Thankful to be home
If there is one thing Lt. Cmdr. Bert Geis and his wife, Nikki, aren’t doing this Thanksgiving holiday, it’s traveling. Bert Geis has already been on six deployments with the U.S. Navy so far in his career. He has been to Turkey, in support of Operation Northern Watch, to Saudi Arabia at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, to Japan, to the Indian Ocean and finally, most recently, to Afghanistan.
The Seattle-area couple could come to his parents’ house in South Bethany to celebrate Thanksgiving with Bert’s extended family, but this year chose not to, with good reason. On Oct. 24, Nikki gave birth to the couple’s second daughter – within mere hours of Bert arriving home from his sixth deployment – and they are spending some much-needed time together as a family.
Geis said he knew his latest six-month deployment would be up around the end of October, near his wife’s due date, but they still had everything ready just in case he didn’t make it home in time. They had it all set up with his mother and friends of his wife to be there for his wife when they baby came – but, as it turned out, he got to be there anyway.
“Normally, I would have flown back with the jets, but I got to come back with the advance party,” Geis explained. “Typically, I wouldn’t have come home with that, but our commanding officer said, ‘We want you on that.’”
So, Geis and about 20 others got to come home two weeks ahead of the rest of his squadron.
“The timing couldn’t have been better,” he explained. “We got in around 3:30 p.m. local time. And, right around midnight, Nikki started to go into labor.”
He said that because the couple has a daughter already, they knew a little bit about labor and how long it can take but decided to call the hospital anyway, to see if they should come in. But his deployment caught up with him, and he fumbled the step back into civilian-daddy/husband mode.
“I called in, and the nurse was asking me all kinds of questions, like ‘What’s her doctor’s name?’ – things I should know if I was the husband, and I am sure Nikki told me in an e-mail at some point – and I couldn’t answer them. The nurse was probably like, ‘Who is this strange guy?’” joked Geis.
As it turned out, Nikki was, in fact, in labor and shortly after they arrived at the hospital gave birth to their second daughter, Charlotte Cassis Geis, at 10:25 a.m. on Oct. 24. The baby weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 19.5 inches long. She joins big sister Ava.
Bert’s parents and brothers and sister will be celebrating Thanksgiving in South Bethany this year, but the couple and the new family is content to stay on the West Coast.
“Since I just came home and the new baby and all, we are not traveling. If anyone wants to come out here, that’s great, but we are staying put and just looking forward to relaxing!”
Although Bert and Nikki won’t be joining them at the beach this Thanksgiving, his mother is just grateful that he is safe and sound with his young family.
Ann Davey recalled that before her son left on his deployment, he recorded books on tape for Ava to hear his voice while he was away.
“I think the first three were ‘The Hungry Catepillar,’ ‘Goodnight Moon’ and ‘Brown Bear Brown Bear,’” said Davey. “It was actually funny watching him on the DVD while he was gone, but Ava thought it was the best. She would sit and watch the TV and read along with the book. At the end, Bert would say, ‘I love you,’ and Ava would go up to the TV and kiss it.”
The mere fact that he is safe and home for now is enough for this soldier’s mother, and it was simply an added bonus that he got to witness firsthand the birth of his second daughter.
“Words could not possibly say how proud we are of Bert and what he does,” said Davey. “I think we were especially thankful that Bert was able to get home safe, and then to make it for Charlotte’s birth added on to our joy. [My husband] and I are so blessed for our wonderful family, and it just seemed to bring all these thoughts together when he made it home. It’s hard to describe the feelings you have as parents when your child is away.”