We’ve got some great mom interviews lined up and can’t wait to share more with you. Next up, Keyla!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Is this your first pregnancy? Where do you live, what do you do?
First off, thank you Operation Shower for the experience and the amazing gifts. I felt very special and privileged. It was a great surprise.
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and joined the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. I met my husband HM2 (FMF/SCW) Jarrett Cooper at our first duty station in Mayport, Florida. We got married (going on 9 years) then decided to get orders with the Marines. My son Ryan Alejandro which is 4 years old was born in Camp Lejeune. We are currently stationed in Port Hueneme, CA. I work at the Naval Branch Clinic there. I am a full time student as well. I will finally be graduating on April 26th with my Bachelors Degree in Health Care Management. My husband is currently deployed and possibly won’t be home for the birth of our daughter. Yes! It’s a girl! And I can’t wait to meet her! I am due July 2013.
How did you hear about Operation Shower?
I heard about Operation Shower through my Ombudsman. They just told me there was a baby shower through the Fleet and Family Support Services office and just to call to be placed on the list. I was unsure because I didn’t know the sex of my baby. The day of the Shower some of the other ladies were talking that they knew about the organization because they had a website. I had no idea! I didn’t know what to expect! I was so surprised! I started to look at their website in my phone. I was amazed for the amount of gifts and happy faces that other showers showed.
How has being a part of Operation Shower impacted your pregnancy?
It has definitely helped to “ease stress of deployment”, Operation Shower’s mission, and that was what it was all about. After I heard that I made the list I went shopping for a dress! I wanted to feel pretty, it was like an excuse to get pretty, ready for such important event; a Baby Shower. I was honored to be part of the Shower; it’s amazing to know that somebody somewhere was dedicating their time to provide happiness for us in such stressful time. Even though after 9 years of marriage, 5 of them we were separated due to deployments or trainings, you would think that being away would get easy, but no way! Not during pregnancy. The worst part is for him to miss feeling the baby moving. I remember crying not because of the gifts but because I felt special, somebody was proud of the amount of sacrifice that we do. It was good to feel that not only people are honored by your husband’s service but for what you do to maintain your family during deployments.
After I came back home from the shower with all the fabulous gifts my son Ryan was so happy. He wanted to know everything, what the other ladies got, what I ate, if I had a cake. It was fun to share the experience with him. I’m so lucky to have a sweet boy that cares so much while his daddy is away. I remember him saying: “Mom I want to be a baby again, my baby sister is going to have so much fun and she is going to look so pretty!”
What are your words of wisdom or advice for other military moms-to-be?
When I knew about Ryan, at that time, I was not in the service. I got in every baby class out there. There is so much support for the military. Not only are you learning about pregnancy and its care but they give you things to help you with your new baby. So far for me both pregnancies have been so different. In addition, I was part of many organizations out there that help to build the morale that you need after having a baby. You want to learn about tips of caring for a baby, what other moms do and learn from each other. One organization that helped me was Stroller Warriors Running Club. I usually don’t run unless I have to but to me I wanted to try something new, for myself. They helped me to get back in shape after my baby. Even though I joined their group for that, I had the opportunity to meet other moms and make connections with the military community and civilian community because of the amount of activities that you become a part of. I was also in a “mommies group”. I met amazing ladies that I still keep in contact with to this day. It is hard to be alone in a new duty station, so let’s look for something to do to help ourselves and our babies to socialize. So get out there, you are not alone, there are many like you and make a difference in your family.
What are some of the most impactful ways that others can give back to the nations’ service families?
Operation Shower was amazing it exceeded my expectations. The amount of work, supply, demand, and attention is to admire and to do it every month, in a new location? Voluntarily, WOW! How lucky are we! Thank YOU for recognizing us.
To me is not about the freebies, but the knowledge on what we do. Our families are the most important part of our lives. Being there for us like Operation Shower is significant and that is what is about. If you want to impact us in some way, try to keep our families together. We will do anything for them and we will sacrifice everything for them.
Anything else you want to share with us about your experience being a military spouse or with Operation Shower?
Being a military spouse it’s hard, is not easy, but is fun! Life is about adventures, like riding a roller coaster. We are not afraid of the new, of starting all over again, of being alone. I have my amazing handsome Sailor and beautiful family to keep, to hold, to be proud and to love.
Thank you, Keyla. We’re grateful for your kinds words, your service and the adorable imagery of your son being so excited when you got home! (And, you did look beautiful in that awesome jade green dress!)