More than 6,000 miles separate Nate Pintens and his family, but that didn't stop the proud father from witnessing the birth of his second child.
Racheal Pintens gave birth on June 10 to Benjamin Peter Pintens at Luther Midelfort Northland in Barron. Her husband, stationed in Bagdad, watched the event via a secure webcast, giving him twice as much reason to be proud this Father's Day.
Getting to that point wasn't easy. Nate juggled his daily duties with the Wisconsin Army National Guard Company B, 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry and called via satellite phone for updates. He connected to the webcast at about 9:30 p.m.; his son was born just 40 minutes later. Although the video feed froze at times and had a 10- second delay, the audio was functional the entire time.
Staff received approval from the hospital's legal department and provided Internet access.
"We strive to provide care around the needs of each patient and family," said Dr. Robert Peterson, a physician at the Barron hospital. "We feel fortunate to have been able to bring the family together for such an important life event."
Racheal appreciated the effort.
"(Nate) kept asking what all the screaming was about and how everything was going," said Racheal, 22.
"I said, 'It's a boy!' His mother and my sister were there, and there were tears everywhere. His mother got to cut the cord.
"He got to see most of the delivery and heard everything that was going on."
It's Nate's first tour in Iraq, and the family is hoping he can return by about March 2010. He was deployed Feb. 23. The Chetek couple also has a 3-year-old, Emily.
"He's supposed to be there quite some time," Racheal said. "We're just hoping he doesn't get sent to Afghanistan. That's the worst of the worst."
Nate, a 23-year-old Rice Lake native, questioned doctors about the gender of the child before he left for Iraq. He was told there was an 85 percent chance it would be a boy.
Although the delivery went well, life is far from easy for Racheal. She said the welcomed addition to the family has made multitasking a necessity.
"It's one more person to get in the bathtub, one more person to get dressed and one more person to get in the car," she said. "You have to allow at least another 30 minutes to do anything."
Nate followed the webcast by sharing a cigar with fellow soldiers. Emily knows her father is serving his country, but she doesn't know the specifics. His absence will be particularly difficult for the family today on Father's Day.
"We keep telling her he's in the Army and he'll be back later," Racheal said. "She just knows he's not home right now."
Although extremely grateful to the staff at Luther Midelfort Northland, if a third child is in the family's future, Racheal is hoping the delivery won't require a webcast.
"That would be nice," she said. "It was pretty stressful just hoping he could see or hear it. (The webcast) was nice, but it's nothing like having him here in person.
"Next time, hopefully, he'll be there for me to scream at."
Marlaire can be reached at 833-9215, 800-236-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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