USS Arizona
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News From Home

Posted on 08 Feb 2023 @ 1:59pm by Kaitlin Broward & Lieutenant Ronnie Broward

Episode: E1: A Historic Voyage
Location: USS Arizona berth - New York, New York
Timeline: Date 2025-05-09 at 2130

Ronnie stepped off the gangway after giving the salute to the ensign and strode over to where he could get a nice view of the bay. He wore his Service dress blues after making sure they were pressed. He wasn't sure what his plans would be, but he knew he needed to get off the boat and stretch his legs. As he looked out over the bay, the breeze made the air feel nice and cool, even with the heavy uniform he wore. He checked his watch and did the calculations for the time back in Kitsap, before he pulled his iPhone from his pocket and hit the sleep button. The screen lit up with the selfie he and Kaitlin had taken before he shipped out and he smiled as he entered his passcode and punched her number up. As the phone started to dial, he placed it to his ear as the smile grew in anticipation of hearing her voice.

From the side table next to the sofa the warm crooning tones of Brooks and Dunn singing about spending their nights beneath a neon moon startled Kaitlin out of a light sleep. She'd fallen asleep on the couch again, curled up with a bowl of popcorn and a late afternoon movie. Without Ronnie home she'd let her sleep schedule slip. It had gotten harder to get comfortable at night and she'd started sleeping with one of those fancy U-shaped pillows that were supposed to support her belly and her back. It helped a bit, but without Ronnie there she found it harder to fall back asleep when she woke in the middle of the night.

The crooning repeated and she wiggled her way to a sitting position, huffing slightly short of breath at the effort. She snagged the phone quickly, though, and hurriedly thumbed the lock to answer.

"Ronnie?" She answered, voice cracking slightly with joy and a depth of emotion.

"Uhh no, I'm calling about your vehicle's extended warranty," he said adopting a faux accent before smiling widely into the phone. "Of course It's me Kait. We do have caller ID and have for awhile," he said imagining her rolling his eyes at him. "How is everything with the little soybean," he asked. His thoughts went back to his home, where his wife and future child were as he tried to imagine her. He knew by now she would definitely be showing the signs, but he was anxious to hear if there had been anything to report.

Grinning and, indeed, rolling her eyes, Kaitlin hit the speaker button. "Hang on," she said, "I'm putting you on speaker." When she'd done so she asked him the obligatory "Can you hear me?" and then, with his laughing confirmation, thumbed a dozen photos into a text message which she promptly sent. "I'm sending you some photos," she said, grinning, "while you can download them easily enough. Send me a selfie? I want to see your face."

They were mostly images of her. A few standing in front of the bathroom mirror with her maternity pants tucked underneath her bump and her shirt pulled up. She'd labeled each one by week so he'd have weeks 18, 19, and 20 from just that morning. There were a few others. Selfies she'd taken. She waited while he scrolled until he reached the last 3 -- ultrasound photos from her 20 week ultrasound done just that morning.

Ronnie pulled his phone from his face and opened up the messaging app after turning his own cell to speaker. He looked through the images, smiling at each one until he got to the most recent. He couldn't believe how much she showed after twenty weeks. He remembered feeling the slight bump when he left, but now there was no denying it. He then looked at the ultrasound image, seeing the clear image of his unborn child made him stop for a moment. He felt his breath get caught in his throat and his eyes becoming moist. "Kait," he said softly, "That's ours. Do you know if yet if its a boy or a girl?"

Her heart squeezed and leapt at his tone. "I told them not to tell me, but they wrote it down and put it in an envelope for me. If we wanted to know. I... I just didn't want to find out without you there."

He could hear the anticipation in her voice. He was touched she didn't want to know without him, but seeing the ultrasound filled him with a desire to know. "Do you want to open it and read it together," he asked her knowing the anticipation was evident in his voice.

At home in Bangor, Kaitlin's face lit up and a squirmy feeling of excitement filled her. "Yes," she breathed, "let me get the letter."

Her hand went absently to her belly, wondering if that feeling was nervousness or if she'd just felt the baby move for the first time. But the feeling persisted, settling in her chest rather than her belly. "Nerves," she muttered to herself as she got slowly up from the couch and made a beeline for the fridge where she'd affixed the sealed envelope. She pulled the magnet off, sticking it just above where the envelope had been.

Returning to the couch she perched on its edge, feeling the growing curve of her belly against her legs as she leaned forward. "Ready?" she asked.

Ronnie closed his eyes as he held the phone close to his ear. He took a breath before opening his eyes again to look out across the pier. "I'm ready," he said.

With careful movements she opened the envelope, pulling out one of the shiny ultrasound photos. It was similar to many of the others, but in this one it was harder to make out what exactly she was looking at. The perspective of their bean was from an odd angle. In the center of the image, though, was a red circle with a line pointing to a few brief words. Reading it, she placed her hand over her mouth, grinning and feeling tears prick at her eyes at the same time.

