While You’re Gone

I’ll take care of things while you’re gone.

I’ll take out the trash on Thursday mornings. I’ll fill up the gas tank. I’ll call maintenance when the water heater breaks. I’ll cook dinner for one (and a half).

I’ll match and fold her too-tight pajamas. I’ll be her audience at bath time. I’ll chase her down and wipe her nose. I’ll go down the biggest, steepest slide at the park with her.

I’ll take care of things while you’re gone, the things you take care of.

Because while you’re gone, the seasons will change. While you’re gone, the pink blossoms on our tree out front will come and go. I’ll chase the mother robin away from building a nest in the front porch light. The grass will fill in green in the bald spots in the backyard. You’ll miss the allergy season while you’re gone (lucky).

But other things will change too. While you’re gone, her feet will get bigger. While you’re gone, she’ll learn a hundred new words. She’ll feed herself with a spoon. Her hair will get longer. She’ll outgrow the clothes she’s in now. Her face will look more and more girlish.

While you’re gone, she’ll steal my phone and lock me out of it at least four dozen times. She’ll throw 100 tantrums. She’ll bonk her head on the coffee table at least once a day. She’ll pull on the doggie’s tail and play in her water bowl like it’s a kiddie pool.

And while you’re gone, she’ll only get to see you on a phone screen. She’ll hear you calling her name through a speaker. She won’t understand why you’re gone until she’s much older.

While you’re gone, you’re gonna miss her like crazy. You’ll miss the tickles and the tantrums, the teething and the toy-throwing, the walks to the park and the dirty diapers.

People don’t take those things into account when they think about deployments.

So honey, I’ll take care of her while you’re gone.

My Husband is Deployed (and It’s Not THAT Bad)

There’s a look people give me when I tell them my husband is deployed overseas. It’s a mix between surprise, pity and what-do-I-do-with-my-hands? It’s usually followed by “I can’t imagine what you must be going through,” “I could never do what you’re doing,” or the quintessentially Southern, “Bless your heart!” I’ve found that my automatic response so far has almost always been, “Oh, thank you. But you know, it’s not that bad.”

And guys, it really isn’t that bad. My husband is fortunate enough to love his military job. He’s deployed for a few short months a couple times a year, and that’s much less than many men and women in the armed forces. Not to mention he has great internet connection where he is, so we get to FaceTime often and I send him dozens of Snapchats of our adorable 4-month-old daughter.

But can we stop playing the comparing-one-milso’s-suffering-to-another game for a second? Because it’s hashtags like #deploymentssuck that have gotten me in the habit of having to reassure people that my husband may be living across the world for part of the year, but it’s not that bad.

Before you go thinking this lady must be dead inside, let me be openly honest. I used to suffer from crippling separation anxiety. The idea that when we’re married, I would be spending several months a year separated from my best friend would have sent me into a full-on panic attack just a few short years ago. There was no way I could get through life on my own, not seeing him every day. Just imagining saying goodbye was agonizing to me. I could never in a million years be a military spouse.

But then I married this airman. We spent 7 months of our first year of marriage apart while he was in training. We moved across the country, away from family, friends, everyone we knew. And guess what? It wasn’t that bad. We made it through because whether or not it’s spent in each others’ company or separated by thousands of miles, the day is still 24 hours long. The sun rises and sets, you breathe in and out and just keep on living. You find new ways to connect with people. A handwritten card, a designated Skype date each week, a phone call on the way home from work, that becomes the new normal.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was from a seasoned Air Force wife who told me, “It doesn’t matter if he’s at home or away, you have to learn to be okay. That means being okay when he’s deployed and you’re the only one home taking care of the kids, and being just as okay when your husband is there with you.” 

I’ve taken this advice to heart and I’m now trying to apply it to our first deployment. At night, I lay my head down on my pillow and he’s not there next to me. He hasn’t gotten to hear our daughter laugh yet. At any given moment, one of us is horribly behind the other on one of our TV shows and might accidentally slip a spoiler (I know that seems trivial, but if you’re married, you know it’s a big deal). 

But I’m choosing not to count down the days till he gets back. I’m choosing to be okay, instead. Because if I lived like that, I would go crazy. I wouldn’t be the mother I need to be if I were constantly thinking I’m not enough for our daughter. I wouldn’t be the wife I need to be if I wallowed in how upset I am that my husband isn’t here with me. It’s unfair for me to put that on him. His job is a blessing, not a curse. It’s our living, not the death of me. His sacrifice does not merit my complaint, and I strongly believe that it is my job as a military spouse to be supportive of him whether he’s sleeping in the same bed as me or on a cot in the desert.

