An Interview with Hillary: Pregnant in Combat Boots

© Erika Hopkins Photography 2011

Tell us a little bit more about who you are and your growing unique family

I was a career solider until I gave birth to my daughter. I am a wife of a solider who is currently deployed, a stay at home mom to our two-year-old daughter and we are currently expecting our baby boy in September. 

What was the one thing that you didn’t expect, when you became a mom?

Being that I was only 22 when I found out we were having a baby, I hadn’t had time to experience “baby fever”. I had many different emotions at first, it was going to be the end of my world, I wasn’t going to be free, simply, I was just scared!  The biggest thing I didn’t expect was how fun, awesome and rewarding being a mom truly is. The rewards are worth the stress and hard work that goes along with being a parent.

© Erika Hopkins Photography 20113 tips you would offer to moms expecting their second child

1. Inventory the baby items you already have, to help determine what you might actually need. I was hoping we would have a boy one day, so I registered for mostly all gender-neutral items, for our daughter. So many of the items will also work great for our son. 

2. Create a great support system around you that can alleviate some of the stressors during your pregnancy. From the doctors appointments to simply going grocery shopping during the 3rd trimester, you will want to have someone watch your child for a little bit of time. 

3. Make time for yourself! During my first pregnancy, I didn’t have any responsibilities, I could come home from work and relax and do whatever I wanted. Now that I have a toddler running around, I couldn’t just sleep during my first trimester, like I wanted to. Also, don’t forget to stop and take care of yourself, make yourself a priority; eat, exercise and make a little “me time”. Remember, you need to take care of not only your child, and yourself but also that little baby in your belly. 

What was it like to transform from solider to new mom?

It was extremely difficult to transition from solider to new mom. I loved being competitive and being a solider gave me many opportunities to do so. There was a lot of pride and satisfaction in my job; promotional awards, pats on the back, being recognized for doing a great job. I enjoyed my job and was really good at it! When I first become a mom, I had some mixed emotions that were not the healthiest. To be completely honest, I missed being a solider; I missed the pats on the back and the praise. I felt like everything was just expected as a mom. The feeling of accomplishment was a lot harder to come by, I didn’t feel that I was important or that people needed me. It wasn’t very long after my daughter was born, that I began to understand that being a mom is much more important than anything I ever did in the army! I am helping to mold a human being into someone who will make a difference in the world. The praise I receive now is very different than before; when I look into my daughter’s eyes I see the accomplishment and pride, ten fold!

How do you do it all, a husband deployed, a 2.5 year old and a bun in the oven?

If I let my circumstances take over I tend to get overwhelmed and stressed easily. The biggest thing that keeps me from stressing out, is my faith. Without my faith, I think I could be a very emotional woman; it helps me cope with everything and stay extremely grounded. I am not perfect by any means, there are some days that are harder than others but my faith keeps me focused.

Having an active social life is really helpful as well. Even though I am not working, I am actively involved in the community, my church, bible study and with other wives whose husbands are deployed. Having events and places to be helps build structure, without it I probably wouldn’t leave the house as much as I should. Also, these activities give my daughter the opportunity to socialize with kids her age.

© Erika Hopkins Photography 2011What has been your favorite single moment you have been able to share with your husband, since he deployed?

When we found out we were having a boy! My husband was hoping for a boy, I was too, for his sake. I knew the appointment time, so when I was able to talk to him I told him what time it would be his time, so we could possibliy find out together. I hadn’t spoke to him in 8 days and I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to remind him of the appointment. So I emailed him the night before (morning his time), he hadn’t checked it in forever, but I thought maybe by chance he would be able to. Completely discouraged was an understatement, to how I had been feeling. He didn’t have email access so how was he going to have phone access? So the day of my appointment, he awoke to find out he wasn’t going on a mission. This mission would have communication access, so after a bit of begging, he was able to go. All he wanted to do was call and talk, not realizing it was the big appointment day. He was finally able to check his e-mail and his heart sank, he thought he missed it! He read it again and realized he didn’t miss it; he still had 8 hours. He was running late to get back, in fact he wasn’t sure exactly how to get back. I truly believe it was divine intervention, it all worked out! He was able to get back in time to call, in fact he was more on time for the appointment than I was, and he had perfect reception the whole time!

We sat on the phone for 20 minutes, while the tech tried to determine the gender. It was taking extra long since the umbilical cord was between his legs, blocking the view. My husband was starting to get discourage that he wasn’t going to find out. But once again, it all worked out, the tech was able to tell us “it’s a boy”! I started screaming and crying, he was a bit confused with all the commotion and asked, “Are you crying?” When I said yes, he knew it was a boy and he started yelling it to all the people around him. It was pure magic!

What can the readers do to support families like yours?

Be a support system. Your time means more than anything else, offer to help cook, clean, babysit; anything that will make their lives easier.

About Erika

Erika is a published photographer who focuses primarily on newborn and family photography. She shoots natural light portraits across America while maintaining two central locations in Orlando, FL and Charleston, SC. Erika's work has been featured on television (ABC and NBC), charity billboards, national print magazines, and editorial family and wedding blogs.

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