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A baby changes everything

I wrote this several years ago. Seems like a good time to repost it :-)

Jury convicts father of severe abuse

A Spokane father has been convicted of severely abusing his infant daughter.

Tyler L. Jamison, 20, has been in the Spokane County Jail since April 2010, when his 2-month-old daughter, SkyeLynn suffered what Spokane police initially feared would be fatal injuries but has since been adopted through a foster family.

A jury convicted Jamison of first-degree assault after a trial before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno. The girl has been adopted.

Jamison is to be sentenced Sept. 28. He remains in jail without bail.

Past coverage:

April 12, 2010: Injured baby improving at Spokane hospital

April 8, 2010: Police: Baby brain dead after assault by father

Trial begins in horrible child abuse case

A jury trial began this week for a young man accused of brutally assaulting his infant daughter.

Tyler L. Jamison, 20, has been in the Spokane County Jail since April 2010, when his 2-month-old daughter, SkyeLynn suffered what Spokane police  initially feared would be fatal injuries but has since been adopted through a foster family.

Jamison is charged with first-degree assault. Police say he described weeks of horrible abuse that was sparked by the baby's crying.

He cut off her breathing until she turned pale “a couple times a day until his fingernails started leaving scratches and cuts on SkyeLynn’s skin,” according to court documents. He didn’t want anyone to notice what he was doing, so “he started cupping his hand over SkyeLynn’s nose and mouth when she would cry.”

Jamison also reportedly told police that he sometimes squeezed SkyeLynn and may have broken ribs. Medics said the girl’s ribs appeared to have been broken at different times.

Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno is presiding over the trial, which began Monday. Sharon Hedlund is prosecuting. Jeff Compton is defending Jamison.

Past coverage:

April 12, 2010: Injured baby improving at Spokane hospital

April 8, 2010: Police: Baby brain dead after assault by father

We are so much more than ordinary

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)


   Holding my newborn granddaughter, gazing down at her as she sleeps, I study her closely, mapping her with my hands and my eyes just as I did with her mother, my firstborn child. Just as I did with each of my children.

   Cradling her in my left arm, instinctively holding her close, pressed against my heart, I trace the curves and folds of her ear with my fingertip. It is as tiny and perfect as a seashell. With my hand I follow the already discernible swirl of her down-like hair as it wreaths her head. I take her  hand in mine, marveling at the strength of her grip, aware that each tiny finger is already marked with her unique signature. I rest one soft, wrinkled foot in my palm, imagining the steps it will take as she walks into the future. I fold into her, putting my face against her skin and breathing in the heady perfume of a sleeping newborn. I am lost in this child. Just as I was with her mother. Just as I was with each of my children.

   Most of us would, if asked, describe ourselves as ordinary. But the truth is, if we stop to think about it, there is no such thing as an ordinary human being. Even beyond temperament and personality, each of us comes into this world extraordinary in countless physical characteristics; in the flecks of color in our eyes and the way our brow furrows or our smile curves, in the imprint of each foot as we stride. Sculpted around a ladder of bones, draped in soft skin, we are unique and individual. Unlike any other living creature.  We arrive complete, an exquisite product of the complex and mysterious cellular shuffle that takes place at conception.

   But somewhere along the road, most of us forget this. We lose sight of the fact as we swirl in the crowd of humanity—a snowflake in the blizzard—that each of us is one-of-a-kind and like no other. Oh, we all secretly know it about the children we’ve created. We marvel at them even as they grow up. But we forget we are also wonderful.

   Perhaps this is why new babies capture and claim us. It goes beyond love. Beyond pride and a sense of fulfillment. When we reach out and take a newborn, when we bring a child close and look down on the miracle, we are reminded that each of us comes into this world, and leaves it, as a rare and beautiful thing.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Home Planet , Treasure Hunting and  CAMera: Travel and Photo blogs, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Woman finishes bar exam while in labor

CHICAGO (AP) — A pregnant suburban Chicago woman was so determined to finish the Illinois bar exam that she completed the test even after going into labor.

The Chicago Tribune reports 29-year-old Elana Nightingale Dawson had started the final portion of the exam last week when the Northwestern Law School graduate went into labor. The exam must be finished to be valid.

Nightingale Dawson says her goal was "to get through the exam as fast as I could and leave" unless anything more serious happened. Her contractions were about 15 minutes apart.

After finishing, she walked with the proctor about one block to a downtown Chicago hospital. The Downers Grove woman's son, Wilson, was delivered by C-section about two hours later.

She'll find out in October if she passed the bar.

Man jailed after odd encounter with infant

A man prohibited from possessing firearms was arrested with a gun in a Spokane cemetery last weekend after confessing his love to a baby and asking if he could be her "Uncle Bob," police say.

The child's mother was at the Fairmount Cemetery, 5200 W. Wellesley Ave., with her infant daughter and a friend when a man with two dogs approached, rubbed her shoulder and picked up the baby from her stroller without permission, according to court documents.

