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Airman witnesses his baby’s birth in Ogdensburg from Saudi Arabia


WADDINGTON – When Air Force Senior Airman Christopher J. Tiernan learned of his deployment to Saudi Arabia a month after he and his wife, Martha K., discovered they were expecting their first child, he had mixed emotions.

“He wanted to serve his country, but at the same time he was torn about not being there for the birth of our daughter,” Mrs. Tiernan said Friday.

But with a little ingenuity, a smart phone and the support of the Air Force, Mr. Tiernan was able to witness his daughter’s birth at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, from over 7,000 miles away at his base in Saudi Arabia.

“His superiors were really supportive,” his wife said. “They let him have the day off. He said he was pacing around his room because he had to wait all day for the big event.”

Throughout the day, nursing staff and doctors updated Mr. Tiernan on the status of mother and baby.

“The medical staff was extremely supportive,” Mrs. Tiernan said. “Dr. Peter Dargie held the baby up for him to see. Chris was able to see her before I was.”

Edie Streeter, Mrs. Tiernan’s mother, held up the phone for Mr. Tiernan throughout the delivery.

“He had to keep telling me where to put the phone,” she said. “At times I would be pointing all over.”

At 8:48 a.m. New York time—approximately 4:48 p.m. in Saudi Arabia—Mr. Tiernan heard his daughter’s first cry. Keira Ann Rose Tiernan weighed 8.5 pounds and measured 22 inches long.

“I don’t remember him saying much,” she said. “He was just in awe of her at first. Afterwards, he kept saying how beautiful she was. Even though it was not as good as having him with me, I was so glad for all the family support I received and that he was able to experience it.”

Mrs. Tiernan said her husband, who was unable to comment as he is on a mission, will get to meet Keira in April when he returns to their home in Minot, N.D., on paternity leave.

For now, Mrs. Tiernan is staying in Waddington, where she and Mr. Tiernan grew up, with her mother and mother-in-law, Jackie A. Brooks.

“The Air Force is really supportive of families,” Mrs. Tiernan said. “He only has a six month deployment, so he is able to wait less time than most military branches to see his family. He has all kinds of hopes for when he comes back. He would like to take her around the base.”

But there is one way Keira is able to connect with her father. Before he left, Mr. Tiernan made a recording of himself reading Margaret Wise Browns famous children’s book, Goodnight Moon.

“We read it every night,” Mrs. Tiernan said. “When I talk to Chris, he’s most excited to hold and talk to her.”

Until he returns home, Mrs. Tiernan said she will continue to sends pictures and messages to Mr. Tiernan daily to update him on Keira.

”We were still excited. He was sad he was not going to be here,” she said. “But at least he will be able to be around for the bigger stuff—when she is talking and walking. The pictures give him something to look forward to. It’s a break from the monotony and keeps his morale up.”

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