Father witnessed child's birth from Iraq - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Father witnessed child's birth from Iraq

August 28, 2007

Valdosta - Military families often deal with the hardship of being separated for birthdays, holidays, even child births.  But in Valdosta, one hospital teamed up with Moody Air Force Base and Nexxtep Technology to connect an airman in Iraq with his family back home for the birth of their first child.

Michelle Ritter was devastated when she learned her husband Joseph would be in Iraq when their baby was born.  "This was our first baby and he not being here was something that was just heart breaking," she says.

So she appealed to Smith Northview Hospital for help.  "She understood all the joy of having a birth and wanted him to take part in that so she came and asked me what we could do," says Chuck Roberts, Administrator Support Services at Smith Northview.

The solution was a first in Valdosta.  Joseph Ritter got to see his wife give birth of his daughter Meagan Marie via satellite.  "I was happy I was able to get to see it and its better to have seen it than not have seen it at all," says Technical Sergeant Ritter says via a phone interview from Iraq.

And he was able to give Michelle strength and support through the 10 hours of labor.  "Knowing he was there, although not physically but having that emotional support via satellite transmission just make it better," Michelle says.

Joseph's squadron is scheduled to return to Moody Air Force Base in November and he says the thoughts of reuniting with his family will keep him going.  "First thing is giving my wife a huge hug and an even bigger kiss then get to that little baby!" he exclaims.

Until then, both take comfort in the fact that they were brought together for this moment, despite being thousands of mile a part.

Because of all his hard work and dedication to make the satellite birth possible, Chuck Roberts has been named the Godfather to Meagan.  She weighed nine pounds, three ounces.

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