There’s this little boy who I call my birthing son. I didn’t carry him or adopt him or foster him. What I did do was fill in for his deployed daddy at his arrival while I was pregnant myself. I took my Key Spouse duties pretty seriously, one could say....
C. and I had many things in common. Our spouses were in the same squadron, we were both pregnant with our 4th child and of course, there was the deployment. She also shared my dry sense of humor.
Since babies come when they want and her family was just a bit too far to be of help at ‘that moment,’ she chose me as faux-daddy. C. said I was funny and supportive and that was part of the reason. She wanted me waddling into Labor and Delivery with her, hip to hip.
I totally morphed into that expectant father you see on television. Seriously lost my cool. Of course her water broke at night. We got our combined brood, settled into beds and had a sitter for the duration.
Once we hit the long stretch of road that led “to town,” I started shaking from anxiety, and my son started kicking it up. I kept asking C if she was ok, if the contractions were stronger. I couldn’t shut it with the questions until we got to the Emergency Department.
“Can we help you?”Eyes shift from me to C. to me.
“Yes, we need to go to Labor and Delivery”
“Oh it’s her. I’m her coach.”Bummer.
“Yes, but not due anytime soon.”
“Ok but you can’t push her wheelchair”.
I had packed a clean white pillowcase in plastic for something special later on.
At the heart of it all, I was masking sadness for her. My heart was breaking. I wanted her husband there with her. Their last pregnancy, their first boy. It kept looping through my head. She admitted to me later that she was terrified to do this without her husband.
Nighttime meant that phone calls to the nurses station couldn’t be forwarded to the room so I had to relay communication with her husband through the night. He was anxious, but relieved that the kids were fine and C. was where she needed to be, she and baby doing well. I’d pass his words on to her and felt even worse that they couldn’t talk directly until morning.
During those down moments of the labor, I’d sit and think that this is how a military family is supposed to come together. I was hoping that we were the norm.
Oh what a night. C. labored like a champ. I was making her laugh and telling her she could say as many awful words and phrases that she wanted. This was the time! She was smiling and let some words fly. Tried to keep her mind off of who wasn’t there.
Then came the time to push. I braced my own body and baby to give C. my full attention. She took my hand and didn’t let go until that little purple being popped out. Yup. Purple. He pinked up and screamed and C. exhaled. Perfect. Moments later, she was doing the talking to her husband.
Still in stunned mode, I took the scissors that the midwife handed me and completed H.’s entry into the world. I will never forget that moment.
The pillowcase! I pulled it out and asked a nurse if they could please put H.’s footprints on there to send to daddy. They were more than happy to do so.
Later on, her family arrived and I returned home to my own children.
What an experience!
Never thought I’d have that opportunity, but military life made it a reality and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Have you had opportunities or experiences to support a fellow military family? Please share!