National Guardsman able to watch daughter's birth via Web cam

Megan Crawford

The only thing worse than having a husband deployed overseas was the disappointment she felt about delivering a baby without her him by her side.

For Cathy Rybolt, 27, giving birth to her second child via Web cam so her husband could witness the miracle all the way from Kosovo was something she had never really thought about.

Rita Miller, director of community relations/development at St. Francis Hospital in Maryville, Mo., said when Dr. Michael Feuerbacher heard that Cathy’s husband, Paul, 29, was deployed in Kosovo and wouldn't be present during Shayleigh’s birth, he figured out how to make the impossible, possible.

“I think it went really well,” Feuerbacher said. “Dad was able to see the baby, and it went well. It was exciting to see that he could be so far away and yet still be involved.”

Feuerbacher said the Web cam was an idea he and the nursing staff had talked about before, but this was the first time they had actually set it up.

Shayleigh, who was born at 6:47 p.m., Friday, July 11, weighed 7 pounds and was 21 inches long at birth, and joins big sister, Dalylah, 18 months.

“He was really, really happy,” Cathy Rybolt said of her husband. “He was so grateful because they went out of their way so he could be as close as possible during her birth.”

Feuerbacher even spoke to Paul Rybolt after Shayleigh's birth to ensure the newborn's father she was in fact, very healthy.

“He (the doctor) told Paul that everything went great and asked him if he had any questions,” Cathy Rybolt said. “Paul just wanted to know everything was OK with me, too.

“It’s really neat that he took a few minutes to tell him that everything was fine.”

And while Shayleigh’s birth was quite different from her first child's — Shayleigh was born before the doctor even made it to the room — Cathy Rybolt said her labor was a lot shorter and because of their unique situation, they got to stay in the delivery room for longer than normal.

Ensuring Paul Rybolt that his new baby was perfect, Cathy Rybolt said the nurses were very accommodating and even held the baby up and turned her in every direction so Paul could see every inch of his newborn.

Cathy Rybolt wasn’t alone in the delivery room, being joined by her mother, Sandy Meier, and Paul’s mother, Karen Loch, as well as a friend.

Communicating via Web cam isn’t anything new for the Rybolts, who try to talk on a daily basis. The only difference was the connection Cathy Rybolt uses at home to the one the hospital used on their server.

“We were really lucky, because at home we lose connection all the time, but with their server we didn’t,” she said.

She said she could hear the excitement in her husband's voice, but she also knew he was overwhelmed, sitting in his bunk at a quarter to 2 a.m. — with the seven hour time difference — halfway across the world.

“Technology is amazing,” she said. “It’s just so amazing that we were able to hook up like that.”

While Paul Rybolt could see everything over the Web cam, the sound wasn’t hooked up, so to listen to the birth of his new baby, they had a cell phone turned on in the delivery room.

As a specialist in the National Guard, Paul is part of the group of troops who left from Maryville, Mo., to deploy to Kosovo in March. He is scheduled for a brief leave at the end of August. Cathy said there isn’t a set date for his permanent return.

“I think after he’s here, after he comes home, it will be hard all over again to get used to living without him,” she said.

Cathy Rybolt said she lucked out having the baby in the summer, because as an employee for Head Start in Maryville, she already had the summer off. She will return to work when school starts again.

Maryville Daily Forum