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I laid in bed the other night struggling to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. Amongst all of the tossing and turning I was struck with the realization that “I’ve done this before.”
At the risk of sounding extremely melodramatic…
Deployment and pregnancy have a lot in common.
At first you might be taken back by this statement. Generally we think that deployment = bad and pregnancy = good. But looking back at both the one year deployment we went through, and now this pregnancy, I am realizing that it’s not that black and white. Not only are there a plethora of similarities between the two, but going through a deployment has helped me get through this pregnancy.
- During deployment, for the first few weeks you wake up every morning with a pit in your stomach as you realize your man is gone and you have to make it through a day alone. It takes some time to get used to this happening. During pregnancy, for the first few weeks you wake up every morning with a pit in your stomach that most likely will land in the toilet before the hour is up!
- During deployment, you have trouble sleeping in an empty bed. If you get to sleep, you are awakened by phone calls and instant messages which leave you happy, but feeling quite tired the next day. During pregnancy, you sometimes wish you HAD an empty bed to sleep in and are awakened by kicks, jabs, and that ever-present urge to empty your bladder.
- During deployment, you have nightmares about losing your husband to the war. During pregnancy, you have nightmares about losing your baby, or giving birth to a zombie or a puppy. Or a zombie puppy.
- During deployment, you cry over songs like “I’m Already There” and “American Soldier”…well, pretty much any song makes you cry! During pregnancy, songs like “You’re Gonna Miss This” make you cry…well, then again pretty much any song makes you cry. Those silly hormones!
- During deployment, you go through countless cartons of ice cream to counteract the tears and grant you solace in your loneliness. During pregnancy, ice cream is just about your favorite food (especially after crying over that song on the radio) and you know it makes the baby happy, right?
- During deployment, you surround yourself with your Army wife buddies and try to pass the time with frequent get-togethers. Your conversations topics are usually about phone calls, emails, care packages, and “when did your husband say he was coming home again?” During pregnancy, all of your friends have baby bumps. Your conversations are almost always about your pregnancies and the most popular question is “when are you due again?”
- During deployment, you spend your spare time reading books like Faith Deployed, Hope for the Homefront, and Life After Deployment…trying to soak up enough information and encouragement to survive. During pregnancy, it’s titles such as What to Expect When You’re Expecting and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.
- During deployment, you get excited every time you reach a “month down” milestone! During pregnancy you get excited when you hit each weeks end and can go on to the next “week” of pregnancy, getting especially excited when you hit big milestones like 10 weeks, 20 weeks, and 30 weeks.
- During deployment, you long to just be able to hold your man in your arms and feel his touch, but are thankful for the times you can just hear his voice and know he is okay. During pregnancy, you wish your baby could be in your arms sooner rather than later, but are thankful for the kicks, jabs, and rolls that remind you of your baby’s presence and health.
- During deployment your favorite piece of technology is your webcam, computer, and cell-phone. During pregnancy it’s the ultrasound machine and the doppler.
- During deployment you attend FRG meetings and deployment support groups. During pregnancy it’s prenatal classes and La Leche League meetings.
- During deployment your favorite website is christianmilitarywives.com. During pregnancy it’s babycenter.com.
- During deployment, you look in the mirror, worry about staying in shape, and wonder if your husband will recognize you when he returns. During pregnancy you look in the mirror and don’t even recognize yourself!
- During deployment, phonecalls from strangers and knocks at the doors send you into a panic wondering if something has happened to your husband. During pregnancy, you are constantly evaluating every contraction, pain, and sickness, wondering if you need to make a trip to labor and delivery.
- During deployment, you know that homecoming dates are subject to change and are always looking at the calendar wondering when that special day will arrive. During pregnancy, you struggle not to put too much stock in that elusive “due date” and wonder if your baby will come early or late.
- About halfway through your deployment, you start planning for homecoming…imagining what you will wear, how you will fix up the house, and what you need to do between now and then. During pregnancy, you set up your baby registry and nursery to prepare for this little blessing coming. You even pick out your baby’s homecoming outfit a few months in advance!
- The last few weeks of the deployment are a frenzy of activity as you try to get the house clean, buy your hubby some new clothes, buy his favorite foods, and prepare yourself with a pedicure and new hair do. The last few weeks of pregnancy you are making sure your baby’s clothes are in the dresser and you have your hospital bag packed.
- At the end of the deployment, you are filled with such excitement, and yet such extreme apprehension, about homecoming. You can’t wait to see your husband again, but worry about adjusting to the “new normal” and wonder how he will be different. You worry about reestablishing intimacy. In pregnancy, you can’t wait to hold your baby in your arms, but are apprehensive about childbirth, breastfeeding, and being up 3-4 times a night during those first few months! You worry about how easy it will be to bond with your baby.
- At the end of the deployment, the first thing on your agenda is to update your Facebook status and let the whole world know that “He’s HOME!!!!” Then you go offline for a few days to cherish that precious time with your man. Once your baby is born you update your Facebook status with your baby’s arrival time and birth statistics. Then you go offline for a few days to adjust to having a newborn and bond with your baby.
- Once your husband is home you are awake a lot in the middle of the night as his body adjusts to being back in the states. Once your baby is home from the hospital you are awake in the middle of the night to make sure baby is being fed.
During each day, no matter how difficult, you remind yourself that there in an end in sight. Soon you will be holding that special one (or little one) in your arms, and IT WILL BE WORTH IT ALL!!! You look back when it’s all over and know you are a stronger and better person because of what you have gone through. It wasn’t all that bad. And all that matters is that your family is whole and finally together!
(May God grant a special blessing to any woman who has to go through both deployment and pregnancy at the same time!)