Since the last time I wrote – pondering whether or not to continue this blog – I’ve received so many nice comments from people saying that they are reading! I’ve heard from a few new Army WAGS; this is so exciting, but it’s also a lot of pressure! I feel more pressure to write now that I know there are people reading and even looking to me for advice (haha, I’m as clueless as all of you are – just trying to take it one day at a time).

I suppose the point of all my rambling is to say thank you to those who are reading, and especially to those of you who have sent me such lovely comments! I know I don’t post much, but it’s honestly because I don’t have much to say…

At a certain point, this unusual like, that at the beginning was so foreign, becomes normal. Suddenly there’s nothing really to write about because all I would have to say is, “another day of playing with Archer, then J came home, we had dinner, and went to bed”. This in itself is an Army Wife Lesson I suppose – that life does return to normal!

When J goes away, it takes a day or two for me to create a new normal, and then suddenly, we’re just living life. Then he comes home, and again, it takes a few days to redefine normal, but we always do, and before we know it, things are boring again.

So my message to you ladies who told me that you’re partners have just left for basic training is this: things will go back to normal for you. You will be ‘bored’ with your life again soon. For now, make this your normal, because in the end, normal is really relative – and up to you!

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We flew home to Darwin this weekend after almost a month in Brisbane.

Like many things in this army wife life, it was bitter sweet. It’s nice to be back with our dogs (who are indifferent to Archer), and in our house, but being away from family and friends is awful. 

Taking Archer away from all of the people who adore him was so much harder than I thought it would be. I feel extremely guilty about it, and sad that Archer won’t have kisses and snuggles from his grandparents (and others) for a little while.

When I became an Army wife, I pretty much knew what I was getting into – I certainly didn’t go into it blindly. While I accepted that would be away from our loved ones, I didn’t really think about the fact that that meant my children would be too. It gave me so much joy to see my mum holding my son, or J’s dad kissing him through his big bushy beard, or J’s mum teaching us to give him a bath – I loved all of those moments.

I guess it’s just another one of those parts of this life that is less than ideal. But that’s life – it can’t be perfect, and even though we’re separated from all the people we love, I know that it’s only temporary, and that at least we live in a time with Skype!

When I was born (in Canada), my mum had to communicate with hers (who lived in Brisbane) via snail mail – so I am extremely thankful for Skype, Instagram, Facebook, texting and free domestic calls (as well as a 4 hour, as opposed to 24hour, flight home). 

***

Now, on another note…

I’m not sure how often I will post on this blog. I have another one that I started when I was pregnant to keep my spread out family in the loop, and now it houses photos and updates on Archer. 

I’m debating whether to just end this blog and post about the Army on the other one or whether to keep this one but post less often (it’s probably not possible to post less often – I’m super slack, I know). So what do you all think? Is anyone except my nana even reading this? haha

My gorgeous boy arrived last week!

Archer arrived on Tuesday the 12th. He weighed 8lb 11oz, and was 53cm long. He is perfect and my week has been spent basking in the immense joy he has brought to our family.

This being my blog about Army Wife life, I’m sure you’re all wondering how all the J drama unfolded…

perfectly!

The last couple of months have been so stressful with all the uncertainty, and there are 100 different ways this all could have played out – we happened to get the best one!

Not only did I get to have my son in our hometown, surrounded by our friends and family, but the hospital turned out to be amazing and I got my dream birth, AND most importantly, J made it!

For all the changes of plans, and lack of information, when it came down to it, J’s rank took care of us, and we are both incredibly grateful.

Now obviously, each situation is going to be different, and this is just our experience, but let me tell you how J ended up making it home in time…

I came to Brisbane at the end of February, right before I hit ‘term'(37wks). J left for exercise a week after me, but was booked on flights to Brisbane on the 14th (already a huge blessing, and something they didn’t need to do). I was SURE that Archie wouldn’t come early, in fact, I was sure he’d be late and I’d need to be induced, so I was happily waiting for J to join me here. Not a single sign of labor my entire pregnancy, then Monday morning contractions started.

The second I saw that they were timeable (and two minutes apart) I thought ‘oh, sh*t’! We had 4 more days until J was coming, and I was devestated because I thought he was going to miss it when we had come so close. I called his rank and they let me talk to him. He was shocked and freaked out because he was sure he was going to miss it too. He told me he’d update his rank and let me know what was going to happen, and hung up quickly.

