I’ve got a husband at work and a baby dreaming in his carseat at my feet. Day one of dropping the sailor off at work, complete. In hindsight, getting a second car before having a baby would have been nice.. but it is no way a necessity.
My Mom always said I got my “get up and go” from my Dad. Sure enough, when the bumble butt started fussing to eat at 4:30am, I was pretty much ready to leave the house thirty minutes after. It is a simple attribute that I heavily relied on during my college years, and will likely need the next few weeks as well.
So remind me, in a few days or a week or so, when my eyes are bleary from lack of sleep (and a wonky sleep schedule at that), that I sort of enjoy early mornings. That the sun rising over a mountain range can be a beautiful thing, and that it’s much easier to navigate the city when there are only a few dozen cars on the road. To be thankful for the small amount of time I have my husband’s attention each morning; to be able to talk about all those random dream-thoughts, future plans and what not.
I am sure at some point I will be too tired to remember the good.
The Stennis finally pulled into its (her?) home port yesterday afternooon. And while my sailor has been home a little over a week, there was a sense of finality knowing his ship is home too. I grew up the daughter of a top-sider, and life married to a man considered ship’s company is much different. Wherever the ship goes, he goes, and it has spent a lot of time away lately.
It is easy to get sucked into a negative frame of mind. The game of if/then is effortless, but rarely offers much comfort. Even now that he is home, I have caught myself thinking if he had never left……blah. It doesn’t do any good.
I consider us lucky because of our timing arriving here, he wasn’t on the whole 2011-2012 deployment as well. He joined the ship when they were six weeks out; when others aboard had been gone for six months at that point.
I consider us lucky that the sailor is “stuck” on the Stennis a few more years.. That we aren’t like several people he has mentioned, just getting back from an eight month deployment and transferring to a ship just getting underway for their deployment. I don’t want to imagine how hard three back to back deployments would be.
I consider us lucky that our son was immediately comfortable in my husband’s arms, and that they have carried on as if they were never separated. That all cries except the “I am certain I am starving” cry are (fairly) quickly and easily solved by someone other than me. He may have been gone fifteen of the last twenty months. He may only have just met our son. And he may have gotten pooped on today, but he his home.
It is nice. The sun is shining and life is good.
Nothing seems to be coming easy to me lately, and it’s all a frustrating and pointless struggle to stay emotionally afloat during this deployment. There’s this song that goes, “am I supposed to be happy, when all I ever wanted, it comes with a price?” May be a bit of an immature point to conclude, but it fits. I feel like every good thing in my life is shrouded under some little black cloud of darkness. It leads me to feeling blessed but very, very unlucky.
It’s been two months to the day that they left, almost nine calendar weeks. It feels like months longer than that. And it will be months longer until they get to come home again. I don’t know why this deployment feels so different than previous underways or separations that we’ve had, and we’ve had more than our fair share. Before we got engaged we spent eight months apart. After we got engaged, we spent the six months before our wedding apart. After we were married, we spent six weeks apart while I finished up my college degree. We were together roughly three months this year, of which only two were mostly consecutive in terms of weeks spent at home. And we fought all the time.
This year has been rough on our marriage, but it’s been worse on our friendship. And now that he’s gone and getting into the “swing” of life away, I just feel like *our life* has been put on pause from his end… but I’m still here living it alone. I’m still having our baby in a few weeks. I’m still keeping up with our house and our bills and pretending that the bed doesn’t feel so empty when I go to sleep at night.
It’s so hard having to remind myself that this isn’t a permanent situation, that I’m doing this alone but I am not exactly a single mother, that I do still have a husband, somewhere, on the other side of the world. When emails are few and far in between and even those that get through don’t say what I need to hear.. When my midwife rambles on about how new dads get involved at the hospital and I have to stop her because he won’t be there. When I have to wonder how old our son will be when he meets his daddy for the first time. When I let myself think how epically unfair this whole situation is, and how no one who hasn’t been exactly where I am right now could possibly know.
I don’t know how to find resolution. I’ve tried prayer. I’ve tried distracting myself with crafts, friends, plain ignorance but none of those things last very long.
One of my main baby groups is for Stennis mommies that will be pregnant during this deployment. The main theme connecting us all is that our husbands left eight weeks ago, and won’t be back until May or so.. Most of us will have our babies alone, with the few stragglers at the end hoping their husbands make it back in time for the birth of their child. The most difficult fact being, we don’t exactly know when they will be back..
Last night one of the members outed herself to fact that her husband never left. Several of us were shocked. Why join a group to support the “single mommy status” a deployment forces us into, when you’ve got your husband sleeping next to you every night… when he will be able to drive you to the hospital when you’re in labor… when he’ll be there when your child is born??? I wouldn’t care so much, except every other day she’s posting non-stop about her labor fears of “doing it alone” and starting drama on the board by saying that she’s too afraid to breastfeed so will be formula feeding and “who said breast is best anyway because that’s just not true.”
