As of Jan. 3, 2018, Nikki Smith and Matt Ball became first-time parents.

The two did not expect to have the first baby of the new year at the Redwood Area Hospital in Redwood Falls, but when Aubrey Marie Ball was born that day 2018 brought something new that has changed their lives forever.

Aubrey Marie, who weighed nine pounds, six ounces and was 20 inches long, arrived at 10:16 p.m. on the third day of the first month of 2018.

“She was five days late,” said Nikki, adding she was induced to get the labor process started.

Labor went on for quite a while, but nothing was really happening.

“I was in labor for 24 hours before the doctor decided to do a C-section,” said Smith.

After that, everything moved fast, said Smith.

Nikki and Matt had decided not to find out in advance if they were having a boy or a girl.

“I thought it was going to be a boy,” said Nikki. “So, I bought a lot more boy stuff. After she was born, I told Matt we were going to have to do some more shopping.”

For Matt being a parent for the first time is an experience that is hard to describe, adding they have been adjusting to the new reality of having another person in their home.

“She really has been pretty content,” said Nikki. “She is really good and only cries when we are changing her diapers and giving her a bath."

While Aubrey Marie was born Jan. 3, it would be eight days later when she would be home for the first time. Some respiratory complications raised concerns after she was born, which prompted quick action at the local hospital.

“She had to be airlifted to Children’s Hospital,” said Matt, who got in his car and made the trip to Minneapolis following his new baby girl.

Nikki had to stay behind to recover from her surgery.

“I didn’t even get to hold her after she was born,” said Nikki, who said after two days in the hospital she was able to make the trip to the Twin Cities to see Aubrey.

While at the hospital in Minneapolis, Nikki said she started experiencing some swelling in her feet, that raised a red flag. After being checked it was discovered she had an infection and was in sepsis.

So, after being able to be with her baby for just a short time, Nikki was back in the hospital being treated for the infection.

Matt said he was grateful the hospitals where Aubrey and Nikki were being treated were connected to each other through a system of halls, and so he spent a lot of time moving back and forth from one to the other making sure both of them were all right.

It was Jan. 11 when Matt, Nikki and Aubrey loaded into their vehicle for the ride back to Redwood Falls.

Matt added some might remember that day was an interesting one in terms of the weather, as it was snowing pretty hard in the metro area.

“We saw a lot of cars in the ditch on our way home,” said Matt, adding thankfully the weather was better the closer they got to home.

“For me it was just great to be back home,” said Nikki.

Nikki and Matt are both Cedar Mountain High School graduates. Nikki is a local childcare provider, and Matt is an accounts manager for Nova-Tech in Willmar.

Nikki and Matt expressed their appreciation for the great care they received throughout the first several days of the life of Audrey Marie, adding they so much appreciate the people at the local hospital and at Children’s Hospital.

Matt also said he was glad for the Ronald McDonald house, as that is where he was able to get some rest while Nikki and Aubrey were being cared for in the hospital.

The entire experience was pretty overwhelming for the new parents, but after receiving what Nikki called great care at the hospital Aubrey is doing very well.

“She’s perfect,” Matt added with a smile.