Having the baby, I told him to STOP right where he was.

“I was beginning to lose hope after months of trying to have a second child. In August, my husband, who is in the military, left our family in North Carolina to train as a warrant officer and attend flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, for 18-24 months. I trusted God that everything would work out, and I backed up my husband’s decision.

We only saw each other three times while he was gone, one of which was for two weeks at Christmas. I hoped that while he remained at home, we would conceive. Our adorable two-year-old little girl produced a video telling her daddy there was a baby in mommy’s belly, and we sent it to him ten days after that journey home. He described me as “overjoyed” that we were expecting a child.

My husband could not complete flight school due to unforeseen circumstances, and his position with the National Guard in North Carolina was no longer accessible. His dream job in the Army has always been to work with JAG, so I supported him in his decision, even if it meant moving across the nation to Seattle, Washington. In April, he left for Washington, leaving me to care for our toddler in North Carolina and enjoy every moment of my pregnancy.

Tiffany Jernigan

As my due date approached, I became increasingly concerned that he might not make it home in time for the birth. The travel home is eight hours long, and he didn’t have enough left to take time off before the baby was born. Although the Army only provides ten days of paternity leave, two of those days will be spent travelling. Rather than playing the waiting game for her to arrive, we wanted to appreciate the days we had at home with the baby. We planned for him to fly home the day before my due date, and if she didn’t arrive on time, I’d be induced the following day.

I remembered seeing other ladies who had professional photoshoots of themselves giving birth and thought about doing the same in case my husband couldn’t be there. I went ahead and scheduled a photographer because it simply felt appropriate. I still had trust that everything would work out wonderfully and that he would show up.

Not only was I worried about having the baby at 39 weeks, but Hurricane Florence had already arrived. My mother travelled four hours to be with me during the storm if I went into labour. Fortunately, the hurricane did not hit us as expected, and the baby did not arrive during the storm. However, I began to experience Braxton Hicks in the evenings. I began to anticipate the arrival of the baby.

My mother returned home, and I went to my last doctor’s appointment, only four days before my due date. I was 4-5 cm dilated but not labouring at the time. I called my husband and told him I wanted him to book a flight home that day after work since I had a feeling she would be arriving soon. His flight was scheduled at 4:00 p.m. PDT or 7:00 p.m. EST. At 6:00 a.m. EST, he would come to North Carolina.

I hung up the phone and went about my business, trying not to be too concerned about the contractions. To kill time, my 3-year-old and I went shopping with some pals. I thought I was starting to get contractions while out shopping, but I wasn’t sure. I wondered whether my mind was playing tricks on me because I was so excited to meet the baby. I began timing them and discovered that they were roughly 5-8 minutes apart. I called my doctor and returned to the hospital to watch them. My doctor confirmed that I was having contractions and 6cm dilated. He advised me to go to the hospital because I was in active labour. To inform my husband, I dialled his number. His flight wasn’t scheduled to leave Washington for another two hours.

At this time, my emotions began to run high. I worried my mother and husband wouldn’t make it there in time, so I phoned my friends to drop my young girl off as an only kid with them for the last time.

There were no empty rooms in Labor & Delivery when I got to the hospital about 6:00 p.m., so I headed to triage. I kept my cool and had excellent staff who assisted me in getting admitted. I was ready for my epidural, but I was worried that I would have to do it alone. Because it was a shift change, I requested my nurse to stay with me, which she gratefully did. My best friend arrived shortly after my epidural, and my mother came about 10 minutes after. I was moved into my L&D room. At this time, I was both calm and excited. All I have to do is find a way to get my spouse to me.

My husband boarded his three-hour flight from Washington to San Francisco. I was still 6cm dilated when he landed, so my doctor burst my water to speed up the process. Before boarding his final flight to North Carolina, my husband had 3 hours in San Francisco. We were hoping the baby would arrive while he was still on the ground, so he could at least see the birth on FaceTime. While we waited, my photographer Samantha Snipes of Sammi Snaps arrived and began setting up her equipment.

I kept going, and about 11:45 p.m., my husband asked if I had any last updates because he was about to board the airline. I was 8cm dilated the last time they checked. It was time to push! My nurse chose to check me for his own sake, and it was time to move! So many feelings flooded over me right away! I was terrified it was going to happen. Because it was time for his plane to take off, I was afraid my husband might miss it. I was ecstatic because I had been looking forward to meeting my baby girl, and it was finally about to happen.

Samantha Snipes of Sammi Snaps Photography

I dialled my husband’s number as quickly as I could. He was on his way to board the plane when he answered the phone. I told him to come to a complete stop since the baby was on the way. He took a seat against the wall, directly across from the boarding line. People boarding the plane passed him by as he sat there in tears of joy as his baby girl made her entrance into the world. He was disappointed that he wasn’t physically able to attend but ecstatic that he could see the birth of his child. At 12:02 a.m., she arrived in the world after only 11 minutes.

Samantha Snipes of Sammi Snaps Photography

Our beautiful, healthy newborn girl weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and measured 20 inches in length. Just as she was handed to mommy, she got to see her daddy. On FaceTime, tears streamed down his cheeks as he was instantaneously in love.

Samantha Snipes of Sammi Snaps Photography
Samantha Snipes of Sammi Snaps Photography
Samantha Snipes of Sammi Snaps Photography

Our photographer was able to capture not just one of our most beautiful, intimate moments, but also my husband Facetiming with us to be a part of it all. As I encouraged him to rush onto his jet to get to us, she hastily shot a family photo of us. He barely made it onto the plane, but he arrived safely at our home about 8:00 a.m. that morning, holding his newborn baby girl in his arms.

Tiffany Jernigan

I’m amazed at God’s timing in all of this. Military life is complicated and full of compromises for everyone in the family. Our first child spent more than half of her life without her father, and our second child could not have him there during her delivery.

Tiffany Jernigan

I try to focus on the positive aspects of our existence, such as that I am married to an incredible, supportive man who adores all three of his daughters and would go to any length for us. We are all so fortunate, and the time apart makes me appreciate the time we have together even more. Daddy will always be our HERO!”

Tiffany Jernigan

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