The PCSing Spouse

Where Spouses Help Spouses

Category: life (Page 2 of 2)

Surviving a Birth During Deployment

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.

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

The Case for a Merged Club

A spouses’ club is a base staple. Military wives, and more recently husbands, have been gathering together for decades for social time, support and charitable work. Spouses’ clubs started off being segregated into Enlisted Spouses and Officers’ Spouses. However in recent years many bases are starting to see these two clubs merge.

I am currently stationed at Shaw AFB. When we first arrived, the two spouse clubs were separated. However, due to dwindling numbers for the Enlisted Spouses’ Club, the Officers’ Spouses’ Club was approached with the idea to merge. I was excited to be a part of that conversation as a new board member.

We ended up agreeing to merge the two clubs into one Shaw Spouses’ Club. You would not believe the work involved in merging two clubs, but it has been so worth it! We have had an amazing year and fantastic participation from spouses of all ranks.

I would like to present the case for a merged club.

1) Increased participation overall.

As I mentioned, here at Shaw we have seen an increased number in membership after our merge. That is a bit of a give-in because you are open to a larger group of individuals. But I have heard many times from spouses in favor of the merge that they joined in part because there was just one combined club instead of two separate clubs. Spouses nowadays like to see and are more likely to join a combined club.

2) No awkward moments when you meet a new spouse

At a previous base and prior to our merge at Shaw, whenever I would meet a new spouse I was always hesitant to invite them to the spouses’ club unless I knew if they were a fellow officer’s spouse. Not being involved with the Enlisted Spouses’ Club firsthand, I couldn’t confidently recommend joining because I did not know what the group dynamic was and I did not know about their social events or charitable work. Now that we have a merged club, anytime I see someone post on Facebook that they are new or lonely, I immediately recommend joining our club. (It has become a bit of a laughable moment among my friends here.) It no longer matters what rank our spouses are. We have a place for all spouses in one combined club.

3) We can work together on one goal

Most, if not all, spouse clubs have some aspect of charitable work. That could be giving away money to local and base organizations in need or it could be a scholarship program. At Shaw, prior to the merge, both the Enlisted Spouses’ Club and the Officers’ Spouses’ Club had a scholarship program. However now that we have merged we can combine our efforts and make a larger impact in the local community and grow our scholarship program. We can work together on fundraisers like our annual Auction to raise even more money to donate! The last year before the merge, the Shaw Officers’ Spouses’ Club was able to give out $7,500 in scholarships across seven deserving military dependents and spouses. The first year after the merge we increased that amount to over $10,000! A large part of that amount came from our annual Auction; that event came together with the efforts of so many of our members. I am looking forward to this coming year to see how much more we can increase the scholarship award amount!

4) Mentorship

As with any group of mixed ages, mentorship in some capacity is bound to happen. It can be overt or subtle, but it is so beneficial. We have been talking about this lately as we transition from our 2017-18 Board to the 2018-19 Board. We have a lot of older spouses in the club, but they are nearing retirement. Having an influx of younger spouses, Junior Enlisted and Company Grade Officers, would be very beneficial. I believe that younger spouses can offer a fresh look at how spouses’ clubs function. They can bring some great ideas for new socials and fundraisers. They have the energy and maybe the extra time to volunteer in the community and on base. However, the older spouses have a lot of knowledge from years of PCSing, raising children, working and living. I believe that sharing our knowledge with each other can only make a spouses’ club, and the military experience, better!

5) As spouses, we don’t wear rank so why would it matter?

I’m sure you’ve heard stories about spouses who “wear their husband’s rank”. It sounds so old-school to me. I am extremely proud of my husband who enlisted almost eight years ago and then was accepted to Officer Training School and is now a Captain. But at no point did I feel like my husband’s rank at all affected me and who I could spend time with. Of course you may click better with people in a similar point in life (and thus of similar ranks), but I’m friends with people from all walks of life and with spouses’ of all ranks. Being in a combined club shows that rank does not matter at all! We can all attend socials together, craft together, drink wine together or do a 5k together. That’s all that matters.

