January 15, 2018

Survival Tips for New and Pregnant Military Moms

military survival tips pregnant mom tips military

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.

I’m a military wife, mom of three and my husband and I have PCS’d three times while pregnant. When it comes to having babies in the military, I consider myself to be highly experienced! I’m going to give you some of the top insights I learned (sometimes the hard way) over the last few years.

1) Choose Your Coverage – On-Base or Off?

Not all military hospitals are created equal. The first thing you need to do when that pregnancy test shows a plus sign is figure out if you want to have your pregnancy monitored on or off base. If you are at a really small or even a medium-sized base, there may be no on-base option. If this is the case, you can stay on TriCare Prime (the free insurance) and go to any off-base facility that takes your insurance. If you do have the option of staying on base—ask the hospital for details on care. What happens if your delivery turns into an emergency or if your child needs NICU time—do they have the capability to handle things of this nature? Then, ask around for opinions. Facebook groups are your friend! If you don’t have many friends locally, or perhaps you are brand new to your base or post, there are typically unofficial “wives” groups for every installment. Ask for other’s experiences before making a decision. Once your decision is made, if you decide to go off base, contact TriCare to get your insurance switched to TriCare Standard and you can typically schedule an appointment with your selected provider right away.

2) Take Advantage of Freebies

There are some perks to being a military family, which include discounts and freebies!

Military hospitals often offer a wide range of free pregnancy and parenting classes you can take before your baby arrives. Check with Women’s Health to inquire.

Don’t pay for baby items you can get for free. Did you know you can get a free breast pump through 1 Natural Way? This company offers the popular Medela, Spectra and Kiinde brands, as well as accessories and other postpartum care supplies. All breast pumps are covered under your TriCare insurance plan and are completely free. Fill out this short form and 1 Natural Way will take care of contacting your physician and TriCare for you!

Want to discover more freebies? Here are nine organizations that offer free services and goodies to expecting military moms.

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3) Tips If You Are PCSing During Pregnancy

As I mentioned before, we PCS’d three times during pregnancy. It’s not easy, but if you do these couple of things, you will get through. First, do your research for your new base well in advance to moving day. Again, ask a friend, find the “wives” Facebook page for your new location or perhaps your squadron has their own Facebook group and get the details about on and off base care. Try to set up an appointment at your next location before you leave. If you are going on base, this is relatively easy. If you are going off base, contact TriCare and ask what you need to do to set up your first appointment at your next location.

Second, let your current doctor know that you are moving and that at your final appointment you will need all of your records. I say this because, in my experience, records can sometimes take a few days. Sign the release forms and have those records in hand before your movers arrive and keep them with you so you are not searching for them in one of your many packing boxes.

Third, have a baby shower before you move! It may seem like just another thing to add to your already full pre-PCSing plate, but if a friend is offering, just say yes. But again, don’t register for things like Tricare breast pumps that you can get for free.

4) Find Your Community

One of the most valuable lessons my parents taught me growing up was how to make friends. This is crucial when you are a military spouse, even more so when you are a pregnant or a new military mom; you need friends, you need help.

I have found the military community to be incredibly welcoming because we are all in the same boat—we are all living in unfamiliar places away from family. So, put yourself out there.

Join service clubs, take classes on base, try out some churches, go to the parks by your home or on base, take classes at the gym, just get out. If you aren’t meeting people naturally, get online. There are often sub-specialty Facebook groups (at our current base I’m in a military medical spouse group) post a picture of yourself, list your interests, tell which area of town you live in and how many kids you have. Just say that you’re hoping to make friends- there’s no shame because we have all been there.

Build your local family, because you will need them.

5) If Your Spouse is Deployed

My husband has not been deployed, but I asked my closest friends whose husbands have been on multiple deployments while either pregnant or having a brand new baby at home. Here’s the summary of their advice: grace and friends.

