Welcome Baby Jack

Jack Gary Neal joined us Sunday, March 6, 2016 at 9:04am. He weighed 7 lbs, 6 oz. He was 20.25″ long. The story of how he joined us is one for the books (or blog in this case)…

Saturday night, the night before he arrived, Geoffrey got the stomach bug. You remember that it was passed around our house last week. Well, just like I predicted, all the Vitamin C in the world couldn’t hold it off. This was particularly discouraging because Geoffrey and I had planned on going out for a dinner date Saturday night. I was really looking forward to it! So instead of having a romantic date, he spent the evening in the bathroom and I spent it with Harper watching Thumbelina. Romance y’all.

Around 6:30, right as I was walking out the door to get dinner (literally walking out the door), I got my first painful contraction. In fact, it was 6:29 because I wrote it down. I figured the contractions were just more of the Braxton Hicks that I’d been experiencing for weeks only made worse by the full body soreness of the stomach bug I was still recovering from. Nevertheless, I started timing them. On the drive to get dinner, while eating, and while watching the movie I wrote down every contraction. They were very inconsistent, ranging from 5-8 minutes apart, and weren’t really increasing in pain, but they were certainly different than the contractions I’d been experiencing for weeks. Was that just the stomach bug soreness or was this the real deal? At 8:40 I picked up the phone and called the Medical Exchange. I told her what was happening and she gave me the advice I knew I’d hear: keep an eye on them. So at 8:53 I stopped timing them. I told Geoffrey what was happening. Bless his heart he looked rough. Had he not been sick, I might have asked him to take me to the hospital just to check on things. But as it were, I decided to let it go. I knew if things got crazy I could call my sister or someone to drive me. Geoffrey was concerned for many reasons. The number one reason being that he couldn’t drive me to the hospital in his condition, nor take care of Harper, and he definitely couldn’t be in the delivery room if he somehow made it with me. So basically I better not be in labor. Okay sure, I’m in charge of that, right? You bet. I’ll just wait till it’s convenient for everyone. Which would be like, when Harper is 18, right?

I had spent the day Saturday cleaning the house so our bed was stripped of everything. Geoffrey was sleeping on towels covered with a throw blanket, bless his heart. So I laid half a sheet on my side of the bed and turned in for the night.

Geoffrey’s bug finally calmed down around 9pm so we settled in for a relatively restful night. Only I kept waking up with these contractions. In my sleepy haze I would watch the clock, but they continued to be inconsistent in timing. And for some reason this was enough to convince me that nothing was happening.

At 5:30am I woke up with a contraction that was painful. More than it had been. Geoffrey woke up and asked me if I was okay. I took a long look at him, took a deep breath, and told him I wanted to go get checked at the hospital. I had other reasons for this (I’ll spare you) and it felt like either something was wrong, or I was in labor.

So Geoffrey, bless his aching heart, got up and immediately jumped in the shower. I didn’t even bother timing the contractions, the splitting pain every few minutes told me something was up.

Luckily our bags were packed. So I threw in some last minute items, got dressed and called my Mom at 6:15. I told her what was happening and asked if Harper could come hang out.

Harper wakes around 6:30-7 every morning. But on Sunday she started stirring around 6. This was a blessing! I’d have hated to wake her up with this madness. Meanwhile my contractions were intensifying. So by the time we were loading up, I was bent over the kitchen island in pain.

When we pulled up to my Mom & Dad’s, we told Harper we weren’t stopping. She’d had to master the “tuck & roll” really fast. Alas, she wasn’t ready for that, so Geoffrey whipped in the driveway and we unloaded about as quick as you can. As we were pulling out, another contraction hit me and I did not look forward to the long drive to the hospital.

At 6:50 we pulled on the interstate and I called my sister. My birth plan included the following: 1) epidural, 2) my sister to braid my hair,¬† 3) my sister to take pictures. She was 2/3 of my whole plan for crying out loud. She answered the phone with “You’re on your way.” Very matter of factly, because why else would I be calling at that time?

Geoffrey turned on the flashers and drove like a master to Baptist in Little Rock. I was impressed. At one point though our speed was giving me anxiety so I told him to slow down. He laughed at that. About a mile before the hospital exit, we came upon a state trooper. Geoffrey was conflicted. Should he pass him? My vote was YES PLEASE. I even told him to just give the cop an apologetic wave of the hand as he passed.Because that makes it all better.

I guess our flashing lights convinced the officer we weren’t worth the trouble, so he let us pass. I like to think he saw us take the hospital exit a minute later and felt justified in his decision not to pull us over.

