I have found that people who are not in the military struggle to connect and relate with you when you are experiencing a deployment. They have desire to and it would benefit you as well if they could understand better, but what we go through is a pretty foreign concept to many people. I have found that explaining concepts of the deployment and drawing on similarities that people experience during pregnancies really helps them understand. It also helps me accept the hard parts of the deployment as normal and right on track just like I do in a pregnancy. Enjoy:
1. When you are pregnant people give you lots of wanted and unwanted advice, just like when you are in a deployment.
2. When you are pregnant and miserable with morning sickness and/or being super uncomfortable and it all just goes on an on, people struggle with how uncomfortable your whole life is and either avoid you or try and fix it. The same thing can happen in a deployment when you have to worry about his safety for so long and do holidays without them and be a solo parent and people ask over and over "when is he getting home?" almost as if to say, "I'll feel so much better when he's home and I know you feel better."
3. People often try to minimize how challenging being pregnant can be by saying "well at least you're not sick the whole time." or "You only have one other kid so you're ok." The same thing can happen in a deployment when they say, "thank goodness there is technology and you get to talk to him every day." or "At least he won't have to go again for awhile." While I am so grateful for those things, I don't think the challenge needs to be minimized by gratitude, they can co-exist.
4. People say really dumb stuff when you're pregnant like, "Oh, you're due next month? That went so fast!" or "sometimes I forget you're pregnant." When you're in a deployment they also love to tell you how fast the deployment went for them. Another great one I got once was, "I could never do that [go through a deployment], I just love my husband too much." As if I don't love mine... ha ha. Try to remember that people mean well and plan on them saying dumb things because they don't get it and that's ok.
5. You are happy to be pregnant and want to be growing your family, but it's incredibly difficult, scary, and sometimes you question your decision. Just like how you are patriotic, you love your country, and support what your husband is doing and believe in the need, but it's still awful sometimes and you wish there was an easier way.
6. Pregnancies and deployments are both roller coasters of moods, emotions, symptoms, temperaments, experiences, etc. Sometimes you feel great, sometimes you feel morning sick, sometimes you have tons of energy, sometimes you have none, sometimes you have a pinched nerve, sometimes you feel like being around people, sometimes you want to crawl in a hole and hide.
7. Just like everyone experiences pregnancy differently and your pregnancies are different from one to the next, deployment has the same unpredictability in that you won't know how you will experience it until you do it and then the next time it may be a totally different experience.
8. A pregnancy is a lengthy amount of time to have your life be completely different. It's a marathon not a sprint. It feels like it will last forever and this is your life now, even though logically you understand that it is temporary and will come to an end. Deployments are the same way.
9. When you're pregnant and when you're in a deployment, life goes on as normal and you're still expected to carry on with everything you've always done every single part of your life is currently being affected by the pregnancy or the deployment.
10. Measuring time and counting down is very important in both pregnancies and deployments. You spend time thinking about how much time has passed and exactly how much time you have left. You count down in weeks and months, not days.
11. When you are pregnant you have a due date, but for the most part you won't know what day the baby is being born until you are in labor. When you're husband is getting ready to come home from deployment you have an estimated date of arrival, but you don't plan on that date until they have a plane ticket in hand. For pregnancies and deployments you clear your whole schedule around that date so that you're ready.
12. In the weeks before the baby arrives you go through a nesting phase where you prepare for the baby and complete necessary projects. When you're getting ready for your husband to come home after being gone for so long you go through a similar nesting phase trying to make your house perfect and clean and organized and finish up any project you've ever started or even thought about starting before they get back.
13. You have a plan for labor and delivery, but it doesn't always go according to plan. You have a plan for their homecoming but you have to be flexible because many parts of it are out of your control.
14. Having your baby is amazing for so many reasons like getting to hold this beautiful baby that you have been waiting so long to meet and not being pregnant anymore, just like having them home is the most amazing thing that you have been anticipating for so long. At the same time, having a new born is an incredibly difficult transition, just like transitioning to your husband being home again an be very challenging.
15. After your baby is born and in the weeks and months that follow it is very normal to experience baby blues and Post Partum Depression. After your husband comes home and in the weeks and months that follow it is very normal for either of you to experience depression/anxiety and for your soldier to even deal with PTSD from the experiences that he had during deployment. Whatever you're experiencing, reach out for help even though your brain is going to tell you to keep it to yourself.
16. When you are not pregnant it can be hard to remember exactly how difficult it was, how miserable the morning sickness was, how hard it was to sleep, and how painful contractions were and when you're back in it you think "How could I ever forget this?" When you are not in a deployment it almost feels like it happened to a different person and we put some distance between us and the version of us that went through that hard thing. This can be helpful in that we're willing to get pregnant again and willing to go through another deployment when necessary.