2. Across the ocean
The life of a military spouse isn’t really easy. Chris Daugherty and his wife, Natasha, were aware of the sacrifices of such a lifestyle. However, when time for deployment of the U.S. Navy arrived, it only made it more difficult for the young couple that had three young children.
Chris Daugherty’s whole family came to port to wave him goodbye when he was deployed on the USS Vinson. His wife and kids were both smiling and crying knowing that he was heading far away to the waters of Korean Peninsula to work as a Navy cryptologic technician. Chris would spend his time decoding signals and codes, but he had no clue of what was going on back home.
3. Months of Loneliness
Many military spouses and army wives can’t cope with the feelings of loneliness while you are missing your partner. It didn’t take long for Natasha Daugherty to feel the same. Only about a week after Chris had left for his deployment, Natasha started changing her course.
At the beginning, the changes were insignificant , but as the weeks passed, it became more and more difficult to hide the truth. With each month passing, Natasha was ESPECIALLY careful not to reveal her whole story to one person in particular.
4. Chatty Toddler
With three kids at home and her husband away on the Navy tour, Natasha Daugherty was all over the place. Even if her first-born was old enough to understand that he should keep quiet about the issues of his mother, it wasn’t really easy to keep everyone silent.
Keeping up appearances of ordinariness with her four-year-old was the most difficult task for Natasha. Since the family spoke with Chris on a regular basis, the mother of free couldn’t help but fear that her little girl would bring up a topic that would raise his suspicions.
5. Non-stop Contact
Although she almost never had any free time, Natasha was anxious over the dilemma of whether to admit something to her husband that would necessarily have an ENORMOUS impact on their lives and would change them forever as soon as he returned.
Chris being thousands of miles away from his family made it even more difficult for Natasha to reveal the truth to her husband. Such news would only make him distracted and nervous. The family kept in touch on a regular basis, and this fact only made the situation more chaotic. While they were having video calls or sharing photos online, Natasha constantly worried if Chris would notice she was somehow different and was hiding something from him.
6. Close Call
Natasha and Chris Daugherty first met in the Navy. At the time, Natasha was employed as an IT systems technician and Chris was smitten.
He couldn’t believe he would ever meet such a beautiful, intelligent woman with whom he had so much in common.
The couple got married in 2011, and after years of marriage keeping something so crucial from Chris was extremely difficult for Natasha. At one point soon after Chris had deployed, the 28-year-old Natasha finally wanted to come clean to her Navy husband, but in the end she changed her mind.
7. Not Just Hiding From Him
“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 recalled.
Not only did Natasha want to hide her big secret from Chris, but she wanted to make sure none of their friends or extended family could find out. It wouldn’t be long though until her loved ones would notice what had occurred.
8. Intensifying Danger
Circumstances that got away from Chris and Natasha’s control were whipping up on the opposite side of the Pacific. Far from Natasha, but so tormentingly close to the Chris’s position, an evil threat was growing rapidly and going completely out of control.
U.S.A and the whole world were holding their breath anxiously as the government of North Korea started testing ballistic missiles with no moderation. They clashed over the Sea of Japan. What would happen to the Navy Sailor and his unit?
9. Hard Times
To keep herself out of debt, Natasha was working two jobs and taking care of three little kids back home while Chris was on his duty.
For most of people, it would be very easy to fall apart under all the pressure. But Natasha already made it thus far it, but it wasn’t really simple for them.
Natasha had some difficulties in managing everything and there were so many occasions when she just wanted to stop all the lying and let her husband know what was happening. A week before Chris’ homecoming, she received unexpected news that made her start questioning everything.
10. Half A Year Passes by
After five demanding months, Chris called from his station to tell Natasha that his sailing tour had been extended by an extra month. This decision was made after North Korea began testing ballistic missiles.
As international tensions increased, so did Natasha’s anticipations. She was about to crack, and just tell Chris about what she’d been keeping from him. In the end, she decided it would be best to hold on for another month and that she’d stay as strong as possible to keep silent about it until he returns.
11. Torn With Uncertainty
Despite her determined decision to wait until her husband’s homecoming to tell him the news that would inevitably change their lives, Natasha knew that if anything happened to Chris before she was able to tell him the truth, she’d never forgive herself.
