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thedrifter
08-21-09, 03:05 PM
Marine, wife share in delivery of daughter

BY KEITH EDWARDS
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- Marine Capt. Nathaniel Picard watched, listened and offered words of encouragement, from thousands of miles away in Iraq, as his wife Rebecca gave birth Wednesday to their first child, Lucille Elizabeth, in Augusta.

While the couple would, of course, have preferred to be together in person for their daughter's birth, a live satellite link at least allowed them to be together by video and audio for about 17 hours as their tiny daughter was born.

"I can't describe my appreciation for this opportunity, it's wonderful," Picard said during another video conference, this time with his wife, child and the media Thursday. "It made being away that much easier to handle."

Picard talked with Rebecca throughout the labor and delivery via the teleconference made possible by Freedom Calls Foundation, a New Jersey-based charity that makes the video hookups available to keep deployed military personnel connected to their families for milestone events.

Rebecca Picard, a Farmingdale native, said she thought she'd be having the baby alone. She said her husband being able to be there, by video and audio, for the birth "means the world to me and my family."

"He was very encouraging, he told me he loved me each of those times I really needed to hear it," Rebecca said of her husband.

While she spoke Thursday, Lucille Elizabeth, or Lucy, slept peacefully in her mom's arms.

"It was probably the single most taxing moment of my life, watching Becky go through that and then, finally, seeing beautiful little Lucy," Picard said. "It was amazing."

The Marine serving in Iraq expects to return stateside in about three weeks, to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where Rebecca plans to visit him. He expects to be home in Maine in October.

"I'd much rather be there," he said of his wife's hospital room. "I don't plan on being away from Lucy and Becky ever again, when I get back home."

Freedom Calls built the network with cooperation from the Army and Marines to serve U.S. deployed military personnel and their families 24 hours a day, free of charge. It is funded by donations from the public.

Nathaniel Picard said he knows such communication with loved ones while at war is a rare opportunity: His father was stationed in Vietnam during his mother's first pregnancy.

"They went months without even letters," he said. "To have this opportunity was very meaningful to me."

Rebecca, 25, graduated from St. Dominic Regional High School in Auburn. Nathaniel, 27, graduated from John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor.

It is only the second birth in Maine that's been video teleconferenced live with Iraq, according to MaineGeneral officials.

The couple approached their doctor, Dr. Glenn Gianini, about doing a video conference of the birth so Nathaniel could be a part of it.

Gianini, who was in the Air Force, said he wanted to help however he could.

"It was very, very special," Gianini said. "It was a great idea, and it was great to be able to contribute to his mission."

A Marine still being a Marine, Rebecca Picard said her husband's encouraging words during the long delivery included the Marine rallying cry, "Oorah!"

Keith Edwards -- 621-5647

kedwards@centralmaine.com

Ellie