Over the next hour my contractions started to space out and I got really cranky thinking I had called J for nothing. When he finally did call back, he was already on his way to the airport and his flight would get him here by 4pm! It was amazing how fast they got him home, but I was freaking out because I thought it was false labor and he was going to get home and then Archie wouldn’t come for another 2 weeks.

Thank goodness it was too late to change our minds, because our boy was born at 0638 the next morning! I spent my entire labor with my head buried in J’s chest, and he held my hand while I pushed. I could not have done it without him (well I would have had no choice, but it would have been a horrible experience instead of an awesome one), and I wonder daily what would have happened had he not made it.

Not knowing, or being able to plan is the hardest part of this Army life for me; it’s what I struggle with most, but this experience has served as the biggest lesson in just trusting and going with the flow. This was out of my control, and in the end worked out better than I could have imagined or planned. That’s not to say that things will always work out so well, or that I won’t struggle with the lack of information in the future, but I think I can see now that it’s not that the Army wants to mess with our lives, it’s just how it is, and fighting it won’t help anyone.

I’m not sure how to thank the people who made it possible for J to be here when our family was made, words aren’t enough, so instead I will do it by continuing to support my husband, and by being grateful every time I see my big guy holding my little one.

I’ve spoken before (a lot) about the need to be flexible when it comes to the Army. Usually not knowing anything until the last minute isn’t anything more than a bit annoying. I can usually just sigh and say “well we’ll know eventually” and not worry too much about it.

Not this time.

This time we know that there is a pre-deployment exercise in the month that I’m due to have our first baby, but we don’t know when the exercise is. We don’t even know for sure if J is going on the exercise.

The rumors and “heads-up” all started months ago, and we kind of just went with our usual wait-and-see approach, but as the belly gets larger and there’s still no information, the panic sets in.

We talked about having my mum come up as soon as he left, but we didn’t want her to waste all of her holiday time waiting on a baby who will probably (like most first babies) come late (but that isn’t guaranteed to).

Then we talked to the doctors about inducing me, but they (and I) weren’t too keen on that plan, and it’s impossible to schedule something like that when you have no dates!

Then we made a back-up plan, where I would go to Brisbane for my due-month if J was going.

Well the not knowing and waiting was getting to be too much stress for us both, so we’ve just gone ahead and made a plan.This time, instead of me fitting into J’s plans, J is going to fit into mine.

I will go to Brisbane right before 37 weeks, and stay until the baby is born. J will meet me there when he can, and we will bring our bub home together.

This plan guarantees that I will have support around me, but at the same time, it pretty much guarantees that J will miss the birth, which breaks my heart and was always one of my greatest Army fears. I hate the idea of J missing it, and I know he does too, but we’re trying to focus on the positives;

I’ll be surrounded by family and friends, and everyone will get to meet the baby much sooner than they would have, which will be nice and eliminate the issue of who comes to Darwin when; and while he may miss the actual birth, J will have some time with bub before he deploys (if he deploys). Ultimately we are focusing on the fact that in a year from now, all of this will be over, J will be home, and our family will be together.

While this plan is far from my first choice, it will be ok, and at the end of the day I will have a beautiful son who is loved by so many people – especially his daddy.

We’re moving again! Just to a different house. I don’t really want to get into why we are; our situation is completely unique and I wouldn’t want to give anyone the wrong idea.

Let’s just say that when we moved in, we accepted the state of this house because it was just the two of us, and honestly, we were young and naive. I think I was so focused on being grateful that I didn’t stop to think about what was best for our family, but finding out that it wasn’t just the two of us made me realise that I could be grateful without settling.

So with the help of J’s rank, and DHA we got a new house, and it is beautiful (we even got a TOLL removal…not sure how that happened!).

So over the next few days we will be moving, then unpacking, and then we’re going home for a couple of weeks! So excited to get to take J with me this time! We have a mini-babymoon planned and it will be really nice to have some down time together since 2013 is shaping up to be a BIG, GIANT, SUPER COLOSSUS year.

Hoping you all had a great Christmas, and wishing you a lovely NYE!

I knew when we signed up for this life that there was a chance that J would miss the birth of our child{ren} because of a deployment. It’s something that makes my very soul ache, and even just thinking about it now is taking my breath away.

I love this man so much, and the fact that it is his baby that will emerge; a combination of the two of us; makes me desperate to have him be a part of that moment. I am more excited to see my husband hold our baby for the first time, than I am to hold bub myself.

