Dad’s in Kuwait, but he’s still able to watch as daughter is born

MONROE — Justin Lopez leaned down to get a close look at his infant, all of 20 minutes old.

He was beaming, his face a mixture of joy, love and wonder.

“She’s pretty,” he said, and then turning to his wife said, “Let me see you hold her.”

Lopez, a Marine corporal serving in Kuwait, watched his baby, Isabelle Suzanna, by Web cam.

His wife, Christine Lopez, brought a laptop to her delivery room at Valley General Hospital in Monroe on Monday afternoon.

But it was some mix of chance and luck that allowed him to offer encouragement to his wife during her labor over the phone and actually watch as his new baby — the couple’s first — was born Monday evening.

“We didn’t think it could happen,” Christine Lopez said Tuesday. “It was very, very reassuring to look over and see his face” — the face she hadn’t seen in four months.

Someone at a United Service Organizations office let her husband use a computer. An employee with the hospital’s technology staff helped hook up his wife’s laptop camera.

When her husband first saw his daughter, he clapped, Christine Lopez said. “He said, ‘Hello, daughter.’ ”

Justin Lopez described his feelings as shock and excitement when seeing the first glimpse of Isabelle.

Her husband is on his second tour of duty in the Middle East. He deployed when she was about six months into her pregnancy.

Because Kuwait is in a time zone 11 hours ahead of Washington state, he stayed up all night to witness the birth, which occurred here at 5:35 p.m. Monday.

His wife, who is 25, moved from California to Monroe knowing almost no one other than her mother-in-law. Her own mother has died.

A chance encounter brought her into contact with what she calls her surrogate family, Holli and Dave Willi and Alli and Kathy Phipps.

Alli Phipps helped coach her through her entire delivery, Christine Lopez said. “She counted and pushed and held me,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better birth coach.”

Christine Lopez expects to be discharged from the hospital today with her 6 pound, 13 ounce newborn. Her husband hopes to be home in the spring to reunite with his wife and meet his new daughter.

Even 16 hours after her daughter’s birth, Christine Lopez still seemed a little stunned Tuesday that her husband was able to witness their daughter’s birth.

“He wasn’t going to be part of it; I had accepted that,” she said. “But to look over and see his face … to see the tears in his eyes and see her respond to him … It meant a lot.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or

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