FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - One U.S. Army major, a veteran, two babies and a world apart.
Distance is nothing for a Pee Dee family, who shows why love shouldn't be taken for granted. Elliot and Sarah Rivera-Lopez's love gave them Sofia, and at 10:32 p.m. Sunday, another miracle was brought into this world.
However, he was a little early.
Sarah's family had only been gone a few hours. She was home alone with Sofia when she felt like her baby boy might be on the way. She was right; the veteran drove to the hospital and later that night he was here.
At 6 pounds, 10 ounces and 20 inches long, Cristiano Rivera-Lopez made an early entrance into the world. Surrounded by family, Sarah helped with her birth and even cut the cord. Her husband, though, had a different view than most from beside her bed. He attended his son's birth via FaceTime.
"So I asked my mom to be the camera holder - to be the FaceTime holder - and let him see the action!" Sarah said.
"I was hoping he could wait so I could make it here, but that didn't happen. It was quick," Elliot said.
Elliot was there for every moment. The family's photographer, Andrea, captured all of the moments. Unlike most dads during a child's birth, Elliot was a world away.
He was in South Korea as a member of the U.S. Army. A major, Elliot had leave time to come home for Cristiano's original due date, but the little one threw his father his first curveball.
"It's been pretty tough. Being away from family is not easy," Elliot said.
The family said they FaceTime all the time, but they can put the phones down now. Elliot got on the first plane back to South Carolina. He saw his family for the first time in six months, and met his son in the early-morning hours Tuesday.
"It's an amazing feeling after six months to be able to have him here," Sarah said. "All I wanted was for him to meet the baby and see Sofia, because Sofia talks about him all the time and how much he misses him, and it's really hard."
Family pictures showed a very pregnant Sarah with Sofia and Elliot. However, the father was photoshopped into them.
"I'm lucky to have them. I mean, meeting her and having her in my life is amazing. She's the stone in the family because, I mean, I'm gone and she takes care of everything by herself. And of course with the family support, I'm grateful to have them in my life," Elliot said.
Right now the family is celebrating a happy, healthy baby boy and two weeks together before Elliot heads back to South Korea. Sarah, who was also in the Army when she met Elliot, understands.
Although now out of the Army, she's studying to grow from a nurse to a nurse practitioner. After giving birth, she took a test in her hospital bed and passed with flying colors.
Elliot calls Sarah his "wonder woman."
"There's nothing like being home with your family," he said.
"(We'll) try and make the most out of the little time that we do have together," Sarah said.