This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way, a TRICARE breast pump provider. All opinions are entirely my own.
This year a good friend of mine found out that she was pregnant during the first few months of her husband’s deployment. And I realized how little I knew about dealing with a deployment while pregnant. After all, John and I were engaged during his year-long deployment to Afghanistan and we didn’t have kids, either.
I felt a little lost.
I wanted to be the best friend possible while still respecting her space and her privacy. She’s a brilliant, independent woman who always has things on lock. Like, always. And honestly, I didn’t quite know what would be the best, most helpful thing for her without insulting her or overstepping boundaries or making her feel weird.
If you’re reading this, chances are you know someone affiliated with the military who is pregnant or a new mom (or you are that person). I want you to meet a company that is going to make your life– or your friend’s life– just a little bit easier. 1 Natural Way is a TRICARE breast pump provider that works to make sure you are able to take advantage of your TRICARE benefits easily, all at no (or very, very little) cost to you. 1 Natural Way stocks well-known and reputable breast pump brands like Kiinde, Medela, and Spectra. The process to order a free breast pump through 1 Natural Way is easy: fill out the insurance information form found here, choose the breast pump model you like (they’re all TRICARE-covered), enroll in 1 Natural Way’s Resupply program to get supplies and products sent to you monthly, and upload your prescription. Your breast pump and supplies will be shipped to your front door.
1 Natural Way makes breast pumps and accessories so easily accessible, affordable (free is the best!), and worry-free so you have one less thing to worry about during deployment. (Because honestly, you have more pressing things to worry about anyway.) They take it off your plate so that you have a little more time so you can be the best mom and spouse possible, especially during a deployment.
Back to the story
There’s a lot to be said about just being there for someone. So that’s what I did. But I’ve been curious since then to find out what is actually helpful; what other military spouses who have gone through a pregnancy really need and want from friends and family during deployment.
Of course, I reached out to the Jo, My Gosh! community and asked them for their opinions and experiences. Here’s what they said… (and trust me, they had a lot of fantastic things to say!)
“The best thing anyone can give you during a deployment & pregnancy is FOOD! You can always freeze it and save for desperate times. I know cooking takes up a lot of time and I try to feed my kids as healthy as they will let me. ” -Tiffany
Food is love. And cooking something for someone who needs a break or needs a really tasty meal that isn’t cereal or a microwavable dinner is a lovely way of showing you care. Not close by? Have a pizza, Chinese, or other food delivered to that new mom’s door. (You might want to call her first to make sure she’s at home, though.)
2. Babysitter“Honestly, the best thing anyone did for me during my pregnancy was to babysit my son so I could run errands alone, or just have some alone time, and the couple times my mom and I got pedicures together.” -Kimberly
If your friend is a mom times one (or two… or four), a babysitter is both a thoughtful and a necessary gift. Since she’s pulling double duty and doesn’t have a partner to help spell her, chances are she’s running extremely ragged and could use back up. If you’re in the area, volunteer to watch her kids for a few hours every week. If you’re far away, you can gift her a few hours of babysitting time. Hopefully she has a babysitter that she’s vetted and the kids are familiar with. If not, you can help her find one through safe and secure websites like Care.com.
3. Yard work
“I am expecting and my husband is deployed! Every Saturday one of my neighbors have come over and mowed my lawn for me… I am overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness those around me have shown during this deployment! ” -Bethany
Things like trimming, weeding, and mowing are often not high on the things-that-must-be-done deployment triage list. Add morning sickness, a bunch of kiddos, or a tiny baby and work time outside for moms and moms-to-be can be extremely limited (or non-existent). But the truth is, grass grows whether or not it’s during deployment. Many communities and HOAs have regulations and rules about the upkeep of the yard. If you live close by, work together with other neighbors to rotate the responsibility of mowing. This is another task that can easily be gifted and scheduled, even when there are miles between you and the recipient.
4. Your presence
“Other Spouses supporting (rallying around) me just by being there, bringing food, and asking what I needed… helped me to know others care.” -Trista
You don’t need to spend a dime to be a good friend. Often, during deployment, people ask the spouse at home how the serving spouse is. And often others forget to check in and make sure that the spouse at home is okay too. Make it a point to keep in touch with your friend. Sometimes a text or a note in the mail can make all the difference during very lonely times.
5. Mean what you say
“Friends who consistently said ‘call if you need anything’—and meant it. When I came down with the stomach flu in my final trimester, these consistent offers helped me reach out to ask for a grocery delivery and to ask for a ride to the doctor when I didn’t think I could drive myself. And friends who just said ‘I’d like to come to that appointment with you, if it’s okay’—sometimes it’s easier to decline offers than to ask for something.” -Caitlin
Open the dialogue between you and your friend early and often. Let her know that you’re there for her. And then actually mean it. That’s it. Be a friend. Do the thing. It’s not that hard, but you have to show up.
6. Celebrate anyway
“The sweetest thing anyone did for me was a baby shower. A group of ladies that have their guys deployed with mine threw me a very sweet intimate shower. It was just so sweet because it was a group of women going through the journey of deployment with me. We could just sit and enjoy each other.” -Kaitlyn
If you’re the one waiting for someone to come home from deployment, it often feels like life is on hold. But celebrations are part of life, and whether it’s through a baby shower or a birthday party or a girls’ night, they should happen. You can take pictures and video and find other ways to help share these special moments with your friend’s spouse.
7. Be a reassuring presence
“I had wonderful friends that lived down the road, they were always present whenever I needed help with the house or dog…” -Shelby
Sometimes you just need someone to be there for the little things. Sometimes those little things turn out to be the things that really, really matter.
8. Pay attention
“I was pregnant and had hypermesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness. I was still working in a small office of about 10 people and they were all understanding and helpful. My 2 closest co-workers made sure the only toilet was always clean should I need to vomit. And my sense of smell was overwhelming so they would clean out our small refrigerator regularly, as well as retrieve anything I needed from it so I wouldn’t be subjected to any odors. It was one of the most thoughtful things ever done for me!!” -Sherry
I love Sherry’s story because it is just such a kind, thoughtful gesture. Doing small things with love and attention to the person you care for makes all the difference in the world. What are the things you notice or know about your friend? How can you use those things to make life a little better for her… especially during a really tough time?
- Giving Birth Without Your Spouse: Advice for Pregnant Military Wives
- 6 Unique Gift Ideas for Expecting Military Parents