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Becoming a military mom

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cortney Paxton
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
The moment I saw that life-changing plus sign, one very big question ran through my mind: can I do this?

After calling my husband - who hung up on me at the time out of pure shock - I paced the layout of my house for at least a few hours trying to figure out just how I could serve my country and my now growing family at the same time. As an active-duty member, there were things I questioned - things I honestly had no idea about at the time, and things that I would ultimately just have to find out through experience.

Unfortunately, my pregnancy wasn't the easiest, but thankfully, I have a supportive team at the office and an amazingly supportive husband who all helped me out every chance they got. After being diagnosed with acute morning sickness, there were days I just wasn't well enough to stay at work. With an already undermanned office, my teammates often had to pick up my slack, and although I felt guilty for my lack of productivity, I gained a whole new respect for the hard work my coworkers do on a daily basis. I even had a chance to see just how close-knit we are as a team - and as a military community - since there were things my teammates were willing to sacrifice for my well-being. Things like not eating in front of me and not wearing cologne and perfume just because they made me nauseas.

I went through emotional ups and downs and plenty of physical low points, which proved to be mentally exhausting - something that, as a person who likes to be self-sufficient, I'm not too proud to admit. But as a military member, I was surrounded by a family - a group of people willing to lend a hand in any situation - and all of them wear the same outfit I do.

Contrary to my own beliefs, I was never once treated differently because I was pregnant, and I was always given the same respect as everyone else. The only change I felt while I was expecting was the overwhelming response I got from fellow military members to keep me comfortable. I rarely opened a door (someone else seemed to always hold it for me), I was almost always offered a seat wherever I went and I got plenty of advice from current parents. And I'm not afraid to admit it - the "expectant mothers" parking was pretty nice.

There were some things I had to figure out on my own; like when to start wearing the maternity uniform, which I figured out was just when the regular ones don't fit anymore. I also found out that it's okay to go to the bathroom just to cry - for no reason at all. I learned that after getting my first referral from the clinic on base to see an obstetrician, I was approved for all of the following checkups - even the unscheduled ones.

I scheduled an induction so that my family could be here when I had my beautiful baby boy this past July, and even though it helped the members of my office plan and prepare for my absence, that wasn't the reason I did it - they were prepared for anything.

Now that I'm back at work, I'm still learning the dos and don'ts of motherhood and finding a good balance between being a mother and an Airman. My duty as an active-duty Airman comes first - I joined the military to serve my country. But now, instead of being a military member, I'm a military mother, and that makes my job, in and out of uniform, that much more important.

My little Zander, now two months old, is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and without the support of my military counterparts and especially my husband, I'm not sure his introduction into my life would have been as amazing. He has been a wonderful addition to my family at home, but also an addition to my family here at the office.