Military Family

Military Family

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

Military Family

You don’t live in a world all alone. Your brothers (sisters) are here, too.

Albert Schweitzer

The military is now your family.

Ten years ago, a military spouse spoke those words to me on the day I married my soldier husband. I really did not understand this comment or how true it would become in the future.

My husband kissed me good-bye on our fourth anniversary and left for a ten-month deployment to Operation Joint Guard in Bosnia. That day was one of the hardest of my life. We had spent four years trying to get pregnant, and now he was gone for almost a year.

Three weeks later, I made a miraculous discovery: We were going to have a baby. My husband called from Bosnia at three in the morning, and telling him the good news was both painful and jubilant. We had done it— and now he wouldn’t be here to touch my stomach, to watch the baby grow inside me. The baby was due two months before he was to return to Fort Polk. I was going to have to do it alone. Or so I thought.

It was then that I learned what people meant when they said “military family.” My friend Wanda offered to stand in as “Dad,” going with me to all my appointments and recording the baby’s heartbeat to send overseas. The support I got was incredible. People called me, brought me food and stopped by. My husband’s Rear Detachment checked on me regularly.

One night, after returning home from working a bingo game for the Enlisted Spouses Club, I settled into bed only to have my water break. It was two weeks early, and I was terrified. I was not ready yet. Wanda came over, helped me to pack my bag and took me to the hospital.

She stayed right by my side until nine that morning when they handed my little miracle to me.

I looked over and said, “Wanda, I’m a mommy.” By the time I was in the recovery room, Rear Detachment had gotten a hold of my husband, and he was on the phone talking to me about our new baby boy. It was the most exciting and wonderful day of my life.

That night, Baby Jacob had some trouble with his lungs.

An hour later, I was told that he had to go to Shreveport to a neonatal ICU for a problem with his colon. I was terrified. This amazing experience was becoming a terrifying nightmare.

Wanda came to the hospital, and I went with Jacob in the ambulance. In Shreveport, I called Wanda, and found out that my military family had kicked into high gear. Rear Detachment was working on reaching my husband. Some of the ladies had called my mom, gotten her a plane reservation and were making arrangements to bring her to the hospital. Someone else was taking care of the dog and the house. Another spouse had gone to the store and bought anything she could think of to help me get through my stay: bottled water, snacks (I was going to try to breast- feed), phone cards, paper, nursing pads, Tylenol, etc. One had even gotten a rosary and brought it to my chaplain to have it blessed for my son’s bed in the ICU.

I was amazed at their efforts, and I no longer felt so alone. I could not believe how quickly everything had been taken care of. The only thing I had to worry about was my son. Jacob and I spent a week in neonatal ICU, then he was able to come home. The ladies continued to take care of everything for me while I was gone. The Enlisted Spouses Club I belonged to even helped out with the cost of the hotel room my mom was staying in near the hospital.

It took a week for them to get my husband all the way back to Louisiana, and, luckily, my son was released the day he got home, so Pat never had to see him in ICU. When my mom and I arrived home that Friday morning, my house had been cleaned, the nursery finished and the baby’s bed made. There were even some meals in my freezer. To this day, I am still truly amazed at my military family and how well they took care of my family and me.

I have been a proud military wife for ten years now and would not change it for the world. Times have been good and times have been tough, but I have never felt alone or without support from my military family. They are wonderful. I never would have made it through this situation as well as I did without their support, love and prayers. I have strived since that day to be a military family to other spouses when they have needed me. This life we chose is not always an easy one, but we can always get through the tough times as long as we stay a military family.

It took some time, but I finally understood what that woman said to me on my wedding day: I married a military man, and his family is my family.

Shawni Sticca

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