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'What to Expect' Baby Showers for New Military Moms

Heidi Murkoff knows What to Expect. The author of both What to Expect When You're Expecting and What to Expect in the First Year, she knows we should expect pregnancy and new motherhood to be difficult ... and amazing.

Check out the bottom of this story for information on registering for the next USO baby shower event at Fort Campbell, Ky.!

Heidi also knows that for military spouses, new motherhood can pose particular challenges. She's out to help with baby showers for military moms all over the world.

I think that's great news. I was recently pregnant, and I was completely overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed by being pregnant (some of us are great at being pregnant--and then there's me.) I was overwhelmed by deployment (yuck.) I was very overwhelmed by being far from my family.

I was so overwhelmed, in fact, that I moved home. Then I was overwhelmed by being so far from my military community and all their support.

Even though all the books told me this was normal, it took me a while (about forty weeks) to realize this was, in fact, normal.

What to Expect laid it out in pretty uncertain terms: Pregnancy is rough, and it's a long haul. Which is why when we get support during pregnancies, it means so much. So when it comes from Heidi Murkoff, the woman whose guides help so many of us through pregnancies and the early days of motherhood, it means so much more.

Now, Heidi has teamed up with the USO to throw baby showers for military moms and expectant mothers around the globe.

"It all started last summer, when we got a call from a friend who was involved in Operation Homefront, which was throwing a baby shower for military moms at Fort Belvoir," she said. "They were wondering if we would donate signed books for the event, but Erik [her husband] and I immediately looked at each other and said – wait a second, why not donate books and attend, too?  So we did – and it was such an incredible day, at once deeply touching, inspiring, and fun, we decided instantly that we needed to do more for military families."

The next day, she was having meetings at the Pentagon with DoD officials, and within months, she partnered with the USO and launched the first shower at Fort Carson. Since then she's been in Norfolk and Okinawa, with more to come.

In the process, she's discovered how uniquely challenging new motherhood is for military wives. The questions military moms posed to her were altogether new for the expert.

"Questions about how to feel less isolated as a military mom. How to prepare for labor and delivery not sure whether your partner would be there with you – or whether he would be deployed or away on a mission. Even questions on how to get the baby products you need when you’re thousands of miles from the nearest Babies-R-Us," she said.

These are questions we all deal with both as military spouses and as friends to military spouses. And it's those friendships that Heidi stressed.

"If there’s one thing that the military moms were looking for, it’s the one thing all us moms need: support," she said. "Being so far from family and friends at a time when you need that network the most, they actually need that support – and deserve it – more than anyone."

Look for it in your centering group or pregnancy classes. Find it in a neighbor or another spouse in your unit. What to Expect even has a great (and very active) Military Moms online forum  which I have found to be very helpful support group, too. Sometimes - especially at three o'clock in the morning, again - it's just nice to know someone is out there going through the same thing you are.

The thing Heidi said that stuck with me the most is the idea that "motherhood is the ultimate sisterhood."

That's what military life gives us - a sisterhood we can all count on. That is what Heidi supports. Even if we aren't lucky enough to get to attend one of her showers, we can all be together in this. If motherhood is the ultimate sisterhood, we're lucky to count each other as family.

The next baby shower event will be Dec. 17 at Valor Hall at  Fort Campbell, Ky. -- and the team is actively looking for locations for their 2014 events.

Go here to register for the Fort Campbell event! Remember: space is very limited.

Tell us: where do you think the next shower should be?

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