Tuesday, June 25, 2013
I can't believe It's been a month since my husband returned from Afghanistan. It's gone by so incredibly fast. As promised, to all that have asked, I'm finally ready to write about the reintegration process we've had.

WEEK ONE: Was indeed a honeymoon phase. Not only were we in awe with one another, but we could not take our eyes off of our little girl. After picking Justin up from his homecoming, we came straight home. A home he had never been in before. Surprisingly, this wasn't weird for him. After reuniting with our dog, Cooper, he examined every room in the house. Asking questions, just getting familiar. Immediately after, he showered, and a few hours later, he went to sleep with no trouble at all. That first day paved the rest of the week. Since I had just given birth to our daughter eight days prior, I found my husband being extremely helpful. Cooking, cleaning, sprucing up, etc. Before deployment I don't think I'd ever seen Justin do any of those things, other than the dishes a handful of times. We didn't have any disagreements, no one was on edge, nothing. This first week reminded me of our dating days. No arguements, no irritation or tension. It just felt good to be able to hold his hand or just hold him for that matter. He wasn't my "online" "overseas" husband anymore. He was tangible.

WEEK TWO: We allowed our feet to touch the ground, reality set in, I had my husband home and Justin was no longer in a war zone. I started to become irritated with Justin over things that were really minor. He reorganized the cupboards, like how they were at our old house. That frustrated me, because I'd developed my own "system" while he was away. I'm shorter than my husband, not by much, but he can definitely reach a lot higher than me. So all of the things I'd had in reach, were now out of reach. He displayed some "pre deployment" behaviors too. Throwing ALL of his laundry on my laundry room floor. Doing layouts in the room designated as his man cave room. It looked like the Army threw up camo everywhere! Throwing my washcloths in the shower, on the shower floor! GAH! Since I'm with Ava 24/7 I didn't have time to walk behind him and clean up all of the things he was doing that annoyed me. Justin had to attend his reintegration classes just like the week before, so I used that short time to kind of organize, and find some zen while he was at work.

WEEK THREE: This was our hardest week by far. Aside from the previous annoyances. I noticed that parenting Ava had become a HUGE issue in our home. A big issue for Justin was exclusively breastfeeding. Even though we were both fully on board with breastfeeding our children, we have noticed the challenges it presents. During the middle of the night, during the first three weeks, Justin would wake up and comfort Ava. He would soon notice, that after changing her, she was hungry. The only person in this house that can feed Miss Ava is her mama. I know he felt helpless when it came to feedings. Also, nursing in public. Even when I used my cover, Justin was extremely uncomfortable with me nursing in public places if it wasn't in the car or lactation room. I found myself being overly maternal as well. I wouldn't let Justin dress, bath, or cuddle Ava without me being right there. He soon caught on and he told me I needed to take a step back and relax. He said, "I'm her father and I'm not doing anything wrong." He was right, he wasn't. Somehow It was just really hard for me not to watch his every move with her. I think it was because of how delicate Ava is. She was still recovering from jaundice, I just didn't want Justin to make a mistake. Even though we are both new parents, somehow I felt like I knew it all. When we were out in public with the baby, I'd snap if things weren't just right with changing her, organizing her diaper bag, whatever it was, I was nit picking. One thing my husband and I have going for us, always, is our communication. Whenever I'd freak out, or he got defensive, we discussed it. Being able to talk things out effectively was our saving grace during week three.

WEEK FOUR: Still a difficult week compared to the first two. The upside of this week was that the heated climax of irritation and disagreements with parenting Ava has already happened. I have finally learned to loosen up with her. Being a parent is a learning process and each of us has to be supportive to the other. I can't complain on how well Justin is doing with her. Due to us being able to talk things out, we haven't had a "discussion" or "argument" since week three. It feels good not having to have those types of conversations. The other silver lining would be, we found our normal, just recently. Things in our house don't feel like a museum. Justin's here to STAY. There's no worrying about a deployment anytime soon. I can relax. I don't have to turn the lights on in the middle of the night because I'm scared to walk through my house all alone. I don't have to double check to make sure the doors are locked at night. I no longer have to haul the trash out to the side of the street. I sleep sound, knowing my soldier is laying beside me.

I know this process is not over. It just feels good knowing it didn't take us forever to find our normal. That was my biggest concern with this entire reintegration process. Everything about my family feels so right. Looking at our pictures, people think we have it all. I'm glad to say we do. Not only do we look good, but we FEEL good on the inside as well. There is no better feeling.

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