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Father witnesses daughters birth half a world away

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chad Padgett
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
Nearly half a world away, Maj. James Foltz watched via Webcam as his wife lay on a hospital bed in Delaware in labor. Then the doctor said words no expecting parents want to hear, 'emergency Caesarean section,' as his wife was rushed into surgery where the Webcam couldn't follow.

Stephanie Foltz was only a couple weeks pregnant when she found out that her husband would be deploying to Afghanistan around her due date.

The couple had seen a story on the news where a servicemember in Iraq had witnessed his child's birth by Webcam, but the same services were not available in Afghanistan. They began working with the local hospital and the Craig Joint Theater Hospital where Major Foltz worked at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

"We talked about the plans and preparations we would have to make for the deployment," said Major Foltz. "I knew what to expect with the deployment, it was more the unknown in having a newborn child while my wife was alone for the first few months that was the most stressful."

Despite his worries, Major Foltz deployed to Bagram where performed physical therapy for the injured. Major Foltz and his wife rehearsed connecting through Webcam a few times to make sure they had all the bugs worked out. Then the day they had been waiting for arrived.

"I connected at the hospital, sitting by myself in a computer server room," said Major Foltz. "It was the most reliable internet connection I could find and also gave me unlimited access in terms of the amount of time I could connect."

While there was a morale center at Bagram, the amount of time Major Foltz could have spent on a computer was limited to 30 minutes and didn't offer the privacy needed for the birth of his first child.

Major Foltz sat in the dark little room by himself through nearly 16 hours of labor, encouraging his wife and waiting patiently to get the first glimpse of his newborn daughter, whom he and his wife planned to name Anna. The doctors then told the Major that there was an emergency and they were going to have to perform a Caesarean section.

"We were together through the whole labor part, but when they took me for the Caesarean section they had to cut the webcam off," said Mrs. Foltz.

An hour later, Major Foltz was able to get the first glimpse of his new baby daughter.

"The first time I actually saw Anna was in the neo-natal intensive care unit," said Major Foltz. "She had been put on a respirator so she had a lot of tubes and I.V. lines. That was my first image of Anna, in intensive care and not knowing what the prognosis was."

After speaking with the doctors, Major Foltz was granted emergency leave to come home and see his family. Anna had pulled through without any further complications. Major Foltz then returned to Afghanistan to finish his deployment, but always stayed in touch with his family.

"It's very exciting to be home for good now and see the changes that occurred in just a short period of time in Anna's development," said Major Foltz. "I was really happy that she was healthy considering her early challenges. To know that she is healthy is a relief."