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CHICAGO (CBS) – More than three-dozen mothers-to-be — all of them wives or partners of members of the military — were the guests of honor today at a baby shower in the Loop.
Nineteen-year-old Jenna Knickerbocker is 8 months pregnant, due August 5. Her husband Brian is a Lance Corporal in the Marines, serving in Afghanistan, and is not due back for a couple months.
“The last time I saw him was on Easter,” she said.
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The last time Jenna talked to Brian was almost two weeks ago.
“I went into premature labor during that conversation. He had to go, so he had no idea if he was a dad, or if he wasn’t a dad, or what was going on,” she said.
After almost two weeks of him not knowing, “He actually called me when we were on our way here. So just a couple of blocks from here, he got to call.”
Now he knows everything is fine with his wife and his soon-to-arrive daughter.
“He’s not going to see his baby until she’s at least a month old,” Jenna’s mother, Debra Colister, said. “Most men are there when their wives have their babies, and they can be part of it. I’m doing all that with her, and we’re taking as many pictures as possible, and trying to keep him informed. So he has pictures, but he’s going to miss out on a lot.”
Knickerbocker of Lansing, Mich., was just one of 40 mothers honored today. She and the other young military mothers-to-be each received more than $700 in gifts — including baby clothes, diapers, and laundry soap — that had been donated to Operation Shower, an organization that throws baby showers for military families.
Knockerbocker said those gifts would help a lot.
“It means a lot to me, actually, it does; because people realize that there are wives who sacrifice a lot of stuff because pretty much all of our husbands aren’t going to be here for the birth of the baby,” she said. “It’s stuff like this that makes deployment easier, in my opinion.”
Military husbands like Brandon Sanders, know how hard family separation can be. They also know how much organizations like Operation Shower help.
“One thing that is really priceless for soldier, especially serving on the battlefield is not having to worry so much about your family; knowing that they’re being taken care of back home,” said Sanders, who served in Iraq.
Sanders and his wife, Courtney, won one of the big raffle items today — a crib and mattress.
“We probably would have not gone for something this high scale, but it’s definitely a blessing,” Courtney said.
Many of the wives at today’s shower said the biggest gift of all is meeting new friends who know exactly what they’re going through.
“It helps a lot, because some of those people have been there, done that; so it makes it easier. I can go to them for anything,” said Knickerbocker.
All the moms were also surprised with brand new baby strollers. In just five years, Operation Shower has honored about 900 mothers and mothers-to-be.