I am a salty Navy wife. I’ve traveled over oceans, moved across continents, house hunted, sold cars, potty trained kids, planned vacations, done taxes and much more all while my husband has been at sea. But the prospect of having a baby without him was unthinkable. I swore we’d never go down that road. I had friends who had done it, and they seemed sane. Their kids even seemed well adjusted. But, I was certain that I could never pull it off, and that both me and our baby would be forever scarred.
It turns out, having a child is a wonderful, miraculous thing. So is having a husband and a Daddy who sacrifices his time and risks his life so that not just his child, but all of our children can be free. The fact that both of these things happen at the same time, doesn’t diminish either one.
We had our first baby while the Navy sent my husband to graduate school. It was like an alternate reality. I highly recommend it. We did all the great pre-baby stuff that ordinary couples get to do. We went to classes, toured the hospital, worried about things that didn’t matter and bought tons of baby stuff we didn’t use. It was wonderful. He was there for our Rosebud’s birth, and it was the moment of moments when we first met her together. It was glorious.
Our second baby was born while my husband was at a sea-going command. He worked long hours, and was gone most of the time. When we… um, started this adventure, he was supposed to be home in nine months time. But, as all salty wives know, the schedule always changes. He was gone for most of the pregnancy, home in time to see me in full waddling whale mode, then he left again, two weeks before our daughter was born.
I got a lot of pity for this. And, I admit, I got a little tired of everyone saying how sorry they were for me. I was having a baby! It was a happy thing! I was lucky. I had my mother and my mother-in-law there to help, and an army (or would it be a fleet?) of fellow Navy wives were mobilized to dive in when needed. Just knowing I had the support of so many willing volunteers made it monumentally easier.
The birth was an easy one, and our Bunny was as healthy as can be. It would have been infinitely harder to do “alone” if it had been otherwise. I got a quick and choppy call from a satellite phone, and the command was able to get him one small photo. It was a sad replacement for the big moment we had together meeting our first daughter, but at that point, I didn’t really have time to dwell on it.
And then, two months later, our baby was plump, pink, clean and bright eyed. And we watched Daddy get off the very last bus from the pier. I got to see his face this time. I got to be the one to hand him our daughter. I got to watch him pull both of his daughters into his arms for the first time and the moment was glorious. Glorious.
I realize now that when Daddy is gone for a birth, you don’t loose that moment. You just have to wait a little longer for it.
Now my husband is back on a shore command, still working hard, but not deployed. Our baby flaps her arms, smiles up to her ears and shouts “Dada!” when my husband walks into the room.
When we realized he’d be gone for the birth we had a choice, to blame the military and be bitter because we were not allowed to be an exception, or we could embrace the life we chose and remember that having a baby is always a joyous event.