I have never been more proud, more awestruck, or more carried away by love.

Erin woke me at 3:40 AM. She’d been up since 2 AM. I went to bed a 1:30 AM. Her mucus plug had come out, and she’d had a bloody show. Contractions—real ones, not Braxton Hicks were about 4-5 minutes apart. Baby Davison, not due until May 2, clearly another idea about the right time to emerge.

Erin and I were pretty casual about the whole thing—excited but casual if that’s possible. We each took a shower and freshened up for the long day ahead. It took us a while to get everything thrown together. We checked into the Salem Memorial Hospital at 5:15 AM.

Erin’s cervix was checked at 6 AM. Dilated 1 cm and 70 percent effaced. We walked around the hospital for an hour. Erin described the pain as bad menstrual cramps. Cervix check at 7 AM. Dilated 1-2 cm. The nurse could touch baby’s head. We walked another hour. 8 AM check: Dilated 2-3 cm, 90 percent effaced.

And then it all slowed down. Erin’s contractions were wildly irregular. Sometimes they were sharp, sometimes dull. They bounced around in intervals of 2-5 minutes with almost no discernible pattern except that the overall intensity was really picking up. Between 11 and noon, life was not much fun. Then we met Mr. Jacuzzi tub. Thank God for the Jacuzzi tub, because the water jets really helped make the contractions bearable for Erin. How bearable? Erin spent two and half hours in the Jacuzzi. Eventually, though, even the water and jets no longer masked the pain.

She went with intense labor pains for about 30 minutes after that before deciding on an epidural. She could no longer breath her way through the contractions and given her dilation, 5 cm, she faced at least several more hours of excruciating pain. If there is anything worse than not being able to help someone you love when they’re in serious pain, I don’t know what it is. The anesthesiologist took a little while to get there and it took a little while for the epidural to work. This was an additional 30 minutes or so of torturous pain for poor Erin, but by 4 PM the block had taken effect, and Erin was numb from the mid-tummy down (in addition to being a little loopy). But boy oh boy she felt better.

We start pushing with the contractions around 4:30 or so. The epidural made it impossible for Erin to feel anything, so we had to rely on the monitor to know when for Erin to push. It took a couple of exhausting hours of work for Erin to get fully dilated so that we could call in the OB/GYN for delivery. But she did it.

The delivery was a little rough in that, again, the epidural made it impossible for Erin to feel anything. The doctor ended up making an epistodomy and Erin had a little tearing, but neither was too severe. Then, at 7:03 PM, with an effort whose memory still brings tears to my eyes, Erin pushed our son Jonah Patrick Davison into the world. Words cannot express the emotion in my heart. I am so very grateful to God, to Erin, and to all the people who have held us in their thoughts or prayers.

Erin and I spent the next 45 minutes staring at our son while the placenta was delivered and the doctor sewed Erin up a bit. Jonah’s head is a little crowned and his face a little puffy from his lengthy stay in the birth canal, but he is quite simply the most beautiful child in the world. With a thick head of hair and cute little tongue, he’s amazing to behold. I will be posting a bazillion photos soon, I promise.

Erin and I spoke to our parents afterward to give them the news. I apologize to everyone else who wants and deserves a call from us on this happy occasion. Erin got about three hours of sleep last night, and I got less than that. I will be trying to get ahold of all of you shortly, but the sleep-deprivation is intense and the backlog enormous, and I hope you’ll understand if it takes me a day or two.

What I can guarantee you in the meantime, however, is that some day soon we shall embark on the Jonah Patrick Davison victory tour, and you’ll all be invited. For now, please forgive me, this new father must go to bed.