Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gearing up for the Month ahead

Tonight Daddy leaves for a month of training. It's not a deployment (yet) but I guess it is a good practice-run because communication will be pretty limited. It's not like this is my first rodeo, but it's still getting me a little down. Partly I am sad because the real deployment is coming so quickly after this training period. And partially I am afraid the kids are going to go crazy and out of control the way they did last time he left for a month, which was in April. So in an effort to pep myself up for this, here are some of the positive things I can do during this month of training:
- Get more sleep! (I have been staying up til midnight with hubby, just to get some time together, but this pregnant mama can't do that anymore!)
- Keep on growing our baby. He has just under 3 months left in there!
- stay relaxed about the housework. I keep a clean, sanitary home. I don't mind if there's a little dust or the grass gets a little tall outside, because I don't need to impress anyone.
- get back to a healthy eating and workout routine. Even though it's the 3rd trimester, I still need to take care of myself, but I won't have to keep up with hubby's tastes and lifestyle!
- Enjoy time with my friends. I am part of a wonderful playdate group, many of whom have deployed husbands, so this is good bonding time.
- make memories with the kids. Daddy is not prone to adventure during his regular work hours, so when he's gone the kids and I like to explore.

Yeah, ok, when I think about it like that it's not too bad! Sure, I'll miss my husband. But there are also lots of fun opportunities waiting for the kids and I during the month ahead. So I intend to stay strong and make the most of it! Anyone else have favorite deployment mottos or tips to share?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Resource Thursday: Free Doulas during labor and delivery

As military spouses, we probably all know someone who has given birth while their husband was deployed. This is just one of the many sacrifices military wives make. I didn't think too much about it until I discovered I would be in that situation, just a few months from now. Luckily, there are some wonderful people out there who believe that no woman should go through labor and/or delivery on her own. Operation Special Delivery is a wonderful resource where military spouses can find a Doula who will be with them throughout the birthing process--and they offer their services for FREE if your spouse is deployed! You simply have to click here to search for a volunteer doula in your area.
I did not have a doula for my first 2 children, and I admit I was unclear on what they do. I thought they were basically birth coaches for people going through completely natural (medicine-free) births. But after contacting one of the local doulas I found through Operation Special Delivery, I am totally sold and totally excited about the experience. I told her I planned to deliver at the Naval Hospital, and have an epidural about halfway through labor, when the pain started getting intense. (It worked well for my other 2 babies, so why change a good plan, right?) She was totally ok with that. Her role is not to fight me or force me to make all-natural choices. Her goal is simply to keep me calm, focused, and feeling confident and in control. The premise is that if you are in good mental control, then the physical part of labor will go better. After 2 fairly good deliveries with my other kids, I agree with that. But of course, my husband was there for the other two, and I did a lot of squeezing his hand, asking for ice chips, and wanting him to put a cool towel on my head. This time he won't be there, and even though I have a good girlfriend who will join me, she is not a medical professional and might not be all that comfortable with the squeamish parts. The doula will meet me at my house during early labor and make sure I am comfortable and fed, helping me keep track of contractions. Then she will go to the hospital with me when I'm ready, hold my hand and help me through those painful contractions, and even be there to assist with the pushing and the less pleasant stages of the process. Then she'll take tons of pictures afterwards! When I explained her role to my husband, he said, "Oh, basically she'll be doing my job!" I am not excited to be giving birth without my lover, but having a doula's support makes me feel so much more confident and in control of the situation. So I strongly recommend it for anyone, especially those whose husbands are deployed!!!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Preschool debate continues...

So our daughter just turned 3, which means this Fall she is eligible for 3-year-old preschool programs. I don't know how it is in your state, but in North Carolina preschool is not required, which means there are no public programs and no consistent requirements. Every private program is different, so we have been looking into the different options offered at each church and daycare center in town. It's becoming a bit overwhelming!
Part of the difficulty is that I can't even make up my mind if I WANT to send her to pre-school in the Fall. The main trouble? A deployment starting sometime in July, and a new baby coming at the end of August. With all that going on, I wonder A) will it be too many changes for her to adjust to without feeling neglected? and B) is it too much for ME to handle transporting her back and forth with her little siblings?
I went on my first "tour" earlier this week, of a program recommended by a friend who had even offered to carpool, so I went there expecting to like it and be excited. Unfortunately, even though I think it is a very nice facility, it doesn't seem much different than daycare to me. Out of the 3 hours she would be there each morning, 1 hour is spent getting settled in the beginning and packed up in the end, and 1 hour is spent eating snack and playing outside. The remaining hour they have crafts and music and story-time, which is very nice... but is that what we would pay over $1,000 a year for? She already goes to daycare one morning a week, which is just supervised indoor/outdoor play. And we go to playdates 1-2 mornings a week, which is where she learns to share, take turns, play nicely, etc. Some of the playdates are crafts or field trips, but I willingly admit I don't spend much time doing the hands-on creative stuff with her. I take her to storytime at the library every other week. And during the deployment she will get one additional morning of daycare (playtime) each week. Plus, we are starting gymnastics classes this summer to get used to following directions, waiting in line, respect for a teacher, etc. So with all that, I am starting to wonder if there is room or a need for Preschool???
I guess it all depends what you expect school to do for your child. At this age, I'm not worried about academic development. She already knows her alphabet, colors, shapes, and can count to 10. I was excited about the hands-on activities she would do at a school-- learning to use scissors, glue, paint a picture, etc because I lack the energy and time to do some of the messier activities with her, and we can't do them when her little brother is toddling around. But I guess most of what I was looking for in a school was discipline and respect. I want her to learn to follow directions, be polite, ask for help, etc. It would be nice to have the encouragement of a professional teacher to do that, but she could also learn that from her 2 consistent daycare providers, and her gymnastics teacher, and me.
I think I have to make the decision myself, but I'm curious-- what are your thoughts about Preschool? What age did you start your child? And what do you like/dislike about their program?

Monday, May 16, 2011

The long, slow goodbye...

Our deployment doesn't begin for almost 2 months, yet we are already beginning the drawn-out goodbye process I hate so much. This weekend we celebrated our last family time in a while by spending time with the kids at the park, playing outside, savoring ice cream, and eating dinner all together on the deck. Hubby is "here" this week, but working strange and long hours, so that the kids won't even see him unless I keep them up late. Then Saturday he leaves for a month of training. Then he'll be back, but just for a brief leave period, and then the 7-month deployment will finally start. I find this stage very frustrating, because it seem way too early to get into deployment mode, yet for all practical purposes (especially from the kids' perspective) he is already gone. Most of our official deployment preparations are done--legal paperwork, important decisions, financial conversations, etc. So even though I am grateful he is still sleeping here for the next few nights, and able to make phone calls during the next month, part of me wants to kick him out the door and just get this deployment started so we can get through it already! Is that a terrible thing to say? Drawing it out another month or 2 is not helping anything!

Does anyone else find themselves frustrated by the in-between stage of training and work-ups? How do you handle this period that is not technically a deployment, but might as well be?