I had mentally prepared for the possibility of a deployment though; I had thought practically about how the first year is really just all about breastfeeding, and J wouldn’t miss much (so slightly delusional thinking, haha). I was ok. It’s his job, and he would be on the deployment he’s been waiting for, doing what he trained for; I was ok; I had accepted this possibility.

What I had not prepared for is J missing the birth because of a field exercise. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but this is a WAY bigger kick to the guts. Obviously it’s not for certain, and the dates of the trip may change, but there is a two-week, non-negotiable, field trip smack-dab in the middle of ‘birth month’.

Maybe it’s because the last field trip J was on turned into a giant organisational disaster and he was left doing nothing but sitting around, but I just cannot reconcile the fact that he may be sitting down, doing nothing, and miss it for no reason. That’s it…if he’s going to miss it, I can accept that, but I need there to be a reason, I need it to be justified and just as important as bub being born.

At this point we just have to wait and see, but of course being up here in croc-land doesn’t help – my mum will need to come here if J goes, but then she’ll be using her precious holiday time to sit with me while I desperately pray for baby to just wait until J gets home to come. Gah! It’s just a mess.

I would REALLY like to hear from you readers who gave birth without your soldiers, for any reason, but especially because of courses/field.

I realised that I forgot to do a post when we reached our one year mark. I’m in Brisbane right now seeing family and friends, and it slipped my mind. I suppose I don’t need to explain, by now it’s evident that I’m a total blog-slacker!

so it’s been {more than} a year since J left for Kapooka…gee! SO much has changed, and it feels like a very long year.

I’ve been asked a few times recently – by new Army WAGS – for advice in dealing with it, or just more information about what to expect. I feel anything but qualified to give such advice, and each person will have their own unique way of dealing with things, and a different experience, but for me, there are a few key lessons that I’ve learnt…

FLEXABILITY

This is THE biggest lesson I’ve had to learn, and I still struggle with. I think it’s because I expect the Army to be super organised (when you hear military it {used to} conjur images of organisation, precision, discipline, etc to me); they are not. I mean I assume this is due to the fact that every little decision must go up and down the rank – I get that it’s not an easy thing to organise. So you have to learn to NEVER make plans. Once I started to accept that we could never make plans, and that we’d just have to ‘wait and see’ about everything {including how the birth of our child will go down}, it’s a bit easier, but there are times {like when you’re trying to decide if your mother should come to Darwin just in case J is away for the birth} when not knowing is torture. So I’m still working on it, but for me, that is the biggest lesson this last year has taught me.

INDEPENDENCE

When we were first together, and first married I remember feeling like I simply could not live apart from J. I remember complaining at work one day {we were both shift workers working opposite shifts} that I had only seen my husband for a few hours at a time for the past few days; it seems so silly now! I’ve not only learnt that I will in fact survive when he is away, I’ve also learnt that I can thrive and I can take care of myself. Do I like our time apart, well no, not really, some days I HATE it but there actually are times where I don’t mind being apart. As long as he’s away for a purpose, I can deal with separation, and I can focus ahead, on the fact that we will get to say ‘hello’soon enough. I had a moment a few weeks ago where I realised how far I’ve come, and how self-suficient I can be; I had to climb on a chair, 5 months pregnant, at the top of our staircase, and hang out over the balcony to change the outside light; that would not have happened pre-army, haha.

LOVE

There are so many more lessons I’ve learnt {which can be browsed here}, but the most important one is how much I love this man; every crappy day apart, every heart-sinking moment, even living in Darwin {hehe} is all immensly worth it. I would follow him anywhere {clearly}, and I feel honoured to be able to support him every day. This past year has not been easy, but in the end I think it has made our partnership, friendship, love and marriage so much stronger. I can’t wait to see what this second year has in store for us, there are some big things in the works, and it may include both our best and worst times, but after surviving this year, I know that if we let it, it can just make us even better!

J is out field at the moment. When he told me (a week before he left) that he was going, I felt fine with it. I knew that time apart was a big part of this life, so I tend to feel like ‘oh that sucks, but ok, let’s get it done’. This positive attitude seems to mainly be what I feel when he’s gone – I just put my head down, go into a television coma, and it eventually ends.

 but,

there are days when I want to kick and scream and throw a tantrum fit for a three year old. The last few days have been tantrum days. I want my husband home. I want him to be here to rub my back (I’m having terrible back, side, and stomach pains from the baby stretching everything out), and to feel the baby move (it’s beginning to be felt from the outside). I want to stomp my feet and scream that it isn’t fair that he’s gone, why is he gone? why did we choose this?

cranky, toddler tantrums…that’s how I’ve felt the last few days. Just wanted to share. I’m sure that they will pass; I’m sure that mere hours after J gets home, I will be ready for him to leave again; and I’m sure that crazy baby hormones have something to do with this persistent grey cloud above my head.

as a footnote, writing this has made me feel much better. I guess I just needed to have a little rant. 

