It seems like every time my family is gearing up for a major life event, a deployment hits. I’m sure more than 75% of my fellow Milspouse friends can completely relate to this coincidental frustration. This is the military life: just when things are running smoothly for us, another curveball comes our way!
My husband has been deployed six times so far and I’m sure there are many more on the way, as we just hit our half-way point for a career in the Marine Corps. I’ve been with my husband for the past two deployments. For the first, we had just become engaged before he left for Iraq. Seven months later, when he returned home, we tied the knot! I’d had a full deployment to plan out every last wedding detail, and our ceremony and reception were a blast!
For the second deployment that we experienced together, I was pregnant. It was completely unplanned. We had just experienced our first miscarriage a month prior and we knew Caleb was preparing to deploy. We drove cross country from Atlanta, Georgia to Salem, Oregon for me to live with my parents since I wouldn’t know a soul at our (then) new duty station in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Three days before Caleb’s flight back to the east coast was scheduled to leave, two pink lines showed up and our world changed.
Caleb deployed, and I began my barrage of doctor visits every month. I wanted Caleb involved in the pregnancy as much as possible and tried to find fun ways for him to take part in this journey. When my 18 week ultrasound came along, I had big plans for Caleb. I had already discussed with my doctor (who knew Caleb was deployed) that I wanted Caleb to know the sex of our child before me. My doctor was so fantastic and emailed Caleb right there in the ultrasound room telling him the gender and sealed up all the sonogram pictures so I couldn’t see them until after I heard from Caleb! The best part was that my husband stayed SEVERAL hours late at work so he could check his email based on our time zone and call me right after.
As I was walking out of the doctor’s office, my phone rang and I knew it was him calling. With a sealed manila envelope clutched in my hand, I heard him say the words, “It’s a girl!” and I knew right then I had made the right decision in letting Caleb find out the sex of our baby first. Even though I only had to wait an extra ten minutes, it was almost as meaningful for him to know first as it would have been for him to sit in the room and see tiny little floating body parts on a black and white screen alongside me.
With major life events such as a wedding or the birth of a child, it’s so important to keep our service members involved. Being creative and thinking outside of the box not only keeps them in the loop in a fun way, but it also helps US get through a tough time of separation as well.
What are some ways you’ve been creative in keeping your loved one involved while they serve half a world away?