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Format: 04/18/2014
Format: 04/18/2014


Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Deployed dad helps wife deliver baby from Iraq

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

By Luis Fabregas


After missing the Super Bowl and the Stanley Cup Final, Army Sgt. Justin Allenbaugh of Monroeville was not about to miss the birth of his first daughter.

The Pennsylvania Army National Guardsman, who is stationed in Iraq, cooked up a plan to participate by webcam in the baby's delivery at West Penn Hospital-Forbes Campus.

Allenbaugh, 25, carried it out Monday as he coached his wife through her nine-hour labor while sitting at his base near Baghdad.

"Obviously it wasn't quite the same as being there but it was the next best thing," Justin wrote in an e-mail early Thursday. "Honestly the best part for me was when I got to see her for the first time and when the delivery was over because I knew both the baby and Mom were both doing OK and they were safe."

Justin's wife, Roxanne, praised her husband's coaching abilities Wednesday as she held their newborn, Gemma Rose.

"He kept making sure I was OK," she said. "He kept saying that he loved me, and he was proud of me. It didn't feel like he was that far away."

When she found out over the Christmas holiday that she was pregnant, the couple knew right away he wouldn't be home.

"He was mad, but there was nothing he could do," Roxanne, 31, said. Justin is on his second deployment.

Since they have used a webcam to communicate throughout his deployment, Roxanne thought it would be a natural way for him to witness the birth. A media whiz in the communications department at Forbes, Sean Biagi, helped the family craft the plan, using a laptop and an Internet connection.

"I wanted him to hear her cry," Roxanne said. "If we wouldn't have done this, it would have been so hard on him. He would have been completely alone, other than some friends."

To read more, visit the Tribune-Review web site.


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