On January 3, 2018 I delivered the most perfect, squishy, nine-pound baby boy right here in Baton Rouge, LA while my husband – his father – was protecting America’s freedom in Africa. I’ll let that sink in for a second.
So, let’s go back just a little.
After dating for 6 years, we got married in 2013, six weeks before he was sent to Afghanistan for his first deployment. We were kid-less at this time. I thought this deployment would be the most challenging thing to ever happen to us. When he got home in May 2014, it didn’t take long for us to become pregnant with our first son. He was born on March 29, 2015. Beyond ridiculous morning, noon, and night sickness for 36 solid weeks, pregnancy, labor, and delivery were all completely textbook. The most graceful birth that could have ever happened. Contractions: check. Water broke (in the middle of the night in the bathroom!): check. Arrived at the hospital in a timely fashion: check. Epidural: check. Six total hours of active labor: check. That’s it. We had a perfect baby to show off. Yay us! That was so easy! (everyone: eye-roll together.)
We learned to be parents and take care of a tiny helpless amazing human. And because we were so great at it, we decided we could probably handle one more tiny helpless human. At this point, we knew that hubs would be deployed again in Fall 2017. After two miscarriages, I needed to have surgery to remove a cyst that had been growing larger with each lost pregnancy. This was in May of 2017, and he was scheduled to leave in September 2017 so we decided that for us, we should wait to continue to try to get pregnant. Neither of us felt that it would be fair to welcome a baby with him on the other side of the world- not fair to him, not fair to me, not fair to baby.
When I went back to my doctor for my four-week post-op appointment, I had some concerns about my non-existent cycle. My doctor assured me, but protocol required a pregnancy test. POSITIVE.
IF this pregnancy didn’t fail, my due date was January 17, 2018. Hubs wasn’t scheduled to come home until July 2018. This baby would be six months old before he could meet his Daddy. Husband went to Virginia to begin deployment training in August, one week after we found out we were blessed with another baby boy!
On January 2, 2018, around 9:30 pm, my mom took me to the hospital because I had been having steady, consistent contractions for a few hours. I walked those halls for FIVE hours, but I wasn’t dilating so I was advised to go home and come back when I couldn’t talk through the contractions. We got back home around 3:30 am.
When I crawled down the hall desperately trying not to wake up my sleeping toddler, my mom’s alarm clock had the time of 4:41 am. I nudged her awake and told her “We have to go NOW, something is wrong.” Every time I tried to stand up, all I could do was drop to the ground. After this point, every time I tried to speak words only screams came out. Something was terribly wrong; I just knew it.
That was the longest drive back to the hospital. She wouldn’t even run any red lights despite my screams and demands. I begged her to just not stop because something was definitely wrong and we definitely needed to be at the hospital now. All of that just sounded like screaming to her though (she still has PTSD from this adventure.) My water broke in my car somewhere along the way. A poor intern was charged with getting me to the fourth floor for Labor & Delivery. I still feel bad for that poor intern.
When I finally (maybe 2 minutes after actually arriving at the hospital) made it up to the fourth floor, all of the same nurses were still on shift. The only words I heard were “He’s crowning!” I was flung on a gurney in an assessment room and told to push. All I could think was:
“Stop right here I don’t want to do this. Not like THIS! This is not MY birth plan. I want an epidural. I do not want to feel what is going to happen. Call his Daddy. He’s in Africa. CALL HIM. There is time. Doctor, please do your job. (Everyone but me was doing their job beautifully.)”
That didn’t happen. There was no time. One push. He was here. All nine pounds one ounce. Ten little fingers, ten tiny toes. Perfect. Healthy. Squishy. Loud. Strong. Just as shocking as becoming pregnant with him was, the way he entered the world was beyond anything I could have ever imagined (and he continues to shock us with his ways nearly every day).
Forming words on exact emotions about this whole experience is impossible. It was incredible and unbelievable. It was devastating and heartbreaking. It was so busy all around me with doctors and nurses doing their jobs, but somebody was missing. It was being beyond overjoyed and also overcome with sadness. It was sheer amazement at what I did. It was utter disappointment that he just wasn’t here. For those who like to say “but you knew he wouldn’t be,” you are 100% correct. I did know he wouldn’t be. I still hoped things could change. I still hoped he could be. I still had no clue exactly how I would feel that he wasn’t. I still wanted him to be here. I still needed him to be here. That’s not to say that I am not beyond proud of his desire to serve our country. That’s not to say that I don’t 100% support him in every way possible when he is serving. I just wanted my husband here for the birth of his son. It really is that simple.
During a part of my pregnancy, I spent a lot of time and energy stressing about visitors taking pictures before I had gotten the chance to get in touch with Daddy. I felt that it was beyond unfair for others to share this news with him. This was OUR news. This was for me to share with him. He deserved to get to see his son before any other visitors. Y’all, Jesus hears our prayers. None of this was an issue because there was literally no time to be able to call anybody until after baby boy was here. I was able to FaceTime with Daddy minutes after he was born. It all worked out.
Not in my plan, but in His plan, which makes it so much better.
On July 14, 2018, eleven days after his 6-month birthday, he got to finally meet his daddy in person, for the very first time. One of the absolute best days ever. Cue all the tears and all the feels. It was surreal. Forming words on exact emotions about this day is impossible. Actually impossible. (This may actually be PTSD preventing me from being able to fully acknowledge all the feels, I’m still working through it…)
Now, my husband has been home for two solid years. We also welcomed a baby girl to our family on February 3, 2020. We are completely finished having babies, but we are not completely finished surviving deployments just yet. He (we) will likely have one more to get through. At this point, we don’t know when that will be. Until we know, we spend our time living our best lives and soaking up as many memories as we can.