Can you imagine motherhood as a service member?
These are the unscripted stories of superwomen who rocked motherhood while serving in the military.
If you are considering going into the military as a mother or embarking on the journey of motherhood as a service member, then the stories from following military women can surely put things in perspective for you.
The following stories are true and unfiltered.
Motherhood in the Air Force
Motherhood as a service member is a double edged sword. When I was pregnant, women staying in the military after becoming pregnant was almost unheard of. They offered me a honorable discharge.. Just to take my papers and walk. I had only been in 2 years, and my husband was AD, so I chose to stay in. We needed two incomes to survive. During my pregnancy and maternity leave I was on ‘frozen status’.
Honestly, the military treated me well while I was pregnant. They moved me from the print shop to the post office on a temporary reassignment because they said the air quality would be better for me. After I gave birth, I was lucky to know a number of dependents on base, so I didn’t have an issue with childcare. Thankfully I never got deployment orders to leave my babies because I couldn’t imagine if I had.
I did have to leave for 6 weeks when my first child was 5 months old, and that felt like an eternity. I knew a mother that got sent on an unaccompanied remote assignment in Alaska when her baby was only 7 weeks old. Her experience terrified me, and when I found out that I was pregnant with my second I decided to get out.-AD Air Force motherhood experience-
My kids come first, but being in the military – the mission comes first. I only saw my daughter 2 days during the week due to my crazy schedule. My husband & I are both active duty. We work opposite schedules. Our kids never get to see us together as a family. They are little so they won’t remember, but I sure will.. Pumping was a struggle. Military daycare dislocated my daughter’s arm. I lost faith in their ability to love and protect her while I am working.
In reality, I make the same amount of money it takes to put my kids in daycare. I battle mentally everyday whether it’s worth it, or if I’ll regret missing out on so many moments with my kids. My husband deployed & missed our daughter’s birth. We fell pregnant again & miscarried. He got deployed when I was pregnant for a 3rd time. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even know his 4 month old son.
It’s definitely a sacrifice. I’d recommend people wait to have kids further into their career when they have higher rank, more respect, and a more flexible schedule.-AD Air Force motherhood experience-
I had been in for 3.5 years when I had my son. Being pregnant in the military was definitely a challenge in itself. Luckily, I had a very supportive unit that made sure I wasn’t overdoing it. I was terrified of going back to work after maternity leave.
I had originally planned on getting out after my 4 years, but I feel empowered being a mother in the military. Knowing I’m serving my country, and will make my son proud one day is my motivation. I used to stay late at work a lot, but after becoming a mom I realized it is important to take care of myself and my family first. There’s a stigma against working moms taking care of their families first, but so far I’ve had a lot of support from my unit. I can’t wait for my son to get older and see his mom as a hero.-AD Air Force motherhood experience-
Being a mom hasn’t really affected my career. I have been fortunate enough to be in positions where I could be flexible. My career has definitely made my kids more resilient than most since they have had to deal with deployments and leaving their friends. It has given me a greater appreciation for the time we do have together. I’m in the Air Force, I have been in 14 years and my kids are 9,6, and 3!-AD Air Force motherhood experience-
I was supposed to go to Greece 6 months after I found out I was pregnant, but the Navy took forever to update my paperwork, so I didn’t get pregnancy orders until I was 33 weeks pregnant. She’s given me and my husband a longer amount of time together than we would’ve had.
I haven’t actually worked in my job since before I was pregnant though so I’m an E5 with almost no real qualifications in my job. I’m breastfeeding, and I feel like my supervisor treats it as an inconvenience because I have to take breaks to pump. I can’t go to events too far away because my milk will go bad in the car. I’m currently in funerals division so I have to pump in the car sometimes even if there aren’t any males, or I wouldn’t get a chance to.
My schedule only allows for limited command involvement and volunteer work because I’m dual. If my husband works, then I can’t do it… Some supervisors don’t understand that.– AD Dual Navy motherhood experience-
Motherhood in the Army
It [motherhood] was exhausting and my mind wasn’t there for my children when I came home from school. Sadly, it got to a point where they would beg me to get out of the Army. I missed out on a lot of opportunities with them due to work or deployments. They just expected me to miss school functions and special events because of work priorities. They were proud of me, but they missed me so much.
I joined when I was 25. I had my oldest when I was 18 and my middle child when I was 20. They knew me before the Army and saw a drastic change and missed me. It did have its positive aspects. I was able to financially support them better, and they got all the material items they needed and wanted. They did love that part. They loved all the trips and places we got to see, but them missing me outweighed the other stuff.
