Our oldest son was born in the middle of a three month deployment. It was a scheduled deployment, and we'd known it would happen, yet there was a chance my husband would be able to come home early for Wyatt's birth. Except, no matter how hard I prayed for that, he didn't. I remember how frustrated I was at the time, how helpless and angry that nothing had gone the way we'd planned. It was a long time before we could even talk about what had happened, the pain was so raw. It felt like something that had been irreparably lost to us. As I was thinking it over recently, though, something struck me hard about that period in my life. Those months afterward that I had spent fretting and being angry about all the things that didn't work out, I was overlooking all the beautiful things that did happen.
For instance, I didn't get to tell Oliver we were expecting in person. I found out a couple days after he left. It was three agonizing weeks before he had a chance to call home (back when cell phone calls on the top of the sub were still allowed). I had intended to wait until I met up with him in Hawaii during a port call a month and a half later and do something cute to tell him about the baby, like I'd planned when we were trying to get pregnant.
However, I'd kept it in for too long, and I just told him. That was definitely not what I would have chosen for the big reveal, especially since I didn't even get to see his face when I told him. I though I'd lost something, but I discovered a few months later that in reality, Wyatt had gained something beautiful instead.
We have each written letters to both our boys before they were born. Oliver wrote to him how he was standing on a submarine rocking in the waves when he heard the wonderful news he was going to become a father. It was beautiful, and clearly showed that despite the distance, he very much wanted and loved his new little son right away. That one letter is worth the temporary disappointment I suffered.
I recalled also the moment Oliver held his little boy for the first time. Wyatt was almost six weeks old. We'd just come back from picking him up at homecoming. He hadn't held him there because he was loaded down with a sea bag and other random luggage. When we got home, Oliver dropped his stuff, then sat down on the couch. I unstrapped Wyatt and put him in his father's arms. I'll never forget the way Oliver's face lit up. He's not one to be enamored with babies, but he quite clearly loved his.
We didn't get to share the hospital experience, but it's okay. There was a time when I really didn't think I'd ever be able to feel like it wasn't some massive loss. Today, I really feel like we gained something else. I have a lot of emails (as email was uncommonly good that one patrol) and letters we passed back and forth. The journals we trade every time he is gone are full of talk about how we felt and what it was like for each of us, learning about our son.
I don't have anything like that for Oscar. His daddy was there, and we have some pictures and video of our brief time in the hospital, but not much else. I am very, very grateful we were able to share the experience that time, but I don't think I can even compare the two of them. They were unique, and they were both special for different reasons.
Life is all too often not the way we think it should be. When we get too caught up in what didn't happen, the good things that did can slide right past us. I did that for quite a long time after Wyatt was born. I'm very grateful that today I can look back and feel good inside about all that we did gain from it. In the end, we didn't lose a chance to share in our son's birth; we just shared it in a different way.
Ana is a restless soul who would love to keep moving around the world the rest of her life. This is probably why she married a submariner in the U.S Navy seven years ago. They have two energetic little boys, and currently live in the Bahamas. She blogs about life in paradise at Sunrise on the Water.
Pic taken byAna