"It's not what I do professionally, but I'm glad we were able to do it," Dr. Karla Wagner tells PEOPLE
A Texas couple that was planning to get married – and also expecting a baby – never thought both joyous events would occur on the same day.
Now, the new parents (and newlyweds!) have double the reason to celebrate future birthdays and anniversaries – they tied the knot at the hospital shortly before their newborn baby unexpectedly entered the world.
Stephanie Tallent and Jason Nece, both 41, attended a routine ultrasound appointment on Friday, August 21, at Texas Children’s Pavillion for Women in Houston.
“I was really excited for the appointment,” Stephanie tells PEOPLE. “It was a growth ultrasound, and I was excited to find out how much the baby weighed. I had no idea it would turn into this.”
During the appointment, a nurse discovered that Stephanie was in active labor – three weeks before her scheduled delivery date.
Because baby Sophia was in a breech position, the couple’s obstetrician, Dr. Karla Wagner, had scheduled a Caesarean section for early September. Now, with Stephanie dilated five centimeters, the doctor realized she would have to act immediately.
“She was in labor, and we needed to deliver the baby,” Dr, Wagner says.
But Stephanie and Jason needed to do something before their baby arrived. She told Dr. Wagner: “I need to get married before I have my baby.”
“It was really important to us that we were married when our baby was born,” Stephanie says.
Her doctor agreed to the unexpected nuptials – as long as they moved fast.
“I was surprised at first,” Dr. Wagner says. “But then I realized, she needed to do it. It was so important to her. We didn’t have much time, but I said yes. ”
The doctor consulted with nurses and the staff immediately sprang into action.
“They got very excited,” Dr. Wagner says. “All of a sudden, we had a wedding.”
Within minutes, nurses were on the phone, paging the hospital chaplain and pulling a ceremony together.
Jason darted outside to the couple’s car to retrieve the marriage license they’d obtained a day earlier. He also fetched a white maternity sundress that had been destined for the dry cleaners.
Stephanie retreated to another room to call her family to give them the surprise news.
“When I came out, there was a wedding party,” Stephanie says.
A group of about 25 hospital staff members were on hand to witness the couple’s speedy vows.
Few details were overlooked as Dr. Wagner produced a bridal bouquet, a nurse supplied a “something borrowed” pearl necklace and another staff member contributed a “something blue” ribbon.
Nurse Susan Hardee Crosky played Mendelssohn’s Wedding March on her cell phone while Dr. Wagner – the freshly appointed godmother – walked the laboring bride down a hallway towards Jason, who stood waiting in an exam room with Chaplain Johnna Faber.
“It was pretty neat,” Jason says. “I thought it would be two seconds with the chaplain, and we would be married. They did a full ceremony.”
The ritual included an a cappella serenade by hospital staff member Ashanti Riggs, along with traditional prayers and blessings.
“The ceremony was very beautiful,” Dr. Wagner says. “It was an emotional moment.”
Stephanie adds, “I looked out, and saw the nurses were crying.
Chaplain Faber pronounced the couple husband and wife, and then it was on to the next step: childbirth.
“They put me in a wheelchair. They put a sign on it that said, ‘Just Married,’ and away I went,” Stephanie recalls.
Less than two hours after Stephanie walked down the aisle, baby Sophia was born at 6 pounds, 3 ounces.
“It’s not what I do professionally,” Dr. Wagner says of the pre-birth wedding. “But I’m glad we were able to do it.”
Now, the Neces are happy at home with their newborn and grateful for all who helped make the eventful day extra special.
“The staff was amazing,” says Jason, who has spent nine years with the Kansas National Guard. “They mobilize troops faster than a lot of our military officers can.
Says Stephanie: “I didn’t think I’d be married and having a baby at the same time. This was the happiest day of our lives.”