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Birth Via Satellite
How a military dad on duty in the Middle East participated in his wife’s birthing experience at Johns Hopkins Bayview.

Bayview labor and delivery nurse Christy McPheeters with Maria and Andrew Archer and 6-week-old Evangelina.


Bayview labor and delivery nurse Christy McPheeters with Maria and Andrew Archer and 6-week-old Evangelina.

From the start, Maria Archer knew that her husband would probably be absent for the birth of their first child. After all, military service trumps most personal milestones. Yet as her due date neared, she’d hoped that somehow her husband, Andrew, who was on Air Force duty in the Middle East, would miraculously appear at the hospital.

Her wish came true—virtually, that is. Thanks to a team at Johns Hopkins Bayview, a nonprofit organization called Freedom Calls Foundation and the wonders of technology, Andrew Archer was able to coach his wife through 10 hours of labor from another continent. And, though the private video conference was arranged through the nonprofit, a Hopkins Bayview team orchestrated the details as the new mom-to-be toughed out contractions. The effort required help from media services, information technology, public affairs, nursing, gyn/ob, and labor and delivery to make the shared experience possible for the Archer family.

“I was nervous about asking Bayview permission to arrange all this,” says Maria Archer, who lives in Rosedale. “It was a first for the hospital, and it could have been dangerous with wires in the way and all those extra people around.” She credits Stella Karais in patient services for coordinating the effort. The hardest part, recalls Karais, was convincing Archer’s obstetrician that privacy laws wouldn’t be violated. A mother herself, Karais says she understood how important it was to Archer to include her husband. “It took a few phone calls and aid from perinatal charge nurse Wendy Housekanecht,” she says, “but everyone pulled together. It was very emotional.” In the end, everything went off without a hitch, except that the mom-to-be had to be induced and the time allotted for her husband to be on video had expired by then. Still, she says, “it was like he was there.”

Archer’s parents escorted their daughter to the hospital. Her mother witnessed the entire labor and delivery, while her father stayed in the waiting room. By most accounts, the baby was in no rush to make its debut. Archer had checked
in at 8 a.m. on Feb. 7 and delivered at 8:23 a.m. on Feb. 8, with help from her obstetrician, Alexandre Buckley de Meritens, and delivery nurse Christy McPheeters. “Christy was wonderful,” says Maria. “Within 20 minutes of her coaching, the baby was born.”

Evangelina Archer weighed in at 6 lbs., 9 ounces and was greeted with McPheeter’s words, “Say hi to Daddy,” captured on a family video camera.

Meanwhile, the Bayview employees involved in the birth—clinically or otherwise—are still reminiscing about that long but gratifying night. “Mrs. Archer reminded me of why I became an ob nurse,” says McPheeters. “Her strength to be able to do this on her own while her husband was deployed was inspiring.”




Johns Hopkins Medicine

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