Navy Husband Returns Home To Find Wife Was Hiding A HUGE Secret

There will never be enough words to express everything the members of the United States military do each day to keep America safe. Service members are deployed every day and separated from their families for months or even years. Their only connection to loved ones are emails, texts, and phone calls. Distance can make the heart grow fonder, but it can also hide the details of the life left behind. How much of an entire life can you really see over a video chat? The daily occurrences, small changes, any off screen event is out of sight and out of mind.  No one understands this more than Navy seaman, Chris Daugherty.

U.S. Navy Sailor

Chris Daugherty is a U.S. Navy sailor and was set to deploy once again back in January of 2016. He was a veteran of deployment, 2016 was far from his first mission nor his first long stretch away from his family. He was set to be abroad for five months. Tours can last anywhere from two weeks to six months on average, so Daugherty was prepared for a prolonged absence from home.

 

Prepared or not Daugherty, after setting sail, would find his deployment extended beyond five months. It was the sort of surprise sailors and military personnel often expect. The military trains you for surprises in battle, on mission, on the open sea. The unexpected changes and surprises are more often what seamen meet when they return to land. The shock is what sits off camera, what goes unmentioned over the phone.

Anchors Away

Behind every military members is a family stepping up on the home front. As difficult as life is as a member of America’s armed forces those who stay behind have their own challenges. Natasha, Chris Daugherty’s wife, was used to the sacrifices and struggles that come along with the life of a military spouse. Residents of Temecula, California, Chris and Natasha were already the parents of three young children when Chris was deployed in 2016. As hard as deployment was for Natasha, adding three children to the mix had never made the long absences any easier for the couple. Chris understood he would miss far more than holidays when he was at sea. There would be milestones his children would reach that he would never experience. Natasha lived every day knowing that, though Chris worked to protect the country, as well as support his family, the day-to-day struggles of parenting would be hers to bare.

 

When Daugherty, a Petty Officer, was set to deploy on the USS Vinson, his family joined him amid smiles and tears. Heading off to the Korean Peninsula, Chris would once again set about work as a Navy cryptologic technician. Chris would decipher codes and signals from around the globe but be none the wiser about the details of what was going on in the home he’d left behind. He was employed to work out the codes and communications from around the globe, but it wouldn’t give him any more time to catch up with his wife and young children. The day-to-day details of their lives would remain a mystery to the Petty Officer at sea.

Overseas Tour

Loneliness hit Natasha almost immediately. Like any military spouse she had learned to expect the emotions, but they didn’t seem to get any easier to live with. She knew how to organize the house and care for the children, but her emotions were their own separate struggle to shoulder. Little did Natasha expect that this deployment would come with its own particular struggle. She found herself needing to change her usual routine to get by, to make everything run as smoothly as it had in the past.

 

She made small changes at first, but as the weeks continued to pass it became harder and harder to pretend that everything was the same as it always had been. This deployment was different, much more complicated on the home front than it ever had been. And, with three small children around her at all times, Natasha had to be especially careful not to reveal every necessary change to her dependent and curious onlookers.

Long Months Ahead

Three kids is a lot for anyone, but especially for anyone trying to balance life as a single parent. Chris and Natasha were the proud parents of a son and two daughters. Their eldest was old enough to understand that any differences he recognized in his mother were to be kept quiet. He understood no one wanted to upset his father while he was so far away. But his two sisters were not as old, and not as wise when it came to knowing what they should and shouldn’t share over their brief phone calls with their dad.

 

The middle of the trio of children was four years old when Chris deployed in 2016. This tiny of daughter was just old enough to recognize something was different this time while daddy was away. Natasha worried every time Chris called home that their four year old would spill some secret to raise her father’s suspicions while he was half way across the world. No one wanted Chris to think about anything besides his mission while he was too far away to do anything about the changes taking place in his own home.

Talkative Toddler

Despite having her hands completely full with three small children, Natasha couldn’t help but worry about whether it was wise to keep all the changes on the home front from her Navy husband. The changes in their household would last far longer than a single deployment and, despite his months away, Chris would be home sooner or later, and there would be no hiding the changes to the Daugherty family and household once he was back on dry land.

