A U.S. Marine was determined to witness the birth of his son – even if he couldn’t be there in person.
Lance Corporal Evan Flores is currently serving overseas in Saudi Arabia and was unable to welcome his newborn son, Landon, into the world. So instead, he opted for the next best thing – the 22-year-old from Schertz, Texas, watched his wife in labor via Skype.
“It was very hard not having him there, it was an experience that you want him to be there for, but he just couldn’t be,” Evan’s wife Shelby Flores, 21, tells PEOPLE. “This was the only alternative we could think of.”
Evan was deployed in September and has been using the video communication app to check in with his pregnant wife.
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“When I went into labor and then started giving birth, Evan’s mom held the phone so I could see him,” Shelby tells PEOPLE. “He was encouraging me and telling me things were going to be ok and that he was proud of me.”
The new mom adds, “In that moment, I was so grateful to see his face.”
Shelby says she was in labor at San Antonio’s Brooke Army Medical Center for 27 hours before doctors moved ahead with an emergency C-section.
“He was crying when I had the operation,” she says. “He was so worried and there was nothing he could do from so far away.”
But at 6:37 p.m. on January 17, Shelby gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
“Evan is so happy, but so sad at the same time because he can’t actually be with Landon,” says Shelby. “His eyes light up every time he sees his son on video.”
Evan will be returning to the U.S. in four months, and his wife says he “cannot wait” to hold his son for the first time.
“Landon looks exactly like his daddy,” she shares. “I can’t wait for them to meet.”