“Despite the distance, we have never and will never give up.”
Welcome to the Despite the Distance series. I am Ali Rae of Ali Rae Haney Photography. I am a proud military wife to my Marine other half, a dog mom (times two), a soon-to-be girl mom, a photographer, and a prior teacher. My husband and I have been married for nearly four years, survived two PCSs, and are currently halfway through our second deployment.
Our time in the Marine Corps blurs together—TBS, being newlyweds, IOC, moving on my own, buying a house on my own, moving on my own again, adjust to “being in the fleet” (14 hour days are normal?), our first deployment, having my own classroom, and starting my own business. Notice how many times “on my own” appears. He was experiencing the real Marine Corps; I was experiencing the at-home Marine Corps…on my own.
My first year of teaching began while he was deployed I thought I was going to changing the world one 17-year-old at a time. A FaceTime hug and from 6,000 miles away does not suffice after a hard day of battling back talk and breaking up brawls. Eventually I had my Marine back to give me hugs, but I felt like I had only changed two lives—mine and his—in a negative way. I chose to teach to be mobile. With a degree in Secondary Ed I had no desire to do anything with a high school.
So I started my own business. It isn’t as mobile, but it is mine, and we are happy. I can’t replace that with a degree or steady income.
We are also trying to start a family. After three years of “trying” (my discomfort with that phrase is a discussion for another time), numerous infertility tests, two miscarriages, and a couple rounds of fertility drugs, the baby we have always dreamt of is on her way. However, I have not forgotten what it felt like to spend month after month disappointed seeing a negative test on the bathroom counter. Infertility compounded by the military lifestyle can make something so natural feel impossible. There are days, weeks, months at a time when the chance to have a baby is just nonexistent. Whether it is simply a night that he is on duty or a six- or nine-month long deployment, opportunities are missed due to the requirements of the military lifestyle. It can be discouraging and devastating. Sometimes hearing that others have experience the same as you is helpful, and sometimes it feels like such a lonely and isolating journey that no words of solace seem to help. I get that…I truly do…because I have been there and was there for a very long time.
Recently I was able to go visit my husband on his second deployment in Okinawa, Japan. Amidst that trip of sightseeing and revealing the gender of our baby (it’s a girl, by the way!), we also received the news that we would be PCSing to Quantico, which was nowhere on our radar whatsoever. The best part of this news was that he is to report in October…when my due date is October 2nd! I never pictured moving either nine months pregnant or with a newborn. But I know many military spouses before me have done it, and I will certainly not be the last to do it. Needless to say, my world was flipped upside down. I thought for sure the Marine Corps would keep us at Lejeune. After all, Caleb’s top seven job choices were in Lejeune. SURPRISE! Just like you will learn from the rest of the spouses’ entries…the Marine Corps will definitely throw you curve balls and will definitely make you expect the unexpected. After my brief 24-hour cry-fest, I mentally parted ways with the life plan we had set for ourselves and we started listing all the positive aspects of living in Quantico…and thankfully we found quite a few.
Despite all of that, we have learned to find the silver lining on every grey cloud. I hated teaching, but I started my own business. We had two miscarriages, but we got pregnant after 32 months of trying and praying. We are five hours from family, but we have cultivated a family here in NC and will soon be only two hours away and able to raise our baby girl with her family surrounding her.
So here we stand together, as the Haney family, as the Marine Corps family, and as the military spouse family, making the best of each and every situation the military throws at us.
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