As I write this post, I am sitting in the recliner with my feet up. My smallish dog is nestled beside me, my arms are stretched out farther than they have ever been before as my “belly dances” and I mentally calculate how long I have until it’s my daily “power nap time.”
Yep. You guessed it. I’m pregnant. The State of the Uterus is very much occupied.
I am at the point in this pregnancy that no longer classifies as a “little bit” pregnant. I am really pregnant. Like middle-rapidly-approaching-end-of- third-trimester pregnant.
It’s our second kiddo, so we are excited (and less terrified than the first time we did this…) Although my preggo brain is not nearly as sharp as it used to be, lately I have been thinking about how the whole experience of pregnancy is like being a military spouse. Because really, who doesn’t love a good analogy?
So, here are my slightly blurry (though hopefully amusing) thoughts on how pregnancy is like being a military spouse.
1. Both pregnancy and military wife life impact your sleep habits.
It’s amazing how something so small in our bodies can impact something so important like sleep. If you have ever been pregnant (or know someone who has) then the whole beautiful experience throws sleep schedules right out the window. Just the other night, I rolled over (while making more sounds than a hippopotamus trying to learn to fly) and I woke up because I literally heard my hip(s) pop.
Not surprisingly, military spouse life also throws a bit of a kink in our sleep habits. Maybe it’s our spouse coming home at 0100 because someone in his company made what I call a “bad life decision.” Or it is the phone ringing at 0215 on New Years Eve to inform our spouse of the same reason above. It could be that our spouse is working nights for a while, in the field, has a 12 mile ruck to do the next day which requires a 0330 first call. And of course, let’s not forget during deployments or TDYs, when we will wake up at all hours of the night just to FaceTime or Skype with the spouse we miss so much.
2. It’s a given, but both experiences are full of surprises.
It’s funny. Just when I think I have pregnancy “figured out,” something new/surprising shows up. Unexpected things swell up, shrink, stretch, ache, burn, move, wiggle, jiggle, and even make us giggle. Same thing happens in the military. In that exact moment when we start to find our groove, something changes (usually unexpected) that throws us for a loop–new work hours, orders are cut, delayed/approved report dates, we miss the promotion cut by a small margin or get promoted early (yay!) Surprise!
3. The best way to navigate pregnancy and milspouse life is with the coveted “No-plan-plan.”
This point directly relates to reason #2. We can have the greatest intentions of planning #AllTheThings in both pregnancy and milspouse life, but let’s be honest– sometimes the best thing we can do it engage the “No-plan-plan.” It sounds impossible, but trust me–as a planner extraordinaire, releasing control of the uncontrollable things brings my stress level wayyyy down (which is always a plus in both of these life experiences.)
We plan for a single baby and that first ultrasound shows two Tiny Humans in there. We plan for a boy/girl, and ultrasound shows the opposite. (Or, crazier yet– the ultrasound tech read the scan wrong and “birthday” is a much bigger surprise! My husband and I have chosen to not find out the gender of our kid during either pregnancy– makes for a fun journey– and forces us to release control.) When pregnant with our first kid, I was practically married to our due date… and when it zoomed past us without a blink, trust me… I was not a nice person to hang out with by the time our induction was scheduled 8 days later. #HoldOnLoosely
Same for the military. We plan for a report date of July 10th… Then it gets moved up or pushed back. We unpack our household goods only to realize that somewhere in transit, one-third of beautiful roll-top desk has been lost forever. I remember as a rookie military spouse, I would write stuff on the calendar in ink… I soon learned that pencil was a much better option. Because hey– it’s the no-plan-plan!
4. Each of these life events invokes semi-mandatory travel restrictions.
Maybe you are one of those preggos and/or milspouses that is super adventurous and doesn’t let ANYTHING dictate when you do or don’t travel. Lemme tell ya– I am not one of them. We schedule family trips and vacations around the tentative leave dates from the military (usually during a cross-country PCS… #TwoBirdsOneStone) Also, in my current, uncomfortable, very pregnant state, the farthest you will find me traveling anytime soon is to pick up my kid from school or a local food joint in town to satisfy odd food cravings.
5. Both are a great instigator (or excuse) to eat really weird things.
Although I have come a long way in my journey to conquer emotional eating, military spouse life still has a way to engage all systems go when it comes to eating weird foods.. Pregnancy does the same. (Big surprise.) Our brains (and ever-tightening pants) tell us to eat fruits, veggies, and lean meats to keep everything even keel. But when things get tough as a milspouse or in pregnancy, our hearts/stomachs tell us to do what it takes to bring us back down to earth (and keep from shanking someone.) For me, military spouse life usually finds me occasionally sipping at something from Starbucks. And pregnancy, well, has no hard-and-fast rules. (I recently ate baked potato chips with Pork’N’Beans right out of the can… and I thought I was dining in a gourmet restaurant it was so delicious. #GloryGloryHallejulah)
6. Pregnancy and milspouse life both bring great amounts of discomfort and/or pain… coupled with unspeakable joy.
Of course, I can’t compare these two life experiences without including the discomfort/pain factor coupled with the incredible joy. Both involved lots of tears, loneliness, uncertainty, stress and heartache… But when we kiss our spouse for the first time after a deployment or see that little wrinkly face resting on our chest after 14 hours of labor… Both pregnancy and military wife life are totally worth it, a million times over. The unspeakable joy, is, well, unspeakable.
Readers, do you relate to this post? Which point is your favorite? What would you add? Jump in and leave a comment below.
PS: Be sure to join us next month when I share how parenting a newborn is like being a military spouse… Buckle up, because it might get messy. (But oh-so-fun!)