No one will ever tell you that military life is easy and carefree. It’s a life that doesn’t go as planned. And even when you scrap Plan A in favor of Plan B, you may find yourself struggling for a solution when Plan B, C and D doesn’t work either.
Those feelings of desperation and the urge to have control over your situation sometimes causes many in our military community to make foolish decisions – decisions that under normal circumstances you wouldn’t even consider.
That’s what I believe happened in this case of a pregnant military spouse who was due to deliver alone for the second time while living overseas. In this post, “I can’t believe what I let my husband do to induce my labor,” the author writes about her thoughts leading up to her due date that collided with her husband’s upcoming deployment.
“The news that my husband would be deploying on the due date of our second child was both familiar and heartbreaking. He had deployed on the due date of our firstborn and was thousands of miles away by the time I finally went into labor and delivered our son. We thought we’d planned better with our second and final child, but being in the military means always expecting the unexpected.”
The command did permit the service member to remain with his wife for 2 weeks after the rest of the battalion deployed, but that waiver didn’t reduce her stress.
“Days passed and nothing changed. As we approached the fourth day, I panicked….We tried all the home remedies that were supposed to start labor: raspberry leaf tea, sex, walking, spicy food; you name it, we did it. Still nothing. On the seventh day, desperation became fear.”
In the end, she begged her husband to try to break her water using a hook they made out of a wire coat hanger. But in the end, thankfully, she went into labor without using the hook to break her water. She delivered her healthy baby boy at the military hospital.
But this story illustrates the desperate measures that some military spouses might try to induce labor before their service member’s departure. Her story isn’t unfamiliar to many of us who have been a member of the military spouse community for years. Maybe you have a similar story yourself.
Being stationed overseas is daunting.
Having a baby is stressful.
Knowing that your husband will not be there for the birth of your child is a tough pill to swallow.
Combine those 3 circumstances with the feelings of being alone and afraid because you don’t have your support system to turn to for help and her decision to ask her husband to break her water doesn’t seem illogical anymore.
Here are the lessons learned from this woman’s cautionary tale.
First, we need to recognize our feelings of isolation and desperation. In the days leading up to a deployment, pregnant or not, a military spouse feels emotional. Pregnant or not, she may feel like no one can help her and that no one can relate to her feelings.
I guarantee that there are military spouses on her base who have had the same thoughts, same feelings and faced similar circumstances as her. This is her military spouse community who should have supported her.
But the military community can’t help us if we don’t ask for help.
It’s scary to admit that we need help. But no one is going to fault a pregnant military spouse with a toddler, who is living overseas and facing the reality of giving birth alone for asking for assistance. Instead the military spouse community is going to help.
Secondly, we as members of the military community need to step up and provide the support that this desperate military spouse needed. She needed to know that she had someone to be with so she wouldn’t have to worry about giving birth alone. She needed to know that she would have reliable child care for her toddler when she went to the hospital. Heck, she even needed transportation to get her to the hospital.
Her challenges weren’t impossible if she had a military spouse community that enveloped her with support. A community that didn’t casually ask “how can I help?” but instead said “here’s how I will help.”
As uncomfortable as it is to be the pregnant military spouse seeking help, it is equally uncomfortable to reach out to that pregnant spouse who is your on-base neighbor.
You know that her husband is deploying soon, even if you don’t know exactly when.
You know that she has a toddler, even if you don’t know if she has child care for him.
You know her due date, even if you don’t know if her mother-in-law is able to come and stay with her when her spouse deploys.
And you will never know the answers to these personal questions if you don’t ask. If you ask, then you can help. But if you avoid asking these questions, because you don’t want to seem like a pest or nosy, you miss out on an opportunity to extend the helping hand of the military spouse community.
Finally, there needs to be more resources within the military community to help these kinds of situations. Giving birth without your parenting partner isn’t unusual in military life. There are fantastic nonprofits that throw baby showers for expecting military spouses but as we see from this story, military spouses need more than diapers and swaddling blankets.
And if there are resources to help mothers who are delivering during deployment, this woman’s doctor and her service member’s chaplain should have brought those resources to their attention.
Let’s use these lessons learned to help our pregnant military spouses feel a little less desperate during their challenging situations.