15 years ago today I woke up to labor pains at 5:20 am. The little being inside of me was 11 days overdue and I had taken extreme measures to shake him/her from their slumber. First, I shoveled 6 yards of bark mulch by myself in the July heat. Then, I went in and did some deep knee bends hoping to break my water and get the party started. That didn't work. So, then I had an extra large meatball sub and a beer....my first in 8 months. I was determined not to carry that child until they were college age. Sure enough, one of those things worked and birth was underway on July 28, 1998. Everyone was happy to dispense all kinds of advice beforehand but the one constant thing I heard was "Don't go to the hospital too early." Apparently, you could get sent home, or you would languish in there for a day and feel like you were never going to come out with a baby. So, I was prepared to stick it out at home for a bit. I took a shower and dressed in a "cute" black shirt with flowers on it (looking back it was hideous) and I wore that on top of a white skort. Yep, I said white. And skort. In the same sentence. It was my first child, ok? I wanted to look cute. Let's just say...that outfit didn't make it home with me in the end. I had called work to say I wouldn't be in...I worked right up until the end so I could have more time with the baby on the back end. As I lay in the fetal position in a chair in the living room I kept telling myself that the pain wasn't that bad until my friend and co-worker Kelly called. I didn't pick up...I just heard her on the answering machine saying "You're in labor aren't you?? How bad is it?? Does it feel like a shot gun blast to the belly??!" I hated her at that moment. Meanwhile Tim was washing and rewashing clean dishes to stay busy. He was whistling like one of the Seven Dwarfs. If I could have gotten up I would have seriously hurt him. We did call the hospital twice. The first time they talked to me and said since I could have a conversation I was fine and should just continue to stay at home. The second time when I made some sort of animal sound when they asked how I was doing they said "You should come right in." It took another half an hour before I could physically get out of the chair and walk down a flight of stairs to the car. When we finally arrived at the hospital, there were no wheelchairs available and "conveniently" the maternity ward is on the 3rd floor...in the back of the hospital. When I finally made it up there, I told the nurse at the desk "I'm pretty sure this baby is coming out" and she said "Okay, just have a seat and we'll get to you eventually." She did not believe me. About 20 minutes later they ushered me to a room and told me to "hop up" on the bed. First, I threw up, to which the nurse said in a very annoyed tone "Okay, you just need to relax..." I'll just note that I did it very cleanly in a wastebasket and I was sure to spare my white skort. Then, when I couldn't hop up she told me "You need to try a little harder, honey." But I think the kicker was when she did the exam and the baby's head was coming out, she finally said "Oh! Okay...the baby IS coming out." You think I was just saying that for shits and giggles?! Get me a doctor! Tim had left me trying to "hop up" on the bed when he went to move the car from the front of the emergency room, only to come back with his baby pretty much being born. First he wouldn't come out and then he wouldn't slow down. That pretty much sums Jack up...he is either moving at the speed of a turtle or lightening. There is no in between. Now, I'm a big baby when it comes to pain. Major baby. So, the fact that I didn't get to have an epidural and that I delivered naturally came as the biggest shock to my system. I just got myself into a zone of no return and to this day, I don't look back on it as painful, yet I know it couldn't have been pretty. In the end, this kinda big baby boy popped out...Jack Timothy Nealon, after 12 hours of labor, weighing in at 7 lbs. 12 oz, 21 1/2 inches long. I really thought he was a girl so a boy was surprising. But, man, was he cute! And loud! The beauty of boys! Later, I called my brother to tell him about his new nephew and this was the conversation: Me: Hey, we just had the baby...it's a boy! Bro: Congratulations! What did you name him? Me: Jack Bro: Silence. Bro: What's his real name? Me: Jack....Jack Timothy Bro: No, I mean, his real name...John? Me: Nope, Just Jack Bro: How are you spelling that? Me: Silence Me: J-A-C-K Bro: Huh. Just Jack? Ok.... And that is how Just Jack was born. Fifteen years ago. Honestly, it feels like just yesterday that he was loving his "Foofy" (pacifier), saying his first word "Fan!" (he had a ceiling fan obsession for months), loving elephants, then crocodiles, then frogs, then turtles. Loving trucks, pulling out girl's pony tail holders at every turn (he liked to "collect them"...the pony tail holders, not the girls), and running everywhere he went. There have been countless frog funerals and an unknown number of trips to the emergency room. There have been many obsessions - turtles, Red Sox, baseball, basketball, and now golf. There have been many times I thought he might have a hearing problem, a forgetfulness issue, or the inability to do anything at a pace slower than a sprint. He went through glasses, braces....twice, contacts, and retainers. Suddenly he has emerged as this funny, handsome, athletic, studious, semi-responsible (he's a teenager...), young man who is ready to find the next challenge around the corner. I'm not quite sure how we got here or how we survived but I can't believe it's been 15 years already!
Happy Birthday, Just Jack!!