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SSG Davin Hand and his newborn daughter, Aurora. Photo courtesy of Kelly Young/Lolak’s Photography
SSG Davin Hand and his newborn daughter, Aurora.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Young/Lolak’s Photography

Happy Father’s Day

Published 3:20am Saturday, June 15, 2013

Soldier dad meets daughter at airport

F or Davin and Lyndsey Hand, this Father’s Day – the staff sergeant’s first – will be extra special.

Davin was deployed to Afghanistan last summer.

The day after he left for the 10-month deployment, Lyndsey learned she was pregnant with their first child.

Davin met his newborn daughter, Aurora Lavelle, in an airport when she was eight weeks old.

Despite a world of separation, the Paxton couple said they worked hard to make sure he was as much a part of Lyndsey’s pregnancy and Aurora’s birth as possible.

Davin’s unit was mobilized in July 2012.

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“We communicated using video chat and email,” Davin said. “The military and contractors have set up online communications for the soldiers to utilize during the deployment to maintain communication with family and friends back home. The commander ensured I was able to use the online program to be with Lyndsey at some appointments and the birth of Aurora. Lyndsey contacted the spouses of fellow soldiers I was deployed with to ensure I was notified of when she went into labor.”

Lyndsey said technology made it easier to make Davin a part of all that was happening at home.

“I sent so many pictures,” she said. “I sent videos of her kicking while I was pregnant, and sound clips of her heartbeat. I sought ways to include him at appointments and especially during her birth.

“We didn’t talk every day,” she said. “Usually, we had one good conversation a week if the connection was good. However, we definitely are blessed to have had as much communication as we did. I’m so thankful for technology.”

Back home, Lyndsey relied on her family, friends and neighbors.

“My entire family was so supportive throughout my pregnancy,” she said. “I also have great friends and neighbors who did chores, mowed my lawn, and made sure I was surrounded by love.

“So many things were unknown going into her birth,” Lyndsey said. “However, Davin and I chose to have faith that nothing would prevent him from being a part of her delivery and God was faithful. Davin was with us via video chat all night and the next day without interruption.”

Using the Internet, Davin was able to experience his daughter’s birth with Lyndsey and her family.

“I remember hearing her first cough followed by a cry from on the other side of the world,” David said. “It was an incredible moment.”

The next eight weeks felt like an eternity to Lyndsey, but she also was excited that she would soon get to share her daughter’s “firsts” with Davin.

Both parents were nervous about the first meeting.

“I was excited and nervous,” Davin said. “I had imaged what being a father would be like for the past year. I was concerned about raising a child and if I were up to the challenge. When I saw her and was finally able to hold her, I realized I was meant to be her father and had always been ready for the responsibility.”

Lyndsey said she was more nervous that day than on the couple’s wedding day.

“As soon as I saw him hold her for the first time, I got a sense of comfort and joy that reassured me all those long nights were finally over,” she said. “There seems like we didn’t have a period of adjustment because Aurora knew Davin’s voice and was perfectly calm in his arms. I always knew he would be the perfect father and he absolutely is.”

This tour was Davin’s third overseas in 10 years of service. He expects he’ll be deployed again, but hopes it’s not soon.

“I would like to get to know my new family and provide them a bright happy future,” he said.

Still, both Davin and Lyndsey agreed that it’s possible for families to grow and experience life-changing events while separated, so long as each works to understand what the other is experiencing.

“The families that stand behind our soldiers already display an amount of selflessness and duty that is not found anywhere else,” Davin said. “It’s a challenge to be in the military and it’s a challenge to be a family member of a service member.

“My advice to the parents in a similar situation would be to always support the other and be understanding of the needs of the other,” he said. “The husband is away from home and faces a myriad of challenges with the mission, but the wife faces the challenge of being pregnant and carrying the child while he is gone. Both parents have a great deal of stress and some anxiety.

“We found it best to remain positive and communicate efficiently,” he said. “Provide information regarding the pregnancy and your relationship, and do not focus on small issues. Discuss the future and plan on coming home.”

Lyndsey added, “Seek to honor each other every day. You will find that being understanding comes naturally when you put your spouse first.”

 

Aurora was born Wed., March 27, 2013, at 5:18am at Sacred Heart Family Birth Place in Santa Rosa Beach. She weighted 8 pounds 14 ounces and was 20.25 inches long.

Her maternal grandparents are Joe and Karen Johnson of Paxton. Her paternal grandparents are Dannie Joe and Sheila Hand of Defuniak Springs. She is loved by great-grandparents Art and Estelle Felgenhauer of Crestview, Reba Johnson of Lowery, Ala., and Lunette Yancey of Bonifay.

 

 

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