We pulled right in the labor & delivery reserved spot and headed in. Geoffrey searched high and low for a wheel chair, but there was none to be found. So I walked all the way from the parking garage to the elevators to Labor and Delivery. And the contractions were relentless. What’s even more fun is that it was just after 7am. Shift change for the hospital staff. So all these excited nurses, free for the day, got to see my ugly grimacing face and twisted waddle/walk as I labored through contraction after contraction down the longest hallway ever. Super.

When we got to Labor & Delivery, it was abundantly clear that I was in labor. That this wasn’t just stomach bug soreness. As if I had any doubt. All doubt left me when I was doubled over in the kitchen at home before we left. The nurse took my weight (I had lost 5 lbs! Thanks stomach bug!) and they took me back to the triage area. I remember when I did this with Harper. I was so excited and nervous. The nurse took her precious time checking us 2.5 years ago. And I was barely 3cm. It was so fun then.

Not this time. I was gasping for air every time I contracted. The nurse didn’t even bother getting my name, I swear. She checked me. And started shaking her head. She grimaced and said, “did you have an epidural with your first child?” I knew what that question meant. All color drained from my face (if there was any left). I shrieked out a “YES!” and as she snapped off her glove, she announced I was at 8cm.


As in 2 cm away from pushing.

I had labored all the way to 8cm. Already. By myself.

At that point she didn’t waste any time. She pulled up the rails on the bed and told Geoffrey to grab the other side and we immediately hauled it to a delivery room.

I started crying. Actually it was one of those tearless cries. And actually I think I had been doing it since we merged onto 67/167.

As we rolled into the delivery room, it was 7:30. I texted my sister and told her to make haste.

In order to get an epidural you have to get blood drawn first. The blood work checks your platelet count to make sure your blood is clotting correctly. They also need to get an IV in to dump in some fluid. You know I don’t have a medical degree here, so forgive me for not knowing the true terms or procedures. And so I’ve got nurses running all around me poking me and stuff. The first attempt blew a vein. Ouch. So she moved to the other arm. Also blew. Apparently I was still dehydrated from my stomach bug. So another nurse came in and on the third attempt, she got it working. All this. Delay delay delay. Meanwhile I’m still contracting. They kept checking me to make sure my water hadn’t broke. Luckily it hadn’t.

The anesthesiologist came in to talk epidural. This got me very excited. Only he told me that it wasn’t advised to start the epidural until my bloodwork came back. If my platelet count was too low, it would cause too many complications. But even though my blood was labeled “stat” it might not come back in time. So the options were wait on the blood work to come back & then decide, or get the epidural and take the risk. I’m never one to take risks. Too risky, you see. But as another contraction came over me, I manged to get out the phrase “do it.” The doctor looked at Geoffrey, who simply nodded his head. Wise man.

The anesthesiologist took off to get his stuff. At this point I was cursing Eve. You know Eve. The one who ate that blasted apple and cursed women for eternity. The pain was just incredible. And I had this horrible horrible feeling that I’d be delivering without any pain relief. To make matters worse, one of the nurses told me that even though we were doing the epidural (and taking the risk of all kinds of complications), it may not even work in time! So did I still want to do it?


Everyone kept telling me I was doing great, and if I had to deliver without the epidural, I’d be fine.

I appreciated the encouragement, but mostly I was drifting into no man’s land of doom & dread and couldn’t even process what day of the week it was.

The anesthesiologist wheeled in his cart and got to work. He worked fast. I prayed that we were making the right choice.

After a few minutes he was done and I was laying crooked in the bed, ready for relief. And relief came. PRAISE THE LORD.

Moments later, Jessica arrived, braided my hair and started snapping pics.

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I like this smiling face so much more than my perma-grimace from just moments before.

I swear we had only minutes of calm until they started setting everything up for me to start pushing. I was kinda hoping to put on some make-up or play some solitaire. Nope.

19 minutes of pushing. That is all.

At 9:04am, Jack Gary Neal was here!

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We arrived at the hospital just after 7am and exactly 2 hours later we had a baby. What a whirlwind!

We had plenty of time to just get to know each other (about an hour & a half) before they took him off to be weighed and cleaned up. I like this policy. I took the opportunity to count all his fingers and toes. And Geoffrey and I just couldn’t stop staring at this new little addition to our family.




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But soon it was time to check his weight and get him tidied up and dressed.


7 pounds and 6 ounces! And 20.25″ inches long. You can see from the pictures that Geoffrey took the liberty of double checking the nurses’ measurements. Can’t hurt to be sure, I guess. You can also see he’s put on a mask. On account of that ole nasty bug he had just had a mere 12 hours before this. Crazy huh.

