Having a Baby in the Navy: A Memoire
By Deborah Welch, Navy
Writing Type: Prose
It was the Vietnam era, the 1970's, when my daughter was born while I was stationed at the Communications Center in Charleston, S.C. What a life-changing event for me at 24, five days away from turning 25 years old. Her dad and I met while we were both TAD (Temporary Assigned Duty) attending naval schools in California. Her dad was on a destroyer in a Mediterranean at the time of her birth. I felt so fulfilled even when I was big as a blimp. After a difficult 11 hours of labor I had a saddle block delivery.
Of course, I had been given maternity leave and put on a day schedule at work I was late by two weeks, and we were all getting anxious. I told everyone, "God is making her extra special." He did. I started reading about raising a child as I wasn't given an immediate knowledge as some think mothers are. She was so precious-- my girlfriend and I would watch her instead of the television. A real charmer!
Not too long after schedules were resumed, my family came to visit their new granddaughter. Then the joy became problematic. I received orders for Keflavik, Iceland, for two years of isolated duty. My time was up and I would have needed to re-up for another two years, as well. She was a newborn. I was young and unprepared to bring a baby overseas. She would need a series inoculations and I knew she was much too young to receive them. I pleaded by letter to be given a wait period until she turned six months old. There was another option, the Naval Communications Station in Sidi Yahia, Morocco. Yet for both places I would need to find a nurse or full-time child care giver for a newborn while I worked a 56 hour rotating watch bill. This did not sound good to me.
Since I was not granted a wait period, I completed my enlistment by a few months and received an Honorable Discharge under general conditions. I was a 3rd Class Radioman Petty Officer with five years of active duty service. I drove home with my girlfriend and my baby girl to New York. She is now 40 years old, beautiful, talented, intelligent, a USAF veteran married to a Retired USAF officer and I have grandchildren to boot. Her dad is very proud of her, too.