Trying to conceive is hard enough, but adding in your husband's year-long deployment makes it extra heartbreaking.
Health Parenting Sex and Relationships

Follies of Trying to Conceive: The Pre-Deployment Edition

Trying to conceive is hard enough, but adding in your husband's year-long deployment makes it extra heartbreaking.

By Kimmie Fink of Kimmie Fink Consulting

When my husband and I got engaged, we were already in our thirties. We knew we wanted kids, and with the reality of the biological clock looming, we decided it made sense to get started. We were getting married in four months anyway. Little did we know how easy it would be. Our beautiful baby girl was born nine months and one day from our wedding (I suppose that’s one less awkward conversation I’ll be having with my future teenager).

We were overjoyed by the birth of our daughter, and she immediately became the center of our universe. We knew we wanted a sibling for her. My 35th birthday was quickly approaching, at which point I would, according to conventional wisdom, become a barren old crone. The threat of “advanced maternal age” (thanks for that gem of a term, medical community) was getting a little too real for me. Baby was sleeping through the night at around eight months, and I started to get some of my energy back. We decided that it would be best to start trying again when she turned one.

Around this time, we found out that our next permanent change of station would take our family to Fort Hood, Texas. It was inevitable that my husband would deploy within a few months of our arrival. Our baby-making plans, however, stayed the same. Our little one would turn one soon, leaving us four months to get pregnant. My husband was thrilled with the idea. He would “knock me up,” leave, and come back for the birth.

Perhaps you think it callous for my husband to want to miss out on the magic that is his pregnant wife, but you’d be mistaken. Don’t get me wrong – normally, I’m a fucking delightful human being. But it’s entirely possible that I’m the worst pregnant person who was ever pregnant. Nausea, vomiting, hemorrhoids large enough to name…pregnant me is no picnic. So yes, I think my beloved spouse can be excused from experiencing the miracle of pregnancy the next time around.

We had just settled into our new house in Texas one Sunday afternoon when we decided to throw caution to the wind. Mindset: “If it happens, it happens.” Well, it happened. My mom was visiting, and I was so surprised to get a positive test that I came out and made her look at it to confirm. I mean, it was one time. We chatted excitedly on the couch, and my 11 month-old was clamoring to know what all the fuss was. Mom handed her the pregnancy test with instructions to “go play with your sister.” I remember doing the math and hoping the baby wouldn’t have a Christmas birthday. In hindsight, it seems like such an ungrateful thought.

Not a week had gone by when the worst happened. I started to bleed. My fears were confirmed at the doctor two days later when my test came up negative. I’d had a miscarriage.

I was devastated. I may have only been five or six weeks along, but that baby was real to me. I’d even ordered a “Promoted to Big Sister” shirt for my daughter. And, Murphy’s Law being what it was, my husband had to go into the field for ten days immediately after it happened.

I’ve struggled with major depressive disorder for 13 years, but I was determined not to let myself slip into that pit of despair. Two friends offered comfort in two very different ways. One told me that she knew in her heart that God has those lost babies with Him. Another shared that the souls of those babies don’t die but are passed on to the next child. Very different schools of thought, but I found both to be heartening. I also had a little one to take care of. It’s really hard to lie down on the floor and Jesus-pose all day when a small child is hitting you in the head with a tiny wooden dinosaur. My gratefulness for my precious girl and her need for my constant care and attention were the most important components of my recovery.

As anyone who has had a miscarriage knows, it’s not as simple as trying again right away, although that seems like the best way to cope for some people. My doctor wanted us to wait until I’d had a regular period again, so we did. What I didn’t realize is that a miscarriage can mess up your cycle.

We were in Tennessee for a wedding, and I got really excited and curbed my drinking because I was five days late. Before I could get to the store to buy a test, however, old Aunt Flo came to town.

I was disappointed, but I knew we had another month to try. Unfortunately, we were timing ovulation based on my normal 28-day cycle. Now it looked like my cycle was 38 days. We probably should have used those ovulation sticks, but something about a stick that smiles at me when I pee on it is off-putting for me. That’s surprising because, as a teacher, I usually love crap like that. Maybe they should switch to gold stars. And as far as I’m concerned, “temping” refers not to a conception tool but to when college students on summer break squander their potential in nondescript offices for minimum wage.

When I got my period during my husband’s pre-deployment leave, we thought that was it. We were pleasantly surprised when his deployment date was pushed back a week, giving us another window of opportunity with a calendar that correctly reflected my cycle. Yay!

Cue raging sinus infection. Because nothing gets me in the mood like a head full of mucus.

I got on antibiotics, but do you know what side effects those have? Diarrhea and yeast infections. Also super romantic.

Fortunately, my husband’s flight got delayed. And delayed. And delayed. (Ah, Army life!) I got better just in time for my daughter to catch a nasty bug. She was screaming from her crib one night, so we brought her into bed with us (I’m normally vehemently anti-co-sleeping and with good reason, as you will soon see.) She immediately barfed all over our bed. We got her settled down, cleaned up, and back in her own bed…but she’d left behind her special scent: Eau d’ Vicks VapoRub and Vomit (patent pending). And they said romance was dead!

My husband has been gone for two weeks now. I’m staring at a pregnancy test…and it’s negative. It sucks. It’s not like we can try again next month; we have to wait an entire year.

The good news is that I’m disappointed, but not heartbroken. All hope is not lost. I’m looking at this year as an opportunity to focus on the precious little one who is already in my care and maybe even (gasp!) myself. We now have the flexibility to travel, so we’ll meet Daddy in Europe for leave. I also plan on being the best damn room mom ever at the peanut’s pre-school.  For myself, I will start dancing again and continue to write.

As for a baby in the future, I remain cautiously optimistic. Perhaps we will find it easier to conceive without the specter of a deployment hanging over our heads. (Also, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tantalized by the idea of nine months of my husband giving me foot rubs, delivering chocolate milkshakes, and scooping the litter box.)

I choose to believe that we can have another baby because I think there’s room for one more in our home. There’s certainly room in our hearts.


About the Author

Kimmie Fink is a stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old a former teacher, and an education consultant. When she’s not changing poopy diapers, she blogs on issues of diversity and equity for elementary educators and parents of young children. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.