Baby’s Birth Story + The First Weeks as a New Mom

I should start by telling you that this is a long one, about the really tough stuff and the really brilliant stuff that happens in those first few weeks just before, during and after having a baby (the abridged birth story and all) … don’t say I didn’t warn you.

As you may have already heard, our beautiful baby girl, Scarlett Everly, came unexpectedly early.  She also arrived incredibly small.  I think; no, I know, that the type-A in me wanted everything to go according to plan, no matter how ridiculous I knew that expectation was.  But it didn’t, and that’s okay.

At 36 weeks we knew something was wrong.  We were already at a high risk pregnancy doctor because once you’ve had cancer, doctors tend to handle you with kid gloves, and honestly, thank goodness for that.  We were in the weekly ultrasound stage, and our doctor realized baby girl wasn’t growing; in fact, her growth had dropped off dramatically. As the doctor relayed the news, I tried to breathe, to process what I was hearing calmly and rationally; but all I could think was, “Oh g-d, it’s my fault.”  My fears of being “too sick” to have a baby seemed realized, and I felt stupid and helpless and guilty.  (We lost our first pregnancy, and I worried with every step of this second pregnancy that this just wasn’t going to happen for us.)  The doctor suspected IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction) and suggested that it was likely my placenta was no longer giving baby girl what she needed, thus the major drop-off in growth.  All I heard was that my body was starving my baby, and I could have fallen apart right then, but I didn’t.  We made a plan – which helped assuage my firing Type-A nerves – and decided to check baby girl every three days by ultrasound to determine if and when my placenta stopped providing nutrition to the baby.  Once the doctor noticed any further decrease, we would take the baby out – buying her a few extra days or weeks in my womb and precious time to grow.

As the best laid plans often go, a few days later, I went into early labor on a Saturday, and it took us the entire day to realize it was time, no matter how early we thought it was (plus a few errands to Target, the dry cleaner, a leisurely late lunch where I grimaced the entire meal, dinner and an eventual 1am at-home screening of Frozen, which I will forever remember as the movie I writhed through, only to finally race for the hospital as the credits rolled, realizing my contractions were less than five minutes apart.)  Whoops.

I had an emergency c-section after our baby girl’s heart rate began to decelerate sometime early Sunday morning, and we got ourselves an absolutely beautiful five pound baby girl within an hour of arriving at the hospital.  We never really got an answer as to why her little home failed on her, why she had IUGR, why she came early, whether my own health caused the problem – none of the doctors even thought that the direct cause of the IUGR mattered all that much.  And that’s okay too.

As for our days in the hospital, I am so grateful that I didn’t see our sweet baby lined up next to the plump newborns until a few days into our hospital stay, once I knew that she was healthy, because the sight of our little one next to those babies nearly brought me to tears. Despite it all, she passed every test with flying colors and continued to blow us all away with her resilience.  When we left the hospital, Scarlett weighed in at under five pounds. Still, she’s a fighter, small but mighty, and doing so unbelievably well.  Honestly, other than her tiny frame, you’d never know she had a bumpy start.

I can’t even begin to thank everyone enough for their love and support.  My family, for being there each step of the way, for running to the mall and buying every preemie outfit the Miami stores carried (and trust me, preemie baby clothes are shockingly hard to find!), for just being them.  My friends for bringing food and flowers and cookies and jokes – a.k.a., hospital essentials.  The incredible doctors and nurses at the hospital, who taught us so much (because trust me, we were clueless), who held my hand on the tough days (because oh boy, the feelings), and who gave us a perfect healthy baby despite all of the scary stuff.  And hubby.  I love you more now, I love you always, thank you, truly.

The first few weeks have been crazy hard and beautiful and awe-inspiring and tear-filled (both the good and the bad kind).  (By the way, don’t let the first two weeks fool you — they sleep most of the time, and then, as if on cue, by day 15, they wake from their sleepy haze and greet the world with much crying and spit-up.)  As for mama, the pain after a c-section is no picnic, though it fades ever-so-slightly with each passing day.  The huge new responsibility, the lack of sleep and showers, the crazy hormones that leave you feeling sad and scared and entirely overwhelmed and under-prepared, the need for love and acceptance and a partner that takes the 3am feeding (thank you, hubby), the misery that is breastfeeding (because admittedly, I hate every second of it, and yet a strange new guilt keeps me going), those things are harder than I ever could have imagined, no matter how many times I tried to imagine it.

