**Guest Post by Lauren C**
Every deployment has its challenges and the last one was the icing on the cake. I went into this deployment confident. My husband was given notice of an 8-month deployment two weeks after we found out we were expecting our first child. We would be given four months to prepare- not just for a deployment, but also for us to become parents for the first time while separated. Looking back- I wasn’t nervous- you see, I’m a planner by nature- and while I can’t control the military I could control every aspect of this baby’s arrival.
We had spared no expense to make sure I was supported for the birth with the following:
- Birth Photographer
- Birth Doula
- Family Members coming in rotation the first few weeks
- Nursery set up before he left
- Maternity Leave Paperwork Completed for my job
- The most supportive birth team and hospital in northern California
What no one tells you about when you give birth during a deployment is that you need help AFTER the birth, for more than just a week or two. You see, we neglected to plan for what happens when mom is left alone with a three week old. The moment that last visitor leaves- it’s all mom, all the time, zero breaks or rest. There simply is no one else around to help.
The phrases “sleep when the baby sleeps” can’t apply to a spouse with a deployed husband because she’s the only one to cook, do laundry, run errands, shop, and clean the home. “Rest in bed for the first six weeks” doesn’t work when there is no one to bring you water, change the baby, or bring you meals. There’s no one there to pass the baby off to in the middle of the grocery store and they spit up milk all over you and the cart of groceries. There’s no one there to help you to the bathroom while you’re still bleeding, sore, and your muscle mass has depleted. It’s just you, the baby, and this scary silence of loneliness.
Postpartum was a very dark time for me, even more so because I was also diagnosed with Postpartum Depression. No one believed me that I was having a hard time. Struggling with your own mental health, while being the sole caregiver to a newborn, going back to work full time, and keeping up your home was enough to make anyone crack.
After the fog lifted, my husband came home and our daughter was 5 months old. I started to see just how strong I was, and just how hard I was working as a mother, wife, and employee. I noticed how capable I was even on my darkest nights. Before having my daughter, I was prideful and always thinking I had to do everything myself, because that’s what strong women do. When my husband was deployed, if I wanted help I had to ask for it, and more so I needed to accept it when offered. Sometimes my pride had to be swallowed because I was drowning. Listening to a baby scream for one more hour was going to drive me into a deeper depression. Sometimes, I just needed to walk away for a few hours and not have to nurse non-stop for days on end. I needed to just shower for the sake of the hot water running over my face so I could cry without feeling bad.
Giving birth while my husband was deployed made me learn that strong meant asking for help. Strong meant doing things I didn’t want to do for the sake of something greater than my own desires. Strong meant being honest with my husband even while he was 3000 miles away and could do nothing to help. Strong meant realizing that I couldn’t survive on my own and that was okay. PPD and later PPA made me realize that I was neglecting myself and my happiness to put on a show of strength, when really I just needed to be honest. There was no shame in being honest, just acceptance. People were more than willing to accept me for who I was and help me with what I needed, but all I had to do was ask.
So, whether it’s your first deployment or your sixth, your first baby or your last- ladies ask for help when you need it. Ask for help before you’re drowning, and open yourself up to someone if you feel alone. What I’ve learned is that people are craving connection and are usually afraid to make the first move.
Lauren Cecora is a Postpartum Mentor for women who are desperately overwhelmed and overscheduled. Through her Sanity Saving Tips, free challenges, and book, she’s here to help you regain balance in your life- while making it all feel like it’s effortless. When she’s not saving women’s sanity, you can find her with a bottle of wine (yes bottle!), traveling the world, or out on the occasional kid free excursion.
Meet Lauren + get ready to Save Your Sanity at www.laurencecora.com
© Strength 4 Spouses, LLC 2018.