As if the birth of a baby wasn’t emotional enough, a Des Moines, Iowa, the family recently got an even bigger surprise.
The Finley family was expecting their second baby. But Cassidy Finley was resigned to the fact that her husband, Marco, wasn’t going to be there to witness the birth. Marco, a police officer, had been deployed with the Iowa Army National Guard. He had been gone for 100 days and wasn’t expected back quite yet.
The Finleys had come to terms with missing out on their first days as a family of four.
“This entire time I’ve been pregnant, we just figured he wasn’t gonna be able to make it,” Cassidy said.
Marco arrived just in time for the delivery on Oct. 24, 2018. Just a short time later, his son Mason Dale Finley was born. The baby was 8 pounds, healthy, and completely adorable.
“The only thing I was thinking was, ‘I want to be there,’” Marco said. “We wanted to time it up perfectly and my worry was I was going to miss it.”
But the surprises continued.
Marco and Cassidy Finley were thrilled that they were together for the birth of their second child. Almost as exciting was the chance to surprise their older son, 5-year-old Marco Finley Jr. Marco Jr. arrived at the hospital with a bouquet of flowers for his mother, never expecting to see his father waiting in the room with them.
It was an emotional reunion. Now the Finleys are all back together again and getting used to life as a family of four.
Not everybody is quite so lucky.
Deployments with the National Guard can vary in length. For state active duty missions, they might be only a few weeks or as long as 60 days. Marco Finley’s was longer at around 100 days. Cassidy Finley went through much of her pregnancy on her own and was ready to deliver without Marco there, either.
While it’s not as common for police officers to be sent on long deployments, many soldiers face months or even years away from their family.
Some soldiers have to accept that they might not be there for the birth of a child. The military usually makes an effort to return deployed fathers home at least for a short period of time, so they can be there to watch their children arrive. Sadly, it’s not always a possibility. Modern technology is changing that, though.
This new father’s cellphone made all the difference.
Just take Brooks Lindsey, a soldier who was trying to get home to see the birth of his daughter in May 2018. Lindsey was devastated to learn that his flight had been delayed and he wouldn’t be there. Instead, he got the next best thing: He was able to watch the birth via a FaceTime call with his wife.
Passersby watched in tears as Lindsey sat on the floor of the airport, clutching his phone. Thousands of miles away, his daughter Millie made her arrival. Although her father couldn’t be there in person, he was at least able to share in the joyful experience of his daughter’s first moments of life.
Lindsey got to share the moment with hundreds of other travelers.
“He was crying, and our hearts were breaking,” Tracy Dover, a fellow traveler, said in a post on social media. “We all gave him space. When we heard the baby cry, we all rejoiced for him. I wanted to share this because I never want us to forget about our soldiers who serve us every day and the sacrifices they make.”
At long last, Lindsey was able to get onto another flight and make it home to Mississippi to hold his wife and their baby girl. Dover’s post was shared hundreds of thousands of times around the internet, with many people describing their own experiences with deployed spouses or parents.
“I’m grateful for Facetime so this soldier could witness the birth of his daughter,” wrote Twitter user @DebZGarden. “The age of electronics has given us instantaneous access to our loved ones. Nothing like the old days when my husband was informed by snail mail & it took 5 weeks to reach him aboard ship.”
Others echoed the sentiment of Dover’s post, expressing gratefulness for the sacrifices made by men and women in uniform. As for families like the Lindseys and the Finleys, they are happy to be all together once again.
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