babies, birth, deployment birth, marine corps, military life, pregnancy, SAHM, Uncategorized, VBAC

Baby #4’s Story.

The test

 

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I wanted to be SURE

 

While finding out I was pregnant wasn’t a total shock, what made it a gut wrenching feeling for me was because I knew I would have him while Dan was deployed. Deep down inside I knew I wanted another one. It felt like Claire needed a sister/sibling to play with because I had been watching the boys play with each other for the last 3 years. As she got older they included her in some things but mainly they did their “twin thing” and stuck to themselves, would shut the door and tell her to go away because they were playing. My heart would hurt every time I saw them excluding her and it just didn’t feel right. I had always said that 4 was my magic number, the least amount of kids I wanted was 2 but  because I felt sort of robbed of the single baby experience, we went with 3. I used to joke with day “Hey, wouldn’t that be funny if I wanted another?” and then I’d laugh while he gave me the death stare. In my head I knew it was a crazy idea, things were already chaotic with 3 kids, how on earth could I manage 4?! Then I would get the idea out of my head, move on and just enjoy what I had. Then Dan would say things like “I want another little girl.” or “Claire needs a little sister or brother.” then we’d laugh and move on. That stuff went on for about a month before low and behold, I was pregnant! With the upcoming deployment I figured since after recruiting duty it’d be a breeze and for the most part, being pregnant would distract me from it all AND the bonus part would be that his birth would come at around the halfway point. I was thinking about the different positives about this. We told our families, were met with shock and awe and lots of “omg Stefanie, you’re going to be busy!” and “you’re a brave woman.”.

 

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Our announcement on FB

 

My birth plan

My birth plan with this one was pretty much identical to Claire’s. I wanted an all natural birth, little to no interventions, I would see a midwife again and hire a doula. For my other two births I saw civilian doctors because we were on recruiting duty so I was familiar with those practices but this time we were near a military base and I had to be seen at Naval. I was hesitant at first, I did my research about natural births and VBACs at local hospitals and at this particular hospital on base. I was able to see midwives again, I was so happy they had that option to see them for my care and quickly had one I loved. The odd thing i found was that you couldn’t be seen until you were at  least 8 weeks along. I wanted to get in early because I felt I was further along than I though. I wasn’t sure if it was because this was my third pregnancy OR I was further along because, I swear guys, I could feel this lil tadpole move around! I got in and it finds out I was further along by 2 weeks and was able to see a midwife a bit sooner. The pregnancy itself was another uneventful one but the main difference this time was that we were team green! I decided to go through with it this time because I had caved with Claire and with some hesitation from Dan, I added in that it would be motivation for me at birth because he’d be gone. That was the best decision I made because it really did get met through it all and it was a fun experience. Not knowing what sex your baby is a fun torture for everyone. Personally it was easier this time because I already had clothes for both sexes, so, why not? The whole pregnancy I was so sure it was a girl, SO SURE. Towards the end I had some 3D ultrasound photos taken to send to Dan as a surprise Christmas present. It was nice to see the baby but once I did, I started doubting my gender prediction.

As the months went by I hired a Doula, we had met a couple of times and we set up our plan. She knew Dan wouldn’t be there and it was a surprise gender birth so we added those things in the plan. Around that time I also decided, after much debate, to hire a birth photographer. Since Dan wasn’t going to be around, we didn’t have many pictures from the last two times, I was going to be alone and it was going to be the last thing on my mind, I though it would be a great thing to do. I had a mini maternity session included but decided to add in a lil family shoot as well to send him. They were difficult to wrangle but we were able to get in some shots.

I’m obsessed with how well the maternity photos turned out, especially the one of me in the gown. I was hesitant at first to wear it but I’m so glad I did!

The birth

As December approached I was hoping id be going early or on time. I went to the midwife and things were going great. I ballooned to over 200lbs and was anxiously waiting for labor pains. By the time 39 weeks hit I started to take the EPO, bounce on my birth ball and start to panic a bit about getting close to 42 weeks. Time was ticking, 40 weeks came and went, so did 41. I was done. So over being pregnant, wanting to meet my baby boy and worried about getting too close to 42 weeks so I made the decision to induce. I was scared but I had reassurance from the midwife about the procedure and I went ahead and scheduled it. On the 25th I went in and was started on a low dose of Pitocin while my mom stayed home with the kids (she came to stay for a couple of months).

