Tag Archives: army

Surprise! We’re Polygamists!

Last year on this day, I wished my husband a Happy 8th Anniversary.

Today I seek to do the same, only I’ve decided to unleash our skeletons from the closet and announce to all of you that we are Polygamists.

Yes.  You read that correctly.

No.  It is not another woman.  Or another man.

Nine years ago today, in a beautifully rustic stone forge built in 1757, in front of just twenty-two people and an Army Chaplain, I married the SGM and The Military.

Polygamy wasn’t previously on my radar.  I grew up Catholic, so it’s kind of a no-no.  But it was pretty clear that this was a packaged deal and I wasn’t getting the SGM without also making vows to The Military.

While the first several years of marriage tested SGM and me to our very core with deployments and unexpected parenthood and less-expected feeding tubes and heart surgery and autism, I don’t think The Military struggled with these life events as much as we did.

The Military did come with a dowry that sounded pretty great on paper.  Steady income, medical and dental benefits and life insurance.  Then there were the perks such as travel, military galas and ceremonies, and all the ibuprofen a girl could ever want or need.  In reality though, I am not the one who gets to travel and I can bet the SGM would pick better places to visit that do not involve terrorists.  Our Battalion doesn’t do galas, so I don’t get to dress up like a goddess once a year and get tipsy at an open bar.  Lastly, I pay for my ibuprofen out-of-pocket because I am a dependent not living near a Military Treatment Facility.

But I keep my vows to The Military despite the fraudulent dowry.  I don’t argue when SGM is called away to war.  I man the homefront when he is gone, whether for two days or two hundred.  I fix leaky faucets and take the air conditioners out of the windows in the fall and lug them up to the attic.  I bite my tongue on the telephone as much as possible so that he isn’t burdened by stressors at home such as I.E.P.s when his stressors at work are I.E.D.s.

Sometimes in polygamy, you are just the odd woman out.  After nine years, I am confident The Military has had a lot more say in how SGM spends his time but I am not jealous or resentful of The Military.  Remember, I signed up for this.

However, I do have a bone to pick with The Military on our anniversary today, and flowers and a card are not going to smooth things over this time.  I want OUR children to be better cared for whether one of them needs open-heart surgery or autism therapies.  Step up, The Military.  SGM and I have upheld our vows.  It is time for The Military to take a turn and uphold its vows to care for us in good times and bad and stop the segregation of medically necessary treatments for autism into ECHO where they are no longer available to us when SGM retires.  C’mon, The Military – Remove that arbitrary dollar cap on autism care that limits therapies to less than half of what is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Navy and Army Surgeons General.

I want to grow old with both my SGM and The Military.  I want our service and sacrifices throughout our marriage to mean something more than idle promises to care for one another.  I want The Military to continue to care for our children after retirement as it claims to do.  Because even if retirement was the equivalent to divorce, The Military would still owe child support.  It was all part of the agreement we entered into when we forged this relationship.

And really, SGM doesn’t get to pick and choose which of his children he cares for, why should The Military?

We’ve got some things to work out, The Military.  Like all marriages, there have been some major bumps on this ride but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Let’s make this right for all of our kids, ok?

Happy Anniversary, SGM and The Military.

I love you both.

 

[One in eighty-eight military dependent children lives with autism and current military insurance does not provide adequate care.  Dependents of retirees, even those of Wounded Warriors, receive NO autism benefits.  Please show your support for HR2288 – Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (CMKAA) at http://cmkaa.org.  There are three easy ways you can choose one-click support of this critical legislation.]

 


Meeting My Baby Girl

Finally. 

It was the longest wait of my life in that Recovery Room, but I was finally brought to a private maternity room on the floor.  Within minutes, a nurse was wheeling in my beautiful baby girl.  As she passed RM to me – I can still feel the sensation – my heart swelled with a new kind of love, one that would carry me through a journey I had never guessed was coming.

It would prove to be a day filled with mixed emotions, most of which I was unable to recognize at the time. 

I can recall purposefully not looking at the pinkie finger.  Instead I studied every other inch of her.  I can also admit that her overlapping toes were undeniable.  However, it was far easier at the time to believe that any kid who had spent the last several months literally sitting on her toes would be a bit scrunched up in that area.  

