By Heather Goffrier
When I saw the double line on the pregnancy test, I clasped my hand over my mouth in wonder. Tears flowed. I couldn’t believe it. Getting (and staying) pregnant hadn’t been easy for us.
Though I already had fears about how this pregnancy would go, my mind couldn’t help but jump ahead. As I calculated the due date, my heart dropped about 20 stories. I could be earning a new milspouse badge of honor: My husband Adam might be deployed when the baby arrived.
Pregnancy as a military spouse
When first married, we had glorious plans of when we’d try and when we’d not try so we could “time” our pregnancy and delivery for when Adam was home. Deployments and work schedules (along with my fertility issues) impacted our ability to get pregnant. Then a miscarriage devastated us.
After many fertility frustrations, we stopped trying to “time it.” When we found out we were pregnant this time, we were just so happy. Even though we’d stopped trying to arrange our pregnancies perfectly, the logistics of the due date and deployment took center stage in our minds.
I wanted him home for the delivery so badly.
The unknown of whether my husband could attend the birth inspired me to ask a close friend (who was a doula) to be there for the delivery. This gave me peace that whether Adam was there or not, I’d have the support I’d need. I prepared for deployment by stocking up the fridge and freezer. I made plans for family to come help because, even if he did make the birth, he would be leaving soon after.
Deciding on a due date
Inducing the delivery became a hot topic of conversation. Some doctors refuse to induce unless it’s medically necessary. Our doctor was fine with inducing early, so we planned to start labor a week before my due date, hoping hubby would still be around. (By the way, even scheduling an induction is not a guarantee of delivery date.)
The night before the induction, we went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant for one last date as just us. The excitement of pregnancy, the stress of deployment, and the anticipation of imminent labor swirled around inside like a jumbled mess.
At the restaurant my phone rang. Due to a crowded labor ward, the hospital delayed our induction. I felt deflated, as if something had been taken away from me.
The military dictates a lot of our lives, and a sailor’s presence at their child’s birth is no different. Whether they can make it all depends on the command and the circumstances of the deployment. I’ve heard of some commands flying a sailor home. Other friends’ husbands had to deploy just days before their child was born with no sympathy from command leadership.
In our case, Adam’s command gave us outstanding support and allowed Adam to be on the last plane out, two weeks after the due date.
Even though Adam left later, he didn’t get much paternity leave. A service member is allotted 10 days of leave with a full year to take it. Sometimes they aren’t allowed to take it immediately. That was our situation. Adam couldn’t take many days off due to his responsibilities for the upcoming deployment. This was a bummer, but we rolled with it. Thankfully both of our families helped, and we rejoiced that we had time together as a family of three before Adam left.
Extra pregnancy tips
Before I finish our delivery story, I’ve compiled a few extra thoughts for you if you’re expecting as a military couple:
Some hospitals offer education classes free to military. I highly recommend taking a class that covers labor, delivery, pain management, breastfeeding, and any other topics that interest you.
Update your will
Depending on the state you live in, you may be able to include “any/all future children” in your will. In other states, you have to update it after birth to include your new child.
TRICARE Standard covers 100% of pregnancy minus $18/day in-network. I’m a huge fan of Standard. Don’t be afraid to look into this option and the available supplements if you want maternity care off base!
Take friends up on it when they offer to help. Just. Do. It.
Add your child into DEERS right away (and add them to your supplemental insurance too).
Welcome to the world!
Our Monday induction started as planned, and our daughter arrived at 1:34 AM on Tuesday (after a long day of labor and three hours of pushing.) It was all worth it. I will forever be grateful for the priceless gifts of having Adam with me during labor and having the two weeks together afterwards to be a family. Despite my fears, the challenges became part of our pregnancy journey and part of our daughter’s story.
Heather Goffrier is a Navy wife of 6 years and mom to a spunky 3-year-old girl. When not blogging over at HappyFitNavyWife.com,