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My doulas arrived after they started the drip at 8 and we started the waiting game. She ended up coming with another doula and boy am I glad she did. It made the whole day go by faster, we all clicked and just laughed the day away with conversations and jokes. I said I was going to laugh this baby out from laughing so hard. Seriously, if you’re on Pitocin just have a comedian come in during that time because it makes the whole process easier. I felt the contractions come, they got stronger and soon the laughs stopped and it became time to focus on the contractions. With Claire I had all back labor and was happy that this time I didn’t! Seriously guys, to me regular labor was NOTHING compared to back labor. Back labor is brutal, now I see the light, now I understand why and now I can fully sympathize with women who say they felt contractions down their legs. Seriously, it’s like a lightening bolt feeling but still, I’ll take that over a knife stabbing sensation in my back any day. If I could have regular labor with all my babies, I’d have more………JOKING!Transition hit around 6 I think, not sure but I stopped staring at the clock. Now, have you heard the saying “You don’t really need to push, your body will do it for you!”? Well let me tell you that’s true! I remember reading about it in an Ina May Gaskins book and was thinking that sounded crazy! I mean, your body, pushing a baby out by itself?! Yup, that’s what happened to me. During the last bit of the transition phase I felt the urge to push. My doula quickly was trying to get the midwife because she could hear me grunting. I thought it was just my body’s way of dealing with the contraction but she said “I think you’re pushing!” and yup, she was right. My body was pushing for me, it was like someone was squeezing my belly while simultaneously pushing down on it.

As soon as she came in I had 2 more pushes and he was out, so about a total of 4 pushes, she got there just in time.

IT WAS A BOY!!!

The next pictures I have are just of me making ugly cry faces Kim K. style haha. I seriously couldn’t believe I had another boy! So many emotions went through me at that moment. Sadness, joy, love, excitement, shock and loneliness. I knew Dan wasn’t there and even though the room was full of people, I was still alone. I got ahold of Dan and shared the news, he was so happy and then as is the lifestyle, we said goodbye and went back to our realities. I cut the cord, which wasn’t as tough as I though it’d be, I played with my placenta and everyone slowly cleared out of the room.

Jacob Henry was born at 8:28pm on 1/25/16 weighing 7lbs 14oz and 20 1/2in long. He was healthy, had a little kitten cry and was born with some pimples on his body. He had some slight bruising on his face from the fast delivery.

The feels

The photo below holds a special place in my heart. My nurse was checking on me but this was the moment when everything had hit me. There’s video of me crying after the birth, the feeling I had was just a feeling of OMG. I was really by myself, no family, no husband, just myself and my baby in the post partum room. So to the military wife out there about to give birth to their baby, with no family or husband around, no friends to visit you in the hospital, I am there with you in spirit. All of us who have been in your shoes are. It was the loneliest feeling I’ve ever had and I still feel it to this day. I cried in my PP room, I was exhausted and had no one to talk to besides on the phone. It’s a surreal feeling doing this on your own, it’s lonely but in the end it’s worth it.

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This little baby, this lil happy boy helped me get through the deployment, taking care of his older 3 brothers and sister and curb my post partum depression. He makes me smile everyday, love him more each day and thankful every moment I get to spend with him. Life with 4 kids is hectic but right now, in this moment of reflection, it’s all worth it.

marine corps, military life, recruiting duty, twins, Uncategorized

Update on our military life

Well ladies and gentleman, it’s been a chaotic last 2 years since I’ve updated this blog!

Our Marine life

We survived recruiting duty!

