Our love soared, and I was blooming. I may have only been three months pregnant, but I had a definite little pot on me. I was growing a little baby inside me, his little baby.
I was very nervous of this pregnancy, not having H around. With homecoming date still unknown I couldn't stop thinking about going into labour with him thousands of miles away. 'He hasn't even left yet' I kept telling myself. I touched my belly and felt butterflies "You'll meet your daddy, don't you worry little chickabean".
H had read a few pregnancy books for dads. He bought Chinese chime balls, and told me that when I was feeling happy to roll them in my hand so that baby could hear the chimes, that way when baby is sad once born we can play with them and the noise of the chime will make baby happy. I remember him kissing me and saying "Remember baby, whatever you feel baby feels too so please try not to be upset". These words did make me upset, but also made me feel safe. H was really taking this pregnancy malarky well, and was showing me how much he cared for me and baby. He also read that babies recognise peoples voices once born, this bothered H as he was worried baby wouldn't know his voice. So he chose a book that he loved to read to J, The Gruffelo. He recorded himself reading the book and made me promise that I would play it to my bump over the next six months for baby to know his voice. I didn't solely play this recording for baby to know his voice, I listened to it when calls were rare and I was scared of forgetting the sound of his voice myself. Amazingly I did not get bored of hearing the story, J would often ask me to pay it for his bedtime story, and follow the words in the book with his finger.
H and I went away for a weekend before he deployed for Afghanistan. We stayed in a gorgeous little cottage in North Wales. We used this time to relax and forget what the future promised. For those few days/nights we were just a normal couple. We were able to be ourselves, and not worry. H would run me a bath, and I could relax whilst he started the fire and chose a DVD for that night. We may not have spoken about what was coming, but it was always there when I was alone, and during the quiet moments. We would cuddle on the sofa, my head on his chest, and silent tears would tumble down my cheeks. It was nearly time.
One night we lay in bed, talking about Afghanistan. Soldiers try to be hard, and terminator-like, but no matter how prepared you are, going to war is a very scary prospect. With his arms around me, a hand touching my belly, we lay there and cried. He may have only let a few tears fall but it was enough for me to know that he was human, and he wasn't a machine that was built for war. No soldier wants to die, but (as H says) they all know what they signed up for and they know there is dangers in the job.
The dreaded day came. It came too soon. I had to drop H to the train station where one of the boys was going to pick him up. There wasn't much to talk about that morning, I think H was worried to speak incase I broke down into tears again.
We got to the train station earlier than the arranged time. Neither of us had eaten breakfast, so we went to McDonalds for some food. Once we had eaten all I could think was 'Oh my gosh, this could be our last meal together, and it was McDonalds'!! We drove back to the train station then and waited for the boy to come and pick H up. I can't describe the feeling you get when it's time to say goodbye. It's more than a knot in your stomach, it's the feeling of dread and hope rolled into one. I looked into his eyes, praying silently for his safe return. He held my face with one hand and kissed me. It was the kind of kiss where neither of you want to pull away. In that moment you want the world to stop, so that what happens next never comes.
H's lift pulled in next to my car. This is it. I watched H take his bags from my boot and load his friends car. I breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth. The tears filled my eyes, but I smiled at H, I did not want his last image of me to be a broken woman, sobbing into her steering wheel! I do not remember who pulled away first, but that was the moment he was gone. That may have been the last time I kiss his perfectly shaped lips, or look into his gorgeous green eyes. The tears rolled all the way home. "Think of a wonderful thought"!