 

Just as her son understood, Natasha did not want to unload on her husband while he was thousands of miles away. Life as a military spouse had taught her self-reliance as well as the balance that has to be maintained between the family and the mission. Chris being distracted for months would neither help his crew nor his family. Yet, despite this understanding, Natasha found Chris’s regular communications, over phone, video calls, and social media posts, especially painful as she worried he would discover her secret despite all her efforts to keep the full truth from him. Technology had certainly made it easier for the family of five to stay in touch, but as changes continued in the house, it also made it even more difficult to make sure Chris stayed focused.

Constant Contact

Despite having her hands completely full with three small children, Natasha couldn’t help but worry about whether it was wise to keep all the changes on the home front from her Navy husband. The changes in their household would last far longer than a single deployment and, despite his months away, Chris would be home sooner or later, and there would be no hiding the changes to the Daugherty family and household once he was back on dry land.

 

Just as her son understood, Natasha did not want to unload on her husband while he was thousands of miles away. Life as a military spouse had taught her self-reliance as well as the balance that has to be maintained between the family and the mission. Chris being distracted for months would neither help his crew nor his family. Yet, despite this understanding, Natasha found Chris’s regular communications, over phone, video calls, and social media posts, especially painful as she worried he would discover her secret despite all her efforts to keep the full truth from him. Technology had certainly made it easier for the family of five to stay in touch, but as changes continued in the house, it also made it even more difficult to make sure Chris stayed focused.

Close Call

Chris was not the only one in the Daugherty family with military experience. Natasha and Chris had met while they were both in the Navy. Natasha had worked as an IT systems technician. Chris had fallen for her at first sight. He’d never believed he’d meet his soul mate in the armed forces. He’d never expected to have so much in common with anyone as intelligent and beautiful as Natasha.

 

Married in 2011 the couple started their family almost immediately. But, having been together so long, and sharing so much of their lives, Natasha found keeping anything from her husband one of the hardest things she’d ever had to do in her entire life. Natasha almost caved, at the very beginning of Chris’s deployment; she nearly slipped and admitted everything to her husband on his way to the Korean peninsula. Ultimately, for his sake as well as his crew’s, she decided against it. The 28 year old continued to hide a huge part of her life from her husband.

Not Just Hiding From Him

She’d intended to email him and ask him to call her, but the message never materialized. She didn’t want to distract him, upset him. It wasn’t the sort of message she wanted to send in an email either. It wouldn’t have been fair to either of them. Natasha wasn’t only struggling with telling Chris, but with keeping anyone else from telling him before she could.

 

She couldn’t let any of their friends or family find out what had transpired. And it was getting harder and harder to keep the secret at home.

Difficult Times

Natasha continued to work two jobs along with taking care of her three children while Chris was away serving his country. It was a sacrifice for both of them. It would have been understandable had the young wife and mother succumbed to the pressure. But Natasha understood how far she’d already come and continued to push forward. It wasn’t simple or easy, but she understood what it meant to sacrifice.

 

The greatest sacrifice she made was in foregoing communication with her husband. They had never gone so long without being able to talk openly, honestly. A week remained until her husband’s return and Natasha insisted she’d make it. She was prepared to push through the last leg of Chris’s deployment. That was, until she received even more unexpected news that threw her family and her marriage into even more turmoil.

Half A Year Sails By

Despite an initial deployment of five months, Chris called Natasha to inform her his tour had been extended for another month. North Korea had begun testing ballistic missiles and After five grueling months, Chris called from his station to tell Natasha that his tour had extended by an extra 30 days. USS Vinson had to remain near the Korean Peninsula.

 

Natasha’s own tension rose with the tension in Asia. She had put off speaking honestly with her husband for so long she wasn’t sure she would last another thirty days. But, with the danger so close to her husband and his crew, Natasha once again sacrificed her peace of mind and refused to upset her husband while he was still so far away. She would take an extra month and wait to speak to Chris in person.