Yup, we are a success story out of the tons you hear about it being such a horrible duty. Yes it was lonely and it had it’s hardships but overall it wasn’t terrible. I’m not sure if it’s because of my attitude about it all or the fact that we just were civil with eachother heh. Anyhow, we did it. He did great on recruiting, he was able to pick up GySgt and got the Navy Commendation Medal because of recruiting! So to me, it was a successful, learning experience during our first 3 years of marriage and surviving with 3 kids. We learned a lot about each other and it strengthened our relationship. Would we go back to recruiting? NOPE, he says “No way in hell.” but we do know of many people who did go back and make a career out of it because picking up nowadays in the Marine Corps is pretty difficult. If you haven’t seen my older post you can read it here  about recruiting duty. So, if you’re just venturing out on your recruiting duty journey keep these 3 things in mind.

  1. Don’t take his being away from you personal, literally, it’s all business. They are essentially SUCKED IN this world and it takes a lot of their time so don’t think he doesn’t want to be with you. Trust me, they’d rather be home with you!
  2. Don’t dwell on the negativity of it all. There are LOTS of downsides to this duty but if you can survive recruiting duty, you can survive all sorts of things with your spouse or family.

The fleet

We got here and he was being bounced around a lot but finally settled into his new home/unit. BTW, he’s an Artilleryman so he loves to be outside and shoot his big guns. Anyways, once that was squared away they lay it on us that he’s deploying, GREAT! As a military wife, you brace yourself for the deployment, especially after coming off of RD, so that was no big surprise. When I met Dan he deployed shortly afterwards so I was familiar with the training that would take part before. He would be gone on and off training during the next year, then tack on the real thing after that’s all done. We tried to explain what was going on to the kids as much as possible but Claire was still fairly young, one years old. The boys did ok with him being gone, honestly it wasn’t too bad on them because they were so used to him being gone already with the RD schedule. In reality, he hadn’t been around much at all during those 3 years and now with him being around in between the work ups, that was the most he had been around the kids in general. The training was going smoothly, we were coming down to the end of things, starting to realize that reality was setting in and what happens? Yup, I found out I was pregnant!!! (that story will follow in another post)  Come October of 2016 he went on a MEU and we said goodbye to daddy and headed into the next 8+ months of our lives.

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For the most part the MEU was uneventful but knowing what I knew, I had my worries. Of course, he always calmed my fears and told me he wasn’t worried and everything was going to be ok! Military wives are prepared for these things, we know the dangers and the consequences of deploying but, we can’t help worrying about the “what if’s”.  My mom came to stay with me for a couple of months after the baby was born, I was just living life in our new routine.  March 2016, while washing dishes, I get the most gut wrenching call of my life.

I’m just calling to let you know I’m ok. I got to go. I love you.”

To me, that’s about the second worst call you can receive as a spouse. I was confused by the words but hearing his voice, I knew that something had happened. You don’t just get a call like that for fun, that’s the kind of call they tell you to make. Knowing that, I hopped on the computer and started looking up articles.

I had some other wives trying to get ahold of me when the news hit but they were unable to reach me. Being our first deployment as a family, as a spouse, I really understood why it’s so important to share phone numbers and information with other spouses your husband is deployed with. Looking back now, it was something I remember seeing on Army Wives, the way they came together, prayed and just comforted each other with words. We were all bonded at that moment, all waiting, talking and trying to get our minds off of it. Thank goodness Dan was safe, most of the Marines were safe but unfortunately there were injuries and a casualty. I didn’t have the pleasure to meet him in person but my husband knew him and it was an event that rocked our small arty family. RIP SSgt Cardin, you are loved and missed by many.

After that phone call the rest of the deployment dragged on but he made it home safe. We are so proud of our Marine. We are thankful everyday that we have with him and we thank god he granted us more time with him.

It has been 3 years since we’ve been here so that means our time is up and we’re moving back to California! I’m so happy we’ll be around family and for the kids to get to be around them as well. This move will be interesting and I’ll keep y’all updated on the traveling.

