– Sent to Iraq while his eight-month pregnant wife was at home
in Hollister, Marine Jonathon Foss was certain he would miss out on
seeing the birth of his first child.
By Alice Joy Staff Writer
Hollister – Sent to Iraq while his eight-month pregnant wife was at home in Hollister, Marine Jonathon Foss was certain he would miss out on seeing the birth of his first child.
But thanks to a few committed staff members at Hazel Hawkins Hospital, modern technology and a little luck, Jonathon Foss was able to watch a live streaming video of his son, Jude, being born nearly halfway across the world.
“I’m so proud of you,” Jonathon Foss typed in an instant message to his wife, Jerilyn, after he caught his first glimpse of their new child.
Sitting in her sunny living room holding her four-day old baby Thursday, Jerilyn Foss, 21, said that she and her husband were incredibly grateful to the hospital for their help.
“We couldn’t believe it,” said Jerilyn. “We were just hoping that he could call into the room and we got so much more.”
Last Friday, Frankie Valent-Arballo, director of public relations for Hazel Hawkins Hospital received an email from Master Sgt. Scott Martin in Iraq, asking if there was any way the hospital could arrange a teleconference so that one of his Marine’s could watch the birth of his first child, who was due in a week.
Valent-Arballo told Martin that she would do everything in her power to make that possible, but when she contacted Foss on Monday morning, she found out she had already gone into labor, and would be giving birth to her child that evening.
“I kicked into gear and started making phone calls because I had no idea how to do this,” said Valent-Arballo.
Valent-Arballo held a meeting where she informed other staff members of the email. She said the outpouring of support was impressive: Everyone volunteered to help in different ways.
“When you get a request like that, it’s not a matter of ‘it’s somebody’s job.’ It’s the right thing to do. I think it’s the least we could do,” said Valent-Arballo.
The lab manager, Mark Smith, ran to Staples and to buy a webcam, Dr. Antonio Meraz used his knowledge of technology to get the webcam up and running, and Anthony Mojica, director of guest relations for the hospital and Valent-Arballo worked to get everything in order.
When Jerilyn Foss was brought into the hospital at 5:30 Monday night, she said she was aware that the staff members were working hard so her husband could watch the birth.
“I had a lot of anxiety because I wanted the video conference to work, but I was doubtful,” said Jerilyn Foss.
While Jerilyn Foss was in labor with her contractions less than two minutes apart, the staff members worked to set up the technology, but met with little success. Valent-Arballo typed to Jonathon Foss through instant messenger and kept him updated as they tried to set up the camera and equipment.
Jerilyn Foss said she put off pushing for over an hour due to glitches with the computer and camera, but her nurse finally informed her she was going to have to have the baby – even if her husband could not witness it.
As Jerilyn Foss started pushing, Valent-Arballo, who was also holding the camera to film the event, got a message from the Marine that he could see his wife.
“He told them to tell me I was beautiful when I was pushing,” said Jerilyn Foss.
As Jerilyn Foss gave birth to her first child, Jonathon Foss, stationed in Fallujah, Iraq watched and typed words of encouragement. When at last Jude was born, Jonathon Foss watched through the camera, and called the hospital room to tell his wife how proud he was and how beautiful their son was.
Jerilyn Foss said it’s difficult taking care of her first son with her husband overseas, but it is something she takes each day at a time.
Jonathon Foss calls nightly to talk to her and the baby.
“He always says, ‘Be good to your mom,’ and tells him soon he’ll take him to the (Monterey) aquarium,” Jerilyn said.
“You get used to it,” she added, but she said she was glad that he could be a part of the birth in some capacity.
“He couldn’t be there but in a sense he could,” she said. “I’m so grateful to Hazel Hawkins Hospital for that.”