This isn’t the first time we’ve met. No, this is the fourth time you’ve taken my husband from me and left me on my own. But this time was different, completely different. They were much shorter before, and even though one of them happened extremely suddenly (48-hour notice over Thanksgiving), I was close to home and had a great support group of women to get me through it. Those previous separations, I realize now, were preparing us for this particular deployment.
We knew about your existence since we landed in Italy almost a year earlier. You were like a giant elephant we squished in the corner of the room, and we attempted to forget about you. You tried to blend in, but the closer we got to D-day, the more you emerged.
My husband and I decided we wanted our family to grow, so we started actively trying for a baby about a year before the deployment. But nothing happened. Test after test after test after test continued to come up negative. I was getting frustrated and we were running out of time with each passing month. We’d do the math each month to figure out—if I got pregnant—when I would be due and where in the world my husband would be. It got to the point where we decided we wanted a child, even if it meant its dad wouldn’t be there for the birth. He always joked that he would either be around for the conception or the birth, but probably not both.
We tried all the way up until about two months before he left and then we decided to stop trying. I needed a break from all the charting, temperature taking, and disappointment; I needed to enjoy the time with my husband before you took him away for more than half a year.
And that’s when it happened, just like they said it would. It happened when we stopped trying.
Dear deployment, ten days before you stole my husband, a second bright pink second line appeared on the test I was holding. I was pregnant; we were going to have a baby! A rush of emotions swept over us as we realized what that positive test actually meant: a baby, a family, and a completely different life from what we once knew. We quickly did the math and figured out there would actually be a chance he could be back for the birth.
He flew off to his sandbox when I was just six-weeks pregnant and before any symptoms actually started appearing. My morning sickness kicked in a few days later and lasted until around 14-15 weeks. I lived off taking naps and eating starchy white carbs, cheese and milk, and sometimes eggs that I forced down for the protein. I learned how to survive without my husband and how to keep the little one inside me growing. Once I hit that second trimester, things really were “golden,” as they say. I had more energy and could eat real food again. I felt human and almost normal again…but it didn’t last long.
Three months into the deployment we got news that rocked our world. My doctor called me one afternoon and said that two different tests picked up some abnormalities with the baby. One of my blood tests revealed an elevated hormone that could cause spinal defects, and the anatomy scan I had the week before (revealing we were having a little girl!), showed a cyst in her brain near spinal fluid. My doctor said things on the phone that made me lose my breath: “cause for concern,” and “need to see a special high-risk doctor.”
I emailed my husband right away, but of course, Deployment, he wasn’t available. Luckily, my mom answered when I called and said she’d be on the next flight over to be with me—moms are amazing like that. Going through this in another country without my husband or family close by was pretty scary. Thankfully, I have great friends here who all looked in on me, and his squadron made sure I was taken care of.
Deployment, you held on to my husband when I needed him the most, but you didn’t bring us down. My mom came out and kept me company while I saw the high-risk doctor, and everything, thank God, looked fine. Life went on again and the baby inside me kept growing.
As his return date got closer and closer, I started counting down the days and prayed I wouldn’t go into labor early. Although it was unlikely, I was still nervous he would miss the birth. Could I do it on my own? Absolutely. Would I want to do it on my own? Absolutely not. I needed him by my side.
Here’s where I can thank you, Deployment. You brought him home to me when I was 34 weeks pregnant. I know a lot of military wives aren’t that lucky, so thank you. We’ve spent the past month getting to know each other again and he’s become completely smitten with his daughter growing inside me, feeling my belly every time she kicks, wiggles, and squirms around.
Dear Deployment, I honestly didn’t think I’d be strong enough to make it more than half a year without him, especially while pregnant, but I did. This deployment taught me a lot—not just about myself, but also about how to ask for help and rely on friends and the military community for help. That moment when he was back in my arms meant I could breathe a sigh of relief again.
Until we meet again,
Jessica is the gal behind Jessica Lynn Writes. She’s a new mom to an adorable, bright-eyed little girl, a globetrotter who collects funky mugs, Hard Rock Cafe shot glasses, and digs truck stops, and an Air Force wife in the midst of a worldwide move (they just left their expat shoes in Italy and are back on American soil). When she’s not posting pictures of her little one, you can find her sharing snapshots and tales about their European adventures, journey around America, good eats, military musings, and whatever else pops into her head.