Bogue Chitto soldier’s wife: ‘We’re having a baby today’
A Bogue Chitto man sat alone in an Army motor pool in Kuwait and watched his son make an early arrival into the world.
Easton Burke Smith was born at 1:46 p.m. on Aug. 7 at Merit Health Women’s Hospital in Flowood. His mother, Dusti Rawls Smith, was on a hospital gurney, awake for the planned C-section. Her husband, E4 Spc. Dylan Smith, was 7,300 miles away in a maintenance office, catching the event on his iPhone.
The couple, married since the last day of 2015, are junior high sweethearts. Easton is their firstborn.
Dusti wasn’t due until Sunday, but Easton had other ideas. She didn’t know she was in labor when she visited her doctor. She couldn’t wait to tell her husband.
“I was trying to call him and text him before I let anyone else know,” she said. “I finally got a message to him after I got to the hospital. I said, ‘We’re having a baby today.’”
Dylan flew in from Kuwait Monday night and gets to spend 10 days with his family, but he would have liked to have been stateside for the delivery.
“God has been good, definitely,” he said.
Dylan, a full-time mechanic at Camp Shelby, is one of about 140 troops from the 106th India Co. of Brookhaven, which is part of the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team of the Mississippi Army National Guard. He is one of the more than 4,000 National Guard soldiers who trained at Fort Bliss in Texas before heading to the Middle East for nine months.
Dusti said she was on Cloud 9 to be able to hold her husband and their baby at the same time.
“He’s got his daddy’s dimples,” she said.
Dylan thinks Easton resembles Dusti.
“To me he looks more like her, but everybody else, they’re saying he looks more like me,” he said. “It kind of depends on what face he’s making.”
Dusti said Easton’s got his dad’s personality, too.
“He’s a happy baby. Just sweet, content. Not fussy,” she said.
Since the Smiths were never sure he’d be able to get leave approved, they came up with a backup plan that included Dusti’s sister, Laken Smith, Facetiming the birth on her iPhone. It was the next best thing to having her husband there with her, Dusti said.
“I knew I’d be gone and I wasn’t too sure if I’d be able to make it back for the birth or not,” Dylan said. “It was up in the air whether they were going to hand out paternal leave.”
He made small talk while the doctor worked and told her Dad jokes to keep her calm.
“They were good Dad jokes,” she said. “Everyone in the delivery room loved it.”
Dylan said the birth didn’t take long at all.
“In less than five minutes, all you hear is, ‘Whoop, there he is,’ and you hear him crying. They brought him out and there he was,” he said.
Laken, who also married a Smith, followed the nurses around and Dylan saw his son get cleaned up, weighed and measured. He took a few screen shots during the Facetime, then got a bunch more texted to him.
“Then her family and my family were steadily sending pictures of him,” he said.
Since it was eight hours later for Dylan, he went to bed without sharing the big news. The next day the proud dad showed pictures of Easton to anyone who’d look.
Soldiers in the National Guard are required to pay their own way home and back for leave. Tickets from Kuwait to New Orleans can be pricey.
“Luckily some buddies I made in Guard that are in Kuwait, they started a GoFundMe page and were able to raise enough money for me to buy my plane ticket with a few hundred bucks extra for travel and such. I was very blessed,” he said.
Dylan will head back to Kuwait Wednesday.
Easton is the first grandson for Jawana Slaven and Jeremy Rawls, both of Bogue Chitto, and the ninth for Johnny Smith of Brookhaven and Leslie Smith of Wesson.