“As soon as we started having trouble with North Korea, I became worried,” she later told NBC. “He was telling me goodbye. At that point, I was extremely emotional. I wanted to tell him, I wanted to freak out,” said Natasha. “But I kept my calm and waited, just a little longer.”
12. Homeward Bound
Finally, the last longest month has passed and the six months of Chris’ deployment were over. The Navy man was ready for the voyage home to jump back into the everyday reality of being a family man.
The Daugherty’s children could barely contain themselves knowing they’d soon meet again their father. However, Natasha had mixed feelings and wasn’t sure how he’d react when he realized just what she was keeping away from him the whole time he was away. As Chris sailed toward the American West Coast, he had no clue of what he will face. There weren’t only hugs that would greet upon his return.
13. A Soldier’s Welcome
On June 23, 2017, Chris Daugherty’s whole family had made the journey to San Diego’s dock to wait for his ship to arrive. As he disembarked and spotted his loving family waiting for him, he couldn’t help but burst into the biggest, happiest smile.
Dressed in cute mini sailor outfits, Chris’ two daughters and son eagerly rushed to hug and greet their unaware father. As the thrilled kids jumped over their dad, Natasha held back but Chris didn’t realize why until he got closer.
14. Unbelievable Moment
After the sweet reunion with his children, Chris headed over to Natasha. Mildly smiling, she was holding a large poster welcoming her spouse back from his Navy duties. He didn’t realize what the message on the poster meant in that moment and went on to hug his wife.
As Chris reached out to hug her, she stepped back and dropped the sign she had been holding. At that moment, Chris froze in shock until he was able to speak : “Is that real? Are you serious?”
15. The Moment Of Truth
Natasha greeted Chris holding a sign that had a message: “Welcome Home Baby Daddy.” With three children between the two of them, the message made sense. But the placard was covering another message that Chris could never have expected.
When Natasha dropped the sign she revealed a shirt that read “I am the present my daddy gave my mommy before he deployed,” under which was a VERY PREGNANT belly! The family gathered, but there wasn’t a dry eye around after what happened next.
16. Stunned Sailor
Just-arrived Navy sailor couldn’t believe his eyes. “It was a pretty awesome confusion going on here,” he said of the moment he’ll never forget. “I was looking at her, then poked it because I was not sure if she was playing a trick on me.”
As soon as Chris calmed himself from the shock, he finally kissed and embraced his pregnant wife. Their tenderness revealed the joy of both Chris’ homecoming and new baby on the way. The moment was already so emotional, and even if it didn’t seem possible, something else was coming along to make that day EVEN MORE special.
17. Father’s Pride
It was a big coincidence that Chris’ homecoming was on Father’s day. He let down the anchor just several days after the annual Sunday celebration and he couldn’t think of a better present to mark the occasion.
“I have three (kids) already now so a fourth will just add on to the excitement and craziness!” he said. Finally, this family felt relieved after months of being apart, and they now had a new baby to look forward to. They couldn’t even imagine back then that they’d soon become famous!
18. Those In The Know
Natasha wanted to keep her pregnancy a secret even in front of her family and friends in order to avoid that someone accidentally gives the surprise away to Chris. However, her growing stomach became apparent and she had to insist for them to maintain her lovely secret.
One of those friends came to the Navy homecoming and recorded a video of the Daugherty family reunion. The touching video quickly became viral on Facebook and now counts more than half a million view. Yet no one, and especially Chris, could understand just how Natasha was able to keep her secret for so long.
19. Strategic Silence
Attempting to give her husband such a beautiful surprise, Natasha had to think of some pretty smart ways to hide her pregnancy. Chris’ wife made everything look like nothing was happening, but in order to achieve it she had to think outside of the box.
Of course, she was sending Chris photos from home to cheer him up while he was on his duty and update him about their everyday happenings. She had to be extra careful around the other children.
20. Don’t Blow It!
Natasha did everything to hide her growing baby bump in the photos she was sending to Chris. On one of them, she hid her stomach with their toddler by placing him on her lap. In another photo, she had a beer can in front of her that she obviously didn’t drink but used it just to trick her husband into thinking nothing was going on.
She was most afraid of her eldest child whom she had to fool properly. “I had to tell my four-year-old I was getting fat. Otherwise she would tell! Because she’s a blabbermouth,” she burst to laughter as she was explaining how she decided to surprise Chris in the most unexpected way. But that wasn’t all.
