No one said being a military spouse was easy. There are many challenges we must face on a daily basis that the civilian world doesn’t. One of those inevitable challenges would be deployment. Deployments can leave a loved one feeling sad, anxious, lonely, or doubtful about what the future can hold. They can also cause our service member to miss out on important days such as birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, milestones, and sometimes the birth of their children.
I just happened to be one of the “lucky” ones. I get to experience my pregnancy and a first deployment at the same time. The day I found out I was expecting was filled with joy and sadness. My husband and I were happier than two frogs in a swamp because we’d been trying for over a year and finally succeeded, but our hearts sank when reality set in. He was leaving on deployment in a few weeks and would miss the entire pregnancy including the birth of his first child. Naturally, we were a bit angry and upset because our timing was off, but we knew the consequences of being active duty military. I was forced to put my big girl panties on and cope with the cards I was dealt.
I consider this current pregnancy a blessing in disguise. My first pregnancy was not all roses and butterflies. It was a difficult high risk pregnancy where my life and my daughter’s life were in danger. She was born at 24.5 weeks and had a long rough 3.5 month stay in the NICU. She survived a heart surgery and two stomach surgeries. She is now a beautiful 7 year old little girl and she too is experiencing her first deployment. Naturally, my husband was worried about me and the baby because he had no desire to repeat the first pregnancy with this one. No one wants their child in the NICU or worse. He had all of the concerns of a first time father PLUS the added concerns of the deployment and high risk pregnancy. I too was anxious and concerned. I’ve never had to deal with a deployment before, so the idea of being without my husband for months on end was scary. In addition to that, I was pregnant and alone and having to fill two pairs of shoes.
This pregnancy was trucking along beautifully! I didn’t show any signs of preterm labor and my cervix was long and shut. By 24 weeks, I’d only gained 10 pounds, my blood pressure was fantastic, I didn’t miss Dr. Pepper or cigarettes, and I was walking everyday. I was even going in every week to get a shot of 17alpha Hydroxyprogesterone Caporate also known as 17p, a common medicine used to keep the uterus in a quiescent state and preventing contractions from occurring. My doctor, being the wonderful physician she is, wanted to make sure everything was going smoothly internally, so she scheduled a routine ultrasound. What she and the tech found shocked me and my husband to the core. Despite everything I was told to do and the shots, my cervix was funneling and shrinking. In the course of 6 weeks, it went from 4cm to 1.8cm. Just when I thought the news was too much to bear, she laid another big one on me; she told me I would have to be on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. I about lost it. Here I am, just getting into the groove of handling a deployment, a 7 year old, AND being 6 months pregnant to my world abruptly stopping. What was I going to do?
While lying in bed with an enormous amount of time on my hands, I found the military offers resources and help for just about any situation you can think of. My ombudsman and FRG were my lifesavers. The hospitality group was the biggest help for me because they gave me something no one else could give; empathy, companionship, and support. They provided me with encouragement and reassurance when my husband wasn’t allowed to come home and be with me. They fed me and my daughter and helped me keep my house tidy. In addition to the FRG, the Navy Marine Corp Relief Society has been a huge help throughout this journey. They offer an at home nursing program for the pregnancy and afterwards as well. I have a nurse that checks on me once a month to make sure my pregnancy is going smoothly and to keep me up to date on any programs they are offering that I may qualify for. Lucky for me, since I have to have a cesarean, my assigned nurse will be able to come by and perform the checkups on the baby so I can stay put and recover. I also received a lot of support from my neighbors, family, and friends. I’ve become close friends with many people throughout this pregnancy and deployment that I otherwise wouldn’t have even met if it weren’t for the sequence of events that occurred. In addition to everyone’s help, I also have the help of my mother in law.
I commend the women who’ve survived pregnancies and deployments long before my journey, and I hope I can help those who will and are currently going through this challenge. I am almost done with this pregnancy and this deployment and the challenges I’ve faced have made me a better and stronger Navy wife. I know if I can get through this deployment, I can conquer anything the Navy has to throw at me and my family.