Holding Down the Homefront: Saying 'Thank You' to Pregnant Military Moms
Expectant moms in military families enjoy cake and comradery -- not to mention gifts -- at Operation Shower events.
Being pregnant is hard enough, but imagine being pregnant while your husband is deployed to a war zone.
In recent years, more than one thousand women facing such daunting circumstances have found some relief through Operation Shower, a non-profit organization that hosts group baby showers across the country for pregnant women in military families and pregnant service members.
Part of the group’s mission, says founder LeAnn Morrissey, is to show shower guests “the appreciation of the country and of other moms and families for what they are doing.”
Guests receive an array of gifts, from stretch mark cream to car seats. The gifts at the showers are purchased with donated funds or donated directly by baby product companies. Sometimes celebrities drop by: Melissa Joan Hart hosted a shower in Jersey City, New Jersey this year while Alison Sweeney appeared at a celebration held at a Glendale, California Disney Store last year.
But the real stars are the moms.
“I often say in my speech at the showers that Operation Shower is a vehicle to bring others together who want to say thank you (to military moms) — from people making handmade blankets, to people volunteering their time to make a cake or provide decorations, to companies donating product or dollar donations to support our efforts,” Morrissey told BabyZone. “We are working to create a chain of love that will reach these women and show them support.”
The gifts, however, are just a part of what makes the events so valuable to expectant mothers
Tara Szymanek, 32, savored the chance to get together with other moms.
“Many times I’ve felt isolated living so far from friends and family and I find it difficult as a stay-at-home mom to meet civilians,” she said. “It’s fantastic to have an opportunity to get out and meet some of the spouses in similar circumstances to my own who I may not have met otherwise.”
Szymanek is the mother of twins and lives at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst in New Jersey. Her husband serves as a flight engineer and is deployed on short but frequent trips. She joined more than three dozen other expectant moms at the Jersey City shower. Now expecting her third child, she was thrilled to meet a mom who was pregnant with twins.
“It was great to be able to discuss her concerns and give her some insight based on my experiences with my own twins,” she said.
Morrissey, who comes from a military family, founded Operation Shower in 2007. She was initially asked to send cards to four expectant moms whose spouses were deployed, but she decided to do much more, instead sending each woman a “shower in a box” filled with gifts. That effort evolved into the first group shower in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Since then, Operation Shower has held more than 30 group showers, benefiting more than 1300 families. To donate to Operation Shower, visit the organization’s website at operationshower.org.
Photo by Uptown Girl Photography.
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