Thursday, April 14, 2011

Many names (by Alexandra Rose Snyder ... Snow)

At MC 'A' school.

Alexandra Snow and I went through 'A' school together.  I think I stood my first quarterdeck watch with her.  Trouble seems to hang around her. And she's got quite a story.  This one's more of a love story, a bit tamer than the ones she may tell you herself.  Oh yeah, and she's added to her name. 

I wonder if I should still call her Snow.


At a youth soccer volunteer event.  That's me back there!

In my last year of high school, my English teacher assigned all of her students the task of coming up with a detailed five year plan. Nowhere on mine did I state that I wanted to be a wife, mother and U.S. Navy Sailor by my 22nd birthday. However, life has a way of surprising us.

I joined the Navy for a variety of reasons- perhaps the most prominent being boredom with my former position as a staff journalist at a tiny weekly paper on the coast of Washington State. Shortly after graduating boot camp and transferring to Mass Communication Specialist "A" school at the Defense Information School (DINFOS) on Fort Meade, MD, I was sent temporarily to Defense Media Activity in Washington D.C. while I awaited the start of class. It was there that I fell in love- with D.C., with being an MC and with another Sailor- MC2 Jonathan Snyder.

Shortly after returning to DINFOS, we learned that I was pregnant with our first child, spurring a whirlwind of changes and excitement.  After graduating "A" school, I accepted orders to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD and moved in with Jonathan as we prepared for and awaited the birth of our daughter Natalie Amelia.

 Yeah it looks like you're having a real tough time there Snow.

Being pregnant was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. I was physically and emotionally drained by the time I entered the third trimester. The Navy has an old saying, 'a baby didn't come in your seabag', and although my direct chain-of-command was very supportive throughout my pregnancy and subsequent maternity leave, I learned that this still holds very true today, because having a baby doesn't excuse you from coming to work everyday, completing your tasks and maintaining military bearing and uniform standards.

Holding her for the first time.

Our daughter was born Sept. 5, 2010. I immediately realized that the love I felt for every other important thing in my life held no comparison to the raw emotion that welled up inside of me every time I looked into her tiny face. It also made me realize, as I looked at her father- covered in spit-up and holding that swaddled bundle in his arms- that there was no one I would rather spend the rest of my life with. Our new life would be filled with worries about our daughter, hopes, dreams and disappointments for the future, but we'd get through them together.

Jonathan and I were married on Jan. 2, 2011. Since then we have learned that Jonathan cannot re-enlist in the Navy due to our job field being overmanned. He is now slated to retire from military in August after eight years of service. He will immediately transfer to the criminal justice field as a police officer- a job with a set of worries similar to the ones the wife of a Sailor, Marine, Airman or Soldier's experiences everyday.

'Will I see my service member again?' 'Will my child(ren) grow up without a father?' 'Can I suffer through this life without them?'

It's easy to take for granted the liberties that military service brings- a good income, job security and the chance to make a difference. Looking back, the Navy has given me the most valuable things in my life. This organization has introduced me to my husband, which gave me my daughter. It has paid for the Bachelor's Degree I am set to complete next year. It offers a consistent, safe child care facility for Natalie right at my place of work. I will be forever grateful for the security it brings to my family.

The Navy is like a marriage- a partnership that you have to commit to and push through- good and bad. Just like a successful partnership, if you're good to the Navy, it will usually be good to you.
Five years ago, the Navy and a family were not in my life plan. Now, they are my life. 



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