Torn With Uncertainty

Natasha stood firm on her decision to only speak to Chris in person. But as she watched the news surrounding North Korea she worried, if anything happened to Chris, how would she ever forgive herself for hiding so much from him for so long? It wasn’t about how she would or wouldn’t forgive herself, Natasha decided, it was about Chris, and making sure he could focus on his mission, and come home safely.

 

Natasha told NBC news, “As soon as we started having trouble with North Korea, I became worried. He was telling me goodbye.” And yet the mother of three kept her calm. She kept her problems and her worries to herself to make sure her husband, a member of America’s military, could do the best job possible. He could be their for his crew, his country, and, eventually, his family.

Homeward Bound

Six months finally came and went and Chris’s deployment ended. The USS Vinson was on its way back to the United States of America. Chris Daugherty was on his way back to his home, his children, and his wife, Natasha. The family man could finally return to the loved ones that had been fighting the every day battles without him for more than half a year.

 

All three of the Daugherty children were ecstatic that they would soon be reunited with their dad. Natasha too couldn’t wait to hold her husband in her arms. Yet, she worried that he wouldn’t understand, when he finally saw her, how she had kept so much from him. For his own good. For the good of his crewmates. As the USS Vinson headed back toward the west coast of America, Natasha prepared to meet the wave that would come with it.

A Soldier’s Welcome

Petty Office Chris Daugherty returned to San Diego on June 23, 2017. His family made the journey to meet him, and the USS Vinson, as his ship docked. Smiling ear-to-ear, Chris disembarked and headed toward the grinning faces of his children and wife, all holding signs to welcome their dad homes.

 

All three of the Daugherty children wore miniature sailor outfits and ran to hug their father as he descended to greet them. The trio embraced their father, also in uniform, almost forcing him to the ground. Only Natasha held back from the group embrace. It took Chris a moment to realize why his wife did not join their children.

Unbelievable Moment

Extricating himself from the arms of his children, Chris was finally able to approach his wife, standing a few feet away. She was still holding the sign she had made to welcome her husband home. Chris didn’t take the time to process the words on her sign, but immediately went in to hug his wife of almost six years. But there was something, besides time, and his three children, in the way.

 

Chris reached out his arms, but Natasha stepped back, finally releasing the poster board from her hands. Chris blinked. He stared at his wife. He stepped back himself. He stared. He froze. There was silence. There was shock. Finally the Petty Officer asked, “Is that real? Are you serious?”

Moment Of Truth

The sign, that now lay on the ground between husband and wife, read, “Welcome Home Baby Daddy.” Already a parent to three children the sign had not seemed out of the ordinary. But the sign had been strategically held by Natasha, hiding something from Chris, the very something she had been hiding from her husband for the six months he had been away.

 

Behind her sign Natasha wore a t-shirt that read, “I am the present my daddy gave my mommy before he deployed.” The shirt was stretched across Natasha’s very pregnant stomach. A crowd had slowly gathered around the couple. Natasha and Chris were far from the only ones crying under the watchful eye of the USS Vinson.

Stunned Sailor

Chris was stunned. Reflecting on the moment he called it, “awesome confusion.” He wasn’t sure if his wife was playing an elaborate joke and had to prod her belly to be sure it was all real. He could barely believe his eyes. He couldn’t understand how she’d been able to hide her pregnancy from him for a whole six months, even though he was halfway across the globe.

 

Chris composed himself and finally, after half a year away, was able to hug and kiss his wife. He celebrated not just the return of his family, but its expansion. Each homecoming was meaningful to the Daugherty family, but this one would live on as the most special the family had ever and, likely, would ever experience. But the surprises weren’t over just yet. Natasha had waited patiently, and it was time for her husband to know everything.

Fatherly Pride

Chris’s return home had the serendipitous coincidence to be at the same time as Father’s Day Weekend. The Sunday holiday had taken place only a few days before the USS Vinson dropped anchor in San Diego. The pregnancy announcement was the most appropriate present Chris had ever received to mark the annual occasion.

 

With a trio of kids already, Chris was ready to add to the, “excitement and craziness,” that was the Daugherty household. The weight of months of secrecy was lifted for the entire extended family as they could all finally rejoice publicly in the tiny life now on the horizon. The surprise and Chris’s homecoming were more than enough for them. But it was not to be the end of the Daugherty story.

