In April of 2011 I was pregnant with my second child. We had just found out my husband had received orders to 29 Palms, CA from SERE school in Maine, where he had been an instructor. Packers came and took our stuff away and sent it off to CA, while we awaited for a housing assignment on base. Unfortunately there was the ever lovely waiting list. We were on it for so long that I got stuck in Maryland and delivered there. Thankfully Nate’s unit was understanding and allowed him to leave Mojave Viper (training) a few days early and come home for our second child’s birth. About a week after my csection, we got the news that there was finally a house for us. We knew Nate was deploying soon and it was important to all of us, to see him off and spend time together before he left. We spent the 3 weeks together in California before he left, unpacking and soaking up every minute we could together as a new family of 4. That time was so sweet and I am so glad we chose to be together. We had no idea what the future held for Nate and our family. He was headed to the worst place possible in Afghanistan, Sangin Valley and we knew that there was the risk he would not be coming home.
Like most military families, as soon as your spouse leaves you try as hard as you can to think about how wonderful the homecoming will be. I spent so much time thinking about him returning and how incredible it would be. I thought of every. single. detail. Including, what I would wear, how I would look (awesome…of course!) and how it would feel to hug him again. We had been through this once before. Homecoming is literally the most, undescribable feeling. We had been through it before, but now we had kids. I don’t know if I was more excited for me, or for my two little ones who were 14 months, and 5 weeks old when he left! Abby had grown and changed so much since he had been gone, but I had NO DOUBT she would remember who her Daddy was. We spent a lot of time watching him read books to her on DVD and we skyped at least 2 or 3 times during the length of the deployment or whenever he was getting his monthly shower at a FOB that had communications.
About halfway through the deployment I came up with the idea to have my mother in law and I get creative with some old uniforms and nametapes we had lying around. He had an entire cami set that had, had a highlighter explode on it and an extra shirt with a hole in the armpit. I sent the lovely pieces off to my MIL and a sketch of my idea. She and I chatted on the phone about it and were both really excited to do something so special for my husband as a surprise for his homecoming! I was excited to be involved in the creative aspect and let my MIL, who is the worlds best seamstress, execute the idea. 🙂 No doubt, I would have never been able to do it! I was so excited to get the package when she sent it back. It turned out even better than I had imagined and described. I made Abby a headband with some remnants and that was the final touch. I seriously, still treasure those outfits to this day. I still get emotional EVERYTIME I see the photos. Like, someone sit me down and hold my hand while I sob, mess. It feels like just yesterday.