so absolutely gorgeous after naturally delivering a super cute baby weighing 10.5lbs!! You’re my hero, Tina!! 🙂

    So glad all went well and we can all rejoice with you and Neli at Zion’s arrival! Thanks for sharing your joy!

  6. NELIIIIIII!!!!!! TINAAAAAAAA!!!!! CONGRAAAAAAAATS LAH!!!!! Back home here in Manila, the debate is on for a nickname for Zion! I am still holding steadfast to my loooooong nickname of ZIONEL: while Sarah is chanting ZEE. Kenny of course had to come up with ZEN, (remember he came up with the Japanese-sounding KOJI ). Other suggestions, ZHAY, CHEEKY, and SUBWAY. 🙂
    Can’t wait till I meet my super cute nephew!

  7. So typical of Margie nicknames! CONGRATS NELI and TINA! We may be so far away from you but we thank God for answering our prayers. Thanks Neli for taking time to post all of this. It keeps us updated- really appreciate it. Maybe you can be the editor for our school (he he). I wish I could be there with Julia on June but I know she will fill me in with lots of kuwentos. Zion is the biggest among the next generation. Julia has finally been overthrown (weighed 9.11 pounds). Well, just keep sending photos. Am sure lola and dad would have truly been proud of the newest addition to our family. God bless you! Love you guys!

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