Lieutenant Gets Facetime With Newborn Son
(May 26, 2011)
SATHER AIR BASE, Iraq (5/22/2011) -- First Lt. Arthur Litchfield just
stared at the screen as glowing pixels formed the shape of his wife in a
hospital bed. Her screams of pain and effort reverberated through his
laptop's tiny speakers. Through the feed he could see the hospital team
helping his wife. He checked outside his room when he heard raindrops.
"The internet usually goes out with rain," he thought to himself. "I
really want to see my baby born."|
First Lt. Arthur Litchfield, Iraq Training and
Advisory Mission-Air officer in charge of the foreign excess
personal property program, was able to watch his wife Desiree give
birth to their son, Cohen James Litchfield, via Facetime, a video
chat program, from his deployment in Baghdad on May 21, 2011.
Lieutenant Litchfield is deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah,
and is a native of Mountain Home, Idaho. His wife, Desiree, is a
native of Enid, Okla.
But Litchfield wasn't always a first lieutenant sitting in the
middle of Baghdad hoping it wouldn't rain.
enlisted in the Air Force when he was 18. Getting a job as a young
airman working in the command post wasn't really his ideal job; he
had greater aspirations. He learned to work hard from working in a
grocery store in his hometown of Mountain Home, Idaho.
During his time at the grocery store, he also learned it was the
perfect place to "pick up chicks." Not surprisingly, that's where he
met his wife of 12 years.
"I was driving and this bodaciously
hot babe drove by me. I was just gawking at her, and she looked at
me like, 'what are you looking at?'" he laughed, thinking about the
first time he saw her.
When he pulled into a grocery store shortly after the encounter, he
realized the vehicle the girl drove was parked in employee parking.
He described the encounter with extreme detail, remembering exactly
how much the items cost that his future wife, Desiree, rang up for him.
"I walked up to the
register with a gallon of milk, a bottle of Tree Top apple juice and a
copy of Super Chevy magazine. It came out to $9.63," recounted the
lieutenant, who lived in the dorms across the street from the
commissary, but instead drove seven miles to the grocery store she
worked at to do his shopping.
Of course, like any love-struck
human being, he would rather shop at the grocery store seven miles away
just to see her.
"By definition, it was stalking," jokes
Like all good fairy tales, they got married and had
three children over the next few years.
During that time, he
spent almost 10 years in the enlisted corps, then separated to go to
college to get his bachelor's degree in statistics. During his time in
college, he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps and subsequently
earned his commission.
In 2009, Litchfield and his family moved
to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, where he became a logistics readiness
squadron flight commander.
Early last year, they discovered his
wife was pregnant with their fourth child. "We had always wanted four
kids," he explained.
But then disaster stuck. In July they
discovered that Desiree had miscarried. "We were pretty dejected about
that - we had never experienced anything like it," Litchfield said.
Merely days afterward, he found out he had been tagged for a 365-day
deployment to Iraq.
The Litchfields decided if they weren't
pregnant again before the lieutenant left for his deployment, they were
going to stick with three kids.
That September, Desiree found out
she was pregnant again.
"We felt joy; we were still worried
because of the previous miscarriage, but we still wanted to have four
children," he said.
After completing pre-deployment training, the
lieutenant spent a short time with his family before finally leaving for
Baghdad in early April, where he became the Iraq Training and Advisory
Mission-Air officer in charge of the foreign excess personal property
Five days after he left, Desiree packed up the kids and
the dog to go stay with her family in her hometown of Enid, Okla.
Once in Baghdad, Litchfield settled in and kept in touch with his
family every chance he could using the Internet in his room. He followed
the remainder of his wife's pregnancy with bated breath.
due date drew near, Litchfield knew he had an opportunity to see the
birth, even though he wasn't going to be there.
He bought an iPad
for his wife so the two could still talk in the hospital using Facetime,
a video messaging program.
On the big day, the lieutenant holed
up in his room and watched the entire thing online, from the epidural
until after the birth of his child.
"I was really worried that
the Internet was gonna go," Litchfield said about his expeditionary
But apart from a little rain, there were no
interruptions to his Internet stream. "It was fabulous - there was no
delay," he said.
Word spread quickly through the hospital about
the unique situation in Desiree's room, and a steady stream of nurses
came through to see what was going on.
"Every nurse that came in
asked 'Are you Desiree? Are you the girl whose husband is deployed?,'"
Meanwhile, in Iraq, the former enlisted command
post controller was relaying information back and forth between his
friends and family back home on Facebook.
"I was the 7,000 mile
away guy keeping everyone in the neighborhood informed," he said.
In the end, Desiree gave birth to their fourth child, Cohen James
Litchfield, on May 16. He weighed in at 8 pounds, 10 ounces.
"This one was a complete surprise," he said. Up until that point, the
couple had no idea what gender their baby was going to be.
Cohen was born, Litchfield lost the limelight to the new baby.
"When I called before, I was the 'first show' in town. Movies stopped
and everyone came to talk to me. At the hospital, I was the 'second
show' in town because everyone wanted to see the baby," he said.
And see the baby they did. But no one saw him with the same perspective
as his father.
"You never forget the birth of a kid... I'll never
Article and photo by USAF SSgt. Levi Riendeau
321st Air Expeditionary Wing
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