Posts Tagged ‘military families’

National Day of the Deployed: Our story

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

We’re so happy to share this guest post with you today in honor of National Day of the Deployed. Stacy is a mom to four beautiful babies, twins Emilyn and Hailey who passed away shortly after birth after being born too soon, a six year old son Elim, and a three year old daughter Isla. She has been a NICU nurse for the last year and a half and has been a volunteer for the March of Dimes for nearly eight years.  Her husband Charles is currently deployed and has been active duty Air Force for over thirteen years.

My babies seeing their daddy for the first time in six and a half months during his two week R&R:

 

 

When my husband joined the military a little over thirteen years ago we knew to expect deployments, although we hoped that they would be few and far between.  His first one was just one year after we were married, I was in nursing school, and we had no kids unless you count our fur-child Molly.  The first days and weeks were so incredibly lonely but I quickly got into a routine and one week dragged into the next and four months later I was welcoming him home. Back then we only had a few phone calls here and there with calling cards and emails almost daily.

Five years later he went again.  This time he left behind not only me, but our fifteen month old son.  I was a stay at home mom which left me with virtually no adult interaction on most days.  I quickly learned that I needed to take care of not only my son but also myself.  We were lucky enough to be stationed near my parents who were more than willing to babysit, which allowed me to go out one night every week to visit with friends, enjoy delicious foods and adult conversations.  Technology had advanced and we were now able to video call several times a week.  Our son was able to see his daddy and while at that age, he wasn’t really interested or able to participate in any conversations, he was able to see him and hear his voice which is so important for one so little.

Five years later we find ourselves in the midst of another deployment, this one more than twice as long as the first two.  He has been gone for nine months with three months left to go.  In addition to our fur-child Molly and our now six year old son he also left behind our three year old daughter.  This deployment is tougher in so many ways.  I am now working full time and trying to balance my time between work, kids activities and therapies and squeezing in some time to take care of myself.  This time, the kids are older and able to understand what a year means.  They miss their daddy terribly, but are able to keep in contact with both messages and video calls as often as they want.  A very common sight in our house is my six year old son sitting in his room playing Legos with our tablet propped up on his dresser so his daddy can see them and they can talk as he is building things.  He came home in August for his two week mid-deployment rest and relaxation leave and the joy on my kids faces as we surprised them at daycare with their daddy is something I will never forget.  I can’t wait to see it happen all over again when he returns for good at the end of this deployment.  But being a military family we know that for good really means until the next time.

Today on National Day of the Deployed, I share a few of my secrets for surviving a deployment:

  • Take time out for yourself no matter the ages of your kids.  Take advantage of the programs that your branch family support center offers.  It is so, so important that you not burn yourself at both ends of the candle.
  • Build a support network starting before the deployment.  Meet people at church, or spouse socials, MOPS or other moms club and find your tribe!  Online options are also helpful for the hours after the kids go to bed if you’re not able to get out. One great option is missionhealthybaby.org where you can connect with other moms whose spouses are in the military!
  • Make family traditions while your military member is deployed.  Our family has instituted the one kiss from daddy a day. A bowl was filled up with Hershey’s kisses and the kids each get one every day counting down to when daddy returns and the bowl is empty.
  • Set up times to video chat with your spouse when the kids are engaged in other activities, find ways to connect like watching the same shows. Chatting about daily life gets dull when your military member is most likely either not able to talk about what they are doing or it’s the same day after day.
  • Set up times for your kids to chat with your spouse!  Keeping the connection with their parent is so so important no matter the age!  Even if your child is a baby, hearing the sounds of their voice can help them maintain their connection.
  • Make videos with your deployed spouse reading bedtime stories for your kids so they can hear mommy or daddy every night before bed.
  • Plan activities for after the deployment that your whole family can look forward to!  Also activities to help you and your spouse reconnect.
  • Learn to accept help when you need it and find people that you can lean on.  If you need help with your lawn, or cleaning your house or taking care of your kids, ask for it before you’re completely overwhelmed!
  • Take time to rest, you need it!  It’s so easy to stay up half of the night and then be exhausted in the morning when your kids get up.  Find a manageable bedtime and try to stick to it.
  • Pamper yourself.  Whether that’s going to a salon to get a haircut or pedicure or doing it yourself at home, take care of you. You deserve it!
  • Take advantage of all the programs the family readiness center offers to prepare for deployment and homecoming.
  • Remember that it takes time to adjust once your spouse is home and reintegrate back into the family.
  • Take advantage of counseling through military onesource, they can offer counseling free of charge and off the books for up to twelve sessions if there is need for it.

The March of Dimes expanded the Mission: Healthy Baby program, which provides free pregnancy and newborn health information and support services to military families, with the launch of the site missionhealthybaby.org. This web portal, exclusively for military families, will connect you with other moms-to-be who face many of the same challenges.

