By Lizanne Carlson, 3 ways to support new military parents

Our first baby was born in early November. My husband and I have been blown away by the support given to us by friends and family throughout my pregnancy and now, as a new family of three. As things tend to go in the military, we moved right before we found out I was pregnant. We were so excited to start our family, but I’ll admit I was a little nervous to be a new mom, in a new town with all new people. I wondered if I would feel alone and scared in my pregnancy, especially being so far from family. I was also worried about stepping into motherhood away from my biggest support systems. However, we quickly found that our local military community, as well as the community we made at our last assignment, stepped up to support us during this exciting time. Here are three gifts that we were given, that I can’t wait to pay forward when the occasion arises:

The Gift of Wisdom

A military friend sat down with me during my pregnancy to explain the logistics surrounding Tricare and healthcare benefits for both myself and our baby, and this was a bigger gift than I could have ever fathomed; it was a lifesaver. I had no idea how to pick an OB, what services I could utilize throughout my pregnancy or how to begin Tricare enrollment for our daughter. After speaking with my friend, and asking what seemed like a thousand questions, I felt equipped and confident to move forward in the whole process. I found an OB I loved. My husband and I were able to take advantage of birth and infant care classes on base (including one session where my husband had the opportunity to wear an “empathy belly,” padded boobs and all –I made sure to take lots of pictures in between bursts of laughter.). I signed up for a new mom clinic and I was so excited to order my free breast pump and nursing supplies. Lastly, we were able to secure a local pediatrician and easily enroll our daughter in DEERS and onto our insurance. All of this seemed so daunting early in my pregnancy, but with the help of wise military mamas, the process went so smoothly for us.

The Gift of Reaching Out

After my husband’s training was over and he was placed in his unit, and I (of course) was a good eight months along, I waddled to his office for a visit. Once again, a little nervous to meet new people and find my fit. To my surprise, I was greeted by a fellow spouse who warmly welcomed me and had me fill out a sheet of information about myself and our baby. The next day, I received emails from several spouses offering information on play dates, mom get-togethers, and squadron events. They also offered to help with anything we may need once the baby arrived. It was amazing to me that these people were being so generous, and they just met me! I am looking forward to spending time with them and learning from their experience.

The Gift of Meals

Now that we are settling in with our precious newborn (and looking for sleep anywhere we can find it) it’s been wonderful to have our friends provide us meals through a group meal train. Preparing dinner is the last thing on my mind, and it’s been so nice to have a visit, along with a warm meal, after a full day of nursing, changing diapers and soothing sweet baby cries. Our friends from our last assignment reached out to us with calls, texts and cards in the mail. Some even sent us a free week of Blue Apron since they are unable to physically bring meals to us.

I’ve been shown that the military family can be just as strong, if not stronger than, what we normally think of as family. I am hoping that now that I’ve experienced all of this support first-hand, I can step in to a support role for other new parents in our community.

So tell us parents, what are some ways you felt supported by your military community? Share your ideas in the comments.

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