On the other side of 'Bundles for Babies'

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- A few months ago when I first arrived at Whiteman, new to the Air Force and new to the Public Affairs career field, I was tasked with writing a few short stories on the programs available for Airmen and their families.

One such program was Bundles for Babies.

I was excited; I've always thought babies were so cute. I took the time to interview a few people, and find out as much as I could. I listened to explanations of shaken baby syndrome, how it affects a child's development, what to do if a parent is worried they might hurt a child, and numerous others. I wrote a story I was pretty proud of, considering it was one of my first official stories as a photojournalist. I turned it in, saw it published and moved on.

Fast forward a few months and my life has taken a dramatic turn, one I never would have expected. I found out I was pregnant on Father's Day. Suddenly everything I had learned while writing that article came rushing back to me. I had no idea what I was doing or what to expect.

I spoke with every sergeant in my shop that would listen, and spent some time with my first sergeant, as well. Most of the meetings ended with me in tears. I was scared. My fiancé, also an airman first class, is nearly 2,000 miles away at Travis Air Force Base in northern California. I felt alone, and was overwhelmed with thoughts of failure.

My care-free evenings turned into evenings full of Skype dates with my fiancé, discussing our careers, money and options. Luckily for me, he was completely on my side. He would stand by me no matter what, and that helped keep down the stress.

As the weeks went by, I started developing more and more problems, and trips to my doctor's office became the norm. I found out I suffered from sub-chronic hematoma, a blood clot that can only be sorted out by the body itself. Every day was full of worry, until I was scheduled for an ultrasound that showed my tiny baby's flickering heartbeat. At that point, I knew everything would be okay.

Later, I received an email from my first sergeant, telling me about the next Bundles for Babies class. He recommended I sign up for it and I did.

I went and immediately felt out of place. I sat with women with big bellies, ones who already knew their baby's gender and some who were on baby number two, but that went away just a few minutes into the first briefing.

I learned about what items I would need for my baby and which ones my baby could do without. I learned about ways to save up for a college education, what will happen with my TriCare during the pregnancy and birth, and how everything down to caring for my teeth can affect my growing child.

We talked about breastfeeding, discussed the difference between crying from pain and crying just because, and practiced swaddling baby dolls. I learned that I should leave the swaddling up to my fiancé though, because dads are good at it.

I walked out a few hours later feeling more confident and ready to handle the cards I was dealt. I also received a few gender-neutral baby outfits and crib bedding.

Now 11 weeks pregnant, I still suffer from the blood clot. Some days are worse than others, and I still visit the doctor on what seems like a weekly basis, but my baby is healthy and growing just like it should.

I have the overwhelming support from my fiancé, our families, my coworkers and my first sergeant.
I know I have a ways to go before I get to meet my baby, but I'm ready for it. I'm young, but my life isn't over. It's just beginning.