It’s been a year since my other half returned from being away with the Army for 6 months which has given me time to get a little perspective on the situation. I didn’t post much about it at the time because I didn’t want my blog to be the venue for my pity party. But now that he has been home a full year and the post-baby brain fog has cleared (sort of), I am ready to look at the experience with some clarity.
Anyway, to put this post in context….in November 2016, my husband was heading to Lebanon on a tour of duty for 6 months. I was 31 weeks pregnant, working full time and looking after my then 9 and 5 year olds. The timing was unfortunate as we knew he may miss the birth but needs must and all that.
So goodbyes were said and tears were shed and there I was, alone (ish) but lucky enough to have financial support and company via Skype from the hubby.
The Beginning: Pregnant & Alone
Deep breath….it’s the beginning of what seems like a lifetime apart. So much going on and if I’m honest, I was an emotional wreck. I leaned so much on my family and friends for support and distraction. I probably drove my poor kids demented but such is life!
To sum it up this is how I felt (all at the same time):
Dread….Wait, whose stupid idea was this? I’ve changed my mind. 6 months is too long.
Upset….How could he leave me pregnant? He will miss Christmas. Why is life so unfair?
Relieved….The lead up is over. He is gone now so I just have to get on with it. We can do this!
The Middle (Here today, Gone tomorrow):
The whole trip was a mixed bag of emotions but mid-way was definitely the climax of the emotional rollercoaster! I can’t begin to tell you how my mood and thought process changed hour by hour as my due date approached but I can tell you what the best and worst parts of it were:
The hardest part
The worst day without a doubt was the day he left again after a couple of weeks home on leave. Our newborn was exactly 2 weeks old, I was still very much in recovery and exhausted but I felt so much for him as I knew she would be much bigger the next time he saw her and that this was the last day he would ever get one of those gorgeous newborn cuddles. I felt abandoned, exhausted and guilty that my kids were yet again without their daddy.
The best part
The timing worked out in our favour and he made it home for the birth! I went overdue by 8 days and he arrived home 3 days before my induction. Phew! I had friends on standby to come with me but I’m so glad that he got to be there and be the first one to hold her.
The End: The Homecoming
After what seemed like an eternity, the date for the return flight was looming. The kids were marking off days on the calendar and then I got a phone call. He had broken his hand and was coming home early! I was elated that he was coming back but then I realised that he wouldn’t be able to drive, change nappies or do any heavy lifting!
So here I was again, a million emotions all at once:
Excited…. I can’t wait to see him!
Tired….Ok I’ve had enough. Come home now so I can sleep!
Dread…I have a nice routine and a big bed to myself; that will all change. Will Penny make strange with him?
We decided not to tell the kids that he was coming home early and their faces when they saw him made all of the stress melt away.
I do believe that the whole experience was harder on him than me as I had so much support and 3 great distractions. We don’t give men enough credit for how much they hold it together sometimes (or maybe he just isn’t as much of a mess as I am!).
So that’s a brief rundown of where my head was at. The main point I want to make is that when you are faced with challenges, accept your feelings for what they are. Sometimes we need to fall apart to rebuild ourselves and sometimes we owe it to ourselves to let go of the brave face and allow people to help.