My bloodwork had come back too and my platelet count was perfect. Thank goodness. No complications from the hasty epidural.

They took his blood sugar and it was a wee bit low. So I fed him (he took to nursing like a champ!) and his blood sugar went right up where it should be! Success! However, we had to sit around for an hour to wait for those results, so we got some housekeeping done. We got his sweet footprints and I dug out my phone to alert the masses of my newest child.


Finally Geoffrey got to hold his son. Mask and all.


But then we decided this was odd, so we removed the mask for a quick photo op.

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That’s one proud Daddy. Aunt Jess (who has been behind the camera this whole time) got to hold him. And I should definitely give her a BIG thank you for these fabulous photos she’s taken for me!

thank you


My brother and sister in law came (bringing a gift of Gatorade for my poor dehydrated husband) and got to meet him.


Then we decided to call my mom via Facetime and let Harper “meet” her brother! Don’t you love technology?

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She was so excited to meet him. I wish you could have heard her gasp and say “oh my!” when we showed her. It was precious.



Look at those furrowed brows! Priceless!

Finally I got him back. Mommas need their newborns. And food. I got to eat, thank goodness. I ate my apple pie first. Don’t you dare judge me.Goodbye gestational diabetes!


Once we got the good results from his blood sugar test, they released us to the post-delivery room. It was sad to say goodbye to our sweet nurse. She was absolutely wonderful. I hugged her. And gave her candy.


On the way to the new room, I ran into Micah who came to meet Jack!


It was time to change him into his first outfit and get settled into our new room.


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Geoffrey, poor guy, took the opportunity to catch a nap. I couldn’t sleep, but I did doze. And just stare at my new sweet son.

About mid-afternoon Geoffrey’s parents came to meet Jack.

Then my parents came and brought Harper once she was up from her nap. She ran into the room, with her precious Big Sister shirt on. And she finally laid eyes on her new baby brother.


She really wanted to hold him and was quite upset when we told her “not yet.” So she settled for sitting next to Mimi.


I got some snuggle time in with my darling while Mimi & Grandpa met their newest grandson.

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But soon she was over all this hubbub and wanted to sit with her daddy to watch monster trucks.



Soon it was time for them to go. So we took our first family photo.

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I snapped a pic of her in her new shirt and then they were off.

By this time Geoffrey and I were exhausted. Even though he had got in a cat nap, he was still trying to recover from his illness. I hadn’t slept well the night before (you know, being in labor unknowingly and all) and he of course had been sick. So we settled in for our first night.



It wasn’t too bad, all things considering. I might have gotten in an hour or two of sleep. I know people are always pushing you to rest but do they not realize the adrenaline that rushes through your system? It’s a high and I guess for me it takes me a while to come down, despite how utterly exhausted I was.

But soon we were up and ready to start a new day.


We were ready to go as soon as they brought our breakfast tray. Geoffrey jokingly said to call down to the front desk and tell them we were ready to check out. They just slip the bill under the door right? I wish it were that easy.

The doctors came and checked Jack out and gave us the thumbs up to go home! But first we had to wait for my doctor to do his circumcision. Ain’t that something? An OB does the circumcision. A lady doctor. I find that humorous. While we waited we had some professional photos taken. But soon my OB showed up and gave me the thumbs up to leave. They did the circumcision and we were on our way!

Welcoming Jack into the world was quite an experience. Having Harper went so well that I didn’t think I’d get so lucky again. I’d say laboring to 8cm on my own was not what I had in mind, but the way it all unfolded, the timing, the way there were no complications, this was all such a blessing. Even though it was fast and I blinked and he was here, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Okay, maybe I’d like to have gotten to the hospital around 5cm instead, but that was probably 3 in the morning. Oh well. But we were blessed with a healthy delivery and baby and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s been a wild week around here, adjusting to this new life. We’ve have lots of support from family and friends, which has been such a blessing. Jack had his first checkup yesterday and all went well! Now it’s time to just dig our heels in and figure out how to live life with a family of four. Prayers needed and appreciated. ;o)

I can’t say it enough, God is so good to us. And his plan is perfect. My hormones have me all over the place this week and I can safely say I’ve leaned on God a lot to get me through this, and he’s come through. I have a peace within “that transcends all understanding” straight from my Heavenly Father. It’s still hard. Really really hard. This new life. And sleepless nights. And tending to two children. And allowing my body to heal. But I’m making it. And I couldn’t be happier. Really, my cup runneth over. Welcome to the world, Jack.


I leave you with the professional photos that were taken Monday.

Meet Jack Gary Neal…































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