***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR ACTIVE DUTY, GUARD, & RESERVE MEMBERS WHO ARE FIRST-TIME MOTHERS***
So, I had been in the military six years when we got out BFP (big fat positive). We had planned this pregnancy to the tee. So we were all happy in love with the fact we would be parents. Then reality set in that my rotation for deployment was coming up. Of course, they couldn’t deploy me while pregnant, but according to the older regulations, I would deploy shortly after giving birth. Sucks, right. Try doing it twice. Yes, I deployed within the first year of both of my children turning one.
Now things have changed since I had both of my children. Previous regulations required me to be deployable after just six months. Now it has changed to one year. Even though mothers are guaranteed that first year now, it still isn’t any easier leaving your child. Here are a few tips on how to survive the first deployment/TDY after giving birth.
I know some people are on the fence about this. I promise you the results are uncanny. Not only are you building a bond with your child, but your child also becomes accustomed to your scent. Honestly, I breastfed because it was economically smart for my household, but when I returned home, my baby came straight to me. Unlike with my oldest, who I bottle-fed.
2. FaceTime/Video Chat
Or use whatever app you have on your device. We are iPhone users in our household, so once I shut off my phone line, all I had to do was make phone calls using my Apple ID. With the time difference, I was able to see the kids off before heading to school or daycare. There are other apps out there that allow you to do this if you do not have an iPhone. Marco Polo, WhatsApp, and Group Me are great apps to use to text or send messages through.
3. Record your everyday routine
Before you leave, record some of your everyday moments. Because we are vloggers, making a montage of our everyday routine is easy now, but back then, I did not think about how important seeing those everyday interactions were. Even if it was simply getting my little one dressed. Having this footage helps you feel included (and valued) even if you are not there. I do not know how many times I just played my little one reciting his ABCs while I was deployed. Try to grab some footage of yourself, so when the baby looks at the video, they see mommy in the video.
4. Start a workout routine (especially weightlifting)
My last deployment I was a new mom for the second time. Even though this was my second child, it felt like Deja Vu. I was deployed, yet again, before my child had turned one. I had decided once I found out I was pregnant that I would watch what I ate. That did not last long because before I was eight months pregnant, I had gained over 40 pounds. So, I knew I had to put in a little effort to lose the baby weight. Once I arrived in theater, it was easy to begin workout routine because everyone around me was on a mission to get some “gainz” so they encouraged me along the way. Introduced me to weightlifting, and it was all she wrote! I was working out every day, and hardly sulking about how much time I had left.
My work days flew by once I got in the habit of reading during my downtown. I have this bad habit of starting a book and forgetting about it because I am so busy. So, when I packed for my last deployment, I packed every book that I had ever started. I not only occupied my time but at the same time, I finally accomplished completeness with all the characters I was introduced to over the years. lol. If you are lucky to visit an established base, they will have a library where you can check out books. Take advantage of it. I was introduced to V.C. Andrews during my first deployment and I have been addicted to her books ever since.
A personal note from Danielle: At the end of the day, yes, these things will help you get through the time away from your family, but it is up to you to have a positive outlook on the deployment in general. Step back and think about what role you play in the entire picture. Once you understand and accept that, your time away from your family will fly by! Additionally, these tips can apply to any mother in any stage of motherhood. I just experienced having to be away from both kids, and I caught myself using some of these tips to occupy my time.