Preparing for a baby is a lot like preparing for war. No really, I’m serious.
What happens when you find out you are preparing for a baby?
You start reading about being parents and having a baby. You talk to friends who are excited for you, but also trying to warn you about how much your life is going to change. Everyone is excited and nervous about the upcoming opportunity.
Next, you go to classes and learn about breastfeeding, home birth, hospital birth, Bradley method, Lamaze, epidural, c-section, natural birth, how to take care of an infant and the list goes on. In my case, I had the crazy idea to want to do a natural birth so lots of reading and lots of classes.
Then you start having showers, you get your gear. Some of the things you get are a total lifesaver and you will be so happy you have one. You also get a ton of stuff you are never going to need or use. Or your baby will decide they don’t like being swung in a swing and would rather be wrapped up in your arms. But you think you might need it because really you have no clue about what you are doing. And the book says you need it so you buy it or even better have it given to you. You accumulate a great amount of stuff for this little person coming into your life. You use some of it and other things sit unused until baby number two or you pass it onto the next new mom who hasn’t got a clue.
What happens when you find out you are going to war?
You start by reading about the country and assignment you are going to. The first thing I did when I found out I was going to be going on a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) was to type those words into google.
You tell your family & friends. Some people are excited about the opportunity; others are terrified of the unknown. No matter what they all care about you and pray for you to come back home safely. You yourself are a bit nervous and excited about what is coming because you really don’t know.
Next, the military sends you off to training. In my case, I learned a lot about the culture, people, and language of Afghanistan. At a minimum, the military prepares you on how to fight a war. You use equipment similar to what you will use when you go overseas. But combat vehicles are expensive, so you won’t have exactly what you need. In our case, we had old Humvees that were supposed to be like our MRAPs.
Training can only prepare you so much for the real thing. Because Indiana is not Afghanistan. And meeting people with real problems instead of made-up ones is just a different experience.
Then the military issues you so much gear. You kind of wonder how you are going to get it from where you are to where you are going. Some of it is lifesaving and essential, other things not so much. You don’t really know what you need, but the military tells you that all this stuff is what you need to take. So you take it because really you don’t have a choice and some things stay in your suitcase until it is time to go home.
So you see…
Preparing for a baby is a lot like preparing to go off to war. I guess I should have been more prepared for everything that is different than what I trained for. Motherhood and the military are more connected than you thought. Right?