By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
PICAYUNE — Family and loved ones greeted their soldiers at the National Guard Armory in Picayune on Friday as the guardsmen returned from a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. Among those in the crowd were three women holding babies whose husbands had not yet held them because they were deployed. One of these women was Kimberly Touchet, who held her daughter Carissa. Carissa Touchet entered the world on Sept. 26, 2012, at 3:57 p.m., at Ochsner Northshore Hospital in Slidell, La. Her father, Charles Touchet, a member of the 857th Wolfpack that had been deployed to Afghanistan, was the reason for the first Skyped delivery at the Louisiana hospital. “The whole experience has been challenging,” she said. “Carissa is the first child for both of us and we are both very hands on people. I had him with me through most of the pregnancy, so that was great. We had the baby showers early so he could see everything and touch everything before he left. It was wonderful that we got to experience that together. “It was the milestones that seemed to hit us the hardest. When Carissa would roll over or engage me in some small way, a first of any kind, that is when I would miss him the most.” The Touchets tackled the distance through Skype and Facetime calls. Daily photos were constantly sent to Charles. Any firsts for Carissa caught on camera were immediately sent as well. “I sent him pictures every day,” said Kimberly Touchet. “When she did anything new, he got that photo as well. There may be positives in this situation, such as the fact that I believe it has strengthened our relationship. He has had to rely on me to tell him information and details regarding her and that has made us stronger as a couple. But any positive doesn’t detract from the fact that this has been really hard—- especially for him, across the board.” Another goal for Kimberly Touchet was wanting Carissa to have Charles introduced as much as possible through her early months. “She will know his voice,” she said, while waiting for the buses with troops to arrive. “She will know his voice because he was able to talk to her through Facetime. She’ll know his face because I put pictures up over her changing table of him and she was able to see him on our phone. Even though he has been half way across the world, he has been a big part of her life.” Touchet said that the Family Readiness Group (FRG) had been a vital source of support throughout the deployment time. “The FRG is very supportive and it was nice to know that other ladies in the group were going through some of the same things. I didn’t feel like I was the only one going through something. Another blessing was the Soldiers Angels program. They have sent Carissa handmade blankets that are just beautiful. They also sent my husband a care package. He told me that it meant a lot to him and we are just thankful for the support that we have had through this. It has made a huge difference,” she said. Friday afternoon the beginning that had been delayed for eight long months, finally began. Charles was allowed off of his vehicle first, along with the two other fathers who had not seen their newborns yet. He kissed his wife and held his daughter.