Still, I can’t help but stare at her, the way she jerks her arms around, her little yawns, the way she fidgets and stills and opens her grey eyes wide at every new sound, the soft rumble of her rhythmic breathing.  She is without a doubt, the most beautiful little person I have ever laid eyes on, and she is half me and half the person that I love so unbelievably and unconditionally.  And the kind of love I have for her, for every new face and movement and breath, for her velvety skin and downy hair and her complete dependance on us, it’s all that and so much more.  I could burst with love.  I want to take it all in and savor every second.  I wish I could box up these memories, even the tough stuff, because in truth, it’s all for her, and that makes it all alright.



  1. Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby girl. She is absolutely gorgeous and definitely a little fighter 🙂 Raspberrykiss xo

    • Lexi

      Thank you so much!! That she is. 🙂

  2. Heidi D.

    Thank you for sharing this story Lexi! I had a similar experience with my first, and also waited waaaayyy too long to get to the hospital! So happy your baby girl is healthy and happy!

    Heidi D.

    • Lexi

      Too funny – I swear I think we thought it would just go away. Whoops!

    • Lexi

      Thank you!! 🙂

  3. Anna

    What an incredible story! Thanks so much for your willingness to share! Glad to hear you are all doing wonderful! Enjoy!


    • Lexi

      Thank you so much, Anna! We’re definitely doing great! 🙂

  4. Aw! Lexi, I’m soooo happy for you! My little bundle of joy showed up a month early as well after a fairly serious complication, and believe me, I completely understand how tiny and amazing a 5 lb baby is. It used to amaze me that my daughter could survive being that tiny, and yet also be so precious and perfect. It’s definitely a lot in the beginning, but just enjoy every minute, it goes too fast. Take it easy on yourself and don’t expect too much (put the Type A in check 😉 Looking back on those days of buying the teeny tiny diapers, and the impossible to find preemie clothes, I can happily say that my now 11 year old is taller than me! Those preemie clothes are an amazing memory though of how tiny she was, and there are quite a few that I’ll never get rid of.
    XOXO to all and ENJOY!!!

    • Lexi

      Thank you SO much, Kathy!! It is so tough finding those preemie clothes and diapers, isn’t it!? And you are so right, the type-a in me may have to sit this one out … 🙂

  5. Congratulations! It is so very difficult in the beginning and very wonderful too. I am sorry for the harrowing journey, but so glad to hear the happy ending/beginning. My second girl was a difficult pregnancy & birth healthwise, and she is now a happy, and very healthy 6 month old. Nursing DOES get easier. For both my girls, it was about 6 weeks when it was better, but I had many tearful days and wanted to give up. best wishes and congratulations again 🙂

    • Lexi

      I’m so glad to hear it! I know she’ll plump right up and I’ll find a million other things to worry about, haha.

  6. Congrats on your baby girl! I’m not going to lie, I was biting my nails while reading through this whole post! You are so amazing for staying so strong through all of this. I can’t even imagine how hard it must of been and for you to also be able to share this story with such grace is beautiful.

    I’m only a college student so I have no idea what it’s like to have a baby but I could only imagine how difficult it can get. You sound like such a strong person and I’m sure you’re an even better mother. Don’t doubt yourself for a second! Thanks again for sharing this story. Your daughter sounds like a fighter and I’m sure she gets that from her mother 🙂

    • Lexi

      Hi Misha – you easily just made my whole day with that comment! Thank you so so much. 🙂

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this honest, beautiful story with all of us. Little Scarlett is the luckiest little lady, with parents so wonderful.

    I also appreciate your brutal honesty in this post. So many times I hear “My pregnancy was a breeze! Labor wasn’t that bad! Motherhood is nothing but bliss!” I love how you shared the beautiful and real moments of delivery and motherhood, and I thank you for it.

    Sending lots and lots of love to your family from NYC!!!

  8. Maggie

    I loved reading this. You are such a beautiful writer and your little girl is so lucky to have you as her mommy. Like you, I am very Type-A and that scares me about having a baby since I have a hard time adjusting to the unplanned (the exact opposite of having a child, right?!). I admire your strong will and ability to adapt despite it not being natural to you. I can’t wait to hear more about your journey 🙂


  9. Brittney

    Oh my gosh, she is so precious! I’m a type A person too, so I would be freaking out in your place but you sound like you can handle surprises with grace. I wish you the best as you adjust to life with a baby and that you have plenty of time to enjoy what follows.

    • Lexi

      Thank you, Brittney! That means so much. 🙂

  10. Noelani

    Congratulations on your beautiful little girl! Being a mama is the best thing in the world and through this you will appreciate each and every second. And, the Groundhog Day every day does get better;) Hang in there!

    • Lexi

      haha, that’s too funny (and I sure hope so … the nights are so long!) And thank you so much! 🙂

  11. what a beautiful post! congratulations on sweet scarlett – she is just perfect.

  12. What a beautiful story, thank you for sharing. I am so happy to hear you are all well. Xo

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