How to Survive Husband's Deployment When Pregnant

18

Being a military spouse has a lot of benefits. You have guaranteed housing, food money, job stability, health insurance ... but all of that comes at the steep, steep price of having to often go it completely alone. If you get moved to a new location before your husband deploys, you can often feel really, really alone.

When you're pregnant, especially for the first time, in a new place, and your husband deploys, it can be really, really difficult. When you add in pregnancy hormones too, dealing with a lot of things like this alone can push stress or even depression into a whole new ballpark.

Many women who've done it many times before, myself included, have some tried and true tips to help you get through that first deployment.

1. Prepare yourself emotionally ahead of time. Especially if your husband has to do refit before deployment, it can almost feel like a horrible tease and like the whole separation is being drawn out. Try to let go of any arguments, or disagreements, and just make the best of any time you have together. Go to a favorite restaurant, cook a favorite meal, cuddle, and try to focus on the NOW instead of the deployment.

2. Set up items for emotional comfort. What got me through the first deployment was taking a shirt that smelled like my husband and putting it on a body pillow I'd cuddle up to when I slept. When it stopped smelling like him, I sprayed it with his cologne. Seems simple, but giving yourself comfort items for when you're really down is going to help. Try to figure out something special and small you can send with your husband as well.

3. Prepare for the initial breakdown. Whether you have to wait with your husband by a plane or drop him off and drive away, prepare in advance to hold tears back while driving, but to allow yourself to fall apart whenever you're finally home. See if you can't drop off kids with a relative to go do something fun while you go home and cry. You have to allow yourself to cry, and to get it out in a major way, but then you have to be ready and able to move on after that.

4. Hang out with people ... even strangers. If you're new to an area, definitely meet up with the other military wives. I know there are many stereotypes about how terrible they can be, and for many people, that stereotype proves very, very true. However, for many others, it doesn't at all, and you have an automatic, built-in support system. Also check out mom groups with similar style moms. If you plan on breastfeeding, a once-a-month La Leche League meeting can help you not only prepare for the baby, but get a chance to meet new people.

5. Get out of the house as often as possible. I used to write a grocery list, and then rewrite it on four pieces of paper, so I'd have it broken down enough to have a reason to leave the house every single day. Consider taking some classes, like prenatal yoga ... things that, unlike birthing classes, don't necessarily focus on having your partner.

6. Remember you do have people to turn to. Ombudsmen aren't just for technical help, but can be there just as an ear or a shoulder to cry on if you need them. Take advantage of it. Also know there are counselors available at no cost, even religious if you want, if you feel you're having a really hard time dealing. There's no shame in admitting you struggle.

7. Communicate with your husband about everything. Even if it seems inane, he wants to hear it or read it in a letter. Write all your name ideas for the baby, the symptoms you're dealing with, include pictures of your growing tummy if you can. Just because he's not there doesn't mean you can't try to involve him. If you're incredibly lucky, you can talk to him on Skype and he can see your belly move and grow.

8. Try to enjoy it. I know this sounds weird, but try to think about certain "freedoms" you have while your husband is gone. For example, if he hates Chinese food, get it as often as you like. If he really despises watching America's Next Top Model, now is the time to rent or borrow the entire seasons and watch them all the way through. Try to find things you enjoy but he doesn't, and take that time to do those things for yourself.

There's many, many more resources out there, and tips for surviving deployments, especially when you're alone. Each branch and station varies, so your experience will, too. It's hard, and often people say, "I couldn't do it." But when you can choose between being apart from your husband for months, or being divorced and never with him, the choice is obvious -- just find a way to survive, and you'll be okay.

Military moms, do you have any advice for first-timers on how to get through a deployment?

 

Image via MelanieLouise/CafeMom

fathers, emotions, military

18 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Gwen Lewis Ingram

After 7 deployments, I can't say it gets easier, you just learn how to handle it. I was pregnant for one of those deployments and gave birth in the middle of one. My children have never known a year when Dad was home the entire time. I'm lucky, my husband is deployed 6-8 months at a time every 6-8 months. 


If you can go home and need to, go. There is nothing wrong with heading back to comfortable surroundings at a time when you need the most support.


Get a doula. Doulas can give you so much support when your husband isn't there. A doula can also go with you to childbirth classes and be your go-to for all things pregnancy and child birth related.  


Keep a journal. I keep a journal with me everywhere I go. I write every little thing in it and highlight specific things I want to talk about with my husband. I have found that our conversations are more engaging. The first couple of deployments we'd get on the phone and it would be "I miss you, I love you, Are you ok?" And it was very depressing. I never know when he'll call or iChat in so I want the conversations we have to be engaging and a real conversation. 


You can volunteer to meet other people.  Helping others while making friends is a great way to go.


 


 

mommix4 mommix4

I think you military mommies are so strong and brave! If you ever ever ever need help or support or prayers please let me know. I'm a mom of 4 and have never done it alone, but I can offer mom advice or an ear!

Lesley Rae King

It wasn't technically a deployment, but my hubby was stationed in Korea for the last 6 months of my pregnancy and the first six months of our twins' lives. He did manage to make it home for the birth. We were not expecting when we made the decision for him to complete one year unaccompanied, instead of 3 years, if I went with him. Anyway, I survived in a very similar fashion.


