Welcoming the 21st Century Baby

As I write this I’m sitting in a hospital room waiting for my wife, Dana, to be induced sometime around 5:00 this evening. My weekend plans had been to grab some craft beer and watch The Masters in 4K on DirecTV, but this was a late-in-life, bonus baby (I’m 46), and the pregnancy has been fraught with “excitement” as we’ve dealt with high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. If you get nothing else from this column, heed my advice to have kids sooner rather than later.

Sitting in the hospital room, I reminisced about having our first daughter, Lauryn, back in 2006, and was struck by just how much has changed in the world of technology in those 9½ years.

On the medical side, I’m sure much has changed, but one thing we’ve noticed is that my wife’s doctor can now remotely monitor and receive constant, real-time updates of her blood pressure and the baby’s vitals on her smartphone. She assured us that even when she’s not here, she’s here.

Another change for us is I had a cell phone in 2006 but not a smartphone. (The first iPhone launched in June 2007.) Checking or sending e-mail required pulling out a computer and going to a place in the hospital—the waiting room—that offered Wi-Fi. Now I have my iPhone 6 and my wife has her Galaxy, and besides the (sucky) Wi-Fi that’s in our room, we have LTE service that makes it much easier to keep in touch with the outside world. You know, so those post-delivery Tweets and Facebook posts can go off without a hitch.

When we had Lauryn, I loaded a bunch of music onto an iPod so Dana could listen during the delivery via a small speaker. Now we have Bluetooth speakers and Tidal, Rhapsody, Deezer, Pandora, and Google Music. In fact, Spotify even has a “Birthing Playlist” curated by an ob-gyn with songs designed to accompany the different stages of labor. (I read the songs to Dana and she said, “Eject.” Sorry, Spotify.)

Besides the small Samsung LCD TV in our room—with a handy wired remote by the bed and built-in speaker for quasi-private listening—we have literally the entire world at our fingertips. Whether through my Vudu To Go library with about 200 movies, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or the Dish Anywhere app to watch live or recorded TV streamed from our home’s Hopper 3, there is virtually nothing we can’t watch to pass the time. I do wish Dish’s new HopperGO was available. This device holds up to 100 hours of content, creates its own Wi-Fi hotspot, and serves up to six simultaneous streams so everyone can be entertained. But that’ll be something to look forward to for the next baby…

Beyond the tech at our disposal while in the hospital, there have been huge advances in baby care that baby Audrey Elize will enjoy that didn’t exist for big sister Lauryn. In fact a whole new section at January’s CES—BabyTech Summit—was devoted to “baby technology.”

Now, instead of fighting with the car seat or wondering if it’s correctly installed and tightened, the 4Moms Self-Installing Car Seat makes sure it’s correctly latched, leveled, and tightened every time it’s installed and will notify you immediately of any issues. Also cool is the the Owlet Infant Monitor Sock that uses sensors to track oxygen levels and heart rates and can notify you immediately either via an app or by a flashing monitor if there are any dangerous changes.

My favorite bit of baby tech from the show—and one I’m trying to get my hands on—is the Onelink’s Wi-Fi Envirocam. This includes a 1080p pan/tilt/zoom IP camera with night vision and two-way audio for remotely checking in on baby. You can also set boundaries and be notified if anyone enters or leaves a defined space. The Envirocam also tracks the room’s temperature, humidity, and CO levels, and tracks the baby’s respiration rate. All designed to make parents sleep a bit easier.

There’s no question that Audrey is entering a different and exciting new world. Fortunately, technology is around to help her (slightly older) parents make the most of it.

(Welcome Audrey Elize Sciacca, born April 10, 2016 at 11:50 am. 5 pounds, 11 ounces, 18.5 inches)

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