Y’all, 1 day or 1 year, deployments suck. I won’t say they don’t. I miss doing life together. I miss his smell, I miss how he makes me eggs and bacon in the morning, and Lord knows I miss keeping up on our TV shows together. But I choose to believe it’s not that bad. I choose to be positive, for myself and my little family. Whether he is home or away, I love him the same. Sometimes the Internet cuts out in the middle of our daily FaceTime. Sometimes our daughter is melting down and all I want is another pair of hands to take her for me. And sometimes I wake up from a dream and turn towards the other side of the bed to tell him about it, to find he’s not there. 

Remarkably, through it all, I make it to tomorrow … and so does he.

31w

I don’t have Cholestasis!

But I’m still itchy…

They’re going to prescribe me a new steroid cream to try and help. For the most part though, I’m dealing with it. Even though nothing has brought me relief from it, I’m really coping well. The only hard days are the ones following a night of a particularly bad flare-up when I end up standing in the bathroom scratching myself like crazy for hours so I don’t wake up my husband. Those nights aren’t fun. But the little Lady wakes up with me and makes me feel better with her pushing, prodding and kicking. Little nuzzles. And often some painful stretches where I’m sure she’s screaming, “I need more room in here!”

We’ve made some progress in her nursery, her crib is just about finished, just need to pick up a bed skirt. Then we’ll start decorating the walls. I found a lot of wall decor that I love at Hobby Lobby, but I’m going to wait till next week to buy them as they weren’t on sale today. I’ve got some painting and craftiness to do in the meantime.

10 more days till we get our 15% Target registry completion coupon! I know it’s lame to be so excited about a coupon but we will be getting most of our remaining big purchase items on that bad boy, so it’s rather exciting. 

We spent a whole Saturday last week moving our dining room into another room to make space for what will be the play area in our living room. In order to do that, we ended up having to clean & organize the whole garage, move our pantry shelf to a nearby closet and finally move a hutch into the house that’s been sitting unused for months. I had high hopes of refurbishing it but never got around to it. I still have 2 chairs and a kitchen table to finish sanding and painting as well, who knows when I’ll get back to that project.

I have lists hanging all over my house of things we need to buy and projects I need to finish in the month of November. I decided all my work needs to be done before December because I’ll likely be too huge and too tired to do anything by then. We have guests coming starting the first week of December and then intermittently until mid February so I want to make sure the guest room is functional and pretty. We were able to pick up a nearly new queen mattress set from someone in our neighborhood, now we just need a frame, headboard, and new sheet set. We used to only have a full set in there and that’s just not big enough for visiting couples.

Financially all of these things on my to do list are making me a little anxious. Even with a very strict savings schedule this year we didn’t meet our goal for the amount we wanted to have in savings by now. Our two vacations to Knoxville caused the biggest setbacks, as well as just extra expenses in preparing for baby. Prioritizing has been weird. For example, my car has been sitting in our driveway for 4 months now because we can’t afford to get it fixed. It’s made running errands during the day a little difficult, but it has also kept me from making my weekly bored Target runs, which were probably not too financially responsible to begin with. We also eat like college students, a habit that was probably a good one to learn over the last few years since we just can’t afford to eat fancy all the time. Going out for us involves either a drive through window or a coupon. We actually have three Chickfila calendar cards so we can maximize on the freebies each month. Chickfila is practically its own food group for pregnant me.

In other news, my newly acquired sweet tooth problem has become irrationally uncontrollable. I can’t believe some people live like this all the time, it’s insanity. Praying like crazy this goes away after she’s born. I had an Oreo McFlurry tonight and it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted.

9 weeks to go!

27w3d

We have a name!

Introducing our first daughter, Miss Adelaide River 🌻

So relieved to have finally chosen her name, and to be able to call her by it now. I had no idea we would struggle so hard to find a girl name we could agree on. They say you never know how many people you hated in life until you have to choose a name for your baby. Hubs seems to have something negative to say for just about every name in the book except Adelaide. Thankful, because this is actually a name we have adored since we first started dating in 2009. Now that it’s chosen, it’s so perfect. Couldn’t possibly be anything else.

  
We finally decided on the name while we were on a long vacation to our hometown in Knoxville. It was actually a fantastic trip, all the time we got to spend with our friends and family was just good quality time. 

   
    
 We spent 2 days for ourselves at our honeymoon hotel in Asheville, North Carolina for a short babymoon getaway. It was so worth it to just indulge ourselves (for the last time in a LONG time…) and just enjoy each other as husband and wife. It may have put us back a little financially, but I know it was worth it. We had such a good time.

