I truly believe the hardest thing I have ever done with my life was entering motherhood during a deployment. There wasn’t anything remotely similar in my life beforehand to prepare me for this and I felt as though I was greatly naive about the entire situation. My husband left for pre-deployment training when I was 28 weeks pregnant, came home for 4 days when I was 36 weeks pregnant, and met our daughter 1 week shy of her turning 5 months old.
We had a plan, but our plan really only was for birth and a few weeks after birth, it didn’t extend the entire time of that deployment, and that’s where I feel I could have done a lot of things differently. Hindsight is 20/20 right?
At my 4 week postpartum check up, I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and things just went downhill from there. I didn’t allot for appropriate rest time. I didn’t let my body heal- and by attempting to do too much, without help I was in a very hard place emotionally and physically. I was having anxiety attacks daily, migraines, nutrition deficiency, and a ton of other issues.
Because of my poor planning, I want to share with you some realistic things for mothers out there who are about to embark on a birth during a deployment to utilize and plan for.
- Hire a Postpartum Doula- while we had one, I did not use her the way I truly should have. A Postpartum Doula can do everything from help around the house, take care of baby so you can sleep or eat a meal in peace, to helping establish some self care. They can cook meals, do dishes and laundry, and assist with pumping, diaper changes, etc. They truly are a helper just for mom.
- Arrange for daycare or a mommy’s helper once a week. Once the first month or so has passed and you’re starting to find your new balance, I highly recommend hiring in a sitter or mommy’s helper to watch the kids to give you some much needed reprieve for you just to do something for YOU- this isn’t meant to help with errands or chores, this is purely so YOU get a break mama- because during a deployment, there is no break- we all know this.
- Outsource as much as you can– this means grocery delivery, or grocery pick up, paying for a lawn service, house cleaner, etc. Take the weight of everything off your shoulders but helping you through this transition time so you can truly HEAL physically from labor, but more importantly EMOTIONALLY.
- Seek counseling even if you think you are perfectly fine– dealing with a home, a new baby, managing work, the house, budget, keeping up a marriage- it’s hard just during a normal deployment, but during a birth a lot of emotions happen and a lot of thoughts, sometimes it’s just nice to speak with someone who isn’t involved just to make sure at the end of the day you truly are OK. Worst case, they send you away with some better coping mechanisms and validate your feelings. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy, it means you’re being proactive.
- Ask for a meal train after the family leaves– we had a ton of people bringing me meals after the baby was born, but I really needed that kind of help after my entire family went home. It was the time after 1 month that I really needed the help with meals. So if someone, or the squadron, or anyone offers to do meals- ask for them after the family is gone.
It’s my hope that sharing my story of planning for birth with a spouse deployed that I can lessen another spouse from having a difficult time. It’s a rush of emotions experiencing a new child whereas the spouse will never know them that small, it’s a hard burden to shoulder that- but making sure you- the new mom is supported and taken care of- should be at the front of any deployment planning in these circumstances.
***Welcome to our newest teammate Lauren Cecora!!!
Lauren is a Postpartum Mentor for women who are desperately overwhelmed and over-scheduled. Through her Sanity Saving Tips, free challenges, and book, she’s here to help you regain balance in your life- while making it all effortless. Meet Lauren and Save Your Sanity at www.laurencecora.com.