I’m not sure why I’ve been so gun-shy to write this post; I think it’s just difficult with a subject like this to determine what’s best left private and what’s necessary and helpful to share.
I can’t count on two hands how many conversations I’ve had with women on the other side of the computer screen who are so overwhelmed and frustrated with the monkey wrench that the military is throwing in their family-planning timelines. I’ve been right there with ya, sisters. We heavily struggled with this dilemma for so long on two different occasions.
With the size of the military shrinking and deployments per service member coming as fast as they have been, families are often faced with three initial options for family planning:
- Should we get pregnant now while the service member is stateside, but then deal with the deployment with a newborn?
- Should we try to get pregnant the month or two before the deployment so that the service member would likely “only” miss the pregnancy (and possibly the birth) but be around for the baby’s first year?
- Should we wait to get pregnant altogether once the deployment is over, but risk not knowing what life will look like 9+ months after the deployment is over (i.e. possible PCS, TDY, etc.)?
All of these options carry a variety of pros and cons, but the only option I have significant experience with is #2: walking through pregnancy during a deployment.
Quick, funny story. A couple years ago I had conversations with two of my new friends here at Fort Riley, and we all were ready to start thinking about the next kid. We were all frustrated and confused though because all of our husbands were deploying together in October, and none of us knew what to do. Turns out, we all three did three different things. One girl got pregnant and had her baby about a week before her husband deployed, I got pregnant shortly before the deployment, and the other girl waited to get pregnant until her husband got home (she’s due in two months!). We can all attest to the pros and cons of these differing situations! 🙂
Super brief background
My husband left for his second deployment eight days before I found out that I was pregnant with our daughter Hadley (now three) and returned home when I was 38 weeks pregnant exactly. He then deployed for his third deployment when I was 14 weeks pregnant with our second daughter Sadie (now 9.5 months old) and returned home for an 11-day visit for the birth (I decided to do a social induction). He went back overseas and then returned home when Sadie was 7.5 weeks old.
Pros & Cons
While I don’t feel comfortable recommending one way or the other whether pregnancy during deployment is the way to go (because every situation is truly different), what I can do is share my own personal pros and cons gathered from my two experiences.
Because Jamie wasn’t around during some of the more fun experiences during a pregnancy, several friends and family were able to share these moments/experiences with me instead. It goes without saying that I still missed Jamie tremendously during the gender reveal, shopping for strollers, and decorating the nursery, but being able to gift those experiences to my loved ones was fun for me and super fun them. For example, my mom was by my side at both of my gender ultrasounds. I’m so happy she was able to share both of those beautiful moments with me. My mother-in-law and a bunch of my girlfriends were also able to join me for ultrasounds. I did all of my initial registry shopping with my mom, and my mother-in-law worked hard with me on creating Hadley’s nursery. I even did maternity pictures with my sister! Very sweet memories for everyone.
We missed out on creating the aforementioned memories together as mom & dad, which was often very difficult for me to process emotionally. All of those special moments such as feeling the baby’s kicks were all things I sorely wished that Jamie could experience with me.
Pregnancy is a fantastic deployment distraction. I wouldn’t say it makes the time go by fast, but maybe faster.
Making delivery plans was a total nightmare. What’s the plan if he’s here? What’s the plan if he’s not? What if I go early? Who will watch Hadley? What if that person is unavailable? What if it’s this or that time of the day? Who will be with me in the delivery room? Who will help me after the birth and for how long? Who can take off of work and when? I can whole-heartedly say that this was BY FAR the absolute worst part of being pregnant during a deployment, especially with baby #2 and living so far away from family.
If your husband is gone for the pregnancy, he’ll likely be home for the baby’s first year (or more!)
I don’t want to sound childish here, but there were times I wished that Jamie was around to care for me a bit. Pregnancy is hard on a woman’s body, and it was really upsetting to Jamie (and me) that he couldn’t do anything to help during either of my pregnancies.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic because I know from many conversations that this is a popular one!