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

US ‘could be going bankrupt’

I came across this great article on the future of the US economy. Oddly enough, I didn’t find it in the US press, but the UK press. It’s quite enlightening and more than a little scary. The irresponsible “who cares about tomorrow” decisions of our government are compounding and will eventually reach a tipping point….

By Edmund Conway, Economics Editor

(Filed: 14/07/2006)

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country’s central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. “To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors,” he asked.

According to his central analysis, “the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds”.

The budget deficit in the US is not massive. The Bush administration this week cut its forecasts for the fiscal shortfall this year by almost a third, saying it will come in at 2.3pc of gross domestic product. This is smaller than most European countries – including the UK – which have deficits north of 3pc of GDP.

READ the full article here

Aaron’s site..

I heard that some people have had trouble finding Aaron’s site due to some domain changes I made a few months ago.   The reason I changed domains was because I was trying to find a permanent home for the site. 

 I updated his site today with some video taken from the get together after the memorial service.  There’s some great stuff there.  I’d encourage everyone to take a look.  (special thanks to Lindsay for videotaping that night).

The permanent home is 



We had to put my dog down today. He's a good dog. He's almost 10 years old and I've had him since he was 5weeks.

Every dog owner thinks their dog is special, but I really believe Cash was just a little bit more human than most dogs.

Cash and I have lived all over the country: Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, Ft. Myers Florida, Chicago, Portland and Davenport, Iowa.

You're a good boy, Cash. I hope you feel better.

A few more pics of Cash here


Jessica started going into labor a little after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.  Things progressed through the night, her contractions were getting stronger and closer together, which is exactly what you would expect.   By about 6am they were about 4 1/2 min apart.  It seemed like things were progressing pretty quickly.  We call the doctor and he told us to come on into the hospital.  Jess hopped (maybe hopped isn’t the right word?) into the shower. I just lay in bed thinking about what all was going to be happening that day.  To me it seemed like everything was moving like clockwork..

A few minutes later Collin wakes up and comes downstairs.   Jessica told him that the baby was coming and he’s says, “In a couple of days?”.  “No, soon. Today. We’re going to the hospital this morning, as soon as we’re all ready.”  Collin was more excited than anybody else.  He ran upstairs to his bedroom and comes down a few minutes later all dressed in a polo shirt and kakis…  That may have been the fastest he’s ever gotten dressed and certainly the fastest he’s ever gotten dressed wearing clothes that made any sense at all…He told me later that he wanted to look good when his brother came.

Walking through the hospital lobby carrying our bags and Starbucks (Yes, we did stopped on the way to the hospital and Yes, I know I have a problem) Jessica had her biggest contraction yet.  We all stopped and Collin and I stood there for a minute watching Jess grimace.  We get checked in and into our room.  Jessica gets attached to various monitors and the nurse comes in to check her dilation.  Two.  We were surprised.  Things had been going on for 7 hours now.  It was starting to get fairly uncomfortable for Jess but she was only dilated to two.  The nurse decides just to have us sit for a while so she can monitor the contractions (or “transactions” as I kept calling them.  Too much business on my mind, Jessica told me).

A while later, it seems to me that the birth isn’t imminent and I decide to take collin to school.  He was pissed.  He hasn’t been real excited about school this year anyway and with (in his mind at least) so much going on he felt like he was going to miss out on everything.

I get back to the hospital just in time to hear that Jessica has decided to go home.  The contractions (transactions) all night seemed to be progressing well but now were all over the place.  Waiting it out at home turned out to be a very good thing.

I’m ashamed to say, but we stopped at McDonald’s on the way home.  I had two cheeseburgers. Jessica had a Big Mac.  Filled with nasty food, we went home and passed out.  Jessica slept for about 2.5 hours in between contractions.  The sleep was good and really made the rest of the night a lot easier.

When we left the hospital they told us that we should head back in when her contractions were 3-4min apart for 2hours.  By about 5:00 things were getting pretty intense.  We were still at home but Jessica’s contractions were starting to look very painful… But far from 3-4 min apart.  They were averaging about 7min.  Still, the contractions were becoming pretty painful and to me at least it looked like she was in active labor.  We called the Doctor, went to the hospital and went through the whole monitor drill again.  Now, at about 6:30pm she was finally dilated to 4.

Things started moving pretty quickly from there.  An hour later she was at 5 and contractions were becoming pretty intense.  Another hour later she was at 8 and really feeling the pain.  She’d been totally drug free to that point.  I know she has a high pain tolerance, but she really didn’t even look frazzled until the “transaction” right before the Doctor checked her again.  That one looked pretty rough and made Jessica puke. Mmmmm. McDonald’s.  She was holding up well though and I was impressed, but It seemed like it could go bad from there.

She opted for the epidural which, I’m told, pretty much numbs you from the navel down.  We called our parents let them know that it was getting close. The epidural slowed things down a bit, but they were still moving forward well. My mom came in first.  Jessica’s mom brought collin in a while later and Buzz came in when he got off work (about 11:15).

Because of the prior c-section, the doctors were monitoring her very closely.  When it came time to push they really slowed down the process by having her push only every other contraction. She pushed for a long time…

I don’t want to get into the actual birth.  I’ve seen the videos (they gross me out), this was different.  Maybe because it was my baby, maybe because it was my wife, maybe because I was totally exhausted that I felt kinda drunk…whatever the reason I watched the whole thing and thought it was surprisingly very cool…freaky as hell, but very cool.

Jessica did awesome.  He was born at 2:16am on Aug 18th.  He was 8.2lbs and 20.5inches long.  Totally fine and healthy.  We named him Maxim Benjamin Smith.  They plan to keep Jessica and Max in the hospital until Saturday morning.

All is good.