Story by Diane DeVitto/Red Cross Cascades Region
“Crista, you can do this. You’re so strong, so brave. You can do this!”
These encouraging words came from halfway around the world from Crista’s husband, Theran Golden.
He was watching his wife’s C-section and the birth of their son, Jaxon, through a Skype connection in Crista’s delivery room in Silverton, Oregon.
At the time, Theran was part of an Army unit known as the 234 Combat Engineers. Some of their duties are to build or repair roads and buildings during combat, as well as to clear minefields. While Crista was in labor, Theran and his fellow soldiers were in an undisclosed location overseas.
The Red Cross had arranged a Skype connection for them so that Theran could witness their baby’s birth; however, the area where Theran’s unit was assigned was in a blackout. When the rest of his unit learned that Theran needed a wireless internet connection, they quickly gave him every charged battery pack they had and went in search of the connection.
Back in Silverton, the hospital staff had wheeled in a monitor perched on a cart so that Crista could see and talk to Theran. While the staff disinfected the screen and cart they kept saying over and over, “We don’t normally do this.”
As Crista noted, “I’m grateful to everyone for letting us have that Skype connection, because it was the first time Theran was able to watch the birth of one of our four children.”
But 10 minutes after Theran Skyped in, the doctor came into the delivery room. Crista had been in hard labor for 36 hours without medication. The doctor said, “The baby is stuck and his heartbeat is dropping.” Both mother and baby were in danger. “We need to do an emergency C-section.”
When Theran heard the news, he went pale and quiet. He could only watch as the doctor gave his beloved wife an epidural to deaden the pain and perform surgery. Even though Theran had seen a birthing video beforehand, he still wasn’t fully prepared to see Crista in surgery. She needed a total of 285 stitches inside and out.
“Watching Crista’s delivery was gruesome,” he said.
After the birth, Crista was still groggy from the medication when she saw Theran crying on screen and heard their baby’s first cries.
Two and a half months later, Theran finally held Jaxon in his arms.
Crista said, “Most military husbands don’t get to meet their newborns until much later. I’m really thankful and blessed.”
During Crista’s pregnancy, she had no help from family or old friends because they lived too far away. She did, however, have the support of other military wives. They still keep in touch today. It was a military liaison that told Crista about ways the Red Cross could help her connect with Theran when she went into labor. After Crista called the Red Cross Hero Care Network, the Red Cross notified Theran’s chain of command that Crista was in labor and arranged the Skype connection with the hospital.
Today, Theran is in the process of being medically boarded out of the military where he served for six and a half years. “I have evolved as a person because of his love. I’m stronger and better because of Theran,” said Crista. “He’s a hero to me and our children.”
Theran was a combat engineer during his service in the military. Now he’s in college to become a biologist. Crista is enrolled in a nursing program and is a blood donor ambassador for the Red Cross. Both are full-time students. Both are A students. Crista jokes that when they get together as a family in the evening, they all spend their time at the dining table doing homework.
“People often ask me, ‘How do you do it?’” Crista said. “But nothing is as hard as military life. When my husband got hurt—it just made me appreciate everything more. Even though we’re really busy with soccer, girl scouts—all the kids’ activities—nothing is as hard as military life. I’m grateful to the Red Cross for their help to make the Skype connection happen, and to my husband’s friends in the 234 Combat Engineers.”
The American Red Cross Hero Care Network is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can contact the center by phone or online. To learn more, go to the center’s webpage at: Red Cross Emergency Contact Center. The Red Cross also provides military families with other resources such as Deployment Services and Homecoming and Reconnection Workshops.