When Alicia McKinley gave birth to a baby boy Friday morning in Medford, her husband was there to share the moment.
Never mind that Petty Officer 1st Class William "Will" T. McKinley is on the other side of the world in the Middle East, where he is a nuclear-trained machinists mate aboard the USS Enterprise.
Thanks to Skype, he was there when their son, Brittingham Delbert McKinley, entered the world at 9 pounds, 1 ounce at 6:50 a.m. at Rogue Regional Medical Center.
"Seeing our baby boy, it was love at first sight through the clouded lens of my tear-filled eyes," William wrote in an email to the Mail Tribune.
"I instantly became overwhelmed with all of the feelings of love, joy, excitement and relief that our son had arrived safely," he added.
Having her husband in the moment, if not in the room, was "awesome," his wife said.
"We didn't know if it was going to be a boy or girl," Alicia said. "The moment he came out and they said, 'It's a boy!' he was crying on the computer. He wanted a boy so bad."
Everyone was crying, added Debbie Hall of Medford, the infant's maternal grandmother. A clinical chemist at the center, she served as her daughter's birthing coach.
"I cried and cried," Hall said. "It was nice we were all there together. It was so hard finding out she was pregnant and him leaving," Hall added of her son-in-law's deployment in February.
"It was great to see him crying on the computer. He was with a buddy of his in the hotel room. They were whooping it up."
While Skype and similar software is now commonly used to bridge distances between loved ones, watching a birth is unusual, said RRMC spokesman Grant Walker.
"It was very special that the father, serving overseas in the Navy, was able to see the birth," Walker noted.
In fact, the young couple — he is 31; she is 29 — didn't know whether he would be in port for the event. This marks his fifth deployment on the storied carrier, which will be decommissioned in November.
"We weren't supposed to be on this deployment, but he got extended out for the life of the Enterprise," she said.
She used the pronoun "we" because when he is deployed, so is the family, she noted.
The couple, who have been married 31/2 years, live in Virginia, but she has been staying in Medford with her mother during her pregnancy.
The carrier is in a time zone 12 hours ahead of the birthing center in Medford.
"Previous to our last port visit to Jebel Ali (Dubai), United Arab Emirates, Alicia and I jokingly were talking about how great it would be if we could get together on Skype for the delivery of our baby," the father wrote. "I never really fully entertained the idea that the timing would be so perfect."
Alicia was admitted to the hospital just before the Enterprise arrived in port. When he got to his hotel room, she was in labor, he noted.
She entered the hospital around 2 a.m., shortly after her water broke, and gave birth some five hours later.
"He was on the computer when they gave me my IV to kick-start the labor," she explained. "So he was there really the whole time."
Her nervous husband recalled asking how she was feeling, a question that received a "snarky" response, he noted.
"After sitting patiently in my room, I got to hear the, 'It's a boy, Will!' " he wrote. "I couldn't be happier that I was able to 'be there' during the birth of our bundle of joy."
The little bundle, who came in at 20 inches long, seems to be recovering perfectly from the big event. He was sleeping peacefully late Tuesday morning.
"He has a lot of hair," marveled the young mom as she watched the sleeping infant.
"He's cute — he looks like she did when she was born," her mother observed. "He was a perfect baby. No problems, no complications."
The baby's first name comes from his paternal grandfather, while his middle name is from his maternal grandfather.
The young mother and infant will return to Virginia at the end of the month, and William will join them in November. He expects his current deployment to be his last for an extended period.
"I am looking forward to enjoying all of the quality time with my loving wife and newborn baby boy, Brittingham," he wrote.
Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.