Tayla has been through a lot and we are so glad we could honor her at our recent “Baby Be Mine” Shower in California. Learn more about Tayla!
Tell us a little bit about your self. Is this your first pregnancy? Where do you live, what do you do?
My name is Tayla McElhaney, and this is mine and my husband’s first pregnancy. We tried for roughly a year before he was deployed for what was supposed to be a four month tour — but ended up being nine. While I was back home in the Portland, Oregon area during that deployment, I took it upon myself to seek the help of a doctor. The first doctor just wanted to medicate before diagnosing, so I sought the help of a fertility specialist. I ended up finding Dr. Stoelk, who turned out to be the best person I could possibly see in the PNW area. He was so caring and understanding, which was extremely refreshing. Within the first hour of sitting down with him, he had a hunch which turned out to be spot on: I had an inherited hormonal disorder (insulin resistance) which because it wasn’t caught early enough, despite my numerous complaints and knowing something was wrong, created a secondary condition called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and it caused me to not ovulate on my own because of its severity; as a bonus, I also was diagnosed with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It only made sense when it was explained to me in the form of genetics, because I did not fit the “typical” Insulin Resistance and PCOS patient type, which is overweight; I have always eaten healthy, been active and had trouble keeping weight on, not off! When it was confirmed, he found fourteen grape-like cysts inside my right ovary. My husband was in port that day, so I was thankful that I could receive a call and vent about how hard that day was, and how much I just wanted to be held by him; my mother helped me get through that very rough time, and was extremely supportive, which I’ll always remember.
When our pregnancy was confirmed, we were absolutely over the moon! Our parents were too, as they knew how badly we wanted this for ourselves. Our family and friends who knew we were expecting (we chose not to tell very many people until we hit that second trimester mark), were able to see what we were having during a live internet broadcast that the clinic provided as part of the package we chose. We left with a DVD, and uploaded it to YouTube that night to tell everyone else that we were not only expecting, but expecting a GIRL! Emmeline Hope McElhaney is scheduled to be here sometime in the latter part of June.
How did you hear about Operation Shower?
My husband and I heard about Operation Shower through a friend that lives two houses down from us, here on Pt. Mugu’s Naval Base. Two days before the February 13th, 2013 shower, another friend of ours who is also pregnant, worked some serious magic and was able to get several of us who are pregnant and affiliated with the same squadron via our husbands, into the shower. It was a whirlwind, but was so, so fun and very impactful to our lives and our baby’s life with not just the donations but the love and understanding of what we go through as military spouses. (Operation Shower note: We are so glad some waitlist spots opened up to accommodate these women.)
How has being a part of Operation Shower impacted your pregnancy?
Being a part of Operation Shower impacted us in countless ways. Financially, we would not have been able to afford the items we received and in turn, it lifted a huge weight off of our shoulders. We also felt the compassion and pure love coming from each of the donators, and those who held the shower just for all of us military spouses. During one point in the shower, I had such a flood of emotions because I was thinking about what we went through during this past deployment, and where we are now; that day, we were surrounded by such loving and caring people who put that special day together for us, which was translated to a lifetime of gratitude for not only that day, but everything it meant and will mean when our Emmeline Hope arrives.
What are your words of wisdom or advice for other military moms-to-be?
I cannot stress enough, that being a military spouse is HARD. Being a military mom/mom-to-be, is hard on a whole other level. Take things as they come. Try your best to not get caught up in the gossip, especially when it comes to detachments and deployments. You don’t know when anything will or won’t happen, until that day is there. Having back-up plans, in our experience, also lessens the stress too. My husband and I have already devised two separate scenarios of who will be able to be there for the birth, in case I go into labor early or later labor and he for some reason, cannot be there. Just having those plans helps ease our minds, even though we hope to not have to use them.
My other piece of advice is something I’ve only recently learned with our family being several states away, and with some even being on the East Coast: the friends you make while you are at this duty station, will become your “military family” in a sense; help each other out when you can, because there will be times when someone (even you) might need help due to being on bed rest or maybe a night out to the movies is needed. Regardless, these friends will become like family to you, and you will thank your lucky stars for them especially when your own family is hundreds or even thousands of miles away and cannot drive you to the ER when your husband is deployed, or let you vent about how stupid you think the timing of a detachment is.
What are some of the most impactful ways that others can give back to the nations’ service families?
Donating to a cause that helps support military families, whether they are current, former or are mothers and fathers who lost their child in combat, helps tremendously. However, donating time… that, also helps tremendously. If you can’t find a way to donate time personally, I highly suggest volunteering at your local Veteran’s Hospital, Veteran’s of Foreign Wars or Veteran’s Administration. Countless times I would walk into the Portland VA Hospital with my mother (I was her patient advocate from fifth grade, until I moved away to Southern California to be with my husband), and see kids our age (18-25 year olds) who are there for a chronic pain treatment and are by themselves. I can only imagine in what ways someone can be impacted, when someone sits with them during their treatment so they aren’t alone or brings them books or other goodies, to help ease their mind and their lonely hearts.
Anything else you want to share with us about your experience being a military spouse or with Operation Shower?
Being a military spouse is like being in the military without being in a position that pays the bills. Although we have only been through two deployments of roughly the same length since dating and marrying, we know there are bound to be more and know they won’t get any easier especially that we now have a child due this early summer. We know birthdays will be missed, and milestones will be shared via email. We understand that we won’t always get the chance to be with each other on our anniversary, but we know we will have the chance to make up for it in our own ways when the time for homecoming nears.
When our spouses are deployed, organizations like Operation Shower, help lift our spirits in unimaginable ways. From lifting our minds and hearts, to lifting a financial weight off our shoulders when so many items are needed for a newborn, its truly amazing to be recognized in that way.
As a military spouse, you end up hearing how you don’t deserve to be recognized for being a military spouse because, “It’s not that hard, and they come home eventually… What’s the big deal?” They don’t always come home from work safely, let alone a deployment. Its incredibly stressful, but its apart of being a military spouse because it comes with whatever our husband or wife does for a living. Every marriage is different, and doesn’t deserve to be degraded. Deployments, detachments, phone calls and Skype sessions that you wait up until 0300 for, when you have work at 0530, happens to be apart of our story. Again, organizations like Operation Shower, help wash away the pain of separation due to a deployment, even for only a moment, and help lift us up when we didn’t think it was possible until our spouse’s homecoming.