"Ronnie," she said, voice cracking with emotion, "It's a boy. We're having a baby boy."

The words made Ronnie's heart soar. He could hear the emotion in his wife's voice, and he felt his own throat catch as his eyes get moist. He closed his eyes and looked down as he felt a tear fall. His joy was overwhelming as he opened his eyes and wiped them with his free hand. "A boy...Kait....we are going to have a son," he said as the emotion made his voice break, "God, I wish I was back home so I could wrap you two up in my arms."

Tears streaked Kaitlin's face at the sound of his voice--the joy of the reveal mingling with the depth of her struggle with his absence. It had been hard with him away these last few weeks. By all accounts she had a normal easy pregnancy, but she didn't love it. It had been easier to deal with the unpleasant bits when he was there, but with him gone they felt enormous and frustrating. "I'd give anything for that," she admitted with a small sob, a slip up that she'd never made before. The cardinal rule of being a military spouse was not to make your partner feel bad for being away. But she couldn't hold it back.

"I'm sorry," she rushed on. "It's really ok. I didn't mean..." But they'd never lied to each other. Certainly not about things as important as this and so she sighed through the tears, guilt adding to the maelstrom within her. "This time is just so hard," she said, voice thick from crying. "Please don't worry about us, though. We'll be ok. I just... I can't wait for you to be home again."

Ronnie pulled the phone away slightly and sniffed as he wiped the tears from his eyes. Every time he went away was hard, but this time had been especially difficult. There wasn't a day that went by where he worried about his wife and unborn son. She never mentioned any problems in the sporadic emails they received from each other. He put the phone back to his ear and closed his eyes before speaking. "I know things have been difficult Kait, you and the soybean are always on my mind every day. I know its hard, but I'm coming back to you both. That is a promise," he said before whispering into the phone, "I love you both so much you know that."

Somewhere along the way Kaitlin had shifted so that she was perched on the edge of the couch, but now she flopped backward into an incredibly awkward sitting position that made her belly look even more pronounced. Frustrated with herself she swiped at her eyes and let out a shaky breath. "I know that, Ronnie. I promise. I love you too. We both do."

There was silence for a moment, the sort of comfortable silence that comes from knowing a person for a long time. After a moment, though, the storm of feelings beginning to subside, Kaitlin spoke again. "Guess we can throw out that list of girl names for now," she said, a weak smile lighting her face. "But next time I see you... boy names. I want to call this boy by his name."

Ronnie smiled into the phone again. "Are you sure? Soybean Broward has a nice ring to it," he said with a laugh. He made a mental note to check his computer again. Kait had sent him a list of suggested names in one of their previous emails, and he'd already been thinking about which ones he liked.

"Sure," Kaitlin quipped back, wryly, "if you don't mind the harassment he'll take at the tender age of 5 when he enters kindergarten." She was smirking, though, knowing it was a joke. She had her own list of favorites and was tempted to spout them off to him, but didn't want to Ronnie had even left, though she hadn't admitted it, even to herself, until recently. "At least shorten it to Bean. Bean Broward rolls off the tongue an awful lot better."

"Babe, that's genius! Bean Broward! Not only does it roll off the tongue, but its a nice alliteration," Ronnie explained into the phone as he heard her laugh come through on the phone. He laughed with her before sighing, the pang of missing her hitting him even more now. "In all seriousness, I'll be thinking of names that we can discuss when I get back," he said.

With the change in Ronnie's tone Kaitlin found herself turning somber again. Closing her eyes, she tugged her top lip between her teeth, worrying it in a bid to compose her voice before saying, with almost a touch too much cheerfulness, "I can't wait."

Ronnie checked his watch before closing his eyes. He always dreaded the end of these calls. "Kait, I love you so much. I'll call you again before we head out," he said as he looked up at the skyline of New York City before him. The building lights making it seem almost like daytime.

"I love you too, Ronnie," she replied, feeling the catch in her throat that warned of the dramatic pendulum shift back toward tears. She let out a long breath. "So much. But it's time to go, isn't it?" She waited for his brief affirmation of what she already knew before she spoke again. "I love you so much." She knew she should say goodbye. Make it easy for him, but somehow she just couldn't and so for a long moment there was silence until he finally spoke.

"I love you," he said again before he pulled his phone from his ear and ended the call. He stood there for a moment looking down at the phone in his hand before he looked up to the horizon. He felt the grin on his face spreading from ear to ear. He was going to be a father, and more than that, he was going to have a son. He swiped the phone open again and pulled up the number for his parent's house in Galveston. When the line connected he spoke into the phone, "Mom, It's Ronnie. Can you put you and dad on speaker? I've got wonderful news."


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