When Alicia McKinley gave birth to a baby boy Friday morning in Medford, her husband was there to share the moment.
Never mind that Petty Officer 1st Class William McKinley is on the other side of the world in the Middle East, where he is a nuclear-trained machinists mate aboard the USS Enterprise.
Thanks to Skype, he was there when their son, Brittingham Delbert McKinley, entered the world at 9 pounds, 1 ounce at 6:50 a.m. at Rogue Regional Medical Center.
“Seeing our baby boy, it was love at first sight through the clouded lens of my tear-filled eyes," William wrote in an email to the Mail Tribune.
“I instantly became overwhelmed with all of the feelings of love, joy, excitement and relief that our son had arrived safely," he added.
Having her husband in the moment, if not in the room, was “awesome," his wife said.
“We didn’t know if it was going to be a boy or girl," Alicia said. “The moment he came out and they said, ‘It’s a boy!’ he was crying on the computer. He wanted a boy so bad."
Everyone was crying, added Debbie Hall of Medford, the infant’s maternal grandmother. A clinical chemist at the center, she served as her daughter’s birthing coach.
‘We were all there together’
“I cried and cried," Hall said. “It was nice we were all there together. It was so hard finding out she was pregnant and him leaving," Hall added of her son-in-law’s deployment in February.
“It was great to see him crying on the computer. He was with a buddy of his in the hotel room. They were whooping it up."
While Skype and similar software is now commonly used to bridge distances between loved ones, watching a birth is unusual, said RRMC spokesman Grant Walker.
“It was very special that the father, serving overseas in the Navy, was able to see the birth," Walker noted.
In fact, the young couple — he is 31; she is 29 — didn’t know whether he would be in port for the event. This marks his fifth deployment on the storied carrier, which will be decommissioned in November.
“We weren’t supposed to be on this deployment, but he got extended out for the life of the Enterprise," Alicia said.
The couple, who have been married 31⁄2 years, live in Virginia, but she has been staying in Medford with her mother during her pregnancy.
The young mother and infant will return to Virginia at the end of the month, and William will join them in November. He expects his current deployment to be his last for an extended period.