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

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WADDINGTON – 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 smartphone and the support of the Air Force, Mr. Tiernan was able to witness his daughter’s birth Feb. 5 at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, more than 7,000 miles from his base in Saudi Arabia.

“His superiors were really supportive,” Mrs. Tiernan 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 kept Mr. Tiernan updated.

“The medical staff was extremely supportive,” she 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. At 8:48 a.m. New York time — 4:48 p.m. in Saudi Arabia — Mr. Tiernan heard his daughter’s first cry. Keira Ann Rose Tiernan weighed 8.5 pounds and was 22 inches long.

“I don’t remember him saying much,” Mrs. Tiernan 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.”

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