Here’s how preparing for deployment is like preparing for a new baby
(Photo: US Navy, Lt. Patricia Kreuzberger/Released)

This post is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop.

Here’s how preparing for deployment is like preparing for a new baby

I will always associate preparing for deployment with preparing for a new baby. Probably because for half of the deployments during our marriage I did have a new baby! One son was born two weeks before a deployment. The other was born one month into a deployment. So there’s a reason just the mention of deployment makes me shudder, recalling many sleepless nights, and days filled with stress, bottles, and lots of diapers.

Even though our newborn days are behind us now (I hope!), I still approach deployments the same way I prepared for a baby’s birth. When we feel like life-changing events are out of our control, it can make us stressed and anxious. It’s natural for someone facing a stressful event to try to organize the small things they can control. When a new mom does this at the end of pregnancy, it’s called “nesting.” She may obsessively want to rearrange furniture, stock up the pantry, and get everything in the house “just right” so she will feel ready for a baby.

Similarly, the pre-deployment period is filled with stress, worry, and uncertainty. In these circumstances, it’s natural for the spouse to become introspective and want to arrange things in their life so that they will feel ready.

Spoiler alert: You will never truly feel ready for a deployment. (Just as no one is ever completely ready for a baby!) Nevertheless, these things will give you a sense of order and control when pre-deployment life feels chaotic.

Stock the freezer

When a baby comes home, no one has any time for home-cooked meals for a while. The same is true during the first week of deployment. With your schedule completely thrown off and your spouse in a different time zone, you may have trouble adjusting. Make this transition smoother by preparing extra meals ahead of time and stocking them in your freezer. It’s much easier to dump something into the crock pot or microwave than it is to cook from scratch! If you are nursing, you can stock up on breastmilk so you have a stash for emergency bottles.

Clean the house

Before I had a baby, I always set up the nursery and washed the baby’s new clothes. This helped me feel prepared for them. The cleaner and more organized our house is, the more I feel prepared for deployment. This is tough when my husband is packing and spreading gear everywhere, so sometimes I have to wait until he leaves to start taming the mess.

Take care of maintenance

Before your spouse leaves, try to review and catch up on anything from the “honey-do” list. This includes the house and the vehicles. You can’t prevent everything that will inevitably go wrong during deployment. But an oil change or a tire rotation now may save you from massive headaches when your spouse is gone.

Streamline your life

With my second, third, and fourth babies, we had to move the toddler out of the crib and into a real bed before the baby was born. Working on this before the baby was born meant that I could focus on the newborn when the time came. Similarly, you can prepare for deployment by setting up automatic payments, scheduling babysitters, or doing whatever it takes to make your life a little easier for a few months. Think about taking shortcuts like paper plates or frozen pizza for a little while.

Line up your emergency support system

When a mom is nearing her delivery date, she usually has friends and family members waiting to get her call that she is going to the hospital. During deployment, who will you call when things go wrong? You need to get those numbers now, before disaster strikes. Know the numbers for maintenance, a neighbor, a parent from each of your kid’s classes, and someone who would watch your baby at a moment’s notice. Establish friendships and get their numbers saved in your phone, just in case!

Get your finances in order

Most couples start budgeting for a baby during pregnancy. Similarly, you should discuss a new budget before deployment. Sometimes, service members make less during deployment, and they may have added expenses. You’ll want to determine who will pay the bills and set up automatic payments if possible.

Take a class

Pregnant moms can take birthing classes or learn about baby yoga. There are classes to prepare for deployment too! Check with your base Family Center to see what is offered. Most classes on base are free. There is even a program called Warrior Kids to help children prepare for deployment.

Take deep breaths

During birth, I had to focus on breathing techniques because breathing gives you oxygen and can lower a racing heartbeat. When you feel overwhelmed by deployment preparations, slow down and breathe deeply. You are going to get through this!

The Breastfeeding Shop provides name-brand, high-quality breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies. Catering to the military community, the Breastfeeding Shop’s quick and easy service ensures that TRICARE beneficiaries can receive breast pumps and supplies at no-cost to them.

By Lizann Lightfoot