SMITH: Petaluma Marine sees son's birth from afar

Chris Rebollar comforted and encouraged his wife, Esperanza, for five hours the other day as he witnessed her give birth to their son at Petaluma Valley Hospital. Sounds like a fairly common scene.

But Chris wasn't there in the delivery room. The 26-year-old St. Vincent's High alum, now a Marine sergeant, was in Afghanistan.

Never before at the hospital had a father participated in a delivery through Skype, which allows users to make video calls over the Internet.

"It was much better than not having him there at all," Esperanza said.

She knows it wasn't a simple task to make all the procedural and logistical arrangements to connect her husband to the hospital room via computers with cameras. The hospital, the Red Cross, the USO and the Marines all played parts.

"I was very thankful they made it happen," said Esperanza, who was in the Navy when she met her future husband.

She said the Marine she married four years ago was just now needing something wonderful to happen in his life. A flight equipment technician, Chris is stationed at Camp Bastian, which lost two Marines to an attack by Taliban fighters who stole onto the base on Sept. 14.

"To have something positive going on right now was good for him," his wife said.

Chris was last with Esperanza and his older child, 2-year-old Kendra, right before he left for Afghanistan in July. To get to where he needed to be to Skype, he had to drive about an hour out of Camp Bastian.

His wife wasn't the only person at Petaluma Valley Hospital thrilled that he was able to have a virtual presence at the birth of his son.

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