So what it is like being a military wife? I haven’t actually really sat down and thought about this before, I just am one – it does not define me as a person, but it does affect my life a great deal.
And before anyone says – ‘you knew what you got into’ – well that is not true. At all. I didn’t have a clue. You don’t know until you are crying at the camp gate saying bye to your husband at 2 in the morning as he goes away for five months. FYI - other things not to say to a military spouse:
I have been a weekend 'WAG', living at home by my family and close friends seeing my hubby on the weekends. I have lived away from home, but not near my husband’s base and saw him at weekends and I have, since we got married last March lived on a married patch. All have their pros and cons.
When your partner works away for weeks, months on end – whatever their job, it can be very lonely. But it does make you appreciate the little things that other couples may take for granted. Like simply sitting and watching a film with your partner cuddled up on the sofa, waking up with them next to you, going to sleep with them beside you – or simply just having someone to talk to when you have had a rough day at work. What I find the most sad - and this may sound so pathetic and we sound like OAP's! But when he leaves, I always put his slippers back under the bed, which you might not believe, but I find so upsetting. Oh and not seeing his toothbrush in the bathroom anymore - the little things that make you realise they are not around. But I do feel lucky that I get to miss my husband. I get to experience those butterflies, like it was when we first met, as he comes through the door after five months away – there’s not a feeling like it.
The first day, in fact the first week is the hardest. Especially if you have been use to them being around and suddenly the house is empty - but after a few weeks you get into your own routine. I work through the week so that keeps me occupied and I always try and have plans for the weekend - or at least something to look forward too. Even if it is something small, it makes the countdown that little easier. Thanks to modern technology, (although we still write letters when he is deployed for long periods, which I love and feels old-school romantic) depending on where my hubby is, contact can be great (even Facetime every day some weeks) or pretty rubbish and sporadic - no contact for a while and bad signal, so your conversation is mostly one sided with me shouting 'WHAT????' So that's fun! And it is hard sometimes when you have good/bad news - or some gossip - and the one person you want to speak to is unavailable and you need to wait hours - or days to hear from them. Sitting by the phone becomes a past-time and if you miss a call - well holy moly, that feels like a disaster - even when I wasn't pregnant! A glass of delicious, cold wine (I miss wine) once helped in those moments - obviously it's just good old orange juice now.
Being on the married patch it great – you are surrounded by people who know exactly what you are going through and are always around to help. The other day I came home after taking Yankee out for a walk in the wind and rain (hi Scottish summer) to find a little parcel of tablet (like biscuity fudge) through the door from my neighbour. I could have cried with joy – such a lovely though and delicious treat! And then a few weeks I saw one of my neighbours and mentioned I had been poorly that week (nausea had come back with a vengeance) and later that day I found a little parcel of amazing goodies for me on my doorstep, which was so thoughtful and just what I needed. And I will never forget when my husband went away after we just moved up here and my neighbour had been making little cakes with her daughter and they passed me one over the fence the day he left. Gestures like those, especially when your hubby is away really mean so much. So I do love it here - but it can still be lonely.
We were married at the end of March, moved on to the patch a few days later and then my husband was deployed for five months two weeks later. It was supposed be three months, then four – then turned into five. You really can't plan anything as a military spouse - and it's best not to get your hopes up they are coming home home until they are on that plane or five minutes from your door. Those five months were tough but I am lucky in that I met my husband after his fourth operational tour so I have never had to deal with him being away at war. But being away from him can be hard – even more so when pregnant.
It’s just the little things like feeling Bear move or kick and he isn’t there. Or going for the 20-week scan on my own (he's been away for most my second trimester). Or having a pregnancy related meltdown and he isn’t here to take the brunt of it all. And a worry of mine (although I’m trying to be calm about it all) is that he will be away from week 36 of pregnancy – until, if the baby is on time, the first five weeks after Bears arrival. He is in the country – he will just be 530 miles away. So when I go into labour it will be a case of me ringing him and saying ‘GET IN THE CAR!’ and hope he makes it on time. I know first-time labour can take time and it is about a nine-hour drive so I’m just hoping Bear stays in till dad arrives. (Although might not be saying that when in labour!) I just don’t want him to miss the birth. I know someone whose husband missed the birth by 30 minutes. I want him to be there for support and to go through it all with me. And I want him to say – ‘it’s a boy/it’s a girl!’. I want him to cut the umbilical cord. And I want him to be there so we can laugh if I shit myself or cry if the pain is a little too much. But I’m lucky that my mum and dad are on standby (four hours away) so I will (hopefully!) not be on my own through it. And I just need to keep positive and think he will make it. He will make it right?!!
So yeah, being a pregnant, military wife is hard. (I could go on and on and on!) But you really do just get on with it. So many women are doing it with far more challenging lives than mine so I’m not complaining, it just can be a bit tough – especially when all you want is a cuddle.
As always, would love to hear your own experiences, so comment, share and message me!
Royal Marine Wife. Mum to Rafe.