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Computing

Mom delivers baby on the Net

Elizabeth and Sean
Elizabeth cradles her new son Sean  
June 16, 1998
Web posted at: 12:23 p.m. EDT (1623 GMT)

ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) -- A 40-year-old mother gave birth to a black-haired healthy boy on Tuesday, as tens of thousands of computer users tried to log on to watch the birth on the Internet.

The woman, who identified herself only as Elizabeth, gave birth to baby boy Sean, who saw the light of day at 10:40 EDT, weighing in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

"Here comes Sean's head. He has a lot of hair on his head," said Dr. Walter Larimore as he narrated the birth for the Internet audience from the delivery room.

Also in the delivery room for the birth of her fourth child were doctors, a cameraman and two cameras.

The birth, as seen live on the Internet
video icon 2.2 MB / 29 sec. / 240x180
1.2 MB / 29 sec. / 160x120
QuickTime movie

The cameras were held at Elizabeth's side and in front of her hospital bed but nurses' backs blocked any view of the actual delivery.

Internet coverage was arranged by America's Health Network, a cable TV network with 7.2 million subscribers.

At least 50,000 people tried to log on to the network's Web site, overwhelming the system, which was set up for about 10,000 people at a time.

father and baby
The new proud father of a 7-pound, 8-ounce baby boy  

Even the network's own technicians had trouble getting access to the site from the media room at the hospital. When they were able to log on, the picture was fuzzy. At one point, only still pictures were shown.

"I wouldn't say we underplanned," said J. Tod Fetherling, president of America's Health Network-Interactive. "We had scaled out for the biggest number we could imagine and we have reached beyond that."

As far as the Internet broadcast was concerned, Elizabeth said she wanted to help educate other women.

She was approached by her doctor about the idea because of her history of easy childbirth and quick labor. Doctors had been planning to induce labor even before they were approached by the cable network.

The Orlando-based cable network's claim that it was the world's first Internet delivery was disputed by Tammy Barnes, 26, of Golden, Colorado, who says she gave birth over the Internet in February.

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