Having a career in the military is a difficult task, especially with a family back home. Being deployed for months at a time can take a toll on fatherhood as well as life in general. Navy sailor Chris Daugherty was so excited to be back with his family after a long deployment, but his wife had something else in mind for his homecoming. He got off the plane and his jaw dropped, he couldn’t believe the secret she had been hiding from him all this time.
Chris Daugherty is a U.S. Navy sailor who was due to deploy in January of 2016. This tour wouldn’t be his first one abroad, or even the first time he had to spend an extended amount of time away from his loving family. After being at sea for months, he found out he would need to stay longer than he thought he would, to his dismay. However, this wouldn’t be the only unexpected thing on his path. Once he’d come home, he would face the biggest surprise yet.
This tends to be the case with just about any military spouse or army wife, but Natasha Daugherty started to feel the familiar pangs of loneliness that came when Chris was away. Natasha and their 3 kids lived in Temecula, California and just a week after Chris had gone, Natasha was suddenly facing some changes. These changes began as smaller ones, but with each passing week, it became more and more difficult covering up the truth. There was specifically one person that Natasha was extremely careful not to reveal her story to.
Having three little children at home and a husband away in the Navy, Natasha sure had her hands full. Her eldest child was able to understand enough to keep quiet about what was happening, but the younger ones were a bit more difficult to keep quiet. Natasha was struggling to make everything seem as normal as always, especially with her four-year-old. The family was in touch with Chris regularly, so Natasha was worried that the little girl would let something slip that might raise Chris’ suspicions.
While she was extremely busy, Natasha couldn’t help but wonder whether to tell her husband about the changes or not. These changes would make a massive difference in both of their lives as soon as he returned. She knew that since Chris was so far away from home if she told him the truth he would just become distracted and anxious. The fact that they kept in touch on a regular basis made this decision a whole lot harder. They spoke on the phone, sent each other photos and had video-chats, but Natasha was constantly worried that Chris would somehow notice her hiding something.
Chris and Natasha met when they were both working in the Navy. Natasha was an IT systems technician and as soon as they met, Chris was absolutely smitten. He couldn’t believe his luck, that he met such an intelligent and beautiful woman. They had so much in common and began dating. In 2011, they finally tied the knot and after years of marriage, keeping something so significant from Chris was such a difficult thing for Natasha to do. There was one point after Chris left that Natasha desperately wanted to come clean. However, she decided against it.
Not The Only One
“I emailed him and I told him to call me as soon as he gets a chance but then I thought about it for a few minutes and I was like, ‘You know, this isn’t how I want to tell him – in an email,’” Natasha said, recalling the event. This particular task was especially difficult as Natasha didn’t want her friends and extended family to find out the big secret either. However, this would prove to be very challenging as close friends and family would soon start to notice things.
Things were brewing on the other end of the Pacific Ocean. Of course, these things were out of Natasha’s and Chris’ control, but they were unsettlingly close to where Chris’ base was. The situation was sinister and was soon spiraling out of control. Americans waited anxiously as the government of North Korea started testing ballistic missiles repeatedly over the sea of Japan.
In order to keep stable, Natasha worked two jobs and took care of the three little kids while Chris was away serving. Anyone else would have succumbed to the immense pressure but Natasha had made it that far and was determined to see things through. Times weren’t easy for Natasha and there were many, many times in which she just wanted to come clean to Chris and tell him everything. But she only had a week to go until Chris would return, so she decided to stay strong. However, she got unexpected news that made her rethink everything.
Half A Year Goes By
After five long and challenging months, Chris called in from his station to tell his wife he would have to be on base for an extra 30 days as an extension to his tour. The reason it was extended was that North Korea’s ballistic missiles were being tested close to them. International tensions were on the rise, as did Natasha’s anticipation. She wanted to tell Chris what she kept from him more than anything. All the same, she decided it would be best to just hang in and be strong for another month.
Even with her mind made up to wait until Chris got back to tell him the big news, Natasha knew that if something were to happen to Chris before she would get the chance to tell him, she would never be able to forgive herself. “As soon as we started having trouble with North Korea, I became worried,” she told NBC. “He was telling me goodbye. At that point, I was extremely emotional. I wanted to tell him, I wanted to freak out,” she continued. “But I kept my calm and waited, just a little longer.”
At last, the six months went by and Chris was on his way home to his family. The Daugherty children were barely able to contain themselves when they knew they would see their father soon. Natasha wasn’t sure how Chris would react when he would finally realize what she’s been keeping from him the entire time he was away. Chris had no idea what would greet him other than hugs when he would return to the States.
A Warm Welcome
Chris’ whole family made the trip to San Diego on June 23, 2017, to greet him at the dock. When he was coming off the boat, he had the biggest smile on his face once he spotted his family waiting for him. His little kids were all adorned with mini sailor outfits, and they came running to greet him. While the kids jumped on their dad, Natasha held back. Until he got closer, Chris didn’t even notice.
