8-week-old Harper Faye sits nuzzled next to her mom Danielle Norby on the recliner. Her pink onesie reads: “I love my daddy.” Harper first met her daddy over the computer. He’s far away in Texas, serving in the South Dakota Air National Guard, but modern technology has kept them connected. Even as she took her very first breaths.
Separated for birth
While her fiancé Matt McCarthy is stationed in Texas, Danielle makes sure she sends lots of photos and videos of growing baby Harper, documenting every milestone she possibly can. It’s something she’s gotten used to, as this is how she documented the majority of her pregnancy as well. Every time she’d send Matt a letter, she’d include a belly photo.
“Even silly things,” she explains, “If I bought her something cute like a new outfit or pictures of the nursery.”
Danielle and Matt found out they were expecting in March. Joining the Guard was something he had been thinking about for a while before that. So in August he left for basic training.
“At first I was like, okay, I can do this. It’s not a big deal,” she remembers. “Then when it actually became time to say goodbye and those first couple months. It was harder. It was a lot of crying, a lot of tears, a lot of hormones. Those probably didn’t help much.”
While Danielle and Matt made the best of the situation, she worried he would miss one of the major milestones of their life together: the birth of their daughter.
Danielle knew the only way there’d be hope of Matt being a part of the delivery was an induction. That way he’d at least be available over the phone and could plan his schedule accordingly. She worked with the physicians at Sanford Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic to schedule the induction.
“With inductions, I realize they don’t just give them out. So I was very appreciative. It was nice of her to do that,” says Danielle.
Like most new moms, Danielle was excited to meet her daughter. It was a happy day, but at the same time, Danielle was sad for her fiancé. Sad he couldn’t share in the moments.
Once at the Birth Place in Sioux Falls, Danielle had her mother at her side as a support person and Matt’s family nearby. His sister actually brought her laptop and pretty soon they were linked to Matt via Skype. And perched on the bedside table is where he stayed for the 12 hours of Danielle’s labor and delivery.
“It was really cool,” says Shelley Cole, MD, Danielle’s delivering physician. “Danielle would get tired and Matt’s presence was definitely felt by her. Even though he was miles away he was right there in the room to encourage her and participate in the birth of his daughter.”
Danielle adds, “It made me a little more relaxed. As great as it was to have my mom there, it’s not the same as having your significant other there. And to know he wasn’t missing it, made is so much better.”
At six pounds, five ounces, Harper Faye was welcomed into the world by her mother and her dad. Dr. Cole even held Harper close to the computer screen when she cut the umbilical cord. “The benefit to them was the emotional connection as they became parents together,” says Dr. Cole. “When a man sees a baby come into the world, it starts the process for being a father, and I’m glad we were able to do that for Matt.”
Over the Christmas and New Years holiday Harper got to meet her dad in person. Danielle was happy to have him home, to share the nightshifts and to just be a family.
For Matt, the best Christmas present of all was connecting with his daughter and holding her in his arms. “He says she’s way cuter in person,” says Danielle. “It’s a much different thing when he can actually hold her and see her. But I think having him online during the delivery, it at least started the bonding.”
Matt will be home for good in May of this year. Until then, the family will continue to grow and share milestones over technology.
Posted Date: February 2013