Ashley Charter

Will Our Son Know His Soldier Daddy?

Ashley and Jesse at a surprise baby shower given by their friends in the spring. With Jesse  now in Iraq, Ashley wonders whether their son will be comfortable with  him when he returns. i i

Ashley and Jesse at a surprise baby shower given by their friends in the spring. With Jesse now in Iraq, Ashley wonders whether their son will be comfortable with him when he returns. Courtesy of Ashley Charter hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Ashley Charter
Ashley and Jesse at a surprise baby shower given by their friends in the spring. With Jesse  now in Iraq, Ashley wonders whether their son will be comfortable with  him when he returns.

Ashley and Jesse at a surprise baby shower given by their friends in the spring. With Jesse now in Iraq, Ashley wonders whether their son will be comfortable with him when he returns.

Courtesy of Ashley Charter

I've been through the fears of "Will this pregnancy last?" — and it still seems unreal at times. But there are a lot of things I worry about.

Will I have enough clothes, bottles and blankets? Am I missing anything that our baby will need? Of course, if I don't have it now, I can buy it after he's here.

Then I worry about labor: Am I going to make it through my birth plan the way I want to? What if something goes wrong? Do I have everything I need in my hospital bag? Do I have the Red Cross message written right? (For births, deaths, or any other emergency, the Red Cross sends messages to soldiers overseas.)

About Ashley

Ashley Charter, 21, is a college student who lives in Lillington, N.C. Her husband, Jesse, is in the Army and is currently deployed to Iraq. They welcomed Abel Weston Charter on July 23.

The real worries I have relate to after he's born. Will I be able to do everything right? What if he doesn't like me? I know school plus an infant is going to be hard — I knew that before we got into this — but how hard will it be?

I have plenty of friends and family around to help me whenever I need it. I have child care covered for when I am in class. I also have the best adviser and professors in the world.

I do have the usual worries about being a good mom and whether I have that "instinct" that's supposed to kick in. But the No. 1 thing that I think about is this: Will I be able to make sure that our son knows who Daddy is?

Jesse left for Iraq for a year in early June. We have a recordable book Jesse put together before he left so our son can listen to his dad read. I have pictures of Jesse all over the nursery and the house so that he will be used to seeing him. Also, we use Skype so he will be able to see Jesse sometimes. But will I be able to make sure that when Jesse comes home our son will be comfortable with him?

Ashley and Jesse, shown last fall before their pregnancy. i i

Ashley and Jesse, shown last fall before their pregnancy. Courtesy of Ashley Charter hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Ashley Charter
Ashley and Jesse, shown last fall before their pregnancy.

Ashley and Jesse, shown last fall before their pregnancy.

Courtesy of Ashley Charter

I worry that no matter how hard I try, he won't recognize Jesse when he comes home next year. That he won't run to his dad when he gets off of the plane. That he won't want to be held by him, and that he will cry or be fussy. One of the other Army wives said one of their kids wants nothing to do with his father because he was not here for his first year — that he just prefers mom. And that scares me more than anything.

Jesse is great with kids, and he is so excited to be a dad that I can't imagine our son not wanting to do everything with him.

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