21. Hardest Thing
“I found out about a week after he left. I didn’t believe it,” Natasha, then 28 told ABC News. “I took the pregnancy test again and I was like, ‘Oh no way.’” At that moment, Natasha was about eight weeks pregnant.
Being so excited about it she thought of telling Chris the good news in an email. But on second thought, she realized it wasn’t the greatest way to do it. “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 so he wouldn’t miss it.”. However, this wasn’t everything she did.
22. Secret Out Of Love
Obviously keeping the good news secret from her husband was one of the most struggling things Natasha has ever done. She knew as well that if she told Chris while he was on his Navy Duty, he would worry and would constantly feel like he was missing out.
Also, the Navy wife wanted to share all the struggles and fear that she was going through while expecting a baby. But she decided that the surprise would be worth the sacrifice. Even if Chris had missed the first 7.5 months of her pregnancy, there was STILL another surprise in store for the couple!
23. Second Surprise
While Natasha managed to keep her pregnancy a secret from her Navy husband, she was hoping she would have enough time alone with Chris before the baby’s birth so she could tell her yet another incredible surprise to Chris face to face. Luckily, he returned in time.
When the couple met at the docks that day, Natasha had revealed to Chris that she was pregnant, but the Navy sailor did not know yet one vital secret about the incoming arrival. Would it be a boy or a girl?
24. Gender Revealing
It was clear to Natasha that right after Chris returned home the family would be throwing a gender reveal party. They invited their friends and family and gathered them together for the happy event.
Everyone was waiting anxiously to discover the new baby’s gender. Natasha and Chris popped bunch of balloons that revealed pink confetti! The Daugherty couple was about to have another daughter and they were over the moon from happiness. Their fourth baby was due in August, which left them a little less than 2 months for something were desperate for.
25. Time For Acceptance
In the months following Chris’ return, the Daugherty family was finally able to have some unforgettable quality time together. Apart from stocking up on diapers and new baby stuff, and completing final touches to the nursery, the couple managed to have some adorable maternity shots too.
The loving couple was able to have some bonding-time with their three oldest kids before welcoming the fourth. This time spent with his family was what Chris had dreamed of doing for all of his time away. But still there was one big catch, and everybody knew it.
26. A matter of time
Although he spent months enjoying the time with his family, playing and cuddling with his kids while the due date grew closer, Chris was wondering about one difficult question. And this worried the rest of his family.
Everybody knew that in the near future Chris would get a deployment notice, but when? For how long? If dangerous events happened in the world while he was away, that could delay everything even further. The family prayed and hoped that he wouldn’t miss the childbirth.
27. Not Out To Sea
For those in the military, it’s always possible to get called up at a moment’s notice. Chris Daugherty was really hoping that wouldn’t be the case when the due date came for Natasha to give birth to their fourth child.
Fortunately, the family could relax as his next deployment date was set for early 2018 and he would be able to be in the delivery room for his new daughter’s birth in August 2017 to enjoy the miracle of life before he went away to the far seas again.
28. Family of Six
Daugherty family was delighted that Chris was indeed present when Natasha gave birth to their fourth child on September 2, 2017. The couple named the baby Anara Rose, who got to meet 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 posted on Facebook after she was born. “Can’t wait to bring you home.”
As soon as the family was settling into life and routine with the new little baby, their true feelings about the whole set of previous events became more clear.
29. Worth It
Finally, both Chris and Natasha were more than glad that he found out about the pregnancy in person rather than while he was away. Although Natasha was dealing with a wide range of emotions while keeping the secret, in the end she was happy Chris came in time to be part of the process once he returned.
She was also pleased knowing Chris hadn’t have to deal with unsettled thoughts of not being with his family while he had to be focused on work. But what both of them commented about the events will bring tears to your eyes.
30. Their Words
“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 touchingly. And Natasha expressed similarly heart-warming sentiments.
“It was difficult but totally worth it in the end,” Natasha told NBC. With the successful surprise behind them, she rose attention when she openly spoke about if she was planning any future surprises for Chris’ next deployment.
31. New Surprises?
Before Navy sailor Daugherty was about to ship out again, the couple was invited for an interview with CBS. “What surprises are you going to have next time?” correspondent Jamie Yuccas asked her. “Nothing.” Natasha responded and laughed.
