by Cynthia Clagg, National Military Family Association Volunteer
Prior to my husband’s deployment, I had a lot of plans for how my four-year old twins and I would spend our time. We recently moved to Germany, and I had the grand ideas of us traveling Europe while he was gone. You can imagine then, my surprise when I found out I was pregnant with a much unplanned baby.
Our twins were conceived through IVF after many years of struggling with unsuccessful fertility treatments so you can imagine my pregnancy shock! I realized I would be having a baby in the middle of a deployment and would be left with an infant to care for on my own. I saw my dreams of traveling and having wine (whine) nights with other spouses dwindle before my eyes. I know I had to get a grip and accept the situation I was in. I became determined to make it through this deployment without whining and complaining…ok, I complained a little.
Germany was our dream assignment and it turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. Many spouses went home for the deployment. I decided Germany was my home, for better or worse. I didn’t want to uproot my kids from their German school or friends. There were many spouses I knew who got together for drinks and nights out; but being pregnant and exhausted I was often saying “no”. After too many of those, I was simply not included anymore. The pregnancy and, later baby, proved to be isolating. Those times I felt exhausted and just needed a break, were all the more difficult because I didn’t have any family nearby to call for help. I am, however blessed with the most amazing German landlords. They became surrogate grandparents to my children and watched them many times so I could get a break.
I decided that even though it might be difficult, I was not going to just sit around the house for the entire deployment. Before the baby arrived we went on several weekend trips and visited the zoo and amusement parks in the area. After the baby was born we took two more short vacations. During the trips I wondered why I would subject myself to the travel torture, but I knew I had to do my best to make this deployment fun for the kids. As we traveled, I found myself noticing other families with their fathers; this was hard to see at times. I hated being there without my husband, but he wanted us to get out and do things. He loved our stories and hearing the kids talk about our adventures.
While having a baby during a deployment initially sounds like a huge obstacle, I found it was a lifeline and a great distraction. I am a huge chicken when my husband is away and often can’t sleep because I am convinced every little sound is an intruder outside my door. Once the baby arrived I was too tired to think about much of anything, let alone focus on my husband being away. The pregnancy gave me something to look forward to and the baby was something exciting to share with my husband when I talked with him. While he missed out on the first six months, he came home right when she was becoming more fun to interact with.
I am proud of my husband for serving his country and taking care of his family. I am also really proud of myself and our children. While there were tough days and challenges throughout this deployment, ultimately we had a lot of fun and experienced new adventures together. My kids made do with their tired Mom and helped out when their new sister arrived. It was an empowering, emotional and difficult experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
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