I am one of those women who enjoyed their pregnancy. I feel very lucky to have felt no morning sickness (or as I hear more aptly named all day sickness) and had a complication free and healthy pregnancy. This is also our first baby, so every single millstone was so special and exciting for me. There was only one thing missing, my husband! We found out we were expecting the day before he left for a deployment aboard the USS Nimitz. I cannot imagine how he felt preparing for his first deployment with the news his first baby was also on the way!
We struggled a bit sharing the joys of pregnancy while he was gone. Our communication was predominantly through email, unless they stopped at a port and we would get one or two chances to Skype with one another. We joked that he was missing so much that when he came home, he would still believe a stork dropped out baby off on the front porch!
Here are some ways we found helped him feel involved in the pregnancy from afar.
Time to throw any selfie shame out of the window. Try to take at least a weekly picture of your growing belly! My husband graciously out it at first, “you just look like you ate a big lunch”. But soon enough you will have a real belly to show off! Nothing was more convincing that a belly photo from week 5 compared with week 20, this really helps give them some perspective on all the hard work you and baby are doing to grow! There are free collage applications for phones like Insta Frame and Pic Stitch (both free) where you can place photos side by side for a dramatic comparison. I also thought the app CineMama is so neat! It lets you document your belly bump through pictures for the entire nine months. At the end, the app compiles all the photos into a cute movie that you can accompany with a soundtrack of your choice. FREE!
I signed both of us up for weekly emails tracking my pregnancy progress from What to Expect and Baby Center. I preferred baby center over what to expect because I felt their information was a little more useful! They also have a smart phone application that has videos and diagrams that were very informative. My husband looked forward to hearing how much the baby weighed each week and what obscure fruit was her approximate size. (We also enjoyed this website that picked more “Dad friendly” items to compare the baby to, in case neither of you know how large a kumquat is!)
Share your feelings, fears, thoughts excitements and most importantly share the decision making with your deployed spouse. They need ways to feel involved in this pregnancy and having them weigh in on big decisions (like finding out the sex of the baby, name ideas, helping narrow down big baby purchases) will help them feel more connected. I sent him the same parenting and baby books I was reading so we could talk about them (This will work better if your spouse enjoys reading more than mine…). Mid-way through deployment it really started to hurt my feelings that he was not showing more interested in the pregnancy progression. Luckily, we had a conversation about this and I realized his ways of showing interests were different than what I was expecting and after talking about it, we both understood how to meet each other’s needs. Do not let these feelings go unspoken, it is important to for you both to feel supported during the deployment and the pregnancy!
There are so many strong and brave women who go through their entire pregnancy and the birth of their children alone. I am so lucky my husband has returned in time for the birth, because even though we tried the methods above to keep him involved, coming home and seeing a nine moth along pregnant wife was still a shock!
Please share how you have kept your spouse involved in your pregnancy.