Bella’s Birthday

Yesterday Jessica gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Jessica is doing fantastic and the baby couldn’t be better. She was born at 4:30 in the afternoon on the day she was “due”, October 5th, 2007. She weighed in at 7lbs. 13oz 20.5″ long.

Looking back now, everything went absolutely perfectly yesterday. But, for much of the day, it seemed like things were going bad and getting worse by the moment. …

Have you ever felt totally disconnected from (nearly) every human being around you? Kinda like you’re living in a parallel universe where certain urgent facts are crystal clear to you but not shared by anyone else around you? Well, this is how things were for Jessica and I up until about 4:10 yesterday. [Admittedly, those who know me well know that this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this]

A few years ago Jessica and I had a similar “parallel universe” medical experience. I won’t go into all the details, but imagine this… you’re wife suddenly and unexpectedly loses consciousness while you’re driving in the car. “At least I’m in the car. I can get her help fast”, you think. You drive like hell to get her help… to the emergency room at the closest hospital.  Every traffic light is red at the wrong time. Chatting on cell phones and driving lackadaisically, every other driver on the road is oblivious to your emergency.

You’re freaked out. You actually think should could be dying, you imagine what you’ll do if that happens…

Finally, you reach the hospital! It’ll all be “ok”. You run into the emergency room and find it…. empty.  No doctors, no nurses, no hospital staff, not even a single other patient.  It’s perfectly quiet and totally empty. It happened, just like that.

The problem is expectations. I’ve seen the television show “E.R.”. When people walk into that hospital there’s an expert nurse on them immediately. Problems are solved. There’s never a shortage of resources.

Well, Turns out it isn’t like that.

I learned that a few years ago…the hard way. And yet, there’s still something absurd about standing in a line behind “chatty Kathy” in for a physical while watching your wife work her way through a major contraction. “Should I push Kathy out of the way?” I wondered.

In an emergency, you’re willing to do things you’d never consider in a normal day. In a traffic jam yesterday, I wondered if my Mercedes could go Off-road. The car is fast as hell. But that doesn’t do any good in a traffic Jam. “I should have driven the SUV”, I thought.

By the way, this IS Davenport Iowa not Chicago or any other major city.  I’ve been in no more than a dozen traffic jams here in my entire life…. maybe 13 counting yesterday.

At 1:30pm we leave the doctor’s office headed for the hospital. Jessica is dilated to 5. The doctor’s office calls ahead to let the hospital know we’re on the way. Contractions are intense. I’m thankful that we’re on our way because, to me, it seems that her contractions are as strong as I’ve ever seen. As strong as any point in labor with Max.

At the hospital, the chipper check in lady was friendly to a fault. “Hurry, Hurry” I could see in Jessica’s eyes. 

It was training day at the front desk. “Ms. Chipper” coached “Ms. Newby” through the check in program. Looking up at us at one point, Ms. Chipper says, “It’s MUCH faster when I do it myself”. “Maybe you should do it, then” I think but don’t say… we’re almost there, it’ll be ok.

Jessica has 3 contractions at the check-in desk and another one on the way to the elevator. They were pretty intense. Three separate nurses offered her a wheel chair to take her up. She declined each. The contraction passed and we got on the elevator.

They’re waiting for us! I’m relieved. It’s 2:15.

Jessica’s in pain. We’re in our delivery room. The nurse is asking her questions and going through medical history.

The clock is ticking. I wonder if they told them that she was dilated to 5 an hour ago? 

I remind the nurse.  She knows.

Soon the nurse checks Jessica and finds that she’s dilated to 7.

It’s getting rough for Jess. She wants an epidural.  She knows time is running out.  If you don’t get it by a certain point in labor, then it won’t work.  The window is closing.  She knows it, I know it.  “Does the nurse?”, I wonder.

I ask. Jessica insists.  The nurse is stalling.  It turns out that the delivery doctor and the anesthesiologist are doing a c-section.

They should be done, “by 3:00 or a little after”.

3:10 the doctor and anesthesiologist walk in. They start preparing the epidural.  It’s a slower process than I remember or maybe seeing your wife in real pain makes the minutes seem like hours.  The nurse and anesthesiologist help Jessica on to her side as he begins inserting the epidural line into her spine.

Bad timing.

Jessica has the most intense contraction yet just as the anesthesiologist inserts the needle into her spine. For the first time ever (and I mean ever) Jessica groans in pain. Standing there, totally useless, holding her hand I’m angry. At the climax of this episode Jessica says through her teeth, “My water just broke”. It’s 3:30.

Gradually, things get easier for Jessica. The pain of the contractions recedes as the epidural starts to work. But, the contractions don’t slow and looking at the monitor, they’re as intense as ever. Relieved at last, Jessica falls in and out of moments of sleep. As she feels better, I feel better.

At 4:10 the nurse examines Jessica for the second time. Turns out she’s fully dilated.

“No shit”, I think.

The baby is down and ready to come out. The doctor is called in and arrives a moment later. He’s still chewing his lunch. I wonder to myself if he’s one of those disciplined people that actually chews his food 32 times per bite.

For the first time all day, things make sense.  Two doctors and two nurses are in our room and they’re rushing.  It’s like the TV show now.  Highly qualified doctors and nurses with efficient, precise movements and the best equipment available.  I just try not to get in the way.

Three contractions. 7 hard pushes later and Bella Satya Smith was there.

It was perfect.

Bella Satya Smith

17 thoughts on “Bella’s Birthday

  1. Congratulations to you both (well, the three of you really).
    Maybe Bella’s the first of many? Time will tell…
    Best Regards – Eddie

  2. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am SUPER excited to hear that Bella is here and that your girls are doing well. What a beutiful little one you have added to your family. It sounds like Jess was a champ!! We can’t wait to meet her and to see you all.
    Sending our love…
    Pete, Kristy & Koen

  3. Congratulations to you both, what a beautiful name for your new little treasure. She is so sweet. A life filled with blessings is my prayer for her.


  4. Congratulations to your whole family! Bella is a beautiful gift from God. How proud both of you must be. We are so glad Mommy and Bella are doing so well. Look forward to meeting her in the near future.

    Our love to you all!

    Debbie & Steve

  5. Congratulations – sounds like the perfect day! Glad everyone is doing well! Enjoy -they grow up fast!

    Best to all of you!

  6. Congratulations! What a perfectly beautiful baby! I was hoping you’d publish pictures.

    I saw, from one of your other emails, that you folks live in Davenport. I was born in Red Oak on the other side of the state. It’s always great to welcome a new Iowan.

    Very best wishes to you all,

    Sara B.

  7. Jessica and Matt,
    Congratulations! And a warm welcome in this world for Bella, the “bellissima”.
    Max will be proud of his beautiful sister.
    We hope you are all back home by now and forget the hospital…

    Best wishes,

    Beatrix & Ash

  8. I am so excited that Bella has arrived! I can’t wait to see more pictures!! I want to hear more about her middle name…I love it!…there must be a story…

    Take care Smith family!

    Stacey, Jeff, Jaden, & Jaxon wish you the very best for your beautiful family!

  9. What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing and may you all share a lifetime of love and happiness. Always, Kathy in Coralville

  10. Congratulations Jessica and I am glad everything is well. Best wishes for you all as you have added to the family!

  11. I am so thrilled for you!! With a name like Bella, of course she’s just beautiful! What a precious little girl-I can’t wait to meet her! 🙂

  12. Congratulations! What a great name for a beautiful baby. Matt, great replay of the day, I held my breath reading it. Enjoy your family and keep in touch.

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