You cannot get done what you normally get done at home with two adults when you’re suddenly down to one, period. That’s okay, give yourself grace. When friends offer to help, say yes. I’ll say it again when friends offer to help, say yes.

The deployment will be on you, but when someone offers to lighten your load a bit, let them. Also, if your spouse is deployed during the pregnancy, they may need a special POA to handle all things baby related, contact your JAG office to inquire.

6) When Baby Arrives

Actually, before baby arrives, select a pediatrician. We have had good and bad experiences with on-base pediatric clinics. The bad experiences have been due to poor access to care. Ask around to see if it’s easy or difficult to secure an appointment.

Also, when the baby arrives, enroll that sweet bundle in DEERS right away and choose either standard or prime insurance.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way. All opinions are entirely my own.

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December 7, 2015

What Military Life and Down Syndrome have in Common (Military Down syndrome)

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This Down syndrome blog post is about what the military life and Down syndrome have taught us, military down syndrome. 

It was a cool night, the crackling fire and glass of red wine were adding the perfect amount of warmth as my husband and I engaged in one of life’s deeper discussions. If we could change anything about our lives, would we?

When we were newly engaged, I pictured our lives one way: a home not too far from family, perfectly healthy kids, a morning anchor gig. There was no plan b, it was the only plan.

When I was a junior in college, an Atlanta News Director spoke to some of us Broadcast majors. When he was starting out in TV, he told his mentor he only wanted to be a sports reporter. His mentor replied, “You’re looking at your career from the wrong end of the telescope.”

At the time, I was almost offended by his friend’s words. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a reporter, I thought. There isn’t, by the way. But now, I see what his advisor was saying.

It was the fact that he could only envision his life as a sports reporter. He wasn’t open to other possibilities.

I had no idea how small my own vision really was. I was looking at my future from the wrong end of the telescope.

Both the military and Down syndrome provided me with the greatest lesson I’ve learned so far: life is meant to be big.

I don’t mean big in the way American culture would have us believe. It’s not about having big success, so you can buy big things to impress big people. But big experiences. The kind that shape us. The kind we can use to help others.

Both Down syndrome and the military have thrown us curveballs. Both have taken us places we have never been. Both have introduced us to people we would never have met. Both have opened our eyes to a world beyond our best-laid plans.

Our son’s Trisomy 21 and the Air Force have taught us that predictability is sometimes over-rated. What good story was ever predictable? It’s the twists and turns, the challenges and over-coming that keep us turning the pages.

In the book of my life, I never would have listed “Down syndrome” or “Unwanted base locations” in the table of contents. But because they were written for me, my chapters have become more interesting, sometimes painful, but also more beautiful. Now, when I look through the lens gazing into the future, I no longer see a set life, but instead infinite opportunities among the cosmos.

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October 21, 2015

When Seasons Change (Military Moving Announcement PCS)

PCS Military moving announcement
Moving announcement!

I know everyone is crazy about Fall. I am too. But for the last year and a half my husband and I have been desperate for Spring.

Between the Down syndrome diagnosis, the unwanted base location and most of all open-heart surgery, Andy and I grew accustomed to disappointing and in some instances, heartbreaking news. We lived in fear of the phone.

Monday was the first time in a very long time that we received really good news. The kind of news that makes you jump up and down, scream, laugh and cry all at once. Andy got into his orthodontic residency. In the military this is no small feat. The program typically accepts two Air Force dentists a year.

Since having children, my dreams have evolved. They are still evolving. Andy’s have remained constant. I remember him telling me he wanted to be an orthodontist when we met as college freshmen. I cannot tell you how exhilarating it is for me to see my love get everything he has ever worked for.

For us as a couple, it feels like a closed chapter. This long winter season of life is over. We’d be naive to think winter won’t come again. It will. But for now, we can stand still in the sunshine and relish in the fresh flowers peaking through the snow.

Watch out San Antonio, Texas, we are coming for you July 2017.

“…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5