Bernard Mercer Branosky—known affectionately to world as Ben—was born on November 6, 2012. If you live in New Jersey, you already have some idea of the trials his mother Bernadette went through in the days preceding his birth. Hurricane Sandy arrived just a week before Ben did. To complicate matters even further, Ben’s dad, Joel, a lieutenant colonel in the 514th Civil Engineering Squadron, was in the midst of a six-month’s deployment in Qatar.
But Bernadette, the benefits manager for 200,000 U.S. employees of JPMorgan Chase, is a resourceful planner. Thanks to her determination, the help of family and friends, and the support of her physicians at Palisades Medical Center, part of Hackensack University Health Network, Ben’s delivery was successful and without incident—and Joel was present, at least virtually, for the happy occasion.
The Branoskys live in a second-floor apartment in Hoboken. On the evening of October 29, three feet of water was flowing through the street in front of their building, and at 9:15 the power went out. During the night, the first floor flooded. Bernadette had a battery-powered lantern, flashlights, extra batteries, fully-charged cell phones and laptops, and food, but being marooned in a flooded building was not the best situation for an expectant mother overdue for her final ultrasound. On Wednesday, her sister called the Army National Guard, who came and took her to the nearest shelter.
When she came in for her ultrasound on Monday, Bernadette realized that she had another crisis on her hands: she needed to give birth as soon as possible because her fluid was running low. An emergency C-section was scheduled the next day.
The news was too much. With her husband in the Middle East and her apartment uninhabitable, she broke into tears. One of her doctors suggested she call the Red Cross to see if they could request an emergency leave for her husband. Even though Joel’s commanding officer granted his request immediately, there still wasn’t enough time for Joel to be on hand for the delivery—but they had an idea.
The couple had been using the FaceTime feature on their iPhones and iPads to have live, video conversations during his deployment—and they knew that Palisades Medical Center had the necessary Wi-Fi connection. "When I proposed using FaceTime, the doctors couldn’t have been nicer and more understanding," Bernadette says. "We understood the situation and were happy to oblige," said her ob-gyn, Dr. Jeremy Moon.
Bernadette’s sister held the iPhone, filming and taking pictures, while Bernadette was giving birth. Joel watched Ben being born from Qatar and met his son the next day. "It was an amazing experience," he says. And to Dr. Moon’s amazement, the rest of her family in the waiting room had pictures of the delivery, relayed from Qatar, even before Bernadette left the operating room. "Technology is an amazing thing," he says. "We were glad to accommodate them."