I'm a military wife and homeschooling mama just striving (and struggling!) to love and serve Jesus by loving and serving those around me. Mama, do you ever feel like a servant? Join our community where we share our struggles and encourage each other. And we are proud supporters of the military families serving our country too!
This guest post is written by Abigail Wilson, a military wife, who suffered the heartbreaking loss of losing one of her twin daughters. She shares her emotional story of hurt and hope in the book, The Day Between. Welcome, Abigail, and thank you for sharing your story with us!
In 2012 my husband Brett and I learned we were pregnant for the second time and…surprise, it was identical twins!!! We soon found out our girls had something called twin to twin transfusion where they shared a placenta and therefore one of the girls was getting all my nutrients while the other wasn’t getting any. Thus began our harrowing fight to save our girls lives. After it was all said and done, and I was holding one of my newborn daughters in my arms and grieving the other, the Lord told me to write our story. You can read all that we learned in that sacred space between grief and hope in my book, The Day Between: A Memoir of Miracles.
Today I am grateful to Sarah for allowing me to share this little excerpt from my book. I truly hope it blesses you today-especially if you are struggling in a season of waiting.
Early on in my pregnancy we could already tell our girls might be in trouble, but our doctors were just telling us to “wait and see”. This is what I wrote in my book about that particular time:
This part is hard to recount because when I look back on it with hindsight, it dredges up so many what-ifs. What if I had known more, done something sooner, asked for more advice, or gone to different doctors?
Yet, this is all part of the lesson that comes from the day between – from a forced upon day of rest.
Those words from my blog post way back at the beginning of our story seemingly whispered in my ear: The disciples had to, “Sit and wait with nothing to do.” And this was our own time of waiting instead of a time of action.
When my husband and I talk about this particular part of our journey, we always come back to this: Even in those days of uncertainty, the Lord was in charge.
It’s easy to believe God is working when His movements are visible. But what about the days, weeks, or months when His hand is not apparent? Can I believe the Lord is present in those times too?
This reminded me of the Bible story in the Gospel of John chapter 11 when Jesus heard His friend Lazarus was sick. It says that because Jesus loved Mary and Martha (Lazarus’ sisters), he waited for two days before going to Lazarus’ house. Can you imagine how the sisters felt? They sent a message to Jesus letting him know that Lazarus was really sick and instead of Him rushing over like they imagined He would, He seems to inexplicably do nothing!
But it was because Jesus loved them that He waited.
How powerful to think that seeming apathy could actually be an act of the Lord’s love on our behalf. When Jesus finally got to Lazarus’ house, it was obviously too late, at least by human standards. Lazarus had been dead for days. His sisters took turns telling Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” They had had faith in Jesus’ power, but not in His timing.
During their days of waiting, Mary and Martha could not see Jesus’ plan. They prayed for healing that didn’t come. While all along Jesus had a more remarkable miracle in mind. He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead.
It is hard for a chronic doer like myself to remember that God’s timing is essential to His plan. Waiting for His timing may even feel like neglectfulness to us, only because we can’t always see what He is doing. We would be satisfied with a small miracle now, just because it would show action on God’s part. But His plan is, instead, to wait and reveal even more of His power later.
It was hard for our family to wait and to watch our baby girls slip further and further into serious danger. But our time of waiting was a testament to God’s love for us. I probably won’t understand all the details of how His love was at work until I’m in heaven, but I do believe, even in those days of seeming inaction, He was with us.
I do hope this little piece of my story has blessed you today! When I wrote my book my greatest desire was to honor moms who have lost babies, but in the end it was something even bigger- isn’t that always how it is with the Lord?!
Abigail Wilson is a Christian memoirist and blogger. She lives in San Antonio, Tx with her husband, three children and a healthy dose of humor and caffeine to keep her company.
I had the opportunity to attend an advance screening of the new movie, Indivisible, while attending the Military Influencers Conference in Orlando last month. Indivisible is based on the true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather. It shows their battles both in Iraq and back in their own home. It shows the struggle that reintegration can be after the picture-perfect homecoming and what it looks like to fight together for your marriage instead of fighting against each other.
“As I watched [the scene] play out on the screen in front of me, I felt as though I were watching a scene from my own life. I have lived that exact moment on more than one occasion while my own husband was deployed or gone for training of some sort. In fact, there were multiple moments like that during the movie. Moments I’ve lived, moments that were my life as a military spouse right there on the screen.”
