After initial scare, Neshek is back with Cards and newborn son appears to be OK

Cardinals reliever Pat Neshek returned to Cardinals camp Monday morning after a rough few days following the birth of his son.

Steve Mitchell/Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

JUPITER, Fla. — Proud new papa Pat Neshek wore a smile of relief as well as happiness when he returned to Cardinals camp Monday morning.

Undoubtedly, there was some trepidation mixed in, too.

Neshek’s wife, Stephanee, gave birth to a 7-pound, 11-ounce boy — Hoyt Robert Neshek (yes, after the knuckleballer) — on Thursday night. The newborn arrived 11 days earlier than the March 24 date that had been scheduled for a Caesarean-section delivery.

The first few days of Hoyt Robert’s life were difficult. He experienced trouble breathing shortly after birth and had to be assisted by a nasal oxygen mask.

MORE ON THE CARDINALS

"Turned out he had a little air (pocket) outside his lungs," Neshek said. "It was getting a little bigger and pushing on his lung so it was kind of collapsing his lung."

The newborn also was diagnosed with pneumonia.

"It was real tough because we didn’t hear anything for the first day, so we were like, ‘What the heck happened?’" said Neshek, who took matters into his own hands, so to speak. "I’d sneak in there to make sure he was doing well."

By Saturday, the air pocket had started to shrink and on Sunday, Neshek said, "It went down a lot and they said he’s doing really well."

Hoyt Robert will remain in the Orlando hospital until Sunday for what Neshek called the standard 10-day stay for treating pneumonia in newborns.

CLICK HERE for the full schedule of Cardinals spring training games on FOX Sports Midwest.

"It’s trending to the better," Neshek said. "Something could come up without thinking so. We’re just thinking about getting him out."

Any apprehension the Nesheks feel until Hoyt Robert is safely at their home in Melbourne Beach would be difficult for most of us to grasp. They lost their first child, Gehrig, when he stopped breathing less than one day after his birth on Oct. 2, 2012. Four days later, Neshek made an emotional return to his team, the A’s, when he pitched two-thirds of an inning in the playoffs.

Hoyt Robert’s difficulties had to bring back painful memories.

"There were a lot of similarities, which scares the heck out of us," he said. "That first day, it was tough on both of us. I wasn’t in too good of a mood. When we see him, it brought a lot of joy.


When Stephanee was able to hold Hoyt Robert, the flashbacks became greater. "She started crying and stuff," Neshek said. "It was tough on her. I’m really proud of her to be that brave, to even attempt to have another baby. It was a lot on her."

When Gehrig was born, Neshek said he was able to hold him within minutes after birth, and the newborn was not monitored. When the couple was told it would be a couple of hours before they could hold Hoyt Robert, they said that’s fine.

"’Make sure you’re monitoring him,’" Neshek said they told the hospital staffers. "Last time, two minutes after we had our baby, he was back in the room and he wasn’t being monitored. We wanted to make sure that didn’t happen this time."

FOX SPORTS MIDWEST GIRLS: Read their bios, check out their upcoming appearances and view their photo galleries and videos.

This time, the Nesheks sought a hospital with a highly regarded neonatal intensive care unit and decided on one in Orlando, about a 90-minute drive from their home. When Neshek exited last Thursday’s game at Roger Dean Stadium, he saw a text from Stephanee that he might want to rush to the hospital if he wanted to see his son born. Adding to his anxiety was that she had spent the previous days in and out of the hospital because of pains and headaches.

Neshek sped directly from the Cardinals’ clubhouse to the hospital and made it in time for the 8 p.m. C-section delivery. He spent the weekend at Stephanee’s side, with wishes from the Cardinals and assurances that his chances of making the team would not change because of his absence. Stephanee was walking around the next day and was discharged from the hospital over the weekend. With Hoyt Robert on the mend, Neshek decided it was time to return to work.

"I felt it was safe to come back," said Neshek, noting that Stephanee’s parents are staying with her. Neshek was planning to head back to Orlando after working in a minor-league game Monday afternoon and then stay through the Cardinals’ off day Tuesday.

He has seen his share of I-95 commuting from home to camp during spring training, but at least he’s in the same state. Staying in Florida was a priority when he searched for a new team after spending the past season and a half with the A’s.

"I couldn’t imagine if I would have to leave her again," Neshek said. "I probably wouldn’t. It would have been a totally different situation. We picked the right place."

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.