Natalie and Jake Jirak weren't really ready for this.
At 31 weeks, they were still two months away from having to think seriously about "the moment" — you know, when an expectant mother's water breaks and the young couple looks into each other's eyes with that knowing look that says, "Oh, sweetie, we're about to become parents!"
Plus, they'd only been to two of their five birthing classes.
Still, ready or not, Jase was coming. Early. And by the time it was over he'd leave the hospital with the distinction of being the first baby for which an iPad was used as a key tool in keeping him healthy, maybe even alive.
After Jase was delivered, doctors needed to act quickly to address his preemie needs. So, to compensate for not being in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester, they used an iPad to do a sort of "Facetime" session — a two-way video setup — with Mayo doctors who deal with preemies every day.
It was sort of a "when you can't get the baby to Mayo, bring Mayo to the baby" kind of thing.
Natalie Jirak thought nothing of it.
"I was just like, 'OK, I guess that's what they do,'" she said.
The Jiraks were out with friends the night before, another couple with an expecting mom. The women ate ice cream. The guys drank beer. All was right with the world.
But as she tried to sleep later that night, she began to feel contractions. At first, she thought they were false. She's a nurse and has seen women with false contractions before. But she also wanted to be safe and make sure she was taking care of her baby. So she and Jake went to the emergency department.