When SGT Michael Dooley left his pregnant wife at Fort Carson, and went overseas to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom, he wanted her to remember him while she was in the delivery room. So he gave her a teddy bear, dressed in scrubs, to be his stand-in.
Christine Dooley realized her husband might not be there for the birth of their first child. But she did expect him to come home and meet his daughter.
But on June 8th, she learned he wouldn't be coming home. Michael was killed while standing watch at a traffic checkpoint in Iraq, and Christine was faced with giving birth, and raising their child without him.
After his memorial service, Christine packed up their belongings and went to Pittsburg, where family was waiting to help her through such a difficult time.
Christine was always aware there was a danger in her husband's job. She got to know Michael in 2000, after she drew his name in an Adopt-A-Soldier letter writing program. Michael was in Bosnia at the time. The two corresponded, then met in person and fell in love. Christine says she knew she would marry him the minute she saw him.
More than 3 years later, she's given birth to his child. She feels a bond that goes beyond the mother-child connection. Christine says her daughter was with her through the pain of losing Michael. The two day old bears his name, Shea Michael, a name the couple chose before Michael left for Iraq.
Christine says she'll make sure Shea knows her father. She's keeping a journal of her thoughts, to share with her daughter when she is old enough to understand.
Shea will soon get something else of her father. The teddy bear in scrubs was perched on Christine's pillow on October 14th, watching over the birth of a little girl that will carry on a part of SGT Michael Dooley.