Imagine being told you aren’t allowed to travel more than 50 miles away from your home, your spouse is gone for training, your families live hundreds of miles away, you have a full-time job, there is constant talk about staying away from people and essentials items you need being sold out, and you are six months pregnant with a 14 month old. That is what it is like to be a pregnant in a military family during a pandemic.
Having a husband that is active duty Army and being a military family is like any other “normal” family but with some unique challenges. A few of those challenges include, having travel restrictions, needing and then not getting approval to go see family, husband being gone for weeks/months at a time, deployments, and extremely unknown schedules. We also face the same challenges that all families are experiencing right now especially those families who are pregnant and/or have children. For example, my husband hasn’t been to a single prenatal appointment through this entire pregnancy, only one of us is allowed to take our son to any appointments he has, and we face the unknown of what delivery will look like come October.
Being a military spouse is amazing and rewarding yet challenging and frustrating. It’s rewarding in the sense that I get to see my husband do something he loves, I get to experience his excitement for new gear he gets to use during training, I get to watch him work hard for promotions and achieve them, and I get to have pride in what he does for us and our country. But it’s also challenging. I tend to parent alone more than I co-parent. I spend many days and nights alone while he is in the field for training which can range anywhere from a couple days to a month, not including deployments. There is a constant unknown of what is going to happen next, such as when/where are we going to move, when/where is he deploying, or when is he going to be gone for the next training or school. I hear the saying, “you knew what you were getting into when you married a Soldier.” Well, I did and I didn’t. I knew there would be times he’d be away and I would miss him. But I didn’t know how much I would have to do on my own regarding house work and parenting, I didn’t know how much missing I would actually experience, and I definitely didn’t know that I would find myself saying good-bye to my husband for his deployment three weeks after our first son was born.
Sounds fun right? When my first son was born in April 2019, my husband was set to deploy to Iraq just three weeks after he was born which also happened to be my birthday. That was tough. Here I am a new mom with a brand new baby, my husband is gone, and my family is back in Iowa while I’m in Tennessee. Now here we are with baby boy #2 coming in October and we are yet again finding ourselves in such uncertain times. So how did I survive and currently surviving? Coffee, crying, and communication.
Coffee. It was and is my favorite part of the morning. Coffee was my way of having something for myself when I was figuring out the world of momhood while doing it alone. It was the constant of each day and something to help me start the morning after a long night. It was something I had that was just for me. I think coffee is a great metaphor to represent having something in your day that is just for you. Whether it’s coffee or it’s working out or going to Target. One way to really navigate the craziness that is the world right now or this military life, is to always make time for coffee.
Crying. I cried a lot. I cried because I was tired, I cried because I was lonely, I cried because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. With my first son, I thought crying was a bad thing. I thought it meant that I wasn’t holding myself together and I was just bothering my husband while he was away. But then I realized crying was actually helping me. It was helping me release those emotions we tend to feel like bottling up. I firmly believe that being able to express those emotions is healthy and should be welcomed. Being able to get things off our chests and say what we are thinking especially as moms, is so important. We have to be happy and healthy in order to make sure our babies and families are happy and healthy. So let’s all have a good cry together, for the sake of momhood.
Communication. That was huge for me. I was never one to communicate when I needed help from someone or when I needed to rest. I wanted to do things on my own. But then I became a military spouse and a mom, that resistance to communicate my needs quickly went away. Now I know how important it is to talk to people and express what I am needing or ask if someone can help me. When my husband was away, I knew I needed to ask for my family to come down and help me. I knew that I needed to rely on my friends to be there to help me when work and daycare didn’t match up. Communicating is so important. Let people in. Let them know how they can help. It’s the little things that people can do for us that truly make the biggest different.
It’s not easy. For anyone. But for all the moms and wives out there, especially those military wives, you guys rock. We are in this together for better or for worse. We chose to love these men and women who choose to love us and their country.