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way, a Tricare breast pump provider. All opinions shared are entirely my own. Read more of the fine print here.
Bringing Home a New Baby
I can clearly remember that first solo trip to the commissary for groceries.
I was about six weeks postpartum. I’d had a c-section and had only recently started driving again. The family visiting from out of town had gone and my husband was back at work. This was that magical time when as a postpartum mom you’re expected to be completely healed and fully back to your normal self.
I wasn’t feeling the magic.
Now, don’t get me wrong- I was doing MUCH better at this point than I was after the birth of my first child. During that delivery, I suffered from a 4th-degree tear. The lingering discomfort from this current c-section was NOTHING compared to that first experience. But I was definitely not back to my “normal self”.
First, let’s talk about the ridiculous amount of hormones that are still happening. Just trying to figure out how to get the baby wrapped correctly in the carrier I was planning to wear while shopping was enough to have me on the verge of tears.
I finally figured it out and into the store my little trio went. Things started off well enough. Thankfully the newborn slept through most of it. But as I approached the last few aisles to get the final items on my list, my body began to make it loud and clear that it had had enough.
As I had been shopping and the cart filled up and grew heavier, it became increasingly difficult for me to push it. I had already taken the toddler out and let her walk, hoping to make pushing the cart slightly easier, but now she kept wanting to stand on the end of the cart- which was even worse than when she had been sitting!
Between the weight of wearing the baby and pushing the now grocery-laden cart, I was in serious pain. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish, but somehow I did. However, as soon as I had both kids in their car seats and had tipped the bagger, I sank into my seat and immediately broke down in tears.
I had definitely overdone it and I still had to carry all the groceries in once we got home and put them away.
The Stress of Baby + Military Life
Even as I write it, I know it sounds kind of silly- crying over groceries and being in pain from pushing a shopping cart. But I have a feeling there are a lot of you moms out there who will understand.
Having a baby is NOT easy; not the pregnancy, not the delivery, and not the sleepless nights. No matter how angelic the baby might be or how many times mama has been through this before, a new baby almost always brings a new level of difficulty and chaos along with it.
When you have a new baby, PLUS the additional stressors that military life can often bring, stress levels are bound to rise.
It’s not uncommon for many new military spouse moms to have a spouse that isn’t home to help and he may have even missed the birth of the child. Many new military spouse moms are far from their family and may or may not have a support network in place. They may have either recently moved to a new area or are getting ready to. All of these can make life with a new baby even more challenging and stressful.
Ways to Reduce Stress
Everyone deals with stress at some point. Different things stress out different people. Some stress is natural and even good for us at times. But when you are dealing with ongoing, long-term stress (which I firmly believe many military families are), there can be negative consequences.
That’s some pretty serious complications from something as simple sounding as “stress”. I have personally suffered from a few of those symptoms so I know how important it is for us to get our stress levels under control.
Obviously, there are some things about life you just can’t change, especially when it involves the military. Odds are, having your husband sent home early from deployment or getting orders changed so you don’t have to move probably aren’t going to happen. But there are some things in life that you do have control over. And it’s those things that we need to focus on. It’s those things we need to figure out how we can make even a little bit better so that we can reduce our overall level of stress.
2. Let go of your expectations for a season. This is a new, special, and fleeting season. It will look very different from other seasons. Your body, house, and daily routines will all be different and that’s okay. Embrace it rather than fight it. Try your best each day and don’t be too hard on yourself.
3. Choose your priorities carefully. This is a great time to really learn what it means to “be still”. If possible, reduce the number of activities you and your family are involved with outside of the home. Remember, this is only a season.
4. Give yourself permission to take naps. Your body has been through a lot and needs plenty of rest to heal properly. Plus, you’re probably getting very interrupted sleep at night. If baby’s asleep and you want to nap too, go for it!
5. If you don’t already have one, find your village. This will be especially crucial if your spouse is deployed. It could be extended family if you are blessed to have them nearby, it could be friends or neighbors, a church group, or even a playgroup. Social media is a great tool to find groups you can join, just make sure that you also have real-life people that you can connect with face-to-face.
6. Hire help if you can afford it. Consider paying someone to help you with housekeeping, laundry, yard work, childcare, or a meal-prep service. There is no shame in hiring help so that you can take care of yourself and as a result be a better wife and mom for your family.