After saying hello to his sweet kids, Chris walked over to Natasha, who was subtly smiling. She was holding a big poster welcoming him back. Apparently, he didn’t fully understand the message written on the poster at the time. He went on to try and hug Natasha. As he was reaching out to put his arms around her, she stepped back slightly and dropped the sign she was holding the entire time. Chris froze in his tracks for a few seconds, just staring in shock. Finally, he said, “Is that real? Are you serious?”
The Truth Comes Out
The sign Natasha was holding had read “Welcome Home Baby Daddy”. Given that she and Chris have three children together, it made sense. However, the poster was hiding something that Chris simply hadn’t expected. Once Natasha dropped the poster, her shirt read “I am the present my daddy gave my mommy before he deployed”, and as it turns out, she was very, very, pregnant. People gathered around the excitement, and there was not one dry eye in sight.
Chris couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “It was a pretty awesome confusion going on here,” he recalled. “I was looking at her, then poked it because I was not sure if she was playing a trick on me.” Once Chris got past the initial shock, he finally kissed and embraced Natasha. This surprise of another child on the way just made that day all the more special.
A Proud Father
It just so happened to be that Father’s Day was a few days before Chris came home. He truly got the best gift of all. “I have three (kids) already now so a fourth will just add on to the excitement and craziness!” he said. The whole family couldn’t contain their excitement with this little miracle to look forward to after the difficult six months they had spent apart. What they didn’t know, however, was how famous they would soon become. And to top it off, Natasha had yet another surprise up her sleeve.
Those In The Know
While Natasha originally intended on keeping her pregnancy a secret from family and friends so there would be less of a chance someone would accidentally tell Chris, her stomach eventually gave it away. One of their close friends came with to the dock in order to video the whole tearful reunion. The video quickly became popular on Facebook and now has more than half a million views. All the same, everyone was baffled as to how Natasha managed to keep her secret for so long.
While trying to surprise her husband with such a big thing, Natasha figured out clever ways to keep her pregnancy hidden. She did her best to make things seem completely normal, which meant she had to go about it in a rather creative way. She knew she would have to send Chris photos from home as they always did. Which meant she needed to be extra careful, especially around the kids.
Natasha knew she needed to hide her growing belly in the pictures she sent Chris when he was away. She held their toddler on her lap in one photo, and in another, she held a beer can (that she obviously didn’t drink) in front of her stomach. With her eldest, she had to be properly fooled. “I had to tell my four-year-old I was getting fat. Otherwise, she would tell! Because she’s a blabbermouth,” she laughed, explaining why she made the pregnancy a surprise. However, this wasn’t all.
A Difficult Thing
Telling ABC news, Natasha said, “I found out about a week after he left. I didn’t believe it, I took the pregnancy test again and I was like, ‘Oh no way.’” When she found out, she was about eight weeks along. She was so ecstatic about it she wanted to email Chris about it immediately. But once she thought about it, she realized she wanted to do things in a different way. “I emailed him back and said, ‘I just miss your voice.’ That’s when I decided I’m going to document it with weekly belly pictures for him so he wouldn’t miss it.”
A Loving Secret
Keeping such a big secret from her husband was one of the most difficult things Natasha has ever done. She knew if she would tell him the news, Chris would just worry about her and be disappointed he had to miss out. Besides for that, Natasha wanted to share all the fear and difficulties that came with being pregnant. But at the end of the day, she decided the surprise would be more than worth it. Despite the fact that Chris had missed the first seven and a half months of the pregnancy, there was still another surprise in store for the pair.
Natasha was able to keep the pregnancy hidden from Chris, but meanwhile, she worried if she would have enough time with him in person before the baby arrived. Thankfully, they did have some time together before the birth. But there was still another surprise in store for Chris: would they be having a girl or a boy?
Revealing The Gender
It was obvious to Natasha that as soon as Chris would return, one of the first things the family would do was have a gender reveal party. At the party, everyone waited excitedly as Natasha and Chris popped a bundle of balloons to reveal pink confetti. They were having another girl! Their fourth baby was due in August, giving them about two months to prepare.
Time To Process
After Chris returned, the Daugherty family had some much-needed quality time. As well as stocking up on everything they needed for the baby and preparing the nursery, the couple decided to get a sweet maternity photo shoot done. Chris and Natasha had some great bonding time with the kids before welcoming their fourth. This was all Chris wanted to do the entire time he was away. However, there was one big catch.
A Matter Of When
Despite having months to spend time with his kids, there was still one difficult question weighing on Chris as well as the rest of the family. Everyone knew he would get a deployment notice in the near future, the question was when and for how long. Aside from that, what would happen once he would be away? The family just hoped he wouldn’t miss the birth of his fourth child.