The suspect, later identified as Robert F. Asterino, Jr., 46, held the child for several minutes before becoming distracted by a couple approaching with their own dogs, according to police. When he bent over to place the baby back in her stroller, the woman observed the handle of a handgun in his waistband. He also had a beer bottle in his front pocket, she told police.

The woman's friend said she was frightened "and did not feel she could tell him to put the baby down due to his large size, his strange demeanor and the fact that he had been drinking," according to court documents.

Spokane police used a search warrant to recover from Asterino's 1968 Chevy pickup a 9mm glock with 16 rounds in the magazine, as well as an extra bullet. He was jailed on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, which was later dismissed. 

This story has been updated from its published version. A reference to an earlier felony conviction in New Mexico was deleted after Asterino provided evidence that the charge had been reduced to a petty misdemeanor. Also, information of the dismissal of the firearm charge was added. 

Joint, not cigar, celebrates baby’s birth

UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Police say a new father faces drug charges because he lit up a marijuana joint, instead of a cigar, to celebrate his child’s birth at a western Pennsylvania hospital.

Police aren’t identifying the man found smoking the pot in a designated smoking area of Uniontown Hospital Tuesday morning, but say he’ll face marijuana possession charges.

Uniontown police Sgt. Jonathan Grabiak tells the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that a nurse smelled the marijuana when she took a cigarette break in the same area, and a hospital security guard called police about 3:20 a.m.

Grabiak says the man told him, “I’m having a baby and wanted to get a buzz” and then pulled a bag of marijuana from his shoe.

The man was released to a family member and made to leave the hospital.

Boy’s murder suspect faces more charges

A man accused of beating to death his girlfriend’s 1-year-old son has been charged with a previous assault on another child. 

James R. “J.R.” Cooley, 22, already jailed on $1 million bond for first-degree murder, was ordered held on an additional $250,000 bail Tuesday on two counts of first-degree assault for the beating of a baby boy in May.

Cooley was considered a person of interest in the assault, which left the boy mentally disabled, since it was reported May 5, but he was not charged until he confessed during a police interrogation after his arrest for murder last week, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Monday.

Cooley wrote a letter of apology to that baby’s mother, April Fagan, during the interrogation, saying, “I’m so sorry for what happened. I didn’t think it would hurt him that bad,” according to the affidavit.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 30: Boyfriend arrested after baby found dead

Spokane police investigating baby’s death

Spokane police are investigating the death of a baby boy and say his mother’s boyfriend is the only suspect.

 The 1-year-old boy was not breathing when officers arrived at an East Everett Avenue home in Hillyard just before 5 p.m., according to a news release by Lt. Dave McGovern.

“Detectives are interviewing the family and are currently questioning a suspect, the boyfriend of the child’s mother,” McGovern wrote at 8 p.m. “No arrests have been made as of yet. There are no other outstanding suspects. The investigation is ongoing and there is no further information at this time.”

Accused baby seller’s wife: It was a joke

The wife of a man accused of trying to sell their 6-month-old daughter on Craigslist said her husband meant the ad to be a joke.

“We all have different understanding(s) of jokes,” Michelle Edison said in an e-mail to the newspaper. “We have discussed it and he now realizes how others took it.”

She described her husband, 44-year-old Gregory G. Edison, as a “great dad” and said she has “no worries about him.”

Police are requesting prosecutors charge Gregory Edison with attempted child selling. The ad was posted Monday but removed by Craigslist within an hour.

Police learned of it from a TV news station. Police say Greg Edison called the station, then police, after learning of the investigation.

The Edisons live with their baby and 2-year-old child; police don’t believe Michelle Edison knew of the ad.

Man faces felony for Craigslist baby ad

Police are recommending a felony charge against a Spokane man they believe advertised his 6-month-old daughter for sale on Craigslist.

Gregory G. Edison, 44, listed himself as the seller on the ad, which was posted on Monday but removed by Craigslist within an hour, police said Thursday.

A TV news station told police of the ad after a citizen called. Police spoke with Edison, who lives with his wife, the baby and a 2-year-old child, and believe only he was responsible for the ad, according to a news release.

The ad included photos of an infant and said: “We don’t get along. She won’t let me feed her or hold her. She cries from the time she wakes up til the time she goes to bed. She lets my friends male or female hold and feed her. Her and her mom are always fussin’. We had a 4 hour standoff just to get her to take the bottle from me. She will be on the porch waiting on you…LOL.”

A similar advertisement for a 4-year-old boy in February was linked to a Sandpoint teenager who said he posted it as a joke.

Police are requesting prosecutors charge Edison with attempted child selling.

Edison is a felon with convictions for first-degree robbery in King County in 2001, fourth-degree assault in Spokane in 2008, as well as a drug conviction from 2007.

Parenting without a map

      Last week at the bookstore, I spent an hour moving slowly along the rows and bookshelves, my head tilted to one side, reading titles.

      After an hour or so of skimming titles and sampling chapters I had three books I couldn’t leave behind so I carried them to the cash register and got in line. There was a man talking to the cashier and just ahead of me a pregnant woman stood with three books of her own. Tilting my head again, I read the titles she held.

      Each of them had something to do with parenting.

