Little Baby

Greta Dagmar Ruth Ballard On the evening of October 10th, my wife Robin began to have her contractions start to close in frequency. Our baby was not due until the 21st, but somehow we had the feeling all along that she was going to be a little early. I timed the contractions with my cell phone’s timer and figured we would head to the hospital when they got to be a minute apart.

“You didn’t read anything did you?”

“Oh sure, of course I did. I read a lot.”

I recognized my wife’s growing fangs from the last time she was pregnant. I apologized, then immediately apologized for apologizing. Then realized it was probably just best to keep my mouth shut as we closed in to the arrival.

Reading the owner’s manual by the bedside, I found that it was best to go to the hospital at five minutes apart. At around 11:30 PM, she was at three minutes apart. I called the hospital. Yes, they wanted us to come in. No, the jacuzzi room was occupied. I packed up Madeleine, Henry, and the numerous bags and accoutrements, then helped my wife get from the house to the car.

Robin’s first labor with Madeleine was 48 hours and an utter misery. Henry came in a comparative flash, about two hours after we got to the hospital. It looked like this one was in a sprint too. When Robin got on the bed, she said she wanted to push but didn’t know if she should wait for the midwife to arrive. The nurse said to push, the midwife was on her way. Robin was dilated to 8 cm.

Robin was on her side and our friend Dana was behind her. Dana pushed on her back when she had a contraction. I made sure that the cameras were operational and properly documenting. The midwife arrived and checked everything out. The water hadn’t broken yet, but the baby was definitely on its way. Robin continued to have a severe pain in her back every time she had a contraction. This made me realize my one contribution to the evening. Something that I learned in the birth classes was that it was actually easier and more natural to give birth on all fours than on the side or back. I suggested Robin get up on all fours and the midwife agreed. Robin didn’t want to, but as soon as she did, the midwife broke the water and our baby started to come out.

My five-year-old son Henry had been busily engaged with his Gameboy up to this point. I went over to him and said, “Henry, Momma is having the baby.” I think this is probably the one thing that can tear my boy away from the middle of a game. He put down the Gameboy on his own and his face lit up with awe as the birth happened. Immediately he exclaimed, “I love that baby!”

I am always broadsided by the swell of emotion a birth gives. Like a tidal wave it comes rushing in and drenches everyone in the room. I gave my wife tear soaked words of encouragement and looked over to my 11-year-old daughter Madeleine to see that she too had tears rolling down her face. Politics, work, all of that seems so petty as this moment gives a glimpse to the infinite.

Greta Dagmar Ruth Ballard was born on 1:29 AM, October 11th. At 7 lbs, 2 oz, she is a healthy 20 inch long baby girl. Robin and I have an agreement that instead of using hyphenation or my name for our children, girls get the Ballard name and boys get the Ashdown name. “Greta” was my mother’s name, “Ruth” was Robin’s grandmother. “Dagmar” is Madeleine’s contribution, a Danish name meaning “queen” that she fell in love with.

Momma and baby are doing well.

28 thoughts on “Little Baby

  1. Pete!

    I am thrilled for you all. Thanks for your detailed and compassionate account. Kirstin emailed me this morning and gave me the great news.

  2. Congratulations! I had to smile at your techno-geekiness using your cell phone to time contractions. We timed my wife’s too and I put them into a spreadsheet and threw a trendline on the data. Yup, they were getting more frequent all right. Glad to hear that all is well.

  3. Oh what a happy day!
    Thanks for taking the time to log an account of it all. When would you like me to come? I’m standing here with my valise….

  4. Congratulations! There truly is nothing more important, or amazing then our children. I’ve been a Dad for three weeks, and I figured that out the second I saw my baby boy.

  5. Glad I came to the website, someone told me Greta was a boy. The Millers send their best wishes to the Ashdown family.

    Michelle, Abby, Anna Lily, Sami, and Rob

  6. What a miracle babies are! I had a baby 24 years ago on Oct 10, Libra kids are talkative and loving.

  7. Dear Pete and Robin:

    I had the opportunity to witness the birth of my new grandson on September 29th. It is an amazing moment, and creates a bond like no other. She actually had a midwife from outside though the baby was born at Fort Carson, CO. I’m so glad families are being allowed to welcome the new little one into the world!



  8. What a beautiful account of your baby’s birth. Thank you for sharing that with us. Good job all of you for bringing lucky Greta into the world.

    Much love,

  9. Contratulations !

    Now you can both pretend like you’re sleeping while the baby cries — & see who gives in first!

    Since we got twins, we didn’t have the luxury of pretending to sleep while the other changes the diaper or gets the bottle. Doesn’t help that after 5 years, we still can’t tell them apart.

    Have fun… enjoy…make your baby feel important. Congratulations !

  10. Well done!

    I’m partial to the Danish name. Thanks for your contribution, Madeleine.

    – Soren.

  11. Dear Pete & Family,
    Glad you could all witness the glorious event together, what a memory that will make for a lifetime! Enjoy your little ones. Kathy

  12. Ashdown/Ballard Family:

    What a spectacular time in your lives! For the newly-arrived Greta we wish bravery and joy -and-loving regards to the whole family. Thanks for including us in your moment. . .

    Dawn, Lynda, Harper and Chloe (the “chick” family)

  13. Robin! Pete! Henry! Madeleine!
    Congratulations to you all… I loved reading Pete’s account of the birth– brought back a lot of memories of my own.
    I can’t wait to meet Greta!

  14. Pete, Robin, et al (I can use that now right?)
    Great to hear how well everything went. A great name for her too! Can’t wait to see you all together again. The Palace is certainly getting full.

    Kirk and Kristie

  15. Congratulations to all the Ballards and Ashdowns, what a interesting way of passing on your names to your children. I might have to talk Colleen into one more and adopt your naming tradition, best of life.

    All of us

  16. God Bless your family and your little baby.
    This is the greatest opportunity you have in your hands to make babies with your personality and charisma.


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