Everyone has heard the phrase “Christmas came early this year”. For the O’Regan family, Christmas was right on time, but something else came early that day. It was Dec. 25 when Ashley O’Regan went into labor six weeks earlier than expected to give birth to the family’s newest addition, John Keegan Wes O’Regan.

With her original due date being Feb. 5, 2012, Ashley was surprised when she began having contractions on Christmas Eve.  Her husband, Staff Sgt. John O’Regan, is currently serving military duty with the Air Force in Afghanistan, so Ashley had a friend drive her to the hospital. There, a doctor told Ashley the baby was not quite ready. Ashley was given medicine to stop the contractions, and returned home.

The next afternoon, on Christmas day, the contractions were back, and Ashley was on her way back to the hospital.

“I wanted to be 100 percent sure before calling anyone,” she said.

When it was confirmed by doctors the baby would arrive that day, Ashley contacted her friend Barbra Barnett, another military wife at Fort Drum. Using Skype, Barbra immediately called her husband Will, who is John’s team leader in Afghanistan. Will relayed the urgent message to John.

“When I received the initial word that she was going into labor, I was very worried because I thought there had been a complication in her pregnancy, and that the baby or Ashley was having problems,” said John.

Using the Skype connection, John was able to watch the entire labor process. Ashley said the option was the next best thing to her husband being there.

“I couldn’t hold his hand, or punch him in the arm,” she said laughing. “But he was still able to see his baby being born, and that was the important thing.”

John did his best to keep his wife in good spirits during labor.

“He kept making jokes, like he always does,” said Ashley. “At one point, I heard some crunching, and I looked at him on the monitor and said, ‘Are you really eating right now? I’m in labor, and you’re over there eating?’ He just laughed and said, ‘Yeah, I’m hungry.’”

The laughter was replaced by tears of joy when John saw his baby boy for the first time. 

“I just thought thank God he’s healthy,” said John.

Because Keegan was born premature, doctors monitored his vitals for several days at the hospital. When he was deemed healthy, Ashley took her son home, where together, they await John’s return. 

“I want the time to go fast so he will be home, but not too fast to where our baby grows up too quickly,” said Ashley.

Life in Afghanistan is a little different for John now.

“It’s great being a new father, even if I haven’t met him yet,” he said. “Guys joke with me that I don’t want to go on missions anymore because I’m a new dad, but that’s not true. Lots of people have multiple children, and we’re all still fighting to keep America free.”

The days following Keegan’s birth consisted of some long military operations for John, but he said the joy of his newborn son was the main thing on his mind.

In addition to the celebrating the birth of Keegan, the couple will celebrate seven years of marriage this Valentine’s Day. Ashley and John began dating 10 years ago, while students at Mountain View High School. After graduation, John enlisted in the Air Force, and in 2010, he and Ashley moved to New York when he was re-stationed. 

John is scheduled to return home from Afghanistan in May.

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