AUGUSTA, Maine — When his perfect baby daughter Lucy was born Wednesday evening, Nate Picard was right there in the delivery room, supporting his wife, Becky, through her long labor and peering anxiously over the shoulder of the doctor who delivered the couple’s first child.
But in reality, U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Nathaniel Picard, a 1999 graduate of John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, was thousands of miles away on the Al-Asad Airfield in western Iraq, participating in Lucy’s birth by a satellite linkup. Courtesy of the nonprofit Freedom Calls Foundation, Picard, 27, coached his wife through hours of labor and the delivery itself, which occurred at 6:47 p.m. at MaineGeneral Hospital in Augusta. It was 6:30 a.m. Thursday on the air base.
“After all the hours of build-up and pushing, to finally see beautiful little Lucy — it was as thrilling as the previous 18 hours were taxing,” Nate Picard said Thursday afternoon, once again tuning in for a satellite visit with his family.
Rebecca Picard, 25, rested on the bed, beaming as she cradled the sleeping Lucille Elizabeth Picard, who weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces and was 21.5 inches long when she was born.
“It meant the world to us that, even though he was thousands of miles away, he could be part of this,” Becky Picard said. Her mother and two other family members actually stayed with her during her labor and delivery, she said, but it was her husband’s presence that carried her through.
“He was very encouraging, especially at the end, when I needed it most,” she said. “He told me I was beautiful and he reminded me that he loved me.”
Asked whether Lucy looked more like him or like her mother, Nate Picard did not hesitate.
“Well, she’s beautiful, so she must look like my wife,” he responded, bringing an even deeper smile to Becky’s face.
Nate Picard, who has been deployed in Iraq for six months, is due back at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in about three weeks and will return home to Maine in October. The couple lives in Farmingdale.
Hospital officials had about two weeks to prepare for the live video linkup, which went off without a hitch.
“This was a first for me,” said obstetrician Glenn Gianini. “But once I stepped into the room and saw him on the monitor looking over my shoulder, it was almost as though he was right there. He was very supportive of her throughout the labor.”
The New Jersey-based Freedom Calls Foundation, funded solely by private donations, provides free video conferencing, telephone and Internet services to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.