We are so excited to start a new feature here called, “Meet The Moms.” In this, we will be featuring moms from previous Operation Shower events and getting to know them a little better. We already know how amazing they all are, but we can’t wait to learn more right along with you.
OS: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Is this your first pregnancy? Where do you live, what do you do?
Mara: First, I wanted to thank you for giving me the opportunity to let others know how Operation Shower has greatly lifted my spirit and morale during the most stressful part of my life.
My husband and I are high school sweethearts and have been together for 19 years and married for 15 years. I have been by his side since boot-camp; 15 years and counting. I am a Labor & Delivery Registered Nurse and ironically I do work with pregnant people all the time. I do work out in the community so I don’t get to work with military wives as much as I would love to. I live in Menifee, about an hour almost 2 hours away from where my husband is stationed on the USS Makin Island in San Diego. This is my second pregnancy and I have boy/girl twins. I also have a 6 year old daughter at home.
OS: How did you hear about Operation Shower?
Mara: I actually have never heard of Operation Shower until I attended the shower “Sunshine Safari.” I was invited to attend a “baby shower” and I remember telling the woman I would probably be delivered by then. She said that was okay. I didn’t really want to attend but I figured well I might as well and I sure was glad I did. Later after the shower I went into the website to find out more of what Operation Shower was about because of the generosity that was shown to me during the shower. I wanted to know who they were. I love their mission of honoring expecting military moms who’s husbands are deployed with love and recognition by throwing us a generous and beautiful shower to help ease the stress and burden for us. They are true to their mission.
OS: How has being a part of Operation Shower impacted your pregnancy?
Mara: Operation Shower, like I stated above, has lifted my spirits during the most stressful part of my life. I was 28 weeks pregnant with my twins when I went into pre-term labor and was admitted in the hospital. My husband was scheduled to be deployed a week later. I was devastated knowing my babies could come early and my husband would not be by my side. I tried to be strong but I was depressed and cried all the time. This was not my first deployment but was one of the toughest one for me and my husband. I knew he felt it, too, and tried to hide his tears. He left as scheduled and I was stuck on bed-rest for 3 weeks in the hospital. I felt bad for my 6 year old not having both her parents home and only grandma taking care of her. Although she was in good hands she missed her mom and dad. Once discharged I went back in the hospital on a routine visit and was only supposed to be on a 24 hour observation for elevated blood pressure. I never made it and at 34 weeks premature and with multiple complications delivered by C-section by myself in the hospital. No one knew I would go into labor, not even me, so I did it all by myself. My babies were then transferred to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and my husband’s birthday in the hospital. Besides the birth of my babies and the support of family and friends it was really hard for me to find the “brighter” side of things when your husband is miles away. I decided I would still go to Operation Shower since I needed to get out of the house anyways. I was glad I did.
I found the “brighter” side of things with Operation Shower. I was at a point where pregnancy was not even enjoyable anymore without my husband to share it with. Everything was a race to get everything prepared before he left for deployment. I was a mess. I was amazed by this organization and how they honor US, the military wives because we do hold it all together. I felt special that they would go through such length to make us feel we count and I felt honored to be attending. It is difficult enough to be pregnant but while your husband is away on deployment makes it harder and more stressful. Operation Shower has shown us their support and love by throwing an amazing baby shower and giving us beautiful gifts! It’s not only about the gifts but they also educated the expectant mothers regarding pregnancy. I felt happy, overjoyed, and even overwhelmed. Each one of us that attended has a different story to share about how Operation Shower has impacted their pregnancy. My story is just one of the many of how they made a difference and brought a lot of laughter and some tears that day!
OS: What are your words of wisdom or advice for other military moms-to-be?
Mara: My advice for military moms-to-be is to educate yourself about your pregnancy. Know the symptoms of false labor and early labor. Read books while your husband is away to keep you busy during your pregnancy. Take lots of pictures after the baby is born and make a brag book to send to your husband. If you know your husband will be deployed or is deployed, have a plan. Know the hospital where you are delivering. What if the baby comes early? Does the hospital have a NICU? Who is your emergency contact? Who can you rely on? Who are your support systems? Try to make sure things are done and prepared before your husband leaves. Know the numbers where he can be reached including the red cross if possible. Update your spouse on what your baby is doing and whatever milestones they reach. He will appreciate you for it and put a smile on his face.
OS: What are some of the most impactful ways that others can give back to the nations’ service families?
Mara: There are so many ways that others can give back to the nation’s service families. Even just by the recognition that Operation Shower has shown us. It doesn’t have to by anything big. When I am out with my husband someone will thank him for his service, a few will say thank you to me but most often I am ignored. I may not be the one in the front lines but don’t forget about the person standing next to him, the wife who along with her children also makes a sacrifice. Neighbors can make an impact by offering to take trash bins out on the scheduled days so that is one less thing on her mind. Little things like that. Anything that they can offer can help. Their husbands are away serving their country while their families are left behind. I’m sure if they were in the same position they would want their family taken care of. Childcare is a big issue I’m sure to other service families like myself. Many times they are stationed where they have no family. There are still things in the home that breaks down unexpectedly like cars or refrigerators while the spouse is deployed. It’s nice to know someone is there they can call on to for help.
OS: Anything else you want to share with us about your experience being a military spouse or with Operation Shower.
Mara: Being a military spouse is not easy. Especially when you have children involved. Spouses go away on deployments and miss so much at home while proudly serving their country. It’s an emotional roller coaster. With every deployment I find it doesn’t get any easier. I actually think it gets harder with every deployment. You just learn how to deal with it. People often ask me how do I do it and aren’t I afraid to be alone. The answer is no, I have never been afraid because I know he is serving his country and this is what he chose to do. I stand strong beside him so he doesn’t have to worry about us. I have my weak moments but you just push on. My husband is my best friend and my family is my strength. My husband and family appreciate Operation Shower recognizing us as the ones that do hold it all together at home and showing us their support, gratitude, and love to these special expectant military moms. They have amazing volunteers and supporters that donate their time and effort to make this day special. Operation Shower has also given me a memory that will last me a lifetime. Something that I can share with my kids someday.
OS: Now that you have had some time to sort through and begin using some of the product, is there a particular product that you have really loved from the shower and why?
Mara: I do love ALL of the products from Operation Shower but my favorites are:
The Baby Ktan: I LOVE it! I use it almost everyday!!! I carry one baby in it while I carry the other baby in my arms! Since my husband is deployed I don’t have too many hands/arms so I use it all the time and the baby feels safe and secure and they fall asleep. I haven’t been able to get both of them in it yet as I am too scared to try!!
The Pottery Barn cribs and the diapers, which are a given! I, of course, use them everyday. They also use all of the clothes that were given to me. I use the diaper bag too. It is very convenient and practical. I also use the care.com bag inside my vehicle to put extra set of diapers, clothes, & blankets just in case I run out. With Twins, I have learned to be prepared. My 6 year old reads them the books that were given to us. They are still too young for the bath tubs and the bouncer but I know I will be using all of the items given to me!
OS: Thank you for your time, Mara. It’s clear you are one busy, busy lady. It’s our honor to get to know and you to be a part of this special time in your life!