Meet Natalie, 26, a civilian who works for the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Her husband, a captain in the U.S. Army, has been stationed in Afghanistan since March but he is set to reunite with Natalie, and their 1-year-old daughter, Mikayla, around December 10. Read her first post here.
Staying connected to your deployed soldier is always a challenge, but we were determined to make it a priority. Before Tommy left, we decided to get two iPads. Although the price tag was a bit daunting, they proved to be worth their weight in gold. We have utilized every possible avenue to keep him in the loop during these past nine months. Of course Skype and Facetime have been invaluable for our communication, but Mikayla was not always on board with our scheduled video chat times. But I was able to capture the first time she crawled, and he saw that on Facebook. Four months later, he saw her first steps when I put the video in his Dropbox. Just last weekend he got to see her sledding for the first time when I emailed him the video. The technology has improved so much since his last deployment, and we have tried to take full advantage in order to make him feel as involved as possible. Still, I truly believe that this deployment has been tougher on him than me because he is missing out on these milestones.
I hardly have time to think about him being gone because of my crazy schedule. I would say this is probably typical for military spouses, and it is one heck of a coping mechanism. My day begins at 0600 when I wake up, get ready for work, and get the dogs ready all while video-chatting with my husband.
On those rare days when everything goes according to plan, I have the car totally packed and ready to go before I wake up the munchkin. Tommy loves being able to “wake her up,” and they sing songs together while I change her for daycare. It is a really special time, and a stark contrast to only a few months ago when she was too young to engage with him on the screen. He would still talk and sing to her, but to be perfectly honest she had no clue that it was happening. I still loved seeing him talk to her, knowing that he was building a relationship, even though she was not yet a willing participant. I am not naïve enough to think that she knows the man in the iPad that sings with her in the mornings is her father, but I do think that she knows he is someone special.
When Tommy left, our daughter was six months old and couldn’t even crawl yet. Now she is walking, talking, and has developed into quite the little person. He has certainly missed a lot, but I take comfort in the fact that next week when they “meet” she will not be encountering a stranger.
Coming Tuesday: How I’m Feeling About Seeing My Husband for the First Time in Months