Service members and their families make sacrifices every day. Sometimes that means missing the birth of a child.
Here are three stories and three ways to make the most of baby’s arrival, inspire hope, and help you connect with your soldier during this special time.
Sarah McCool (Germany)
After trying for six months to conceive, my husband received a deployment opportunity. We chose to accept the offer and stop trying for a baby. Two weeks later, we learned I was pregnant!
When he left for his year-long Afghanistan tour, I was five months along. I was stationed in Germany and away from family, so I immediately hired a Doula. To my surprise, my Army Family swooped in like caped superheroes and carried me through that emotional time.
When I labored, four loving and supportive women surrounded me. My friend sent minute-by-minute updates to my husband so that he could feel included. Despite weak WiFi, she got Skype running momentarily. When my daughter arrived, my friend held the phone so my husband could see his baby girl and his awe-struck wife holding each other for the first time.
If it hadn’t been for my Army Family, my husband would have missed that indescribably beautiful moment.
Sarah Mitchell (Texas)
I was six months pregnant, my husband left for BCT, and the kids and I remained in our Texas hometown near friends and family.
Because of his AIT schedule and location, we knew that he would miss the birth. He was my L&D champion with our first two children, and I had to mentally prepare for his absence.
When I went into labor, my husband’s instructor granted permission to keep his phone on. When I called, he joked that he’d “Continue standing by to stand by!”
My best friend, who helped me all day while in labor, called my husband from the hospital to hear my last push and our daughter’s first cry! I had to tell him that, sadly, she didn’t inherit his (or her big brother’s) red hair. After toweling her off, the nurse yelled, “Wait! She IS a ginger!”
He was pleased his prediction was correct, but to this day, is sad that he missed this revelation in person.
Jackie Toops (Florida)
When pregnant with our second son, I was diagnosed with placenta previa. At 28.5 weeks, I went into pre-term labor, was hospitalized and then released home on strict bed rest.
During all this, my soldier was away for BCT and AIT and I had a toddler at home. Luckily I lived with my parents and they provided loving support.
Four weeks before his due date, I went into labor. My mom whisked me to the hospital and my son was born, one hour later, via emergency c-section. My nurse sent photos of our new baby to my husband, who received them while in line for breakfast at the DFAC.
The Army rushed paperwork and let my soldier out on paternity leave earlier than expected. He made it for our very last night in the hospital and we were able to return home as a family, for the duration of his leave.
What Helped Us:
Thanks to the support of friends and family, we all have happy endings to our stories. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and if you need inspiration, here are some ideas. Other key recommendations include:
- Preparation – Being mentally prepared to do this without your husband is essential. If he can get leave, work on paperwork in advance. Pack your hospital bag and have a list of people you can call in the middle of the night to drive you to the hospital or to watch your other children.
- Technology – Things such as video chats, conversations and photos are vital in connecting you with your soldier. Remember to have devices charged, your man on standby, and sufficient memory on your cameras and phones.
- Acknowledge Your Feelings – There may be emotional repercussions resulting from his absence from this major life event. If you find that complicated feelings are too challenging to handle, or if there are familial adjustment issues once he returns home, please visit http://www.militaryonesource.mil to receive confidential assistance either in person, via video chat, telephone or online.
The Truth of the Matter
Although we have a happy and healthy son, my husband and I do regret that he couldn’t be there for his birth. On a positive note, someone once told me that, “It’s not about the wedding — it’s about the marriage.” I decided to apply that to this situation and tell myself, “It’s not about the birth — it’s about the life.” To this day, my son and my husband have a strong bond and you’d never know they missed a beat.
A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops chronicles her experiences in Europe through American eyes. Born in Florida and stationed in Germany, the mother of two enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. Currently she is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and a recurring on-air guest with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen traversing Europe with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.
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