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So maybe you're one of my closest friends, maybe you have no idea who I am. Maybe you know what I'm getting ready to write, maybe you don't. The Captain is a military man. Yep, that's right, I'm married to the military and I lived the real experience of my husband being deployed from the 18th week of pregnancy through my son's 2 month birthday. He missed the majority of my pregnancy. He never got to feel our son move inside my tummy, he never got to see me large and in charge, he wasn't there to rub my feet or tickle my back when I was swollen and super uncomfortable… He wasn't there when I went in to labor, he didn't get to drive me to the hospital, and he wasn't even able to Skype in to see his first born kiddo be born into the world. Even as I write this now it tears up my insides.
We always knew something like this could happen. It is something we accepted when we found out I was pregnant in January, but alas, it didn't make it any easier. The night he left I sat in my closet and bawled my eyes out while I talked to my mother on the phone. I was terrified to go through this experience alone. I did my best to keep my head up and know that God had a plan far beyond my own understanding… Something my mom, Sandy, reminded me of often. I was able to get through the first 4 months he was away without too many tears, but the 6 weeks leading up to his birth were gut wrenching. I couldn't believe that I was doing this by myself… but I guess what I am trying to get across is that… I did. I did do it. My amazing doula, Tess, recited this bible verse, 2 Timothy 1:7, to me when I was in the hospital and to this day it makes me bawl my eyes out! We are given a spirit of strength and when we trust in The Lord we are able to endure anything thrown our way. It is truly amazing what we women are capable of… we are warriors and are given strength far beyond our own understanding.
Once we got home my amazing mother was there to help for the first 2 weeks, but after she left life with a newborn truly began to wear me down. Even if it doesn't seem like it, try to remember that you are never alone and you can't be afraid to reach out! Ask for help when you need it. Having a newborn is so crazy hard and what people don't tell you is that sometimes it sucks, husband home or not. You don't sleep, you worry when they don't sleep, you worry when they DO sleep... Plus, real talk, breastfeeding really sucks in the beginning and can be super frustrating! And when you are all by yourself, you never get a break. So when the baby screams and screams because you HAVE to go the bathroom or wash your armpits the guilt you feel is immeasurable. Then you cry and cry because you're tired and overwhelmed. More on this another time. But point is, when you are all by yourself having a newborn can be isolating and just plain sad. It was/is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it is amazing what we are able to handle and what we are capable of. Remember that you have a spirit of strength and that right now you are all that your nugget needs. That's pretty powerful. And let me tell you, the reunion is sweeter than anything you could ever imagine!
For those of you saying, well what could I do to help!? I'm soooooo blessed to have amazing friends and a wonderful church family that truly lifted us up and helped me when I felt like going crazy. Food, bring food. It was so hard to find time to cook for myself… and you know how I love to cook. So pick up some Whole Foods pre-made goodies, try out a new Pinterest recipe… My bestie came out to Cali for a few days and hit up the grocery store and made me a ton of salads in cups with lids, labeled and all. I ate so well that week and didn't have to think once about food. Best. Baby. Gift. Ever. It was so crazy helpful!!! It can get really lonely and mama can feel trapped in the house, so bring some food for yourself too and just sit and stay awhile. Go hold the baby so Mama can get a nap or a shower or both! Do some dishes, mop the floor, and don't take no for an answer… It's hard to ask for help. Like really, really hard. I was lucky enough to have friends who did all of the above. I was and still am just amazed by the kindness of the people in my life.
Now, I'm not writing this for pity or praise. I just felt like I should share so any wives going through the same thing know that they can and will get through this amazingly difficult time and they are NEVER alone. Also, because I just wish I would've known how I could help others going through pregnancy and labor by themselves before I went through it myself!! But I love that I now know what I can do when a friend finds themselves in the same situation, we can be an encouragement and a light to them… and that's pretty rad.
images via Kelsey Erin Photography