But then there was the matter of her very tiny, nearly non-existent chin and very tiny mouth.  She couldn’t latch on to my breast to feed and after failing to breastfeed my son, I really wanted to find success this time around. 

It was a no-go.  She just couldn’t do it.  

The nurse came back with a bottle and after several attempts at that – long periods of sucking that barely drew a drop from the nipple – panic was beginning to set in.  She would cry of hunger, but the cry was a sound I had never heard before.  Muffled.  Like there were cotton balls in her throat. 

Where the hell was my husband?  Why was I sitting here all alone with this baby and getting nowhere, having no answers and feeling that I was sinking into a dark abyss.  Call it denial, postpartum exhaustion – whatever – but I was not bonding with this child.  Instead I was terrified. 

I don’t remember much of that first afternoon into evening.  It would be 24 more hours or so before my SGM made it to the hospital.  In the meantime I was alone.  I had sent RM to the nursery so that I could rest.  But in reality, I think I had done so because I was unable at the time to process that my baby’s entrance into this world was a far cry from joyous. 

I only needed to make it through that night.  Then I would see my soldier again.  And he would make everything alright.

The next day, when my SGM walked into my room, my world was whole again.  He would prove to be the strongest, most faithful soul I had ever known – from that first moment he held her, he knew in his heart RM is perfect just the way she is.

A soldier who commits his life to serving our country innately possesses certain qualities that few of us civilians can fully understand.  SGM has never faltered in his belief that even when the mission is critically compromised, remaining steadfast and courageous can still get the job done.  Failing to follow through is not an option.  He has applied those same principles to RM, and in doing so has taught me to keep fighting. 

If you haven’t done so, please support the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act – HERE

We cannot change the world without first being the change we seek.

Thank you.

Love,

Rachel


Famous Last Words

“She waited for you!” 

My heart was POUNDING.  I was shaking from head to toe and literally thinking to myself ‘oh dear god I need to calm down or I am going into labor’.

I had just hung up with the Sergeant Major (SGM).  After several months deployed to Afghanistan and five long days of travel, he was finally calling home from a payphone on US soil.  It was ten minutes to midnight on Saturday, July 15, 2006 and he would be home by Monday afternoon – plenty of time before my scheduled C-section that following Thursday.

I sat down and still shaking, began to realize there was no going back.  I was now so excited at the thought of seeing my Love again that my belly was tightening and an overwhelming feeling of ‘this is it’ washed over me.

Within 30 minutes of that phone call my water had broken and I knew that SGM wasn’t going to make it home to greet her.

We were so close.  I fought back the tears and tried to stay calm.  I dialed my sister who was ‘on-call’ and told her she had just won a front-row seat to watching her Goddaughter being born.  She picked me up shortly after and off to the hospital we went. 

We knew RM was breech and I had been waddling my way up to the maternity department for the previous three months for non-stress tests because ultrasounds were unable to get clear pictures of RM’s heart and her size was slightly smaller than expected.  She also had an enlarged umbilical cord, so docs had wanted to keep a close eye on her.

 

Enter hotty anesthesiologist at 1am into a maternity room with solo Army wife and snarky big sister and it is a recipe for mischief.  I am pretty sure he was quite frightened by our obvious flirting and incessant teenage giggling – way inappropriate – but considering I was about to have a baby without my baby-daddy there to hold my hand, I figured it was like a free pass or something.  And I’m pretty sure (since she said so about a dozen times) that as thrilled as my sister was to be there with me, she felt enormous guilt that her brave-soldier-brother-in-law was missing it all.

6:01am on a beautiful Sunday morning, my baby girl arrived on the scene.  It was eerily quiet.  She was worked on by the nurses for what seemed like forever until that muffled cry began.  That cry.  It didn’t sound right for sure.  But I was exhausted and trying SO DAMN HARD to push the vision of my missing soldier out of mind and just keep craning my neck to get my first glimpse of my beautiful baby girl.

 

And she WAS indeed beautiful.

Happy Birthday, My Miracle.  May this next year be blessed a thousand times over by your gifts you share with others and your smile that lights the world!  Mama loves you, Baby.


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