Confessions of A Fire Wife

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

I've been trying to write this post for two months now, but every time I have sat down to write it end up clicking the laptop closed. I have so much to say, and don't even know where to start! I'm determined to give it my best shot this time around, though, so here goes nothin'!

When I first met Brian, he was a Sergeant in the Marine Corps. We actually spent our first 5 months together living on base in Hawaii...definitely a blissful beginning to our relationship! I had to come back home to California, though, and 5 months after that he finally got out of the USMC and joined me. It was amazing to finally be together where all of our close friends and family lived, but it was also terrifying. The military tries their best to prepare veterans for coming back in to the "real world", but starting from scratch is never easy. Especially when you've just spent years of your life having a steady paycheck, benefits, and never wondering where you need to go or be because someone was always telling you. 

We got lucky, and Brian was hooked up with a couple jobs right away, but we definitely struggled. It was only due to the help of our families that we were able to get on our feet, and we managed to scrimp and save enough to have a wedding, buy a house (we closed escrow on our wedding day!), and a couple of weeks later, a new car. Just two weeks after that, we found out we were pregnant with Baylee. Six weeks later, I was out of work on disability due to terrible sciatica and severe morning sickness. Then, I was laid off and decided for sure to be a stay-at-home-mom. We were definitely scared about getting by with a family of three on one income. Brian knew that he needed something more. He needed a career and not just a job. It was around this time that he decided to pursue a new dream, and he applied to be a firefighter. We had no idea how long the process was going to take, but after 3 crazy years (which included him getting injured on the job, and then laid off, and also us going through infertility and then doing IVF...I'm not kidding when I say "crazy years") we finally got a letter with Brian's start date for the academy. It was bittersweet, because I was over 6 months pregnant with Natalie at the time he started (which meant he was only home 1 or 2 days a week for the remainder of my pregnancy and her first 7 weeks of life) but our lives were about to change completely and we knew it would all be worth it in the end.

Once the academy was over, Brian went straight in to being a probationary firefighter literally the day after graduation. Nothing could have prepared me for the world of recalls, 72-96 hour shifts, and minimal contact with my husband. All the while, I was caring for a newborn and a 3-year-old primarily on my own, and it was hard. I look back, and I still don't completely know how I managed to make it through those first 6 months of our new journey, but somehow God gave me the strength. I remember sitting there on the hardest days thinking "This is what we hoped and prayed for. This is God answering." and it would help.

As time has gone on, though, it's gotten a little easier every day. I have learned to adapt to our new lifestyle, and watching Brian smile talking about what he does on shift reminds me just how great the decision to become a firefighter was for him. My husband was made to be a firefighter. I truly believe it was always his destiny. 

It's funny to see people's reactions when I tell them my husband is a firefighter. They're always so intrigued and say "Oh how nice for you!", but I snicker to myself knowing good and well that it's not always a glamorous life being a fire wife. It's spending nights alone with one side of the bed cold. It's hearing "When's Daddy coming home?" followed by a sad sigh when you have to answer "Not for a few more days." It's learning to go to events alone and getting used to the "Do you even still have a husband?" jokes. It's having to be Mom & Dad on a regular basis and then having to switch right back to normal when he comes back home. It's learning to kill the bugs and fix things around the house that can't wait. It's starting to unpack at your brand new house by yourself because he got called out to a strike team for a week the day after your moved in (true story!). It's holidays celebrated late or on different days, rarely finding time for date nights, missed communication, and a lot of marriage strain. 

But I would be lying if I said it wasn't 110% worth it. And in the end, it's made me a stronger more independent woman than I ever thought I could be. As for our girls? They, of course, miss him when he's on shift, but you should see their faces light up and the shrieks of "Daddy!!!" when he walks through the door. Priceless. And Baylee is so proud of him. Just today, I dropped her off at school, and noticed that the teacher had posted on the wall drawings of heroes that her and her classmates had done. Amongst the Spidermans and Captain Americas was a drawing of a firefighter with Baylee Tibbetts written across the top. My girl's hero is her Daddy, and he always will be.  

If you've read this far, you are definitely my best friend! I wasn't kidding when I said I have a lot to say, but I wanted to share my side of what it's really like to be a fire family. It's not an easy life, but it's a great life, and I wouldn't trade it for the world! 


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