Consider Us Lucky

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.

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Calling Dibs

My husband left 239 days, and a little over two hours ago.. Two-thirds of an entire year, gone. I wish I could say that time passed in the blink of an eye, but it didn’t. They all said time would crawl by until I had the baby, and then it would go lighting fast, but that wasn’t the case either. I felt every moment of the missing.

It is difficult for most non-military families to truly understand how being separated that long feels.. I’m not saying that working opposite shifts isn’t hard, or that a week away for training should be easy. But it isn’t the same. At first, you count the days that pass. Missing hugs and goodnight kisses. Then weeks begin to slip away, and daily events are glazed over in the short emails you exchange. It’s long enough for new routines to be established. Seasons come and go. I bought a house last year. Traded in our car and had a baby… all without him. I’m not saying I’m the only one who has had to do those things alone, but I am saying that it isn’t ideal. When your partner in crime suddenly isn’t anymore, and you’re left to keep up the household, keep everything together.

It’s almost over. The countdown to our airport homecoming is almost up. Time is running out to pick out homecoming outfits, to get the house clean and organized, and things put back to how they were when he left so that it feels like home again.

I can’t wait for a new routine to slowly emerge. For a single night away during one his duty days to feel like forever again. For our son to have not only me, but his daddy to play with, to smile and talk to. I can’t wait to sneak a million pictures of the two of them together, of us all together, finally a whole family.

Since it will no longer be “ship’s movement,” I wish I could post the exact countdown, but this is linked to my Facebook and there are a couple people who don’t need to know right now. We are being selfish, and we called dibs on those first few moments home the day he left. Just know that it is very, very soon. Only a few more wake-ups without him.

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A Little Bit Alone

My mom leaves today..

Two months ago I was apprehensive about her staying with me, but her help has been invaluable during the seven weeks she was here. I can’t say it enough, that I appreciate her helping me out. She helped me with so much around the house, cooked meals for me when I was too pregnant and once the baby was here, too tired. Walked with me to kick-start labor, and stayed by my side through the entire delivery of her grandson. She was the emotional support I needed to make it through those first few sleepless weeks. Helped me through becoming a new mom, and navigating how to communicate with my husband who is a new dad, but doesn’t feel like it or accept it yet.

I’m scared to be alone with a baby, even though he is mine. It’s an overwhelming and scary thought knowing that I will have to be everything he needs, and knowing that I will fall short sometimes.. I know that I’ll have to “work it out” because as a deployment-generated “single mother” that’s the only choice I have.

It’s a sad thing to admit that I’m looking forward to my husband coming home, but at the same time, I know it will be another hard transition. Thank God for all the baby smiles and coos and memories in the making that will get me through.

And as my grandma always told me, so my mom told my son, “I can’t come back if I never leave.”

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It Comes with a Price

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.

Port Call

I don’t like ports. They are the best and worst part of deployment, based on my previous experience with them. They offer a chance for the sailors to blow a bunch of cash, let loose, get drunk, and be on solid land which is “good for morale.” Not all drink, and not all even get to leave the ship, but there is usually some combination of those four events occurring over a two to three day span of time.

Woke up this morning, expecting to see an email from my husband saying he was back on the ship after such and such kind of day, and instead just had the usual array of monday morning emails. This annoys me, for several reasons, but also made me consider what I would do on a “port weekend,” if I weren’t pregnant and were half a world away from the person I am married to.

First things first, I would go to the gym (really.) and work out until my lungs burned and my legs turned to jelly. I would go right now, if it weren’t for the same annoying lower back pain I’ve been dealing with for over a week now. The kind of pain that makes grocery shopping difficult. Super intense cardio workouts are my number one stress relief, and wondering why your hubby didn’t email, and trying to avoid thinking the worst, is a very stressful situation. But going to the gym when pregnant just isn’t the same. It’s not a “real” cardio workout for me, having to keep my heart rate down in the 150bpm range.. I miss the 1,000 calorie plus workouts that allowed me to feel strong and eat whatever I wanted, without giving a second thought to the dreaded muffie top.

I would go home, put on something fabulous – something I guarantee doesn’t come close to fitting while I’m pregnant – and go shopping, or have lunch with friends, or just get out of the area on a mini road trip to nowhere! But it’s hard to feel pretty when you’re like me, and have an entire closet of clothes that I can’t imagine ever fitting again. Might I add, I’ve only gained 15 pounds, but pregnancy weight gain is tricky because it doesn’t just go to my thighs or butt like usual. It goes everywhere! My face and arms and let’s not forget The Belly have all taken massive hits. It’s even more difficult trying to get anywhere when I can pee before leaving the house and have to go again before I’ve even gone 10 miles. Surprisingly, baby sitting on the bladder makes traveling anywhere more difficult. Having to plan errands around the cleanest bathrooms basically eliminates spontaneity and it gets worse each week.

And then there’s plans to eat sushi, bottles of wine and shots of tequila, coke flavored slurpees with too much sugar and caffeine to be baby friendly, staying up too late, and having taco bell for lunch which tends to give me heartburn now.

I don’t know if if I hate ports more because it feels like I “lose” my husband during them, or because I’m never going to have the chance to experience one myself. It’s definitely something to think about, or at least something I know I will think about. My day today will consist of mundane chores around the house and too much time spent at the hospital to get shot in the arm with rhogam and the pertussis vaccine. Makes me wish I had had just one weekend in college where I did everything and anything that I wanted around the clock. But I was too busy then, trying to get here, so that I could be the one to “hold down the fort” while my husband spends a weekend a month off the map.

Holding On

I don’t care what they say.

I don’t care that I “signed up for this.”

I don’t care that I sound like a three year old.

I don’t care that you’re just going to say that life isn’t fair.

 

I miss my husband. I hate that I have to go through half of this pregnancy, delivery, and the first five months of our son’s life alone. It isn’t fair, no matter what you say, and if you think different then you’ve obviously never gone through it. It isn’t fair for me, for my son or for my husband.

I don’t want to hold it all together tonight. Sometimes the more you hold on, the more weight you have on your chest. Tomorrow will be a new day. And I pray it’s a better one, at that.

 

Memories of Bootcamp

While busy with other things, my phone received two calls from “unknown” just now. My heart just sinks a little – and by “a little,” meaning that it’s fallen out my chest and onto the floor, thinking that it was probably my husband calling from the ship.

There is nothing quite like missing a call.. Deployments suck. Long distance sucks. Having a marriage relegated to email and the occasional, once a month if you’re lucky, phone call sucks. Not being able to call back, sucks.

Forgive me for my lack of eloquence but we’re close to hitting the one month away point and it’s really sinking in that there’s at least seven more to go.

 

 

But the good news is, he called back. So for at least today, he doesn’t feel like he’s on the opposite side of the world.