Drs. Wade and Jenny Gregory visit furry friends at the Little Rock Zoo with daughters Lily and Evan.

The life of any parent can often feel zoo-like. You may be nodding your head wildly as you think of your morning whirlwind getting kids out the door for school and how it felt like corralling cheetahs or prodding giant tortoises along. Parents’ daily lives are up and down like the horses on the iconic carousel at the Little Rock Zoo. You may think that’s why we chose the popular family fun destination as the backdrop for our feature photo shoot. Well, a little, but it’s also one of our feature family’s favorite places to play the day away.

Dr. Jenny Gregory certainly has a lion’s share of responsibilities on her plate. She is an Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Little Rock Gynecology and Obstetrics, PLCC on the Baptist Campus. Her husband, Wade, is an Emergency Medicine Physician. They have three daughters, Lillian Claire Gregory (Lily) 3 1/2, Evan Elizabeth Gregory (Evan) 1 1/2, and girl #3 on the way.

Wade and Jenny met while at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and were married in 2007. Both are from tight-knit families in the central Arkansas area. She says now their favorite things about being parents are, “The laughter. These girls make us smile every day. To watch them grow and develop and see the world through the innocence of a child’s eyes is such a gift. Having kids has brought a whole new level of joy and unconditional love to our lives.”

“Being a parent is the most rewarding and hardest thing that I’ve ever done. I think the challenge is just fitting it all in. Finding time for work, family, church, friends, exercise, volunteerism, and relaxation is tough. It is definitely a sacrifice for all parents and my hat goes off to the single parents out there,” she says. “It certainly takes a village!”

She says, “Wade is laid back and a “softie.” I am more the disciplinarian. Neither one of us is very uptight when it comes to parenting. I don’t do Pinterest and I am definitely no Martha Stewart, but our kids are loved, happy and healthy.”

When considering staying connected as a family, Gregory shares, “I try to plan fun little adventures each week. Nothing fancy, it could be anything from going to the playground to running an errand. As long as you engage them, talk to them, and listen to them. Kids don’t have to be entertained with expensive toys or theme parks. Children just want to feel important. We also make a point to turn off the TV, computer, and iPad for dinner so we can talk about our day. Bedtime is also big for us. We always read books, say prayers, and tell stories. I usually rub their faces or bellies until they fall asleep.”

Drs. Wade and Jenny Gregory visit furry friends at the Little Rock Zoo with daughters Lily and Evan.

Little Rock Family: What was your experience with infertility?

Jenny Gregory: We tried for 18 months to get pregnant. I became pregnant on Clomid (an infertility drug), but we had a miscarriage. That was really tough. I cried myself to sleep for a month, but time does heal. I believe that baby is our little guardian angel in heaven. Everything happens for a reason. I know that God has His plan. That miscarriage has helped me empathize with my patients who experience similar situations. After the miscarriage, we took Clomid again and became pregnant with Lily fairly quickly. Surprisingly, we conceived Evan spontaneously within a few months of trying and on no fertility drugs. The third was a true surprise, well shock, actually. We wanted another child, but had planned to wait a little while. We are truly blessed.

LRF: What were you like as first time parents?

JG: Residency actually prepared us for the sleep deprivation. We were used to running on a few hours of broken sleep. The responsibility of caring for such a tiny, helpless creature and having no free time was definitely a stressful adjustment for us both. I don’t think anything can adequately prepare you for those first few weeks, you just have to lean on each other. But after we developed our routine, everything became second nature.

LRF: How are you different as parents now?

JG: For us, the second child was an easy adjustment. Like most parents, we don’t stress over the same things as we did with our first. We let her “cry it out” more, we didn’t sterilize every little surface, and she didn’t get held 24/7. Luckily, Evan has been pretty laid back.

LRF: How has being a medical professional affected your approach to being a parent?

JG: I think I am more paranoid because I have seen so many scary situations and bad outcomes in residency. I tend to want to play it safe and take the kids to the doctor instead of trying to diagnose and treat illnesses myself. Wade is the opposite. I think our kids would have to be bleeding out for him to take them to the doctor.

LRF: What is the best parenting advice you’ve ever received?

JG: The best advice I’ve ever heard is, unfortunately, one that we rarely follow—scheduling a regular date night. I think that parents get so entwined in their children’s activities that it’s easy to neglect each other.

LRF: What were your favorite family traditions or childhood memories?

JG: We spent the summers camping at Lake DeGray and vacationing in St. Augustine, Florida. I grew up dancing (tap, jazz, and ballet) beginning at the age of 3 and continuing through college and medical school. I dreamed of being a professional dancer and considered going to an arts school to major in dance. I knew my feet were too flat to be a professional ballerina and I did not have the voice to be on Broadway, so I decided to study science instead. A wise decision, but I still love the art of dance and plan to take a class again as soon as I can find the time.

LRF: What are some traditions you wish to pass down to your children?

JG: Most of our family traditions revolved around the holidays, such as cooking Thanksgiving dinner together or decorating for Christmas. We still take a beach vacation every year with my family. My mother and I have always taken fun “girl trips” to Las Vegas or New York and I plan to do that with my girls someday.

LRF: What are your hopes and dreams for your children?

JG: I want them to find their passion in life, have the confidence to pursue their dreams, and be kind to others along the journey.

LRF: What legacy do you want to leave your children?

JG: I guess I’ve never thought of leaving a legacy. I just do my best to be a great mother and role model for my girls. I want them to always feel loved. I find myself telling my girls the same things that my grandmother and mother have said to me all my life. If my girls think of me with the same reverence that I do my mother and grandmother, that would be a beautiful legacy.

The Gregory family goes for a whirl on the Zoo’s new Arkansas Diamond Express train.