I am 18 weeks pregnant and my husband is deployed. He knew I was pregnant before he left because we planned it.
Why would one plan to carry a child without her partner? Because the Army. The Army has commandeered almost all of my significant life choices and it seemed important that we not let it dictate our life plan. Where we live and what jobs we have are temporary, but bringing a child into the world is hopefully a permanent decision. We wanted to make that choice on our own terms. Being 29 this year and reaching three years of marriage, it was the right time for us. Personally, I’ve been ready since I was about 18 but having a child in high school is frowned upon. Spencer on the other hand stated he needed a total of three vacations before he could feel he had done enough. The third would have been this summer, but all the dates conflicted with the deployment… Does Afghanistan count?
The thing about deployment is we basically know what to expect: things are going to be less good for x months (of course, still anything can happen). That sounds bleak, but better the bleak you know than the bleak that springs up when you have something nice and elaborate planned! Better he missed the pregnancy than us wait and he miss the pregnancy, birth, or newborn stage for some other reason. Those things can still happen, but the deployment should at least allow us a guarantee he will be home for the first part of our son’s life. Despite those “facts,” we ultimately prayed that whatever was best would happen and proceeded.
I know this is frustrating to many people, but we started trying in April, and we conceived in May. I was obsessed in April. I realized I could not continue on like that. It made me crazy. The tests, the sex, the hyperawareness was too much and I knew I would be a wreck if I repeated that pattern. The following month I just wanted to continue our normal routines, but did take an ovulation test the day my Glow app suggested I should ovulate and made a point to follow up…
At the end of the month, Spencer brought up how overwhelming it might be to come home from deployment and have a newborn. I thought that was reasonable; reacclimating after a deployment can be difficult. I agreed that it would be best to wait. LOL.
I hadn’t thought I was pregnant because I didn’t have any symptoms, I mean, I had a frozen daiquiri in the freezer. But Spencer was leaving town on June 1st so I figured I should go ahead and take a test so we could find out together as opposed to waiting four days until I joined him in Oklahoma. It caught me completely by surprise for the test to come up positive. Spencer came into the bathroom to see why I was laughing so hard. I replied by showing him the pregnancy test…which he couldn’t comprehend, because I’m cheap and had the test strips instead of the plastic test stick that has the legend on it to tell you want the lines mean. We took another test later that afternoon. Then I took one Friday and when we got back about 10 days later. It actually takes a while to really be convinced.
That was Memorial Day and Spencer left June 25. It was hard to celebrate a pregnancy when Dad was rearing to join the boys in the sandbox. And it’s hard to celebrate now with the time difference and our separate stressors. I didn’t think much about being pregnant without my partner because thousands of other black women do it every year. I now understand that just because people go through something does not mean it’s easy and it has not been. And that is the same truth about deployment. I wish I had someone to get me food, hug me and rub my feet, watch me grow, and talk about the future. Twenty minutes of FaceTime once or twice a day cannot suffice.
Despite the exasperation or aloneness I feel at times, so far I can’t say this was not the right choice. Overall it would be better if Spencer were here, but at times, it seems like he is better off not being around, because with these hormones and his personality, I’m going to be mad at him regardless of where he is. This has not been as exciting of a time as I expected for several reasons, and only as I write this I make the connection that neither was my engagement because Spencer and I were apart for that as well and I had to do everything on my own. But the difference here is that my son is with me. At this point, I have to add “so I’m told,” because I’ve got this bump and these C cups but nothing else to show. Hopefully in the next few weeks I will start to feel him and that will comfort me. Although I’m not excited, the pregnancy is hardly the end goal; the baby is, and Spencer will be here for that. Hopefully.