Our Family Life

So we made our move to NC from VA and wooooo, let me tell you that a drive with 3 young toddlers is a battle!!! What should have taken only a few hours took WAY longer because of tantrums and well, just having toddlers. No joke, we dealt with Claire screaming and crying for 5 hours because of the crying ping pong game. If you want to travel with toddlers, I highly advise otherwise! Unless of course, you’re drinking (not while YOU’RE driving 😉 ) but it’s definitely an experience for the books! Once we got here I realized that this base/town isn’t as family oriented as I though it would be. I mean, I haven’t seen this many strip clubs and bars so closely grouped together since Vegas haha. This place has grown on me a bit but I just wish this city would get with the program and please, FINISH PINEY GREEN!! If you’ve lived on Lejeune in the past 10 years, you know what I’m talking about!! So before Dan deployed I got pregnant. I literally, bawled when I took the test, even though I knew it was going to be positive. Not because I didn’t want another child (we had been tossing the idea back and forth for a while) but because I knew it was going to happen while he was gone. I found out in April 2016 and was due on Dan’s birthday so, there was another clumping of birthdays together right there because we have three in August and now three in January! Again, I’ll do another detailed post about baby #4 later. As if life wasn’t chaotic enough, we added on another and honestly, it hasn’t been too bad. The juggling part is the hardest, plus the no sleep and the lack of time for myself now but overall, it hasn’t been horrible. The kids adore him and I have to say it pulls at those heart strings of mine inside when I see them all play together and enjoy each other’s company. Having four kids under the age of five is crazy, tiring and just crazy but I love that they’ll all grow up together and they’re close in age.

 

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So that’s basically the last 2 years summed up!

 

marine corps, military life, recruiting duty, SAHM

The military side of my life- surviving recruiting duty

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I haven’t done a post about the military side of our life so here it goes. We got married on February 12, 2012 so I don’t have too much experience as a Marine wife yet, but I do have a lot of experience with the duty we’re on now, which is recruiting duty. This post will mainly explain what this duty entails and might help anyone who has stumbled upon this for informational purposes.

Not sure how many of you reading this have dated a military man, married one or are in the military yourself but this duty is, how would I put this…….Shitty.

That’s it, it’s just plain shitty! Do you remember going to your school on career day, seeing the guys in their uniforms, walking around or having a booth set up with the military branch they’re representing? Well, that’s what my husband is doing now. They become a salesman and their pitch is selling the Marine Corps. Yup, your husband or wife is now a salesman! The market is vast, the territory is sometimes large and you can sell to any income bracket. If your husband or wife has a silver tongue, is charismatic and enjoys a challenge then this is their duty!  It involves lots of high school kids, college kids and most of all, parents. Someone may say,  “It should be easy because of the economy!” “1351605039.jpgWho doesn’t want free college?” “Graduate high school and go sign up!”  Well, that’s where it’s tricky. Since the cut backs and downsizing the military, getting in is more strict than ever. In the past people were flocking to join, it was a lot easier to get in but there are so many restrictions now. More thorough screenings and requirements that it makes it harder to get in now. Granted, you can still get in but you just have to meet all those requirements….a lot more people get turned away than you think. I’ve heard of many young kids wanting to join only to be turned away because they didn’t score high enough on the ASVAB or just weren’t qualified medically, plus the many other reasons. In certain states and areas there are many that want to join but just sadly, can’t answer the simplest of questions on the test so they’re turned away because the education minimum wasn’t met.

We started this duty on June 1st, 2011 are over halfway through! We’ll be done next June and I cannot wait to have my husband back to myself, he feels like a ghost in this house.

Why do I say this duty is shitty? Well, the hours, the hours that he spends away from us is just insane. I will see him for a total of about 2 hours a day, at night, after they’re in bed, Monday through Friday. On the weekends I see him, hopefully after 2pm on Saturday but usually not until after 5. If he doesn’t have to drive or go to an event (makes appearances at random locations to help set up a table) then we get to see him all day Sunday. Awesome right? So, let that just be a little schedule for those who are about to start recruiting duty. Usually, they get the weekends off, unless it’s their turn to drive their guys to MEPS on Sundays but they’re usually home by 3. Unless they haven’t made mission, then they get to work Saturday too. My husband falls into both those categories and has been on the 6-7 days a week the whole time we’ve started.

