Maternity Mission: Operation Stork Drop


Although I am a proud member of a military family, war stories aren’t my thing.  Blood and guts?  No thanks!  But my grandson’s fifth birthday last week prompts me to fondly recall and recount the military mission surrounding his birth.  It was a maternity mission–Operation Stork Drop.

As a newly commissioned Army officer, Lt. Son-in-Law wanted to be hitched before leaving for his first duty post.  Military training kicked in and lots of planning and preparation commenced to make this wedding happen in a timely fashion–NOT!  I got recruited to make the arrangements, which I happily and very successfully (if I do say so myself) handled.  The newly wedded couple departed the officers’ club where their reception was held and headed to a B & B for a two day honeymoon.

I’ve never been in the military, but I am pretty sure that being prepared is key to the success of any mission.  None of us were prepared for the turn of events following the wedding.  Thank you notes had not even been written when I got a call from Mrs. Lieutenant one evening about three weeks after the wedding.  “Mom, I have something to tell you,” she started off.  Then she dropped the bomb.  “I’m pregnant.”  WHAT?   Yup, they got pregnant on the honeymoon.  They wasted no time in finding a new recruit for their family even though they apparently didn’t intend to increase the ranks that quickly.

Now that Lt. Son-in-Law had done his brief part, he took off to the field for training leaving a new puppy and a sick pregnant wife behind.  Time to call for reinforcements.  I made frequent four hour trips one-way to visit Mrs. Lieutenant to check on her morale and welfare.  She was in and out of the ER with a difficult pregnancy.

Even though the pregnancy was difficult, at least it was shorter than anticipated.  The new recruit decided to show up early.  He politely waited a week after his dad returned from grueling field training and then made an unexpected appearance.  Liam had the element of surprise on his side–a month before his due date and on a Friday night when Dad was still sleep-deprived from field training. What’s a military couple to do?  Call for reinforcements again, of course..

I hastily threw some clothes in a bag and jumped in the car with my husband to head out of state to the hospital.  I patted myself on the back for having been smart enough to have written down the military hospital’s address so I could plug it in to our GPS.  Ha! Ha!  The GPS did not work on the post and, gosh darn, I didn’t have any night vision goggles with me.

It was around 1:30 a.m., and we were driving around out in the boonies on an unfamiliar post with no idea where to go and no signs of life anywhere.  It was no man’s land.  But wait!  A police car was parked on the road ahead in this desolate location.  We pulled up to it, and my husband went over to ask for directions.  Frustrated, he came back saying, “It’s just a dummy in the car.”  Or not.  The policeman was so focused on what he was doing that he didn’t notice my husband approach the patrol car.  After scaring us to death by miraculously coming to life, the officer escorted us on a winding route to the large military hospital a few miles away. (Thanks, Officer Covington!)

The next order of business was the massing of our forces.  My husband and I  were there, my son arrived from out of state and Lt. Son-in-Law’s parents showed up from a different state.  Between all of us we thought we could take on the challenge of “Incoming.”

The challenge was frustrating.  When was the incoming going to arrive?  He took his sweet time. Time to use military equipment–a needle for the epidural.  Mrs. Lieutenant hated needles; she’d rather have taken on a hand grenade.  I left to go walk the perimeter to avoid witnessing the manuever.

The big moment finally occurred about 12 hours after I arrived at the hospital.  I was the first to see the incoming; no whites of the eyes were seen, just his head (with hair!) crowning.  It was an invasion of my heart.  I fell in love instantly with that adorable baby whom I got to hold just minutes after birth.

Happy ending, right?  No, the mission ain’t over until the fat lady sings, or in this case, until the crying baby gets released from the hospital. Mrs. Lieutenant was in a bad way with post-eclampsia.  This left the sleep-deprived CO in charge of caring for the new recruit.  Diapering and feeding of an infant must have inadvertently been omitted from his field training.  Thank goodness for civilian assistance from Mimi.  I can’t shoot a gun, but I can burp a baby.

Then hostile fire erupted.  Mrs. Lieutenant, who was very sick, let off an emotional barrage on the CO, berating him for his poor baby handling skills.  He and I were booted from the camp and hunkered down in a waiting room..  Lt. Son-in-Law was shell shocked.  Of course, we were eventually allowed to return and détente ensued.  Unfortunately, the campaign was not over as we remained in the hospital for five days.  During that time Lt. Son-in-Law’s field training finally came in handy.  Sleeping in a recliner or on the hospital floor was nothing after sleeping on the ground for weeks.  And take out pizza was gourmet compared to fending for yourself to find food in the field.

Finally came D-day–Discharge Day that is.  We emerged from the battlefield, the hospital, with our new recruit in tow.  His parents may have thought birthing Liam was a battle, but skirmishes occur daily when you’re raising a rambunctious little boy.  But that’s another mission.




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