Although Specialist E4 James Francis Osbourne is stationed in Africa, the soldier got to see his son’s birth at Flaget Memorial, thanks to Internet technology used for the first time at the Bardstown hospital.
Osborne, a member of the Kentucky National Guard, Battery C, of Bardstown, and his wife, Brittany, knew their baby would arrive during James’ deployment in Africa. That’s why the couple developed a way for the dad to “take part” in their child’s birth at Flaget. The expectant mom bought a portable computer and a web camera two months before the birth. Then the couple began talking with each other via the SKYPE program.
Since each SKYPE participant can see and hear the other using a computer, “it’s pretty much like having a normal conversation,” Brittany Osbourne said.
On the morning of the Nov. 4 birth, Brittany was home in Springfield talking with her husband in Djibouti, Africa via SKYPE. Her labor pains were getting sharper. She told James how much they hurt.
“He called his mother and told her to take me to the hospital,” the expectant mom said. “He said it was time for me to go—and he was right!”
Her PC was the most important thing the mother took to the hospital. As soon as she was settled into a room, James was able to witness the birth process through SKYPE.
“He stayed on throughout the entire time,” Brittany said. “Even though he had worked 16 hours before that, he still stayed with me through it all.”
Via a computer, James was Brittany’s birthing coach, the 21-year-old mother said.
As a first-time mom, “I was scared,” she said. “I was so grateful to have him there. He helped keep me calm. That definitely helped out.”
Dr. Hannah Hall, the OB/GYN who delivered the baby, made sure that James had a good view of the process.
“Once Brittany was ready to start pushing, we placed the computer on the bedside table, at the head of her bed, and elevated it so that he could participate as if he were there,” Hall said.
Little Christian Francis Osbourne, weighing 6 pounds and 8 ounces, made his entrance at 10:25 p.m. that Sunday.
James seemed almost “mesmerized” at the sight of his newborn, his wife said.
“I could tell he was excited and heartbroken at the same time,” Brittany said. “I had all kinds of emotions, considering the circumstances. I was amazed, at first, to see my new baby. But it still hurt me that James wasn’t there.”
It will probably be spring of 2013 before the soldier gets back to Kentucky to cradle his son in his arms. In the meantime, Brittany intends to train as a paramedic. Whether James will seek re-enlistment in the military after he gets out has not been decided.
All in all, Brittany was grateful to be able to use SKYPE in the Flaget Birth Center, she said.
For Hall, it was definitely a first. SKYPE is something she hopes other military dads who can’t be present will use to take part in their children’s births.
“It was wonderful to be able to support one of our soldiers,” said Hall, who works in Flaget’s Women’s Care of Bardstown practice with Dr. Amy Farrell. “Dr. Farrell and I are always looking for new ways to help people have the best experience they can. I was proud that we could offer this to one of our fathers in the armed forces.”