Stratford Soldier Helps Wife Deliver Baby from 7,000 Miles Away

June 2010

When Emily Grace Fratarcangeli was born at 1:30 pm on Tuesday, June 29th at Milford Hospital, her dad wasn’t literally in the delivery room.   He was, however, present to witness his first-born’s birth thanks to the modern technology of his wife’s cell phone!

Some 7,000 miles, the call of duty and little Emily’s early arrival separated Stratford Army National Guard Sargeant Joseph Fratarcangeli from his new family.  Prior to his deployment in November Fratarcangeli, who is on his 2nd tour of duty in Afghanistan, and his wife Kimberly agreed to schedule his two-week leave from active duty in time to arrive home for the baby’s July 16th due date.  Little Emily had other plans!

When Kimberly Fratarcangeli, 27, of Stratford arrived at Milford Hospital around 8:00 am on Tuesday, she was sure she was experiencing false labor.  When she discovered that it was the “real thing” she attempted to reach Joseph through the American Red Cross and the Family Readiness Group of the Connecticut National Guard in Norwalk.  When she found out the process of contacting her serviceman husband in this manner could take up to 48 hours, she sent him a text message instead and hoped that he would keep his daily routine of calling her each day between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm EST.

Sure enough, Joseph called at about 12:45pm EST , 9:15 pm Afghan time.  According to Milford Hospital Family Childbirth Center nurse, Patty Illioff, “when he called, mom-to-be Kimberly placed the phone on her belly.  Through speaker phone Joe was part of the baby’s birth, he coached his wife through labor all the way from Afghanistan. When Kimberly got tired, he kept encouraging her.  He heard it and it was like he was there, he was part of it.”   Emily was born at 1:30 pm, weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces.  Illioff said that it was the first time in her career she has experienced this.  “We all had goosebumps.” 

Despite the 7,000 mile distance, Kimberly said that during the last 45 minutes of labor, she closed her eyes and “it felt like he was here.  It was his voice that got me through it.”  Within moments of the birth, Kimberly, who was supported by her mother and best friend, had a photo of the newborn emailed to Joseph.

Emily and her mom will be going home to Stratford on Thursday.   Joseph Fratarcangeli will be leaving Afghanistan on Friday and will return to Connecticut early next week for a two-week stay.  “All he keeps saying is I cant wait to hold her!” a beaming Kimberly said. 

Kimberly can’t wait to see her husband and share their new bundle of joy with him.  “My dreams and visions for her birth all included having him here.  I felt bad that he wasn’t here and regretted that she was going to be born without him.  But that all went away when I saw Emily.  She was perfect and healthy.”   The new mom went on to say  “She has the same dimple on her chin that Joe does.   She is a piece of him, every time I look at her I see my husband and I feel so much love for both of them.”