So I private messaged her and asked her to back off the page a bit, because the reason it was created was because we are doing this alone, and she clearly is not in the same situation. And she replied back to me stating that I was just jealous. Oh no, she didn’t. A girl mooching attention and support and rides from women who literally have to be strong enough to go through this alone. Writing posts complaining about her husband in a way that makes it sound like he’s on the other side of the world, with our husbands!! But he’s not, he’s here. It didn’t phase her at all, didn’t occur to her to have a little disclosure about her husband’s un-deployed status instead of using people. She didn’t get it. It was like talking to a wall.
I would say that I might be the only one to find her posting and participation a bit insensitive, but I know I’m not, because I was on Facebook messaging several other members of the group last night. I am all for supporting other women through pregnancy, because more often than not it is not like they show in the movies… but pretending all along that your husband is gone and posting about how you’re not sure who will be with you when your child is born so that you “blend in” is just cruel. Brings out the ugly side of the internet and I really don’t want anything to do with that this morning.
We are all struggling. The Stennis wives, fiances and girlfriends. Maybe even other family members.
They’re leaving again. Here today, gone… some time soon, very soon. It’s easy to point out the stages of grief while scanning the various support groups for the women of the ship. Most are in denial. A few are angry and even less than those have no idea what is about to hit them.
Eight months is a long time. Half way parties are being planned for December, but I’ll be having a different sort of celebration. Welcoming a son to the world with the help of my mom, while his daddy is half a world away, literally. I’m not nervous about that, but the fear idea of holding “down the fort” up until that point has started to sink in. It started when my husband began the final project he would complete here this year; fixing up our laundry room by stacking the washer and dryer. Seems like such a simple thing, but when you realize after that all projects fall on you, it’s overwhelming.
What if something breaks? What if something goes wrong? I don’t even want to think about it now. I know what’s coming on the grand scheme of things but no one can prepare you for the day to day ins and outs of deployed life as the one left at home.
Next week when the ship pulls out for the final time this year a different sort of story will begin. Another one to tell our baby boy before he falls asleep, once he is no longer kicking my bladder, that is.
I’m coming home, coming home, tell the world I’m coming..home.
There is a song that goes something like that on the radio. Can’t think of the artist or the title and it is possible I am also misquoting the lyrics, but that’s nothing to worry over. I went down to the shoreline today and watched the ship glide around the peninsula as I pulled into it’s home port. It was a bittersweet moment. They’ve been gone a month, and I could watch them leave in a another. And then in nine months from now I’ll be watching the very same thing, their homecoming, after they’ve spent far too many nights away.
The joys of being a Navy wife; a Stennis wife. I know every carrier thinks they have it “worst” at some point or another but this year and last, our ship definitely drew the short straws. It’s politics and economics at their best. Having just got back from seven months at sea in March, and left with little more than a six month turn around (of which only three were spent at home) before being told to pack their sea bags for eight months. It sucks and it’s unfair and I’m sure there are a whole heck of a lot more eloquent ways to express my emotions on the subject matter, but not today. Tomorrow will be a better day.
The clock just struck three in the afternoon.. or it would have, if I had a clock that chimed every hour on the hour. Four hours have passed since little Graham and I watched the USS John C Stennis pull around the peninsula and into their dock. Two more hours will likely pass until I can actually SEE my husband. His specific job requires that he stay on the boat and switch power from the reactors over to a land source, or something like that, whatever that may be.. I am not legally allowed to know the details, so there aren’t any more to share about that whole process. All I know for sure is that plenty of other wives/friends/parents/pets have been reunited with their loved ones by now, and I’m still home alone.
Sighs. I ran into another Navy wife at a store the other day. She must have seen my military ID because she asked where my husband was stationed, and was then surprised to hear he was on the same boat as her husband. Small world, lady.. we are in *the city* where the boat is stationed when it’s not traipsing around the world. Anyway, I mistakenly mentioned that he’d only been gone about a month and a half and she said I was “lucky.” It made me feel bad because I know most of the people on the Stennis had been gone since July of 2011… seven long months.
But later I realized I was not in fact “lucky.”.. In July 2011, my husband had Just started Prototype, the third six month school he attended over the course of two years; a school which I now call the widow maker. Rotating shift-work and long hours meant I didn’t really have a husband for six months. And when that nightmare was finally over, we packed up our apartment, put our two cats in a kennel in our small car and drove across the freaking country from South Carolina to Washington state. Cross country moves in the middle of winter are not generally advised… not that we had a choice. After getting here, we spent all our time searching for a house and then I bought a house alone, because he had to go to the Stennis two weeks before escrow was complete. At least her husband was gone the entire time, making it so that she could get into a routine while he was away. Six weeks in to any deployment and you’re still just trying to navigate being alone and fighting loneliness like your life depends on it. Besides, it’s not like I missed my hubby any less than she missed hers. You can only miss a person so much until it just becomes this constant thing hanging over your head.
So yes, my husband was “with me” for five and half of the last seven months, but that doesn’t mean it was a walk in the park. Wish I could have thought of this while standing in the check out line – not that I would have said anything more than I did – but it would have been nice to know I’m not any less of a Navy wife just because he wasn’t gone for a full deployment this time. There will be other deployments, that is as sure as death and taxes. I can only hope to be more supportive of the next new Navy wife.