Those In The Know

Natasha had kept her pregnancy a secret as long as she could from both friends and family, so as not to ruin the surprise on Chris’s eventual arrival. But biology, and her growing stomach made the happy surprise a little harder to keep quiet on land. Family and friends all agreed to keep the news from Chris, and make sure Natasha could be the one to at long last let her husband in on the happy news in person.

 

When it finally came time to meet Chris and the USS Vinson in San Diego friends and family, who had been so helpful and cooperative in his absence, made sure to join the happy family at the dock. One of those friends even caught the happy homecoming on video and posted it on social media. The recording quickly went viral on Facebook, racking up more than half a million views. It was amazing. The video made it even harder for Chris to comprehend how his wife had been able to maintain her special secret for so long.

Strategic Secrecy

In Chris’s absence Natasha had to come up with some pretty creative ways to hide her growing baby bump from both her husband as well as friends and family. She also had to make sure nothing else seemed out of the ordinary in her phone calls and videoconferences with her deployed husband. She had to keep all three of her kids quiet about the upcoming arrival as well as take very strategic pictures of herself so her husband would never be able to guess what was really happening while he was away.

 

Natasha employed all sorts of props to cover her baby bump in photos and videos. She used their young daughter, seated on her lap. She positioned beer cans and drinks in front of her stomach. She continued to tell their four-year-old that mommy was just getting fat, so that she wouldn’t let the truth slip to her father about the impending sibling. “She’s a blabbermouth,” Natasha admits, as she laughs about trying to keep up appearance until the surprise.

Hardest Thing She Had To Do

The family had to keep the secret almost exactly as long as Chris was away. Natasha found out only a week after he left that the happy couple were expecting. She was eight weeks along when she found out herself, taking an extra pregnancy test just to be sure. The twenty eight year old couldn’t believe it, but she was thrilled and wanted to tell her husband.

 

All the excitement sent Natasha to the computer to start writing Chris an email to share the good news. Only a few words in she quickly decided she didn’t want to tell him in writing. Instead she sent off a quick message to tell him she missed him and set about documenting everything, including weekly belly pictures, so Chris wouldn’t feel like he’d missed anything. It was quite a bit of extra organization along with caring for three children and holding down two jobs.

Secret Out Of Love

Despite those kids and those jobs, Natasha still found keeping the information from her husband one of the most difficult things she’d ever had to do in her life. But she also understood Navy life. She did not want to distract Chris with her news, causing him to worry even more about the family he’d left behind. She didn’t want Chris to feel disappointed, being so far away, and missing out on all the changes happening back home.

 

In the past the couple had shared all the challenges and worry that came along with expecting a child. In the end, Natasha decided this time the surprise would be worth it. Chris may have missed the first seven and a half months of Natasha’s pregnancy, but the surprise was something singular and special he would never ever be able to forget.

Gender Reveal

While Natasha went through much of the pregnancy on her own she saved one special surprise to share with Chris in person. She waited to find out the gender of their fourth child until the couple was together to hear the news. Soon after celebrating Chris’s safe return the family threw a gender reveal party at their home.

 

Together with the friends and family who had assisted for so many months with the family secret, Natasha and Chris prepared to pop a bundle of balloons. With a cheer, pink confetti rained over the happy parents. Everyone was thrilled at the prospect of welcoming another happy girl into the Daugherty family. With a fast approaching August due date the couple began the final preparations for their expanding family.

Two Months To Take It In

The quality time Natasha and Chris were able to squeeze in upon his return was indescribable. While the couple stocked up on diapers and finalized everything they would need in the new nursery, the pair also finally had some time to take a few honest maternity photos. No more beer cans or toddlers were necessary to cover Natasha’s expanded stomach.

 

Chris was also able to take some much-needed time with his three older children before welcoming baby number four as well. The family was free to talk openly about their new and exciting future as a family of six. Everyone was looking forward to August just as Chris received a new deployment notice. Family and friends could only hope Chris would not be forced to miss the birth the same way he’d had to miss most of Natasha’s pregnancy.

