'Labor of Love' pairs volunteers, expectant mothers Military hospitals adopting program

November 18, 1990|By Ellen Uzelac

FORT STEWART, Ga. -- The night before Ann Kenny's husband shipped out to the Persian Gulf, the two Army majors selected names for their new puppy and their unborn child.

The puppy, a Schnauzer, would be called Kuwaiti Katie.

That was the easy part.

Their son: Grant Joseph.

Soon after Maj. Timothy Kenny left, his 35-year-old wife was sitting in the obstetrics clinic at Winn Army Community Hospital, where she is chief of community health nursing, and realized, "No men were sitting with these women. We were all going to be alone, hundreds of us."

It was then that Major Kenny began to design "Labor of Love," a program that pairs expectant mothers whose husbands are deployed with a "maternity mom" who will see the mothers-to-be through childbirth classes and delivery.

The program since has been adopted by other military hospitals across the country.

"It's hard, real hard. This is our first baby," said Major Kenny. "My husband's written so many letters saying how much he wants to be here to share his thoughts and emotions.

"But we're both in the Army -- this is what we've trained for. Still,it's important for the women to have support and for the soldiers to know we're being supported."

Among those who have signed up as maternity mothers are female soldiers, hospital employees and wives of retired military.

"A lot of the women feel unable to cope, and naturally they want to share this with their husbands," said Gail O'Hare, a 38-year-old hospital nurse who was paired with Major Kenny. "It's a whole new experience. We maternity moms say we're going to be the fathers until the guys come home."

Grant Joseph Kenny was born Nov. 10. Both mothers are doing fine. In five weeks, Maj. Ann Kenny will be eligible for deployment to Operation Desert Shield.

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