Still On Land
The risk of being in the military is getting called up at any moment, but Chris hoped that wouldn’t be the case when it was time for his wife to give birth. Luck was on their side and Chris only got a deployment date for the beginning of 2018, and the birth would be in August of 2017. Chris would be able to be at the birth of his fourth child.
A Family Of Six
The whole family was so happy that Chris was present on September 2, 2017, when Natasha gave birth to their fourth child. They named her Anara Rose, and she joined her 10-year-old brother, 4-year-old sister, and 18-month-old sister. “We love you so much! You have completed our family of six,” Chris wrote on Facebook. “Can’t wait to bring you home.” The family was now settling into life with their new baby.
In the end, Chris and Natasha were both happy he found out the pregnancy news in person. Despite the difficulty of keeping the secret, Natasha was happy Chris could be part of the process when he came back. She was also happy Chris didn’t have to be worried about not being around when he needed to be away. What they both said about the situation is so sweet it will bring tears to your eyes.
“It was an awesome surprise to find out that way. Finding out in email or over the phone, that’s easy, but since she saved it, it was special,” Chris said. Natasha spoke similarly of the heart-warming events. “It was difficult but totally worth it in the end,” Natasha said to NBC. Seeing as the surprise was so successful, Natasha spoke openly whether she was planning any other surprises for the next time Chris gets deployed.
Any More Surprises?
Before Chris was due to ship out again, he and Natasha did an interview with CBS. Correspondent Jamie Yuccas asked Natasha “What surprises are you going to have next time?” Natasha just laughed and said “Nothing.” Since the first surprise worked out so well, it seems to be that it was more than enough. Despite the fact that it wasn’t a surprise, the family had to prepare again when Anara Rose was just four months old and Chris had to leave yet again.
At the beginning of 2018, Chris shipped out for a four-month tour to the western Pacific. He was by Guam, the Philippines, and Vietnam. He and Natasha had agreed that this time around there would be no surprises. However, he still missed being home with his family. Spending so much time away from his loved ones, Chris promised himself he would use electronics less when he returned home and spend more time face-to-face with his family. After the four months were up, Chris went home unsure whether his wife would surprise him again or not.
Family Of The Sailor
Once again, in April 2018, Chris was happy to be reunited with his family. Thankfully, there really were no surprises this time around. Naturally, Chris missed the baby as well as his family. While this homecoming wasn’t as exciting as the last one, it was just as joyous.
A Memory That Won’t Be Forgotten
After their story went viral, their video became popular on the general media and not just on social media. Various outlets all over the country wrote articles about their beautiful story. Aside from that, the couple was invited to do many interviews. While Chris was still in the military and had to be deployed every few months, on the other side of the country is another serviceman with a similar situation. The difference was that this one knew his wife was pregnant, but there was a catch.
Jon Keeney was well aware his wife was pregnant. The only problem was that he was away on duty in a more unpredictable situation with no hope of being allowed to go home. These were dire circumstances. Back in 2012, 26-year-old Jon was serving in the 305th Military Police Unit of the United States Armed Forces all the way in Afghanistan. He signed up for the reserve six years prior and completed a tour in Iraq before volunteering to fight in Afghanistan. When he was still away, he found out something he couldn’t believe.
Things Were Complicated
Jon found out the amazing news that his wife, Megan, was pregnant just a couple of days before he had to leave for duty. While he was away, Megan got difficult news from her doctor. In her fifth month, she was informed that her baby had a heart defect that was causing his blood to circulate incorrectly. This meant that the birth was going to be very risky and complex.
Getting To West Virginia
While Jon was bound to his job, he was still worried whether he would be able to get back to his wife when she was due. And even if he were able to, there was still the worry whether the baby would be okay. Jon had managed to secure leave during Megan’s last weeks in her pregnancy, thankfully. But suddenly, when Jon made his way back to America, his flights got canceled.
Time To Go
Jon took a seemingly endless journey back to America by a series of flights from his base in Afghanistan. To his dismay, nothing seemed to be going smoothly for him. Several of his flights were delayed, and worst of all, his charter flight from Germany to the States was canceled. Which meant he was stranded in Germany for four whole days. Time was running out and he knew that telling Megan would just stress her out.
Just In Time
Jon’s father used his connections to the US senators in West Virginia to try and help. luckily, it worked: Jon finally made it home, and as it turned out, he was just in time. Just two days after he landed, his wife went into labor. On June 7, 2012, Megan gave birth to Jaxon Lucas Keeney in West Virginia University Children’s Hospital. There were a lot of mixed feelings as the baby needed to be operated on immediately.
There are few things that are scarier to new parents than having their baby taken away for surgery immediately after he was born. However, Jon and Megan Keeney were lucky and the doctors were able to correct baby Jaxon’s heart problems. One week and many procedures later, the surgery was successful and Jon and Megan were able to take Jaxon home for the first time. Still, Megan and Jon monitored the baby at every given second, and we don’t blame them. Thankfully, the prognosis was good and the family was on track for a long and happy life together.