I’m not sure what to write, but I feel like I need to say something. I hate when you follow a blog and there are no posts for ages; I don’t want to do that to you.

I’ve been struggling with what to write about for the whole of this absence. There are things I want to say, but there are things preventing me from saying them…you know how it is. The blog started out as anonymous, and with that, I felt like I could say more; now that the blog is far from anonymous, I worry about every word I say; whether it’s appropriate or not; the fact is, I haven’t been in this life long enough to really know what is share-able and what isn’t.

I think I can tell you about my current struggle though…be warned, this is a whining post. It may annoy some of you, by the end of writing it, I will probably be annoyed with myself and realise that I just need to harden up…

We’ve been in Darwin for a few months now. I started out kind of liking it, but that feeling has all but gone away; I really hate it here now. I imagine that it has to do with finding out I was pregnant. Before we found out, this new life felt like an adventure; something fun; a place where we could really grow up and become independent, just the two of us.

Finding out that we were going to be parents changed the whole thing though. Instead of loving the independence and distance that Darwin brings, I now long to be around my family and friends, getting fatter and eventually welcoming this baby.

It’s all about expectations I guess…I never dreamed that I would become an Army Wife, and even once I did, I couldn’t imagine the empty loneliness that being away from your family can bring. I always expected to be surrounded by the people I love and we would all bask in the joy of my growing family together.

(Now is when I start to pep-talk myself, haha) I’m not the first person to go through this. Not even kind of. It seems to me like having babies is a prerequisite for being an Army Wife (this, of course, is an exaggeration) haha.

My mum lived in Canada when I was born; her mum lived her in Australia. There was no email, no skype, and phone calls were insanely expensive; they wrote letters that would take weeks to arrive. I can’t even imagine how that would feel; I thank God everytime I log on to skype that we have that option. So I do get to celebrate with my family, just in a different way.

I know things will get better, and that this is an adjustment. I finally have some friends moving here in the next few weeks, and I’m going home for November; it’s just an adjustment period, and I’m 100% sure that it will get better (even with wet season on its way! haha).

I think I had a romanticised idea about what being an Army Wife was like, even up until recently. It wasn’t until Baby B was involved that the reality, and difficulties become evident, or really mattered.

xxx

So the reason I haven’t really posted lately, is that the only thing really going on in our lives right now is that we’re pregnant!

I couldn’t tell you that just yet, but I also, had nothing to say that didn’t involve, “YIPPEEEEEEEEE! WE’RE GOING TO BE PARENTS!”, so I just stayed quiet.

I don’t know how this would go outside of the Army (since this is my first time), but deciding to have a baby, as an Army family, was extremely influenced by our unique circumstances.

I have dreamed of children my entire life; ask anyone who knows me…I’m obsessed. My husband has also always wanted children, and it’s been something we’ve talked about since before we were even dating – when we were just friends.

We did the marriage thing (which I love), and then we did the Army thing. Our lives changed so much when we chose the Army, and it was in a direction completely opposite to anywhere I ever thought it would go.

J (it seems wrong to call him soldier boy now that he’s gonna be a dad) went off to training and I continued to dream about having a baby; this time the dreams had to account for possibilities civilian families really don’t have to though…

I’m talking about J not being here for the birth of our baby. Sure there are civilian couples who are separated, single parents, etc…but for myself, I always saw that moment of becoming a family as including all members…in a physical way. As scary as this possibility is, I’ve come to terms with it, and I know that no matter what circumstances our family materialises under, we will still be a family, and it will still be amazing.

Anyway, so we decided that there wasn’t much point waiting; we’ve been married for two years, and although we’re young, we have a stable life/income etc. We were so blessed to be successful right away (despite 5 negative pregnancy tests trying to tell me otherwise), and we can’t wait to be parents.

Sure there are things that will be different/harder about becoming a mum as an Army wife, but I don’t think any of those things are worth not becoming one.

xxx

I would LOVE to hear all of your thoughts/experiences on becoming parents either outside or inside of the Army!