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Becoming a military father

By Technical Sergeant Carlin Leslie 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

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Becoming a father can be the scariest and most beautiful moment at the same time. Be that, you adopt a child or are the paternal figure in a child’s life.

For me, and plenty of other parents in the military, we not only have to worry about all of the factors that are involved in the Armed Forces, but also those small gut feelings deep down that make you wonder if you will be the father or parent the child deserves.

Before I was married to my beautiful wife, Alicia, I always had two goals in my life when it came to being a father. The first was being able to support my wife if she were not to have a job. Secondly, I wanted to be able to support a child and what expenses come along with that.  When both could be achieved I knew I would be ready…or so I thought.

We’re pregnant

The day of Super Bowl LII, my wife woke up not feeling well and just uneasy. With her not feeling like herself, I suggested we take a pregnancy test that morning. By this point in the “baby game” we had been trying for six months and for those families who try and try again, pregnancy tests become more and more heartbreaking.

The thoughts of “is it my fault?” start looming in your head. Did I do everything I could do to make this one a success? But just like all the other times, we were prepared to be let down once again.

After Alicia had taken the test, she left it in the restroom on the sink ledge and we had truthfully lost track of time of when to check the results. With being let down so many times as I said before, you just finds things to keep you busy to hopefully blunt the blow of a negative result.

Could it be true?! What do those lines mean? Could this be the one?

I grab the test and run out of the restroom, searching for my wife in the house. Once I found her, I just smiled and handed her the test and yelled.

“WE ARE PREGNANT!”

For the next nine months my wife grew a bun in the oven, every appointment a stressful encounter that books can barely prepare you for. Seeing the face of a little person that we would be responsible for on the 3-D sonogram, changed our lives in an instant.

So many questions were yet to be answered; what color to paint the nursery, how many diapers do you need, what kind of car seat and stroller, boy or girl, what toys to buy, what bags to pack for the hospital and most importantly, what will the name be.

The day she was born

Every father or soon-to-be parent has a very important role in getting their spouse to the location where they plan to give birth.

You can be prepared, like we were, and have bags pre-packed and already loaded in the car or you can run frantically around the house while your wife screams from the front door.

Some key points to remember though, are as follows:

  • In that moment, your soul focus in life is to be there for your spouse.
  • Have your bags ready to go, there will be a time when you can return home and grab anything you forgot.
  • Things are going to happen and you have to accept that not everything will go as planned.
  • Bring a flashlight.
  • Know that if things are not right and you need a nurse, pull the emergency handle.
  • Get rest--you are going to need it.

On October 25, 2018 our beautiful baby girl was welcomed into a completely dark world. That night my wife was forced to give birth by flashlight after a power outage in the hospital.

However, that didn’t put a damper on the most amazing moment of our lives. Getting to hold her for the first time was timeless. It was then, in that moment, that I knew I was going to be the best father she could have been blessed with.

At 7 months old, she is developing so fast and would rather walk than crawl. As she grows, our life grows, times begin to change and thoughts of what comes next for our little one fill our thoughts. Would I be a successful father?

Be back around the way

I do not know when, but a deployment will come one day while she is still little. Deep down I hope that when that time comes, I will have given her enough daddy-daughter time to suffice while I am away.

That is why when Lacey was born, I made a promise to her that I would spend one day or more a month with just her. ‘Daddy-Daughter Day’ as I call it; a day of pure us time; a day for me to just shower her with the love she deserves. And although every single day I cherish my daughter, that one day allows me to focus solely on her and ignore all of the chaos that surrounds me.

That is why I challenge each father figure out there to schedule just one day a month to spend with your little one. Make it a priority in your life to spend that day with your child and do whatever they want to do. Our first seven months have gone so fast and I am sure she will be 18 before we know it.

I love you Lacey Anne.


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