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Like most expectant mothers, Chelsea Farmer is nervous about her new arrival.
The 22-year-old West Brunswick High School graduate is keeping the sex of the baby secret as she prepares for the Dec. 29 due date. She’s excited—but also nervous.
But sometime after Jan. 1, 2011, what could be mere days after the newest addition to the Farmer family arrives, Chelsea’s husband Patrick will be deployed, most likely to Northern Afghanistan.
Patrick Farmer is stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., where he and Chelsea live off base. Patrick is in the Army’s 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, 2-2 Infantry, Bravo Company, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Squad. At this point, he and Chelsea are both waiting for the arrival of their baby and his combat orders—not too close together, Chelsea hopes.
Chelsea and Patrick met as students at West Brunswick High School in Shallotte. She graduated in 2006 and Patrick, almost two years younger than Chelsea, graduated from high school early in 2007 to pursue an education in Florida working on cars.
But it turned out that wasn’t the career he wanted, and he enlisted in the Army. The two were married in October 2009 in a small and private ceremony on Gurganus Road along the Shallotte River, where Patrick’s mother was raised.
A month later, Patrick Farmer went to basic training in Fort Benning, Ga., and Chelsea remained in Brunswick County to finish school at Brunswick Community College. No honeymoon, no getting used to life living together, just the reality of an Army marriage.
“We had a lot of adjusting to do,” Chelsea said about their first year of marriage.
The newlyweds weren’t able to speak often—only the rare occasions when Patrick was allowed to use the phone.
“We wrote letters back and forth,” she said.
“I have had friends and family members ask and say, ‘How do you do it?’ and ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ My answer has always been and always will be, I can’t tell you how I get through being apart from my husband. All I know is I do make it through,” she said.
From basic training, Patrick was stationed at Fort Knox in March, and Chelsea joined him in May after completing her associate of arts degree from BCC.
Chelsea hopes to receive her bachelor of arts degree in elementary education, but plans for that are on hold, she says, looking down at the slight baby bump on her tiny frame.
When in Kentucky, they like to go fishing or travel to Louisville, about 45 minutes away from Fort Knox—that is when Patrick isn’t training.
It’s his constant training that has her feeling confident about his abilities while he’s deployed.
While Patrick is deployed overseas, which they expect to be between nine months and a year, Chelsea plans to move back to Brunswick County to be closer to her family to help her with her infant.
Chelsea is confident her husband is prepared for his deployment, and, though it will be difficult to be away from him, she thinks she can handle it.
“My favorite quote I saw on a shirt and bumper stickers is, ‘Behind every strong soldier is an even stronger woman.’ Not sure who said that, but that is so true,” Chelsea said.
“I never realized how strong I really was until [Patrick] left for Basic. We have been married almost a year and have truly been together about four months out of that year. I don’t think many couples would be able to go through that. I believe all military wives and even husbands would understand how that feels.”
From what she has heard from her fellow Army wives, the husband’s homecoming can be a difficult adjustment. After months, or even a year apart, some people find it difficult to adjust to life together again, but Chelsea’s not too worried.
In fact, it’s already what she’s looking forward to the most—that, and the birth of their first child.