The Military and the March of Dimes

Monday, November 12th, 2012

military-and-mod4

In its drive to promote healthy pregnancy, the March of Dimes considers every avenue of outreach. This has included cordial ties with U.S. Armed Forces in order to support military families. Historically, our earliest years coincided with the global catastrophe of World War II when our founder – President Franklin D. Roosevelt – was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces. In that troubled time, our military ties were many and various. An early research grant went to Drs. John Paul and Albert Sabin to find out why American GIs in Egypt contracted polio when native populations seemed immune to the disease. The Foundation created a fund-raising unit that coordinated its annual “March of Dimes” campaigns with all branches of the military. Our Armed Forces Division was so popular that top brass such as Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and Admiral Chester Nimitz wrote enthusiastic public messages of support for our fight against polio.

After the war, the most conspicuous military program was the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). MATS was a standing agreement of the March of Dimes with the U.S. Air Force to airlift iron lung respirators to epidemic areas and even individuals with paralytic polio to hospitals for special care. In one case, MATS cargo aircraft shipped iron lungs to a polio epidemic in Japan in 1961. With the advent of the Salk polio vaccine developed with March of Dimes funds, the Foundation ensured that military personnel were protected from the polio virus. Military personnel and their families from the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard dispensary to the U.S. Army Hospital at West Point participated in March of Dimes polio vaccination programs.

When the March of Dimes turned toward birth defects prevention in the 1960s, our involvement with the military also turned in a new direction. We then maintained on staff an official liaison to the military as we broadened our approach to birth defects by focusing on all the determinants of healthy pregnancy. And, in our examination of the genetic causes of birth defects, we provided advice to Viet Nam era veteran groups about medical and genetic counseling for victims of Agent Orange. Our relationship to the Veterans of Foreign Wars has been mutually supportive for decades, and several March of Dimes national ambassadors have been members of military families. One of these, Cody Groce, was very proud to appear with Gen. Colin Powell at our National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, DC in 1998. Our most recent effort in support of military families has been our involvement in Operation Shower.

In the darkest days of World War II, FDR offered these words to characterize his understanding of the March of Dimes mission: “Nothing is closer to my heart than the health of our boys and girls and young men and young women. It is one of the front lines of national defense.” With this impetus, the March of Dimes went on to defeat polio and launch a new mission against birth defects and prematurity. FDR’s original sentiment bears close resemblance to our passionate quest for “stronger, healthier babies” today.

Note on photo: Sailors in formation spell out “March of Dimes” on board aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1962

Military mom baby shower

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

See what happens when the March of Dimes throws a baby shower for mothers serving in the military. Thank you to all our military families for everything you do. Have a safe and celebratory 4th of July

Baby shower held for military moms-to-be

Friday, January 27th, 2012

operation-showerForty moms-to-be whose spouses are deployed with the military had the opportunity to experience what many other expectant women may take for granted – a baby shower.  These moms, whose spouses all are members of the U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines and California Army National Guard, were honored during a group baby shower hosted by Operation Shower with support from Birdies for the Brave and presented by Datron World Communications.  March of Dimes served as the shower’s lead health education partner, providing essential information on how to have a healthy, full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby.

The shower was held at a luncheon on Tuesday, January 24, in the San Diego Padres Military Appreciation Pavilion at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla during the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open.

Each of the honored moms-to-be received Operation Shower’s signature “Shower In a Box” – a gift of high-quality products for mothers and babies.   March of Dimes also provided information on essential topics ranging from warning signs of pre-term birth, to which newborn screening tests every baby should have, to information specifically for dads as part of its Mission: Healthy Baby Program.  All military moms and dads can request Mission: Healthy Baby materials by sending their name and address to missionhealthybaby@marchofdimes.org.

Very high levels of stress, such as the stress caused by a deployment, may contribute to premature birth or low birthweight. “Having a baby is a joyful experience. However, it’s also one that comes with anxiety and stress, especially when your spouse is deployed overseas by the U.S. military,” said Miriam Erdosi of the March of Dimes. “The March of Dimes believes in supporting moms and moms-to-be and we’re grateful for this opportunity to help these military families. These showers and our Mission: Healthy Baby program give families the comfort, support and information they deserve.”

The March of Dimes support for the military dates back to its founding by President Roosevelt in 1938. Mission: Healthy Baby, is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and was designed specifically to address the unique needs of military members who may be stationed far away from the support of family and friends, or who may be fighting a war while their partner is home, expecting a child.

Operation Shower is a non-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and honoring military families by providing joyful baby showers for military moms-to-be to ease the burden of deployment, or in cases where spouses are seriously injured.   Since the organization’s inception in 2007, Operation Shower has showered more than 500 military moms from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard on military bases, during PGA TOUR tournaments, and at other locations.

Mission: Health Baby

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

With Veteran’s Day here, I want to remind you about our program for military families in your communities. Mission: Healthy Baby®, is a program designed specifically for military families to provide free pregnancy and newborn health information and support services. The program was developed with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Ladies Auxiliary VFW.

Having a baby is a joyful experience, but it’s also one that comes with anxiety and concerns. Very high levels of stress, such as the stress caused by a deployment, may contribute to premature birth or low birthweight in full-term babies. Military families can request Mission: Healthy Baby materials by sending their name and address to missionhealthybaby@marchofdimes.org.