I actually got comments from some moms in the military when I told them my kids were why I was getting out. They were offended with me because some of them took it as, “You don’t think I’m doing a good enough job as a mom because I am in?” Which I never said or implied in any way. I think it was just them feeling guilty or envious that I was in a position to be able to do that. On the other hand, I had many supportive moms show me support. I give kudos to those moms or dads that can do it all. I tried for 6 years and realized I wasn’t giving my children what they needed. I can’t get that time back.-AD Army motherhood experience-
It’s hard, and honestly if we didn’t have family and friends helping out I’d be lost.-AD Army Experience-
It has been difficult with long days for my husband and I both.. Like the long days at the gym to make sure I uphold my fitness. My daughter is not even 5 months old yet, and I am fixing to leave for a month. It has been stressful, but at the same time we made sure through the 9 months of pregnancy that we were prepared.-AD Army experience-
Dual Army Motherhood Edition
The big pro for my family is that since my husband and I both serve, we are able to give both of our GI bills to our children, which should fully cover their college. Also, having Tricare while pregnant was great. I did not have to pay anything for the birth of either of my children. I do also love the military community, and how we live in kind of old fashioned neighborhoods where all the children run around and play outside together. My children are blessed to have so many friends all over the world.
When it comes to the work/life balance, it is mainly cons. The military tends to view active duty moms in a negative light (especially enlisted moms). With my first child, I had a complaint made against me to leadership in my unit due to my “frequent breaks to pump.” Luckily, I had followed the regulation exactly, and the unit could not do anything. I was told to “try to calm that down.” I thought that was crazy because many of my coworkers take way more breaks to smoke. With my second pregnancy, I literally planned it so that it wouldn’t interfere with any field exercises because I didn’t want to be seen as trying to get out of things and didn’t want any impact on my NCOER.
We decided to stop having kids after 2 because every time we take a day off for a sick kid, someone says something negative. I’ve found that you are expected to put the military over your family, and I personally will NEVER do that.-AD Dual Army motherhood experience-
Im putting this out there because I’m not like most women. So i was told in 2016 that I couldn’t have children at all. I had wrapped my head around that, and started to focus on my military career in the Army as a Military Police Officer. But I was told in 2018 surprise you’re pregnant… And my world ended. I was tossed to the side, and my career was put on a halt. When I got the news, my life shattered.
Fast forward to life during the pregnancy: the healthcare was not good at all. Nor was the physical training (PT). I wasn’t told I had GD* until I was 37 weeks and I had been tested at 30. In the end, I ended up weighing 254 pounds. I started my pregnancy at 170. After the birth of my son I went into a BIG PPD* period and am still struggling with it today.
My husband was deployed most of my pregnancy, so that was stressful. After I had our son he PCSed without me. That left me as a single mom for 6 months until I could join him with our son in Germany. When I arrived he left back to the states for school, and that was 2 more months. During that we were on the waitlist for daycare, and I couldn’t get him into the CDC, so he was at work with me EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. I breast fed and they told me to feed or pump in the cleaning closet. When my husband returned from school I ended up going to the field where I was still able to pump, but I had to in a port-a-potty. They did transfer my milk back home, it was only an hour away, or they would bring me ice and stuff so it would stay cool.
The Family Care Plan that all soldiers need is a stupid plan that does not work over seas. In Germany no one is allowed to watch your children for more than a few hours a day/week. The CDC is amazing, but it is expensive. Being Dual military we pay close to $700 a month. The hours are from 530am until 6pm.
Having my son resulted in my seniors, peers, and subordinates losing respect for me. No one takes me seriously. I’m always the mom no matter what. For starters, I am overweight so I am in trouble. I never get asked to go out and do things because I have a son. There isn’t an option for me to have a life as a soldier anymore because I have too much going on in my family life. I’ve been in 6 years, and I truly hate saying it, but having my son has been the worst thing for me. Right now I have to make the choice of whether or not to have another one. It is probably one of the biggest decisions of my life right now.-AD Dual Army motherhood experience-
Women are truly incredible and they can do anything!
Childbearing is absolutely beautiful, but it is also exhausting.
Embarking on motherhood as a service member isn’t easy.
If you or someone you know is a rockstar experiencing motherhood as a service member, then I’d love to hear from you. I’d like to continue adding stories to this post, so reach out to me on Facebook with your stories of motherhood as a service member!
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The following are common military acronyms that are used throughout the text.
*AD – Active Duty ie. actively serving in the military
*Dual military – Both parties are service members
*GD – Gestational diabetes
*PCS’d- A military move that involves a change of duty station
*PPD – Postpartum depression