   
 
   
The rest of our time in Knoxville was jam-packed. We had a friend’s graduation from cosmetology school, another friend’s wedding to photograph, maternity photo shoot for us, and my baby shower – which was very sweet!

  
We enjoyed loving and being loved on by the people who are most important to us, for this last visit before our lives change forever. Before who we are changes forever.

Some of the realities of parenthood are starting to hit me. Like how my husband tends to be quiet and distant whenever he is deprived of sleep, and worrying how our relationship will be affected by weeks/months of living like zombies with a newborn. Or how my body will cope with the trauma of labor, how it will look afterwards, how I may never look the same after this pregnancy. And the general feelings of inadequacy are creeping in… I’ve never changed a diaper in my life, and now I’ll have to do it like 10 times a day… That’s like 70 diapers a week… How are we going to afford this?!… How can I be a good dog mom when I will have to focus all my attention on a newborn?… How can I be a good wife?… Will my friends hate who I’ve become once I’m a mom?… Will they get annoyed with me when she is literally my whole day, start to finish?… Will I like myself, the person I’m about to become?

Trying as hard as I can to not just cast these thoughts aside, as I have for the past 6 months. These are real things I have to cope with, and it’s all becoming more real every day. With every new stretch mark on my growing belly, every pound of baby weight I put on, every new baby gift we receive, every Braxton-Hicks contraction I have (which are so weird by the way!), and every time I walk into her blossoming nursery. 

  
The feels.

Not a whole lot more to report right now. I’m officially in my third trimester, had my glucose test this morning, and I’m measuring right on track. Getting antsy to meet her. It’s gonna be a long 3 months!

I say as she kicks my ribs on both sides, somehow…

20w6d

Dear Sweetie,

It’s been a week since we found out you’re a little (growing) lady! 

Daddy got to come to the ultrasound and see you for the first time. His first freak-out moment came when we saw your strong little heart pumping. “Woah… And that’s a real heart… WOAH.” We could see the chambers and the blood flowing in and out. It was magical. All your organs and limbs are right on track and it was lots of fun to see how complex you’ve become. My favorite part was your spine. Can’t believe how long and strong you’re getting in there.

We tried but couldn’t get you to flip over and let us get a good photo of your facial profile. But we did get a sweet look at your lips & nose. The tech switched over to the 3-D ultrasound to try and get a good one of your beautiful face but you were holding your nose and we couldn’t see you! Funny girl, must have been feeling shy. I wonder if you’re a thumb sucker like your momma, or if you’ll stay left-handed like your daddy used to be (before the U.S. education system forced him to be a righty, which I promise would never happen to you on my watch.)

When we went down to see if you were a boy or a girl it was pretty obvious right away who you were πŸ™‚ I got teary, and Daddy squeezed my hand super tight. It felt like for a while all the air left the room as we tried to wrap our heads around the destiny of our first daughter.

Our daughter…

Daddy is in the shower right now singing If I Ever Leave This World Alive by Flogging Molly. About 3 years ago he told me he had a vision of him singing that song in the car to his daughter in the front seat. I have always known he was meant to be a daddy to a girl. He will be so wonderful. Loving, supportive, adoring and proud. And Sweetie, no matter how tough he tries to be, you’ll always have him wrapped around your finger. You’re sure to be a Daddy’s Girl.

But don’t you ever forget that you’re mine too. You’re my first baby. My first positive pregnancy test. My first exciting gender reveal. My first morning sickness. My first tummy stretch marks. My first little kicks. Oh, those precious kicks… You’re actually kicking me as I type this. I can think of few things I love as much as these sweet nudges. You’re so active, and you love when Daddy holds his hand on my tummy to feel you move. 

I hope you like me singing to you. I hope it’s comfy in there. I hope you know nothing of life but love.

My sweet daughter, I don’t know your name yet. While it brings me some anxiety not knowing what to call you, I’m strangely fine with it for now. Your persona to me has been a beautiful nameless wonder so far. I get little feelings about you sometimes. The other night God told me about your mind, how smart you are, how clever. I asked Daddy if he had heard anything yet and he just said, “Grapes.” The next day I bought a big bag of grapes and I can’t stop eating them.

I don’t know you very well just yet but I know you are special. I feel like I’ve known all along you’re a girl, even though I really haven’t. But it makes perfect sense now that we know. Like the bits of your soul that I can sense have just always said so. I couldn’t be happier about it. I really couldn’t.

Hello, Sweetie. I’m your momma. I love you more than I can keep up with recognizing. It’s overwhelming and encompassing. It’s terrifying and wonderful. I feel like this is what I’ve always been made to do. You are my greatest adventure.

I love you.

Always, 

Momma