Oh, Baby!

That’s right…for those of you who have been keeping score…Kiefer Shannon was born at 10:08 PM on July 12th. The delivery was without complications, and both baby and mommy recovered quickly from the ordeal. Kiefer weighed in at eight pounds, even, at twenty inches of length… “…and my life has never been the same!”

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as having too much information, especially when it comes to the health of your child, but I have learned that our experience into parenthood differs from many others out there. Being designated as having a “high risk” pregnancy, we went from bi-weekly visits to the doctor, to weekly, to twice weekly in rather rapid fashion.

Although mother and child were subjected to numerous tests, a strict diet and vitamin supplement regimen, we never felt too worried about the ultimate outcome, likely out of our trust in the professional medical team caring for us, the extent to which we educated ourselves about the process, and our faith in God.

We were fortunate to see numerous sonograms over the course of the pregnancy, far more than most parents are permitted, “just to be sure” everything was alright. Despite the “high risk” designation, we still planed for, hoped for and prayed for a natural childbirth. (As a side note, we attended “The Bradley Method” childbirth classes, which defines natural childbirth as that which has…preferably…no intervention by the medical staff, including internal fetal monitoring, intravenous fluids, epidural and the Hollywood-esque “stirrup” birthing position…to the point we laugh when we hear people who have “natural” childbirth with an epidural or other chemical assistance???)

The one strike against us for abiding by our birth plan was that Kiefer preferred to stay in the breech position throughout the pregnancy. We even tried all those “Old Wive’s Tale” remedies: ice-packs at the mother’s sternum, playing music at the belly, yoga positions, walking, pelvic rocking, etc. to no avail. Fortunately, or so we thought, we had an ace (well, actually two) up our sleeve. Two of the doctors on our medical team are the only two in North Florida who will attempt a non-caesarian breech birth.

When the Week 39 ultrasound measurements returned an estimated gestational weight of eight pounds, one of those two doctors cringed and said, “Well, we’ll see.” (False encouragement, no doubt.) There were more tests that Monday, and we were advised to get a bite to eat before returning for some additional monitoring. Good thing we did, since all the collected data suggested birth was imminent, and since there was no evidence of dilation, preparations were being made for an evening C-Section. It was also fortunate we decided to make this day a “trial run” for packing the truck with all those “last minute” items needed on the day of the delivery.

While we began to accept this method of delivery, one of the doctors, fully aware and understanding of our desire to have a natural birth, offered a suggested course of action that would end in a safe conventional delivery. To ensure the safety of mother and child, the cesaerian procedure was still scheduled, in case the “cephalic version” (internal rotation) was unsuccessful. As fate would have it, the fluid levels required for such a version were not sufficient, but we appreciated the medical team being attentive and accommodating to our wishes.

Family and friends stayed through the evening to welcome Little Kiefer into the world. Daddy posed next to the nursery viewing window while his son received his routine treatments. Within an hour, the new family was in the recovery room, and not long after, in the maternity wing of the hospital, receiving guests. We are overjoyed about this new chapter in our lives, and we look forward to the challenges and accomplishments that lie ahead. Like most parents, sleep has a different meaning for us now, especially with this tag-team, pump-to-bottle feeding rotation we have employed.

Many people ask us about our son’s name, “…as in Kiefer Sutherland?” Although the spelling is the same, the association ends there. Even though we consider Mr. Sutherland to be superb performer, are huge fans of the 24 television series, and Scott has, on several occasions, been compared to the Jack Bauer actor (we don’t see it, but it’s a fine compliment), Kiefer Shannon was named after his two great grandmothers who passed away in the last couple years, Edith Caroline Kiefer Alsnauer and Jeannette Shannon Smith. We had hoped he would at least be able to meet his great grandfather Raymond Muth Alsnauer, who passed away earlier this year. His remaining great grandmother Lilly Miller and great great grandfather Dudley Cassiday are eager to meet him.

In this digital age, protocol and common courtesy have become a bit skewed. In the last couple years, it seems to have become entirely acceptable to hold a phone conversation in the middle of a restaurant, whether it serves burgers and fries or London Broil. I kept my cellphone with me at all times during the preceding ordeal, partly to remain in contact with our friends and family, and also because it has become a standard pocket item, along with my wallet and car keys. When an incoming call rang in minutes before Layla was to be prepped for surgery, I kindly explained to Layla I will let it go to voicemail. She asked who it was, and when I said it was a talent agent from Miami, she instructed me directly, “You had better take that call.”

   http://www.facebook.com/v/1332151991520 When I connected with Peggi McKinley and told her what was happening, she scolded me for answering the phone (good for her!), then proceeded to share with me an audition for the USA Network television series Burn Notice I could videotape locally and submit electronically. The only catch was, it was due by 3:00 PM the next day. Ever the Boy Scout, I happened to bring my video camera with me, but left the tripod at the house. After fashioning a platform out of one of those hospital tray tables and an over-turned trash can, I read my scene while standing over Layla, who read the other parts while holding Kiefer. That audition (done purely on adrenaline and no sleep) warranted a callback in Miami the day after we returned home from the hospital. Although I was not cast for that episode, I have since been called to audition for that series again, so there is something in my performance the producers like. I feel that the more I work on honing my skills, it is only a matter of time before you will see me on Burn Notice!

I finished last month’s entry talking about the film project Rescue Me. Originally, the shooting was to take place the same week Kiefer was due (July 20th). I discussed with the director, and the original shooting schedule accommodated my personal priorities, for which I was very thankful. When our baby arrived a week early, that set into motion a very positive and encouraging series of events, since a potential conflict was completely averted. Layla’s mother Jo Ann and brother Sam stayed with us and helped with the household workload, which gave Layla plenty of time to feed and bond with her child, and made me feel confident she was taken care of when I was out of town for this project.

My first day on set, I was impressed with the organization and level of professionalism of the cast and crew, which made me very excited to see this picture develop over the successive days and weeks. Some days, the production would face a potential setback (location suddenly unavailable, weather scrubbing an exterior shot, etc.), but the directing team of Paul A. Moore, Ric Viers and Thomas Griffin has accommodated each hurdle to keep the project moving forward. I have a couple scenes remaining, and should wrap within the coming week. Keep checking in from time to time to learn about release information later this year.

There were some wild scheduling occurrences for me at the end of July: I received notification from my Jacksonville agent Andrea Jones-Shiver about a callback in Orlando. She was a bit concerned, since the callback was on short notice; only a couple hours, which is sufficient for local talent, but not for those of us who must travel two hours to the audition. Fortunately, I was just leaving another audition in Orlando, so I could make the callback in time, before heading to Lake City for a film shoot that afternoon and evening. The callback paid off; although I was not cast in same role from the audition, I was cast in that commercial, and worked a long, fun day the following week.

Also, a change in the shooting schedule for Rescue Me (no relation to the television series of the same name) made me available to audition for Jacksonville’s premiere improvisational comedy troupe, Mad Cowford, who since have asked me to join their ranks, and I look forward to my first performance with this group. I sure would appreciate your support, so stay in touch to learn when that performance might occur.

We closed the month bringing everything together: Layla, Kiefer and I made our way to Northeast Florida Regional Airport for a quarterly dinner hosted by the St. Augustine Airport Pilots Association. The entertainment for the evening: a special video presentation demonstrating how Academy Award-winning film editor Thelma Schoonmaker developed the flight scenes for the Martin Scorsese film The Aviator. As an added treat, the Oscar she won for The Aviator was on display, and we all took turns being photographed with it. Of course, the real treat was all our friends “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing over our new baby!

Scott J. Smith


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