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What Every Military Baby Needs To Know

Huck Willoughby 8 lbs 5 oz born at 3:10 pm.

That is all that Amy, our managing editor at SpouseBuzz, posted on her Facebook page under a photo of a scrunchy little baby.  Amy didn’t mention that she gave birth to that baby alone.  She didn’t mention that her Army husband (like so many military dads before him) couldn’t be there because he was at a faraway training.  No one else on Facebook mentioned it either.

Which is weird to me.  Because for the rest of his life, Huck will tell the story of how his Army Ranger dad wasn’t home on the day he was born.  Huck will make it sound like there was immense danger in the world and that his dad was the only person on earth capable of handling it.  That will be a great story.  I just think the kid needs a few more details to know how great a story it is. Here is what I think every military baby born to a dad who is deployed or out to sea or in training or in the field needs to know:

1. You were born to a woman who will not give up, let up, or let go.  Because she can’t. All your life you will believe that your mom is the strongest woman you know. True enough.  The other true thing you gotta know is that as a military wife, your mom will never be allowed to stop trying. Even when she wants to stop.  Even when she needs to stop.  Even while nurses are urging her to stop, stop, STOP.  Your mom will not stop.  

Even now she feels the pressure to go pick up your brother David.  Drop by the store for milk on her way home from the hospital.  Toy with the idea of driving eight hours so that your dad can see you. Your military family is going to revolve around this unstoppable woman, Kid.  Count your lucky stars.

2. Your dad knows for sure that he is irreplaceable.  Having a baby during deployment is almost normal in military life. It is no rite of passage. It is no great honor.  Babies are born to deployed dads every single day. 

The secret is that there is no other event more certain of showing your dad how irreplaceable he is in your life.  Even though a dozen friends and neighbors stepped in to help your family, no one can begin to take your dad’s place.  That big aching emptiness in his chest is a connection opening between him and you. 

No matter how many days of your life that your dad misses due to the demands of the military, no matter how many birthdays or Halloweens or first-days-of-school he doesn’t see, you belong to him.  He belongs to you.  Nothing can change that.  And he knows it.

3. You belong to us, too.  Right now your grandparents and your aunts and your uncles and your cousins look at your picture and see a family resemblance. 

But your other family—your military family—is excited about you, too.  Because you look like us. One look at your precious face and I see my own little boy who was born when his father was at sea.  I see my brother born when my father was in Vietnam. I see my neighbor’s baby and the Sergeant Major’s kid and those twins who were born last week to another family in the unit.

Welcome to the world, Baby Boy.  You make us glad you --and your parents-- are here. 

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