(NEW YORK) — Even though the coronavirus delayed his return home, one new father was right on time to witness the birth of his daughter.
First-time parents Paige and Colby Boltz welcomed Stella Rosalee Boltz on April 8 at Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania. Colby, 26, is stationed in Southwest Asia as member of the U.S. Air National Guard. He was supposed to be home to welcome his new daughter, but his return was delayed 60 days because of the pandemic.
Paige, 22, said the couple found out about the delayed homecoming only two weeks before the birth.
“I felt pretty scared,” she told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “I’m a nurse, too, so I wasn’t really too concerned … [but] they were saying that I might not be able to have anybody in the hospital room at all. Going into a room to deliver alone is scary.”
Paige said her sister was eventually allowed to join her in the delivery room, but she still wanted the support of her husband.
With the help of the United Service Organization, a nonprofit that offers support for U.S. military members and their families, Colby was there for Paige … virtually.
“Colby had contacted the USO to set up a special room so he could come talk to me [during the birth],” Paige said. “They set him up with good Wi-Fi, and we decided this is what we wanted to do.”
“Luckily, it worked, and we just FaceTimed,” Paige said. “He didn’t say much, but he cried when he heard [Stella]. I felt like that was it, that’s my moment.”
“I’m incredibly thankful for the kindness and support from the USO staff during the birth of my daughter,” Colby said in a statement. “Because of them, I was able to see her birth, hear her first cry, and be able to support my wife while making the distance seem not so far.”
Although it’s the organization’s first coronavirus-related request, the USO said that it’s helped military families stay virtually connected in the past.
April is also the dedicated “Month of the Military Child,” according to the USO. Started in the mid-1980s, the month recognizes military children and families for their sacrifices and bravery.
“Being a part of a military family is always a balancing act. Sometimes, ‘the job’ must come first, and other times family is the top priority,” a representative from the USO wrote in a statement to GMA. “But at the end of the day, when a service member joins the military, their family joins with them.”
Paige is now home with baby Stella and keeps up with her husband through texts and calls.
“We just really want to thank the USO for helping us out with everything,” she said, adding it meant a lot to her that Colby could virtually be there for her and hopes he can come home to meet Stella in June. “I start to tear up a little bit when I talk about it.”
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