A few days prior to me leaving for my six week course in AZ, my husband received a phone call from his brother. His brother had married only a few months prior and soon began working in finance. Based on this internet post he was clearly excited about unlocking his most recent life achievements. He post frequently about his new job and was constantly delving out financial advice, growing his clientele. My husband spoke to his brother for a few moments, then hung up the phone and laid back down on the couch with me.
“That was Sam.” He said flatly. “He said to expect a package in the mail soon but not to open it. He wants everyone to open it together.”
My breath caught in my throat. Anyone with half a brain can only guess what was in a package indented to be opened by everyone at the same time. I paused for a moment before I could get the words to come out.
“Great, they are having a baby”, I told him.
He seemed a bit surprised by my statement. “Why do you think that?”, he asked.
“Because it’s Sam, and this is exactly how he would announce something like this.”
It wasn’t that I was upset that his brother was announcing he was having a baby in a grand manner, everyone deserves to have these moments. It was that there was no thought to his sibling’s situation, and that maybe just a gentle head’s up to them to prepare for the grand reveal in front of everyone may be welcomed. We went back to watching TV on the couch and I pushed the thought to the back of my mind.
I departed a few days later for AZ. My course would be two months long and by this point the cracks in our marriage had become apparent. It wasn’t that we fought a lot but there was a distance, a seeming disinterest that had grown between us. This manifested most obviously in the separate rooms we usually departed to when returning home from work. He would sit in his computer room and play video games or search the internet. I would take my computer to the bed room and work on coursework, google infertility\ pregnancy related information or watch television. This routine was occasional interrupted by the start of a new cycle. On those days I would take a break cry in the shower. Good or bad, we each dealt with our disappointments differently. The feeling that I was alone grew.
Physical distance was simply a fact of life the two of us had become accustom too. This fact is just part of being dual military and while it may compound an issue it was not the primary cause of the isolation I was feeling at home. Part of me welcomed the two month break from my life that Arizona would bring. I flew in to Tuscan Airport, picked up my rental vehicle and drove the hour drive to the middle of nowhere town of Sierra Vista. I arrived at the hotel on post a new Candlewood Suite, which was a welcomed break from most military lodging. I unpacked, settled in and became acquainted with my new temporary home.
No one is ever excited to come to this location but we all make the best of it, usually through hanging out with our new classmates over drinks and food in common areas and spending our weekends hiking, hanging out or heading to nearby town. Members of my class had already made plans for the Memorial Bataan Death March, a Tough Mudder and several hiking and golf outings. The social aspect of these types of courses are usually more beneficial than the course itself and the relationships formed here last through our military career and then some. An additional benefit to the location is that the West coast has In and Out Burger, one of my favorite guilty pleasures I planned to visit no less than 10 times while here.
A few weeks had passed and found myself craving an In and Out cheese burger one day. As previously mentions most weekends were spent with classmates hiking, golfing, drinking or doing whatever else to stay occupied but this weekend my mind was set on a burger, shopping and some much needed alone time. The idea of being alone in public is odd for some however I have always found myself to be equal parts social and loner. After months of sharing a living space with hundreds then tens of aspiring and new Warrant Officers, I was perfectly content enjoying my own company and the quiet that comes with it for a few hours. That Saturday morning I embraced my inner loner, entered my rental vehicle and drove the hour to Tuscan. First stop in Tuscan was Inn and Out Burger.
One hour and 15 minutes following my departure from post I arrived. I walked up to the counter and placed my order of a cheeseburger no onion, no tomato, filled my cup and sat in a booth, waiting to bite into that damn burger. Just as I sat down my phone rang. It was my husband. “Hey, babe” I answered. I could tell by his voice when he responded that something wasn’t quite right. We chatted about our weekend for a moment and slowly it came out. “So… you were right… The package was to announce they were having a baby.”
This news didn’t hit me as hard one may think; perhaps because I was expecting it, perhaps because part of me thought his brother was the absent mindedly inconsiderate type of person to announce to his family that consisted of two married couples having difficulty conceiving his wife’s pregnancy in the manner he did; or perhaps I was just too hungry to care. Whatever the reason the news did not seem to bother me and I had already taken my first bit of burger, so not much could phase me right now. My husband spoke for another minute about how his brother had sprung the news and I found that I was both happy and a bit numb to it as he continued. My husband paused for another moment, “Um, also my sister and I were talking. She went in for her endometriosis surgery, they gave her a blood test before the surgery and came in to tell her they couldn’t do the surgery because she was pregnant.” Well f!@#.
I almost choked on my food. The announcement of his brother was expected… I was prepared for that but for this I was not. We knew his sister and her husband had been trying to conceive too and were having issues getting pregnant. I was not prepared to find out his brother AND sister were going to be parents at the same time. I felt the warmth rising to my face and fought back the growing lump in my throat. He continued, “Yeah, mom said when dad found out about my sister he started to cry.”
I called my best friend and let her know what happened. Everyone needs a friend like her. Someone you can vent your completely irrational thoughts to without judgement before they talk you off the ledge. The two of us talked the rest of the drive home. Eventually the conversation turned to other topics and my mind cleared. I returned to the hotel and called my husband back. He was about to walk into a movie with a friend he was visiting in Myrtle Beach and said he would call me back. I spent the rest of the weekend at the hotel, distracting myself by drinking with classmates and focusing on anything else. That weekend I went to In and Out Burger to satisfy a craving and came out crying and burgerless.I gave him the obligatory responses before rushing to end the call. There in the car as I started to drive I could feel the warm tears cover my face.
The pregnancies themselves were not what had gotten me to this state. After five years of trying, I had figured out how to navigate pregnancy announcements, baby showers and the family readiness group. Of course, some days are easier than others and there are still moments of breaking down. As the years go on without a baby people found ways to cope that work for them. On this occasion the thing that struck me was his father’s reaction to the news. When he said his father cried when he heard about his daughter being pregnant I couldn’t get the image out of my head. The thought of the overwhelming joy and happiness that this man must have felt in that moment that he found out his baby was having a baby. I realized that may be a feeling I would never be able to give my father or my husband and that devastated me.
I decided to skip the shopping trip and drive the hour back to my hotel. The guilt and sadness at the situation began to turn. Why had my husband not made sure I was safely away from the public before telling me? Soon I could felt the sadness change. I found myself angry. Angry at my husband, at my sadness, at the whole damn situation. Everyone responds to emotional triggers differently. I will admit that for me anger is usually my easy button, go-to. It pulls me out of sadness and guilt and pain. My attention turned squarely to my husband. How could he be so insensitive? He couldn’t even ask me if I was alone. Looking back on that day, I understand that the news was likely not easy for him to give. I know I was not the only one hurting at the moment; and I understand he had been dealing with his own emotions up to that point. He may have thought I would handle the news with some sadness but I had become so used to it that it wouldn’t be that bad. It may have been because even after all these years he rarely saw me cry over the topic. He knew things like this upset me but I usually escaped to the safety of my shower before completely breaking down in front of him or anyone else. Either way, right or wrong, my anger turned to him.
I called my best friend and let her know what happened. Everyone needs a friend like her. Someone you can vent your completely irrational thoughts to without judgement before they talk you off the ledge. The two of us talked the rest of the drive home. Eventually the conversation turned to other topics and my mind cleared. I returned to the hotel and called my husband back. He was about to walk into a movie with a friend he was visiting in Myrtle Beach and said he would call me back. I spent the rest of the weekend at the hotel, distracting myself by drinking with classmates and focusing on anything else.
That weekend I went to In and Out Burger to satisfy a craving and came out crying and burger less.