I will say, your recruiting duty experience will depend heavily on a few factors:

  1. Where he/she is recruiting out of– The area will really determine how hard of a time they have. Some areas are easier than others and we are in a hard to recruit area.
  2. Their boss– If their boss is an ass, works them all the time and is lazy or, just an ass, then that’ll mean long hours and them being ridden hard like the cheap $2 an hour burro you would rent down in TJ.
  3. If they make mission– If they’re scrambling around to put in guys at the last minute, that usually means all hands on deck, even if they’ve put in their people for the month.
  4. The kind of RS they’re with– Some RS’s will grant holidays off and usually that will be on down the RSSs but, #2 or #3 will override that.
  5. The other recruiters in the office– If they get stuck with lazy recruiters, then they’ll be picking up the slack and that usually means, your guy is stuck late, again. Also refer to #3.

This duty has a lot of stressors in it. Not only are they constantly working to put write up contracts, they are just always working towards the next month. #1 can really make the whole experience stressful in itself. There are stations out there that are known for being real shitty because they can’t get any quality people in. The areas can be great or a living hell. Scraping at the bottom of the barrel is hard enough but it’s worse when you have to find quality scraps down there to write up. Going in the opposite direction is if you get a good area they think they’re too good for the military and the parents/community have the same mindset. Then there’s also the ones who know someone who’s dad or uncle or whatever is up the chain and you have to get them in. So it can go all sorts of ways depending on the area you’re in. To expand on #4 there are well known RS’s out there, some people gravitate towards certain districts to get into the RS they want. Dan wanted a certain district to go to a certain RS. There are ways you can up your chances of getting where you want to go while in school by making phone calls and getting your name in there. You’re sent to where your needed, pretty much based on that Marine’s background and where he’d fit best at. If there’s an opening at a station you want to go to, make those phone calls and talk to the SNOIC and the CO, play your cards right and they’ll put your name in to get you there.

With all that said, it’s hard on the recruiters and their families with this duty and will no doubt, test things at times. Before we started, I told him that no matter what stress he had at work, he needed to leave it there and we wouldn’t have any problems. For the most part that has worked out and we haven’t any problems. Taking care of the kids alone is hard but it’s one of those things you just learn to deal with on this duty. It is what it is and you just need to push through those rough times and focus on the end. Luckily for us they’re still babies so they don’t really notice it and this is going to sound bad but, they don’t even really miss him because he hasn’t been around much. Tough to hear, I know, but it’s the truth. This job takes them away from family and can be rough on older kids who are aware of what’s going on so just brace yourself for that. On top of you missing your husband, your kids will too and may have a hard time coping. He hasn’t taken any time off since we’ve started because if he does, he’ll be behind and it’ll put more stress on him, just thinking of taking leave stresses him out. Heck, when the boys were born he was on his phone working because his boss was blowing it up asking all sorts of questions!  This duty has changed my happy, sweet, caring, funny, polite, helpful Dan into a bitter, cranky, lazy Dan. Being alone sucks, especially when your husband is right there, but you can’t see him, spend time with him or enjoy him to much because you can see the stress of the duty weigh him down . We’ve had our challenges, but I like to think we’re doing pretty darn good.

*Edit 2/21/13- I found this link and thought she did a way better job than I could have to describe this duty!

*Edit 2/23/13- Someone was asking about the different wording and terms in a group and I came upon this list. Just for those curious about the lingo you’re going to hear all about!

Besides the shitty part of it all, yes, you can get through it and that’s what we’re doing. I’ll share some of my own tips/thoughts on how to survive. You’ll both need to get on the same page but it can be done and you can get through it.

