On baby's birth day, soldier delivered

By phone, e-mail, reservist talked wife through labor

Baltimore ... Or Less

July 17, 2005|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,SUN STAFF

Since he left for Iraq about four months ago, Marine Reserve Cpl. Robert Johnson of White Marsh has kept in touch with his pregnant wife, Jackie, every day through e-mails and phone calls.

So when Jackie went into the delivery room Monday to give birth to their first child, 7-pound, 12-ounce Rebecca Marie, Robert was present in exactly the same electronic fashion.

The weekend before his wife was due - her delivery was induced - Robert e-mailed pictures of himself playing birth coach, holding signs that read "Push Jackie Push," "Doing Good Jackie" and "Good Job Jackie."

On delivery day, Jackie Johnson printed them out, framed them and set them up where she could see them in her room at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson. As the day wore on, Johnson's father e-mailed Robert with progress reports. And when Jackie started pushing, Robert called to help her through it. His wife rested the receiver on a pillow behind her head for most of the final 90 minutes of labor so he could encourage her.

"When I was pushing and I knew he was on the phone, it really made it a lot easier - just really nice and comforting to know that he was on the phone," said Johnson, a 23-year-old secretary for National Delivery. "Even in the earlier parts of labor when I was having contractions and I was on the phone with him, it was nice, because he was talking me through it."

Over that same phone, Robert heard his new daughter's first cries. And just after her 4 p.m. delivery, Dr. Steven Adashek snapped pictures of Rebecca Marie with his cell-phone camera and immediately e-mailed them to Robert.

The rest of Jackie Johnson's support group - her mother and mother-in-law - also helped take digital pictures and keep Robert updated while Jackie was in labor.

Johnson said it was a good thing she added hours to Robert's phone card the day before she went into labor. The two talked for about four hours altogether during her delivery and the day after.

"Once he got on the phone, he decided he wanted to stay on the phone no matter how long it took," Johnson said.

Though Johnson says she wished her husband wasn't so far away, their electronic links during their daughter's birth made one thing very clear.

"He's so excited," she said.

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