Even if it was such a great surprise that worked out for everyone, one seemed to be enough. Even if it wasn’t a surprise for them, the family had to prepare for the time for Chris to deploy yet again.
32. Yet Another Tour
As projected, in early 2018 the U.S. Navy shipped out Chris for another four-month tour to the Pacific. This time he went to the likes of Guam, the Philippines and Vietnam. Natasha and Chris had promised that this time there would be no secrets or surprises, but he was still homesick.
While spending so much time away from his loved ones, the Navy sailor made a promise to himself to put down electronics and spend more quality time with his family as soon as he returned home. Four months after, the tour was coming to an end and he finally headed home. Still, he was unsure if Natasha would really keep her word for saying there’d be no more surprises.*******
33. Navy Family
When he reunited with his family in April 2018, Chris was once again happy. To everyone who was doubting, there were really no surprises at his homecoming this time around. Or at least no surprises that we know of.
Obviously, Chris did miss his little baby daughter along with the rest of his family. And even if this homecoming hadn’t made as big of a splash for the public, the previous one won’t be forgotten any soon for a good reason.
34. Deep-rooted in History
Quickly after becoming a sensation on the Internet, the video of the Navy husband being surprised by his pregnant wife made it to the mass media. Dozens of articles about them and their beautiful story were written across the country. The invites to interviews were endless.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the United States, another serviceman had a similar situation to the one of Chris Daugherty. Only that he knew his life was pregnant, but here is a catch.
35. Homesick On Deploy
Unlike Chris, Jon Keeney was aware of his wife’s pregnancy. His problem was that he had even less hope of being allowed to go home due to his duty was active in a far more volatile situation. The circumstances were critical.
Back in 2012, the 26-year-old Keeney was serving in the 305th Military Police Unit of the United States Armed Forces in Afghanistan. He completed a tour of duty in Iraq and volunteered to fight in Afghanistan after he had signed up for the Reserves. And while he was away, he found out the unthinkable.
36. Obstacles along the way
Jon Keeney had discovered the exciting news about his wife Megan’s pregnancy just two days before he had left for duty. Now, he knew he had one more life back home in West Virginia that he was sworn to protect.
While Jon was away, Megan was going through some tough period. Her doctors have given her some difficult news. In her fifth month of pregnancy, doctors discovered that her child had a heart defect, and that his blood flow wasn’t circulating properly. It was probably that birth was going to be very complicated and risky.
37. Going Home To West Virginia
Even if Jon was bound to duty, anxiety clouded his mind. Would he be able to get out of his duty in Afghanistan, if only for a brief period of time just to be at Megan’s side as she delivered? And even if so, would his child be alright?
To everyone’s great relief, Jon made it to ensure his leave in the last weeks of his wife’s pregnancy. But as he made his way back home from the other side of the world, suddenly everything started going against him. His hard-earned flights to America got canceled!
38. Time Is Ticking
As Jon Keeney engaged in an tiring journey and exhausting series of flights to get back to West Virginia from Afghanistan, everything seemed to go wrong. Several of his flights were delayed, making him even more nervous.
Then, the worst news came: because his charter flight to the U.S. from Germany was canceled, he was stuck there for four whole days. He felt the time ticking, and knew the news would only stress his wife out even more. He worried what could happen to her.
39. Just in Time
Luckily, Jon’s father got involved, using his connections with US senators and representatives from Virginia to intervene for his son stuck waiting in Germany. And it worked! Joe Keeney finally landed in West Virginia, and it turned out his arrival was not a moment too soon!
Two days after Jon landed, his wife went to the delivery room. Megan was incredibly grateful and satisfied that her husband was by her side at the University Children’s hospital. On June 7, 2012, their baby named Jaxon Lucas Keeney was born. But he had to be operated immediately.
As soon as he came to the world, little baby Jaxon had to be taken away from his mother into a risky surgery to correct his heart problem. In that moment, nothing could be more frightening for new parents to endure. But Megan and Jon Keeney were in luck.
Luckily, after one long week of procedures, the surgery turned out to be a total success, and the winning trio could return home in peace. Of course, Megan and Jon kept monitoring their baby at every single moment. But thankfully, baby Jaxon’s prognosis was good and this military family was sure they were on the right track to spend a wonderful long life together.