Dad, serving in Afghanistan, sees birth of son in Texas via Skype


One of the most memorable moments in a couple’s life together is the birth of a child. For a Dad, the birth of a son is one of his proudest occasions. But when a parent — in this case, Dad — is serving in the U.S. Armed Forces half a world away in Afghanistan, missing out on the Big Event is a casualty of war and placed at the top of the list of missed milestones in service to his country.

But for a young Gonzales couple — Mom Monica Leal, headed to the hospital to deliver her first child, and Dad Joshua Sanchez, a sergeant in the Marine Corps 8,000 miles away anxiously awaiting the miracle of life — modern technology and an innovative nurse in the new Birthing Center at Seguin’s Guadalupe Regional Medical Center came to the rescue to make sure the entire family was together for the happy occasion.

Well, kinda sorta.

And if watching your first-born son enter the world via computer screen is not enough of an accomplishment, try getting it to happen on the same day as the birthdays of both grandfathers — Sept. 8.

This is the kind of birthing experience parents, grandparents and, someday, child won’t soon forget.

Add to the giving-birth scenario that Monica and Joshua had not seen each other since he left on his second deployment to Afghanistan in February, a seven-month tour of duty that has him scheduled to return home in early October.

So at 8:38 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8 — 6:08 a.m. Friday, Sept. 9, in Afghanistan — Bradyn Sanchez entered the world where he was greeted by Mom, a video likeness of Dad, maternal grandparents Lupe and Mary Jane Leal and paternal grandparents Robert and Aida Rodriguez.

Bradyn weighed in at a healthy 7 lbs., 4 oz., and was 20 inches long.

Dr. George Mannel performed the delivery.

“Being able to use Skype made a big difference for both of us,” Monica said. “We were planning for [Joshua] not to be here for the whole pregnancy and the labor and delivery, but actually having him be a part of [the birth] positively impacted our experience.”

Monica is a 2004 graduate of Gonzales High School, and Joshua is a 2006 grad.