      Ah, I thought. She’s looking for an owner’s manual. I remembered doing the same thing.


The baby-industrial complex

Prior to having our first child nearly two weeks ago, my wife and I were fairly oblivious to the vast world of baby-related retail products. As we prepared for our little one’s arrival, we ambled blankly through Babies-R-Us and other stores, wondering, at times aloud, “do we really need all this stuff?” It’s kind of like an improv game - choose a verb that describes something your baby will do, and a noun that describes where they will do it, and I guarantee that A) there’s a product designed for that specific situation, and B) it’s probably got Elmo on it.

Of course, no one needs everything at the store. But we did pick up some things that we now can’t live without, and some other things that haven’t proved particularly useful. Besides obvious things like jammies and a car seat, here are some nursery essentials.

1) Changing table. Initially, it seemed absurd to me to have a mission-specific piece of furniture for a job that, fundamentally, only requires a horizontal surface, like the bed or the couch. But I lucked out and found a nice one at the Habitat surplus store for $20, so I brought it home. It is now officially my favorite piece of furniture in the house. You really need something that’s the appropriate height and that the baby can’t roll out of. Also, I’ve learned that baby boys love to pee all over everything at inopportune moments (there are four or five brands of Elmo-themed cups you can use to contain these outbursts), and whether the baby pees all over a $20 table (as opposed to my bed) frankly doesn’t keep me up at night.

2) Cloth diapers. Don’t get me wrong - as long as we’re still in double-digit diaper changes per day, we’re using disposables and refuse to feel guilty about it (though we’re open to doing the “green” thing later on). Meanwhile, the cloth diapers are the ultimate all-purpose rags - we use them for burping cloths and keep a couple handy by the changing table for body-fluid management. We got some really nice burping cloths as a gift that do the job, but not so well as to justify the expense.

3) Straitjackets. OK, not really. But when our doula explained to us that babies are most comfortable when they’re wrapped up tightly like a burrito, we dug through the clothes and found the swaddle-sleeper that some friends gave us. Basically a cloth bag with flaps that velcro around to hold the arms in place. It looks (and functions) a lot like a little straitjacket. Baby’s snug and secure, mom and dad get a little sleep, everyone wins.

4) 25-watt bulbs. Don’t buy a night light. Just get a low-power bulb and put it in one of your lamps, and keep the light on all night. It’s a lot easier to get used to sleeping in soft light than it is to fumble around for the light switch with a kid in your arms at 3 a.m.

5) Music device. It seems counterintuitive, but babies don’t like silence. We’ve got a cheapo set of speakers hooked up to an iPod in our room. As we calm baby to sleep, we keep some relaxing music going. Helps calm parents as much as it does the kiddo.

6) Backpack. We’re using my wife’s old school backpack as a diaper bag. Very handy, and makes dad feel less dorky than he would lugging around one of those gigantic shiny purses they sell in the stores.

What about you? What are some nursery items you couldn’t live without? Are there things you bought that you found out were completely useless?

Shenelle: No Cold Bottoms!

Simply amazing so many of us survived with rough wooden cribs, laundry baskets as bassinets and wash cloths dipped in honey as teething rings. I don’t know how I have all my appendages considering the playground equipment I used as a child had metal links, (gasp), and nothing but dirt to cushion my fall. I’m pretty sure that about a month after I have my son his car seat will be recalled, the mattress pad in his crib will be found to have a sort of foam in it that when mixed with certain paints becomes toxic and breast milk will be considered unsanitary. But I’m pretty sure he’ll survive … as long as we have our trusty wipe warmer. Because no son of mine is going to have a cold bottom. Damn the cost or consequences!/Shenelle Kraack, St. Maries Gazette Record. Full column below.

Question: Are you surprised that you survived childhood?

Put Your Hands Together For …

… Sid and Stacy Smith. Smith, the former state Repub exec and spokesman for U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, and his wife (a Boise elementary teacher and former Coeur d’Alene High sports star) welcomed first child, son Taylor Carlin Smith, Friday in Boise. According to Sid’s mother, Ruth, Sid will be in town next Monday to begin his duties as U.S. Sen. Jim Risch’s regional director. The couple has been trying to get back to Coeur d’Alene for years after living in Washington, D.C., and Boise.

Huckleberries Hears No. 2 …

… That Councilman MikeK has another little mouth to feed. And baby Ronan (pronounced Ro-nen) James makes 7. Ron — who joines Will 13, Nora 11, Maggie 9, Max 6, Quinn 3, and Jack, who turns 2 Jan. 30 — arrived at 8 pounds 5 ounces and 20.5 inchjes long at 3:22 p.m. Saturday. Of consequence, Mike told Huckleberries, Ronan’s head is 14.5 inches in circumference, which made for a long delivery. Mike said he’s trying to increase the population of Demos in North Idaho. But his wife’s independence could undercut his quest. At the swearing in ceremony for new Prosecutor Barry McHugh this morning, Mike told Barry that his large family is a result of two things — old-fashioned Catholicism and whisky. Dead-panned Barry in return: “You should tell your wife to quit drinking.”