So there I was, 28 years old, newly married in a place with no family, my husband just informed me that he “volunteered” for a 12 month deployment, and my doctor is congratulating me on being pregnant…..
Honestly, my first thoughts were of panic. How can I do this alone? My mom and sister are teachers, which meant they would not be off when the baby was due. It quickly became clear that this was going to be entirely on me, which was slightly terrifying. However, after my initial panic attack and my husbands excited reaction, I decided I needed to get it together because this was happening. In the immortal words of Matt Damon, “I’m going to have to science the sh*t out of this.”
First thing to figure out was my job. They didn’t offer paid maternity leave, and my Paid Time Off accrual was pitiful. I decided I needed to work right up until delivery to ensure I got as much PTO pay as possible and then use temporary disability for the rest of my maternity leave. This was easier said than done. Working full time,while waddling around like a giant potato, is not fun. However, figuring out my maternity leave right away helped me not to stress about it down the road.
Next up was money. As a first time mom, there was going to be a LOT of baby stuff to buy. In true dramatic fashion, I decided I didn’t want any hand me downs or sales page buys. (Like most moms, I completely got over this by the second child) I broke up my list of things to buy into months and spent some of my paycheck on them, so the enormous costs didn’t hit me all at once. I’m pretty sure, I never used 60% of the stuff I bought, but that’s a whole other story.
When I got closer to the birth, I stocked up my freezer with a million one person quick meals for after the baby arrived. I also got enough water bottles from Walmart to ride out the apocalypse. I wanted to make sure that despite possible complications, I would not need to be trekking to the store. I was also fully loaded with diapers and baby supplies.
As for the birth itself, I woke up with my water broken, drove myself to Dunkin Donuts, and then headed into the ER. We attempted to Skype my husband in to see the birth, but of course his Afghanistan internet was garbage. Luckily, the nurse was nice enough to take a bunch of horrifying pictures so he could feel like he was really there. I was extremely lucky to have a magical and relatively easy birth experience. This was probably thanks to the hard core epidural I got. I would tell you what came next after that, but I was so tired I honestly can’t remember.
Two months later, my husband finally got back and I handed him his gorgeous baby and said “see ya” and ran. Just kidding. He was amazing and let me sleep as much as humanly possible and didn’t judge me for letting the house look like a bomb of baby junk exploded in there. I won’t lie to you and say it was all easy. It was stressful and hard but I truly believe that I am a better person because of it.
If there is anything I want people to get out of my story, it’s that you CAN do anything. Military spouses are strong and resilient and my story is only one of MANY. There’s nothing you can’t do. This is deployment.
This guest post is by Christina Baker–a Mom, Army Milspouse, and Nurse. She has a blog called ThePCSingSpouse.com.