‘Operation Shower’ supports military moms-to-be


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On Jan. 6, 2013, I got a phone call that would change my life forever: “The birth mother has chosen you and your husband to be the adoptive parents … You should know that she’s going to be induced in one week.”

After trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for three years, this was both wonderful and terrifying to hear. Nervous that she might change her mind, my husband Brian and I cleared out a room, but we didn’t buy anything for it. And we didn’t tell anyone except our parents that our dream was about to happen as we boarded a plane to be present for the birth. Only when it was certain that the beautiful baby boy was going to be our son, we shared the joyful news on Facebook, with friends and extended family reacted with consternation:

What weighs 6 lbs 14 oz? Did you get a puppy?”

“Kayla, I just saw you drinking a couple months ago!”

IMAGE: wide angle picture of the attendees sitting at tables during the event. As the confusion cleared, however, our support network kicked into gear. By the time we got home from the airport, boxes of diapers and bottles were waiting on the front porch for us shipped by women Veteran friends across the country. Within a week, women Veteran friends had assembled to throw us an impromptu baby shower – one with the baby in attendance.

That community of support was essential as we took on the challenge of becoming parents to a newborn with little notice and that same sisterhood came together again with baby girl clothes and nursing advice when our daughter was born just 18 months later.

Perhaps equally important, we’ve gathered for girls’ nights out so we can remember that our entire identities aren’t as working moms and wives.

That knowledge of how important the support of a community can be to military and Veteran families is why I was so thrilled to participate in the Operation Shower event in Ponte Vedra, Florida, this past weekend. Forty military moms-to-be, including women serving in the military and military spouses, were “showered with love” at this special event, which marked the 50th event put on by the organization.IMAGE: A lady with two small children sorting shower gifts.

All the moms received essential baby gear to help them prepare to welcome new additions to their family, along with special treats for themselves – while enjoying delicious food and playing traditional shower games in the beautifully decorated Patriot Outpost on the golf course for the upcoming PGA championship.

Their faces lit up with joy as they saw items ranging from diapers wipes to clothes to travel systems. One excited soon-to-be big sister helped pull each new toy out of the box. Equally important, the expectant mothers were able to bond with other military moms and forge those all-important community bonds.

Communities and organizations across the country have come together as part of the “Sea of Goodwill” to support service members, Veterans and military families. VA is excited to grow our own strategic partnerships in recent years to ensure that we are able to meet the diverse needs of Veterans, families and survivors in innovative ways. I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to participate in this wonderful event, put on by one of the 11 charities supported by strong supporters of our military communities Birdies for the Brave / THE PLAYERS and share with those in attendance that VA is standing by ready to serve them when they finish their military service.

Author

Kayla Williams

- Kayla Williams is the director of VA's Center for Women Veterans.

Comments

  1. KJl    

    Where is the support for employees that we’re mentally abused by many people that we’re involved, including the union? Wrongful termination due to retaliation from supervisor. How about denying medical help? I was had to call 911 for the ambulance came. Let’s talk about what really is happening behind close doors. Time to have a voice because one way or another I will be sharing 15 years of working at the VA. Last few years my horrific life about ended.

  2. ELD    

    There’s a distinct difference between active duty women and military dependent mothers, yet a distinct tendency to lump all in a category. While both must endure separation, the dependent mother is not required to put her life on the line as active duty and veteran women have done for decades. They do not have to leave their babies to be called underway for weeks at a time, let alone serve pregnant on a ship as I did. It’s also highly doubtful their pregnancies are treated like an inconvenience, disease, or a deliberate excuse to avoid duty, as many active duty women deal with. Or, that if their child is hospitalized, risking getting written up for not appearing at work, as I was. Just about any woman can become pregnant. Not every woman can serve while pregnant or parenting, however. I’m glad these few active duty women received a shower~ and I hope that the military will go father in active duty mothers as well as it does dependent spouses.

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