The Silent Sacrifice of Military Families

My husband and I met when we were in middle school. We married after almost two years of dating and thirteen years of friendship, and long after he had joined the Marine Corps. He had been on two deployments, and was gearing up for a third. We decided to have a courthouse wedding and then do the big one later because we wanted to make sure we were married before he deployed. A few months later we found out that I was pregnant. He deployed two weeks later.

That deployment was so hard for us. For the first time ever, we had a brush with how terribly wrong things can quickly go: he was in an IED blast. Luckily, he escaped with just a concussion, for which he is supposedly going to be awarded a Purple Heart, but it definitely rattled me.

He missed everything. He never got to hear the baby's heartbeat. He never got to go to a doctor's appointment or see an ultrasound. And he didn't get to feel the baby kick or watch my stomach grow. Oh, I sent pictures and recordings of everything. But it wasn't the same.

On top of him missing everything, I had to do everything on my own. Over the course of a deployment, a spouse typically has to become self-sufficient. She has to pay all the bills, raise the kid as both mom and dad, clean the house, put food on the table, and somehow try to find a way to keep Daddy in the kids' lives. For me, I also had to throw in the medical appointments alone. But, like with every deployment, Murphy's Law struck.

It started with bleeding in the first trimester. There was so much that I had to go to the emergency room. Luckily, the baby was all right, but they couldn't figure out what was causing it. So I was put on pelvic rest and told to stay off my feet as much as possible. Basically, bed rest without having to stay in bed. It took about two weeks for the bleeding to stop completely. Then, in the second trimester, I had a scary bout of preterm contractions while I was grocery shopping. They ended up stopping on their own, but I was terrified at the time. My baby was only about 24 weeks -- barely viable.

But the worst to come was in the third trimester.