1.) I continued to work (until 34 weeks). Hands down, best thing I did for survival. I cannot imagine what would have happened if I had sat at home, by myself everyday!


2.) I made a new friend. She had been simply a friendly acquaintance before, but she was my lifeline during the pregnancy! Being military, old friends and family were far away. She went to appointments with me, planned an awesome baby shower, and was never more than a phone call away.


3.) I went to yoga classes and my bowling league, as much for comapny as for exercise. Okay, it was also for the shock factor (bowling a 200+ while 36 weeks pregnant with twins!)


4.) Hubby and I mostly talked on aol video chat. We never got into Skype, but same idea. Usually, the first thing he would ask for was to see "the belly".


5.) Part of me enjoyed it. Part of me always enjoys being alone during deployments, simply because I can do what I want, on my schedule. Plus, I think he would have smothered me if he was home. I missed him, of course, but we all got through it!


We are as strong as we need to be.

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

I'm the wife of a soldier.  Phil will be deploying again in a few weeks. :(  Wanted to say that I love this article!

airfo... airforcewifemom

Great article, Christie!  We've been through 10 deployments, two of which were during pregnancies, and my husband had to miss the birth of our second child.  All of the things you mentioned were things I learned along the way.  Another thing I learned is that setting a goal was a bit help to me during deployment.  Having a goal to work towards helped keep my mind off of the fact that my husband was gone, and gave me something to look forward to sharing with him when he returned.  For example, I gave up Coke during one of the deployments (that took place shortly after I had given birth to our 3rd child), started working out, and lost 30 pounds while he was away.  It can be any type of goal... working out, reading more, starting a new hobby, finishing a project you've been procrastinating on, you name it!

-AJ -AJ

I am so grateful that I wasn't pregnant during my Husband's deployment. He waited until almost immediately after He came home to knock me up. ;P Unfortunately, I miscarried - but We got Pregnant with Our perfect Son about 5 months later. =]



My hat goes goes off to the ones who are pregnant during deployments. I couldn't imagine doing it without my Husband there for every moment of my Pregnancy. Thank God He was at a non-deployable unit when I was! Gotta love Ranger camps. =]

nonmember avatar Bobbie

My husband was deployed during the second half of my pregnancy and the birth of our baby. I spent the time with both his parents and my parents (I was able to travel since I worked remotely). It was really nice to be with family rather than lonely at home. And it definitely paid off when my son arrived 3 weeks early and I was still with my parents.

I had a private blog for my husband that I updated with random stories, pictures and thoughts whenever I felt like it (which was often). I could post when I had time, and he could read when he had time. That way I could share every little detail I wanted to with him even though we didn't have much time to talk. He really looked forward to checking it.

nonmember avatar Becki

I was pregnant with my first when my husband was deployed. I wasn't married to him yet, so our conversations went more or less kind of bi polar. He'd hate me and think I was lying one day, and love me and couldn't wait to see the baby another. It basically went with however good work went. He always loved seeing my ultrasound pictures, and according to some of his friends, he'd kiss them before passing out. He had them taped above his cot. We talked all the time, every time I had a doctor's appt. I had to myspace him. His COL. never really was there whenever his children were born, so he was able to finagle my husband's R&R so that he'd be able to come home to see our daughter be born. I recently got to meet him, he remembered me, and thought my daughter was awesome. Anyway. What worked when I was pregnant was I was home, but in my situation, going to his house was awkward, until she was born, so I mainly hung out at my house. I got heavily involved with church, school and work. My good friend was my boss, and I'd be the only one allowed to take extended "bathroom breaks" but only if a 5 digit number came up, because it was more or likely the daddy. He was able to surprise me a week before delievery, because he kept telling me one date and then showing up on my doorstep in his cammies (funny story about that..) and I fell into his arms, and nearly wouldn't let him go,so he could surprise the rest of his family.

daisy... daisygirl913

Operation Special Delivery  pairs moms and doulas for free. http://www.operationspecialdelivery.com/


You are eligible for services provided by Operation Special Delivery if you meet the following criteria:



  • Your husband or partner will be in training or deployed in support of the war on terror at the time of your estimated due date or has been severely injured or has lost his life due to the current war on terrorism

  • after inquiring locally, you are unable to financially afford the cost of hiring a private doula

  • you would otherwise not have reliable and/or sufficient labor support


 


Also your Family Support Center and FRGs are there for you... Use them! The Air Force Base I used to work at had a program once a quarter for expectant parents called Buddles for Babies (it was open to all branches too!) A 1 day class that covers the basics and what's available to you plus a nifty gift bag full of goodies.

idsol... idsoldierswife

Thanks daisygirl913!  I have only about 7 weeks left and the hubs is supposed to arrive home (for 15 days) in time for the birth but you never know!  I may need a doula!


I have continued to work full time and while it would be NICE to be able to stay at home and catch up on sleep and get the house ready for baby instead of work, I know I would be so lonely and depressed.


Thanks for the article and all the support!


xoxo

1-10 of 18 comments 12 Last
F