Whitefish Bay - The contractions came and went the night of Nov. 1. A false alarm.
Emily Sagmoen laid back, drank some water, and waited for them to stop before going to bed, as she had done before.
Yet, when she woke up at 2:20 a.m. to use the bathroom, a strange feeling came over her.
"Something felt funny," Emily recalled. "Within two minutes I felt like the baby was there and ready."
She woke her husband, Russell, and told him to call her mother, Joann, to watch their 2-year-old son Henrik. Heeding the doctor's warning that their daughter was in the breech position, Russell called the hospital at 2:26 a.m. for an emergency Caesarean section.
At that point Emily had lain on her back in the bathroom, and Russell was on the line with a 911 operator calling for an ambulance.
He had a phone in one hand and their hospital bag in the other when he looked down at Emily.
"I see a foot pushing out," Russell said, "and I said, 'all right, Emily, we're going to have to do this ourselves.' "
Casting the phone aside, adrenaline pumping, wife and son screaming, he took hold of one tiny foot, and then the other.
She pushed, he pulled, and they brought their daughter out to the shoulders - but her head was stuck.
He called for one more push and pull, counting down for Emily.
Three. Two. One.
And then she was there, Elsa Marie Sagmoen, all seven pounds, 10 ounces, and 18.5 inches of her, right there in the bathroom.
But she was blue. Not breathing.
Russell patted her on the back, again and again, willing her to life.
"And then she coughed a little bit," Russell said, beaming, "and then a real faint cry. I looked over at the phone, and it was 2:35."
Not a minute later a Whitefish Bay police officer - who was so frazzled by the experience he left his jacket - was at their door, and a minute after that a pair of ambulances arrived.
And then Joann pulled up to the sight of the ambulances and squad car.
"I came in and they heard me coming and Emily shouts out, 'hey, grandma, we have a little girl!' " Joann recalled, a hint of a quaver in her voice. "I just dropped to my knees and thank you, God."
The Sagmoens left the hospital early Saturday afternoon, and are happy to report that although baby Elsa is a bit jaundiced, she's happy and healthy, with quite a story to learn once she's old enough to hear.
But how to remind her of it?
Russell said, laughing, that if she had been a boy her middle name would have been John.
"We're trying to come up with a good nickname," Russell and Emily said in agreement.
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