I will never forget when I was pregnant with our first baby. My husband has just come home from a 15 month deployment and we always joke and say I’m pretty sure I was pregnant before we even got home. This was the plan from day one when my husband left for Iraq in 2006. We would get pregnant when he got home and start our family. There are two things you should never do. Plan to have a baby at the perfect time and really try to plan anything around your husband’s schedule while he is in the military. You know that saying…”hurry-up and wait”. Yeah, we have had a lot of that in the past 13 years together. So I hadn’t seen my husband for 15 months and the last thing on my mind was getting pregnant. I had been tracking my cycle since he had left and I knew we had already missed the window of opportunity for that month. Well, I was wrong! In the chaos and excitement of my husband returning home one day I realized that my boobs hurt something fierce and I was 17 days late…whoops!

I was so excited to go to the health clinic to get my blood drawn and I just knew we were going to be the first ones. You know the first ones to conceive that “deployment” baby!! So, of course, the test came back positive and I asked the nurse “so are we the first ones?” She grabbed a thick stack of papers and said not quite… you have about 100 in front of you. We were stationed on a small base and there were a lot of deployment babies that were possibly going to have the same Birthday!

Planning…

Remember we should not be planning things, but the planner in me has to have a plan. So we start planning for baby #2. Trying to navigate around school (for my husband) and deployments. We left Germany about 8 weeks after I delivered our first baby. Talk about stressful. That’s an entirely different blog that I will have to share with you at another time. So we are back at Ft. Bragg, NC where this whole journey started. Our baby was 9 months old and I was pregnant with baby #2. This was perfect because Mike has just finished school and no deployments coming up. Unless there happens to be an earthquake in Haiti and your husband is in the 82nd on the Global Response Force (GRF). A force that is prepared to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours! Obviously, no one could have seen this coming, but the timing was awful on our end. I don’t think I will ever forget that call.

I had an 18 month old baby and was scheduled for my cesarean in just four short weeks. Not exactly a good time for your husband to be called to duty.

Surprise deployment

If you ever want to see a military spouse lose it, surprise her with a deployment. I was a basket case to say the least. We didn’t have a name picked out for the baby and we didn’t even know if Mike would make it home in time for the birth. Things moved fast so we picked a name and said our goodbyes about 6 times before he actually left. It would be time to go and I would drop him off and then change of plans he wasn’t leaving and then I would go back and pick him up. Then we would do it all over again the next day. Talk about emotionally exhausting. He finally got on the plane and the plane actually took off. This is what frightened me to no end. If it took them that long to ship him out, what did getting back home look like?

Those next few weeks were rough on my entire family. You never really know what’s going on with your own life in the military. You do get used to it and you learn how to live in the chaos of it all, at least I did. It wasn’t an easy trait to grab on to, but it’s necessary for survival. Learning how to go with the flow and taking the curve balls when they are thrown your way. I’m not always good at this, but I will say that I have gotten a lot better at this over the years, but that doesn’t mean it ever gets easier. I had absolutely no idea if my husband would be there for the birth of our second child and that was not a fun feeling.

He made it!

Everything worked itself out and my husband arrived home 2 days before our baby arrived!

There was a lot of apologizing for my crazy behavior, but you understand right? So this is when the pattern began. I would have a baby and then the Army would decide my husband needed to go away for a bit. The first time it was school, but this time around it was another trip overseas. My husband left for Iraq shortly after Madison turned one. Deployments and separations are never fun! No matter how many kids you have –  doing a job intended for two people is not fun solo.

How did we do it?

When we started our family in 2008 things seemed to get really crazy in life, especially with my husband’s work schedule. Sometimes I look back and wonder how I ever made it. I often felt like I could barely keep my head above water. It was crazy, but for some reason not crazy enough for me to have another baby. In 2012 we added another addition to our family….can you guess what happened after that? If you said another deployment you hit the nail right on the head! Sometimes I think this is why I knew I was done having kids. I knew having another child would only bring another deployment. So I was done, I was exhausted at the fact that I was a single mom, but I was married. It’s strange that that can really be a thing, but it is!

We finally got that break I had been praying and dreaming about! 2015 was finally a year that I felt like I could keep my head above water. We had finally gotten a “Cush” assignment. No deployments and we were together as a family! It makes sense because we didn’t have any more babies so there have been no more deployments. I’m telling you that was a real thing! Those 8 years Mike was gone a lot. He was either in school, training in the field or away for a deployment.

My community

The only reason I survived those years are because of the community of women I was surrounded by.

The women who were living the same life as me and who understood. You all became my family and I will always hold a special place for you in my heart. You ladies are one of a kind, and I would have never made it through the storm without you.

For all of the military spouses that have gone through something similar, you are not alone. For those of you who have had to deliver a baby without your hubby by your side, my heart aches for you! I couldn’t imagine. My husband left after every baby for an extended period of time. But I was always thankful he got to be part of the big day. I can’t imagine the feelings you had and I hope you had someone by your side supporting you. No one can ever prepare you for the life of a military spouse.

We would love to hear your pregnancy and deployment stories. Please comment below.