Not Out To Sea

Both Chris and Natasha understood that life in the military could change at any moment. Deployments would come and go no matter the plans the family put in place. But that didn’t stop them all from crossing their fingers in the hopes that Chris would be present for the birth of his fourth child.

 

The family was overjoyed to learn that Chris’s deployment date would not come until early in 2018. He would not only be able to enjoy the birth of his new daughter in August, but participate in much of the early months of her life before having to join his crewmates again. Baby number four joined the Daugherty family on September 2, 2017. Anara Rose joined the world under the watchful eye of both her mother and father. She joined her ten-year-old brother, one four-year-old sister, and another eighteen-month-old sister to bring the Daugherty numbers up to a nice even six.

And Baby Makes Six

Chris broke the news to his wider circle of friends on Facebook, posting a message that read, “We love you so much! You have completed our family of six. Can’t wait to bring you home.” As the family finally settled in to their new routine with their new edition it was easier for both Natasha and Chris to look back on a year of surprises, and what it all meant to them.

 

Both parents agreed that the surprise announcement had been totally worth it. Chris was thrilled to have found out about the pregnancy in person. Despite the six-month rollercoaster, Natasha too was happy she had waited to tell her husband. Watching him be a part of the process upon his return was the very best part.

Worth It

Natasha felt content with her husband and new baby at her side, and was proud she’d been able to keep Chris from feeling unsettled or discouraged about being away for so long.

 

She didn’t want him to regret not being with his family, she only wanted him to be excited when he was finally home, and able to focus on both his work and his family.

Their Words

“It was an awesome surprise to find out that way,” Chris said. “Finding out in email or over the phone, that’s easy, but since she saved it, it was special.” Having kids should never feel routine, it should always feel like a big step and a heartwarming experience, and Natasha certainly made sure that’s what happened for her husband.

 

Natasha admitted keeping the secret was difficult but, as she told NBC news, it was “totally worth it in the end.” With one surprise out of the way, everyone was wondering what Natasha might have in store for her husband’s next deployment.

More Surprises?

Before Chris Daugherty was deployed again he and Natasha sat down to discuss their whole experience with CBS news. Correspondent Jamie Yuccas wanted to know if Natasha had anything more planned for her husband’s next return. Natasha laughed, but admitted she had nothing planned this time around.

 

One huge surprise for this Baby Daddy seemed to be enough. But the family had to adjust once again to its new normal when Anara Rose was only four months old. As is the case in military families, the time had come again for Chris to deploy.

Another Tour

As they had known he would, Chris was shipped out in early 2018 to the western Pacific, this time for an estimated four-month tour. Away from the Korean peninsula this time, Chris would hit Guam, the Philippines, and Vietnam. There were no special surprises waiting state side, only the old and ever present feelings of loneliness and homesickness. Chris missed his children. Natasha missed her husband’s voice.

 

His experiences at sea, so far away from his loved ones, made Chris particularly aware of the importance of his attention and one on one experiences with his family when he was home. He understood the special need to log off the computer and put away the phone to be present in the moment. Four months later the seaman docked once again in California.

Navy Family

The family was reunited in April of 2018. This homecoming was of the more traditional kind, though the first with four children to greet Chris at the dock.

 

Chris missed his wife and all four of his children while he was away, but it was very special to return, for the first time, to Anara Rose. No one in the family will soon forget the very special surprise she was for her Navy father.

Engrained in History

From secret photographs, to a homecoming video, the pregnant wife surprising her Navy husband soon moved from the small world of the Daugherty’s, to the extended network of their social media contacts, and finally to the mass media. The heartwarming story caught the eye of outlets across the country. The couple sat for countless interviews and appeared in dozens of articles.

 

While the nature of Chris Daugherty’s job will continue to separate him from his family for months at a time, this distance will continue to hold the family together, making their moments as a unit all the more meaningful and memorable. And one day Anara Rose will be old enough to understand the very special moment she represents for her family of six. A moment every member of the Daugherty family will be able to look back on and smile.