 

Kristen Thoennes

Shaw Spouses’ Club

www.shawspousesclub.com

www.facebook.com/shawsc

President.shawsc@gmail.com

The Power of Spouse Clubs

I am on Facebook way too much. I justify it by saying that I am doing my job as Public Relations Chair for the Shaw Spouses’ Club, but if I am being completely honest I am just addicted. One thing I see time and time again on the base spouses’ Facebook group is that people are lonely and don’t know anyone. We have ALL been there! I have been there.

 

Our first base was Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH. I did not know a single person. It took forever to find a job. I did not feel like I fit in with my neighbors in base housing. I was incredibly lonely. Towards the very end of our time there, I finally joined the spouses’ club, but by that time it was too late to really build friendships.

 

We then PCSed to our next base, Beale AFB, and everything changed. I put myself out there very quickly after arriving. I joined a book club. I was involved with our squadron spouses. And I joined the Spouses’ Club. I met amazing people; two of which I hope will be lifetime friends (love you Ciara and Emily)!

 

We are currently stationed at Shaw AFB in Sumter, SC. South Carolina is home for me and when I found out we were PCSing to Shaw I was beyond excited! Before moving I contemplated whether I would be involved with the spouses’ club at all. I figured I would spend more time with family and friends while we were living close. But after only a couple weeks of living here, I attended my first spouses’ club social. I talked to several very welcoming ladies and felt good about joining.

 

For our 2017-18 year, I volunteered to serve as Public Relations Chair. Partly I wanted a creative outlet; I love designing fliers for events. I also love to have the inside scoop of what is going on. I have had the most incredibly fulfilling year serving as PR. I have been able to create marketing for all our events including socials, charitable giving announcements, our Scholarship Auction and everything in-between. I have learned so much about social media marketing through trial and error. And through social media we have built relationships with local businesses and increased awareness of our club within the community. A new Walmart opened in town and they approached us because they wanted to give our club a $1,000 grant! This was all because one employee talked to us at a town event where we were raising money for our scholarship program. It has been amazing to be a part of this club.

 

The key is that I put myself out there and am involved. It is SCARY! I am an introvert. It is very easy and natural for me to plop down on the couch and watch hours of Netflix or read a book. But I know without friends and events to attend I will become very lonely and unhappy. With social media it is easy to feel like we know people without ever leaving the house, but it is not the same. There is nothing online to replace sharing a meal with someone or volunteering alongside someone. I encourage you to become involved. I know, I know…walking into a room when you do not know a single person is super intimidating. But in the end, you will feel proud of yourself for getting out of your comfort zone and making the effort. Maybe you won’t click with anyone. Maybe it’s not a good spouse club. Maybe it costs too much money to join. Maybe you are just a Senior Airman’s wife and everyone else are officers’ wives. But do it! (At least give it a chance). And don’t just join but consider serving on the board. From the spouses’ clubs I have experienced so far there are a variety of positions with different levels of commitment. Get your feet wet by taking on a smaller role. Or ask to co-chair something with a more experienced member. If your spouses’ club needs some improvement, share your feedback with the Executive Board and help them become better.

 

Being a part of a club is incredibly rewarding. Not only can you network with other spouses, but because most, if not all, spouses’ clubs do charitable work of some kind you can give back to the community in a very meaningful way. In the end, joining a spouses’ club is an easy way to meet other spouses who are experiencing many of the same trials you are facing. We can all relate to issues like PCSing, childcare scarcity, trying to find a job, or dealing with TDYs and deployments. It can be incredible to build relationships in a spouses’ club and find ways to support and lean on each other. You never know what could come of it! Give it a try!

 

***Welcome**** To our newest Blog Teammate Kristen Thoennes!!!

For more information about her organization, please visit:

www.shawspousesclub.com

www.facebook.com/shawsc

Instagram @shawspousesclub

president.shawsc@gmail.com

The Journey Begins

Welcome!

This site was created by two seasoned military spouses trying to make the Spouse Life less confusing. It has evolved into a huge network of spouses willing to provide their knowledge and support to help each other. If you’ve got a problem, we’ve got the answer. If you’ve got answers, please consider joining the ranks and contributing!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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