Soldier in Afghanistan helps coach Missouri birth

Thursday, July 29, 2010

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Army Capt. David Cooper was in Afghanistan when his daughter was born in Missouri. But thanks to technology, he was able to not only witness the birth but help coach his wife through labor.

Video conferencing software allowed Cooper to be laptop-to-face with his wife, Laurie, through the birth of Charlotte Rose Cooper on July 19 at Hannibal Regional Hospital.

"He counted out all the pushes and everything," Laurie told the Quincy (Ill.) Herald-Whig. "The only thing lacking was the ability to touch each other."

The Coopers are stationed in Germany, but Laurie came to Hannibal a few weeks ago to stay with her parents. David is in his second deployment in a war zone; the first was in Iraq.

To allow for David to be as close to the birth as possible, the couple used Skype, a software application that allows for video conferencing.

Throughout much of the day July 19, the couple had trouble connecting. Thankfully, the software worked perfectly for the final two hours before the girl was born.

During breaks between contractions, David walked around with his laptop and showed Laurie and the hospital staff the base where he is stationed.

At dusk in Hannibal, as the baby was arriving, "We watched the sun come up in Afghanistan while I was pushing," Laurie said. "Pretty much everyone in the room was crying when he was there for the birth."

David's ease around the computer software was no accident -- he is a computer network administrator for the Army. "We have been able to talk with Skype four or five times since his deployment," she said.

David hopes to visit Hannibal around December, reunite with his wife and 18-month-old daughter Savannah Grace, and meet little Charlotte Rose in person for the first time. His deployment is for a year and the family is expected to be back together in Germany next June.

Time apart isn't ideal, but Laurie knows others have faced greater hardship.

"I always think about the vets in World War II that were away for years and come back and have 3-year-olds they've never met and I think we are very lucky," she said.

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