The most exciting time of a deployment is homecoming. This deployment was my first, and I was super excited. My husband was supposed to come home after Thanksgiving, but plans changed due to the mission. His ship and several others had to turn around. The one thing my pregnancy has taught me is to roll with the punches and just go with the flow. I tried to not make any definite plans when it came to anything, including the recent birth of our daughter. I won’t lie: I cried like a big old baby every day in the shower for the better part of a week (but I blamed it on hormones to save face). A part of me was disappointed and heartbroken, because I had hoped he would take his new daddy leave and first leave so we could go home for Christmas this year. Those plans had to be scratched and everyone just sat around waiting. What was set as an 8 month deployment, quickly turned into a 9 month deployment. I remember at one of our FRG meetings, the CO from our sister ship told us that Marines and their families are told to prepare for a 6 month to 1 year deployment. I commented to the group, “So why do they tell us something different? I was always taught under-promise and over-deliver. If they came home in less than a year we would be happier Navy spouses, but because it has been extended we are frustrated and angry.” After several weeks of waiting, the new homecoming date was set. I started my preparation for my husband to come home. I found a wonderful photographer via Facebook, started deep cleaning the house, and went grocery shopping for all of his favorite foods. I am sure the people at Kroger thought I had four teenaged boys with all of the food I purchased, but it was what he requested.
About a week before homecoming, my husband casually mentioned he had duty the day the ship was supposed to pull in. I thought he was joking until he got super quiet and said he was serious. I didn’t know whether to cry or proceed in pure anger. I got angry. I knew it wasn’t my husband’s fault, but he got the grunt of what I would have given the so-and-so in charge of making the duty schedule. Not only did they forget he was a new daddy, but they ruined my plans for the perfect homecoming on the pier looking all sorts of cute with my girls. Being the good husband that he is, my husband decided to ask around and see if anyone was willing to trade duty sections with him so he could meet his daughter the day they pulled in. A few days later, he told me a newbie on the ship traded with him since he wouldn’t have any family on the pier. In my mind, the newbie made my Christmas! I even went on Facebook thanking the faceless sailor hoping he was a Facebook friend with my husband. With plans back on track, and two days before homecoming, it was time to go shopping for a new outfit. For all of you ladies who’ve ever gained a little extra while pregnant, you know how I was feeling at that moment. Not only was that the first time I’d gone shopping after having a baby, but the added pressure of looking extra hot for a man who hasn’t seen me since BEFORE my stomach expanded was almost unbearable. Lucky for me, I took my friend K with me. She gave me the confidence to try on things I normally wouldn’t wear and I was able to find an outfit. Little did I know I wouldn’t get a chance to get all dolled up or even dress in that outfit.
Once I got home, I had about an hour to spare before I had to go and pick up my oldest daughter N. For me, it was prime quiet/nap time with the baby. So I changed into my comfy clothes and laid down for a nap. I woke up with enough time to go and pick up N from school. Keep in mind, I am still in my comfy clothes with no intention of changing until 30-45 minutes before heading out the door to her holiday program about 3 hours later. In the meantime, we ate pizza, nibbled on buckeyes and fudge, watched Netflix. I fed the baby her supper, and talked to my mom on the phone. I was describing my day and what that week looked like to my mom when, all of a sudden, the doorbell rang. My oldest and I immediately looked at the baby wondering if she was going to get upset. You see, I had a sign taped over the doorbell that specifically told people to knock because the doorbell wakes/startles the baby. Apparently, this person cannot read, so N got up to peek out the window and see who it was. I thought it was UPS dropping off another package. When I asked N who was at the front door, she shouted back, “It’s B.” I thought she was joking. My mom even asked me what she said, and I told her N told me B was at the front door. All of a sudden, I hear my daughter slam open the front door while screaming his name at the top of her lungs through excitement and tears. The sound of her joyful screams and the door slamming open caused a wave of panic and excitement to rush through my body. With baby on my right shoulder and phone on my left ear, I jokingly told my mom I was going to “investigate” this little prank N was playing on me. As soon as I turned the corner from my living room to face the wide open front door, all I saw was my husband in his dress blues smiling and holding a bouquet of fresh flowers. At that moment I screamed in my mom’s ear, “Oh my God! It’s him! He’s home! It’s B!”
My mom later told me she was a little confused about what’s going on, but she was quickly able to put two and two together. I won’t lie to you, I wanted to drop everything I was carrying and throw my arms around my husband. I know, I know, that would have been terrible and it would have been caught on camera. I actually stood there for about 30 seconds trying to tell my mom I would call her back later. In the meantime, there was this cute little photographer just snapping away, capturing everything, including my “ugly cry face” and me in my comfy clothes. My husband and the photographer I hired planned a surprise homecoming for me since my husband had pull-in duty on homecoming day. Those two got me good!
After getting a nice long hug in, I handed the baby to daddy and cried some more. It took a few before the shock wore off and reality kicked in. It was everything I’d been waiting to see, except it was happening on my front doorstep instead of on the pier. My family was finally together and my Christmas wish had been fulfilled.