  • Enjoy what time you have with him/her– Sometimes they may be tired and just don’t want to do anything. Sometimes it can be frustrating that they just want to stay home but soak that up. Snuggle together, enjoy the quiet, get the kids in on it. Plan activities you can do at home together, anything just to enjoy time with your spouse.
  • Quality time/romance– The little time you have together is precious so make the most of it. Get a date in, re-kindle that flame, talk about things besides recruiting, anything to get that quality time in together. I will say though, for most, their sex life tends to go downhill because of the stress!
  • Be empathetic– As I’ve explained in this post, this duty can be very hard on them. It’s a constant 12+ hour a day job and they might be cranky because a kid changed his mind, might have to go to a last minute event, or has to cancel plans with you because he has to drive a kid up to MEPs late.
  • Find time for yourself– Yes, you might not see them a lot but that doesn’t mean that should stop you from doing what you want to. Face it, you’re going to be spending a lot of time alone so if you can find something that occupies your time then go for it. Keeping busy is better than sitting there, watching the clock, upset that he’ll miss dinner/cancel plans again because of work.
  • Sometimes they won’t talk– You know, some days he used to come home and just be silent. I used to think I did something wrong….all sorts of thoughts went through my mind but after talking to him I calmed down. They talk all day long on the phone, in person, argue with another recruiter, talking to strangers……it gets to them. Just resting their voice box is what they want.
  • Have stuff for them to do– As military wives, you’ll have to do a lot of stuff on your own sometimes but that doesn’t mean they can just sit around and do nothing. Give them weekly jobs! For instance, he knows to take out the trash every Monday/Thursday and take the dog out in the morning. Being understanding of the duty is key but hey, that doesn’t allow them a free pass on helping around the house!
  • Visit if you can– Some wives I know will go to the office to visit their husbands. Ask him tell you his schedule for the day and sneak in a lunch/early dinner if you can, even bring the kids if that’s ok. Get in that time to see him when he has a moment to spare.
  • Help out when you can– Like I said, this duty is very demanding but help out where you can. I’ve made breakfast sandwiches for him to take every morning that sit in the freezer, or I will sometimes pack up his lunch/dinner, buy him snacks and have him keep them at the office or buy him a pack of red bull. They practically live out of their office and govy so having things nearby cuts time from getting food or things somewhere else.
  • Get to know other wives in the office– Ask him if the other recruiters are married and make friends! I’ve met the wives at his old office and talk to one of them, the other I don’t have her info but i’ve hung out with them at the balls and they’re both great. If they lived closer I’d do play dates or just hang out.
  • Find an online group if you can– I actually met two other ladies off of a FB group from our RS. It was great because at my first ball, I met up with them and now we talk often.
  • Socialize at the balls– The recruiting balls are based on each RS so you’ll meet all the recruiters and their wives/husbands there. Each table is based on each RSS so you’ll get a chance to meet everyone there.
  • Talk to your FRO– There are usually retreats and activities going on that the FRO will know about so go to some of those! I’ve been to a L.I.N.K.S class while on this duty and met some other wives there.
  • If you can, work some– If you can’t find something to occupy your time working full or part time is great. Seriously. I say that because you’ll be spending lots of time by yourself and working, even if its not full time, will help you get to know other people and the area. Plus, a little extra money is great if it goes towards your budget or just your own spending account ;). I’ve made some friends from the job I used to have, I had to quit because of the boys.
  • Get involved locally– Can’t work or have kids? Finding local mom groups or volunteering in the community is great. It helps keep you busy and you may make some friends! Also, it can’t hurt to pass your husband’s business card to someone whose interested ;).
  • There is opportunity for advancement on this duty– You can get meritoriously promoted, lots pick up by becoming an 8412 and many choose to run their own station. Dan took over as the SNOIC of a station because he wanted to have a leg up come promotion boards.

Those are the main ones I think of when it comes to getting through this duty. Dan just recently became SNOIC of his own station so we’ll see how the hours go from here, they should get better, right? lol. If you have any other suggestions, go ahead and comment with them!

*BTW the hours don’t really change! He got his weekends back so that was a bonus! He didn’t work as late, unless they were behind on mission, but he just ended up dealing more with the higher ups.

 

Out of all the memes I’ve come across for recruiting duty, this is my favorite!

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*2/11/17- WOW so I didn’t think that this would be the most viewed post! I’m glad that this has been a source of some insight for people. I know when we started this duty there was hardly any information out there. Sure there was the technical stuff but no real insight to the experience . This has been viewed lots of times so I really do hope it’s been helpful to those out there. I just had a conversation with a MGySgt last night about the whole recruiting experience. There really is that classic, silent head nod given to other Marines when they see the recruiting ribbon. He was a drill instructor before and then did another b billet as a recruiter and he even said “I’d rather do  DI again than do another round of recruiting.”