7. Accept help when it’s offered. As long as you trust them, let that relative or friend watch the baby (or your big kids) for a few hours. Or let them bring you a meal. You don’t have to prove you have it all together. Be grateful that you have people around you who want to help.
8. Remember that it’s okay if your baby cries. They do that. Sometimes A LOT. If they’re in a safe place, like their crib, they will be okay for five minutes while you finish your shower. If you’re going through an especially difficult phase and you can feel that you’re getting frustrated, put them in a safe spot and step outside for a few minutes to take some deep breaths and pray. Often, you’ll be calmer when you come back in and that in turn will help calm baby.
9. Exercise when you can and try to get outside as much as possible. It’s truly amazing what both can do for your mood and stress level! Often a walk outside with your baby can do wonders for you both!
I know it’s hard. I know you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. Some days it seems like it will never get better, but I promise, it does. Your baby grows and so do you. Try picking one or two of the suggestions above to start working on today and over time I’m confident you’ll feel your stress level start to come down. Remember, this is only a season and you WILL get through it. Congrats on your new baby!!
It was late August. Summer was rapidly coming to a close and I was busy getting ready for the start of the school year.
This year was a bit different though. My daughter would be starting kindergarten. My husband was living in another state while training for a new job. The kids and I were living with my parents until we found out exactly where my husband would be sent once he graduated.
So there I was, sitting on the couch reading when I got the text that literally made my jaw drop. I’m really not sure why it surprised me so much. I should have known it was coming. I guess I just forgot about it.
I seriously regret not taking a screenshot of it so I could save it and show it to you, but of course, by now, it’s been deleted. So you’ll just have to trust me that this is what it said:
“So today is my last day on active duty”.
Those are words I’ll never forget.
You see, my husband had spent the last six years, all of our kiddos lives, serving in the Marine Corp.
But to be honest, it wasn’t what he thought it would be. He wasn’t happy. And it was taking a toll on our family. Never living anywhere for more than two years. Even when he was “home” he was often gone much of the time.
Despite its faults though, military life had been good to us. The insurance was great, we lived some fun places, and we met the most amazing people. It gave us community and purpose. We were working and sacrificing for something bigger than just ourselves and we felt good about that. Our kids were learning what it meant to serve and to be patriots.
Making the decision to become a military family was not an easy one and neither was the decision to get out.
But it was the right one for us.
And God had it all perfectly planned out. Pieces fell into place far easier than expected and my husband was given the opportunity to have a great job in federal law enforcement.
So he took terminal leave and began training for his new career. It had already been nearly three months since he had last put on the uniform. Which is why on that August day, the fact that it was “officially his last day on active duty” caught me so off guard.
This was really it. It felt so strange. This huge thing that had absolutely dominated our lives for so long no longer had a hold on us.
It was what we knew. It was who we were. It was a relief, yet it was also terrifying. In an odd sort of way, military life had become comfortable.
So now we’re fumbling our way through this new phase of life.
Now my husband wears a suit to work instead of cammies and he’s home more often.
In other ways though, since he is still a federal employee, things are quite similar. In fact, he still “got orders” and we still had to “PCS“, but thankfully this time there’s no end date on when our time here is up so we were able to finally buy our first house!
You may be wondering what this means for me and the blog since so much of it was centered around military life.
Well, actually not much will change because my husband decided to stay in the reserves and will actually continue working with the unit he was previously with.
One minor change you may see that I’m excited about is more of an inclusion of our nation’s first responder families. Although many may not like to admit it, the wars our nation have been fighting for over 16 years now are being fought here on our soil. Many of our first responders are fighting against the same ideology our service members are. Many of them are doing their best to protect and serve.
I am so grateful for our time as an active duty military family. I never want to forget what it felt like to watch him walk away, leaving for that first deployment. I never want to forget the sweet relief when we were finally in the same room again and I was back in his arms.
I never want to forget the incredibly strong and courageous women who walked that milspouse road with me. The ones who babysat my kids, celebrated holidays with us, and just “got it”.
That’s why my non-profit, Dear MilSpouse is so special to me. With each care package we send, I am reminded of those serving on the homefront. Visit our website to watch a video that explains more about what we do. And sign up for our email list to find out how you can get involved!