When I was five months pregnant with my youngest daughter, the doctors thought I had breast cancer. They called a bunch of doctors into the room while my boobs were exposed for all to see (thank god they still pointed to the ceiling) and they started talking about terminating...the pregnancy. If I had cancer.
As I walked into the hospital to get the results of a very painful biopsy, my husband called from Asia.
"Good luck," he said simply.
I'm not saying he wasn't worried; I'm sure he was. But he wasn't there.
He spent a total of about five years deployed while we were married. I sometimes waited four or five weeks between phone calls, and I had no idea when I would hear from him or where he was. Submarines don't have telephones, and email was unreliable at best.
There was no 'just-wait-until-your-dad-gets-home' going on in my house...were we going to wait six months? No. That water bill wasn't going to wait six months either. So I did everything alone. I had to.
In the beginning, I waited at the pier in my new outfit with the other wives, waving with excitement as I watched the sub pull in. Towards the end, managing his life was just another household chore for me and I would ask, pen poised over my desk calendar, "When do I need to pick you up?"
When he finally came home, he would give me a coffee mug from another country and then retreat into his computer room (as small and dark as possible, a replica submarine really) to play computer games. Totally checked out.
So, you see, I didn't really have a partner. I had no emotional connection to him; how could I? He left all the time. Out to dinner, sitting across the table from each other with nothing to say. No romance. No intimacy. As soon as I made friends in our new duty station, the Navy would order us to move. The overwhelming theme of ten years of marriage was loneliness.
The Navy was his wife.
Now, every Friday we exchange children. And when he asks me how and when to pay the water bill, I realize how much I was betraying myself by staying married to him for so long.