USO Bavaria Hosts What to Expect Special Delivery Showers

382nd Public Affairs Detachment
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jordan

Date: 03.12.2019
Posted: 03.13.2019 16:50
News ID: 314137
USO Bavaria Hosts What to Expect Special Delivery Showers

The USO Bavaria hosted the "USO, What to Expect and Target Present: Special Delivery" with Heidi Murkoff, the New York Times bestselling author of the What to Expect book series, for expectant and recent mothers and fathers at the Tower View Conference Center at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 13, 2019.

The USO teamed with Target and the What to Expect Project for a day filled with food, fun, games and gifts including books by the author and information for approximately 150 attendees.

"We invite Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard families, anyone serving needs to be celebrated by Special Delivery," said Heidi.

Expectant mothers and those with 6-month or younger babies began to arrive and were greeted by spouses of senior leaders on the post. They were escorted to their tables in the balloon and rubber duck decorated ballroom as live music played. Along the wall were raffle prizes including strollers, gift bags, snacks and buffet. The bags were stuffed with children's books, baby care items and a Target gift card.

"It is nice to be able to give back and celebrate military moms," said Laura Zabriskie, the USO, Inc. Programs Manager Military Families (Special Delivery).

USO volunteers and staff swarmed the site helping with the mother's room, kitchen, vendors hall, answering countless questions, directing traffic and providing hugs and a smile.

"From the time we knew Heidi was coming back (to Grafenwoehr) we were determined to raise the bar even higher and make all three events even better for the families across United States Army Garrison Bavaria," said Carly Harris, the USO Bavaria Area Director.

Dozens of women walked along the vendors' hall getting information from the base commissary and exchange and local civic organizations. Some of the items available included gifts of food, baby care items and vouchers for baby seats. The vendors also answered questions on available programs for young mothers about infant CPR, nutrition, childbirth health and support services on and off post.

"For me, it is incredible to have such a supportive community when we are so far from home, " said Liz Stone, the USO Bavaria Area Operations Manager.

Soon the guest of honor arrived to the applause of the crowd. Heidi Murkoff thanked the returning mothers she remembered from previous events at the session. It was a family affair for Heidi as her husband Erik greeted many of the women, chatting with them and holding and playing with several of the newborn children.

"It was absolutely beautiful, I got to meet moms in the area and Heidi answered a lot of my questions," said Skyler Parker, spouse of U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class DaReek Parker.

Heidi began the program with hugs, stories, games and a question and answer session. The games highlighted the stories of each mom including who had given birth most recently, the longest labor, most children and who had traveled the furthest to attend the event.

"We celebrate pregnancy, it's a journey," said Heidi.

The question and answer session was a funny and frank exchange on topics ranging from health, nutrition, pregnancy, childbirth and recovery and motherhood.

"(During) my first pregnancy I was the definition of clueless, there were a handful of books and none gave me the information I was looking for," said Heidi.

After the question and answer session, it was time for the book signing by the author. A long line of pregnant women formed for a chance for a hug, selfie and a personally autographed book, donated by Heidi and Erik Murkoff.

"I never fully understood until I did it (visit military spouses) there is so much sacrifice, it's hard for moms to be away from their family and support network," said Heidi.

The subsequent event, Special Delivery Reunion, was for returning families from previous events. Nearly 20 parents watched as their young children played and romped across the room. Heidi and Erik made the rounds as friendships were renewed and stories shared about the families rapidly growing children.

"They get to support each other after we leave," said Heidi.

The event ended with a fathers shower where more than 30 recent and soon to be fathers gathered for their chance to meet the author and ask about what to expect when she is expecting. Heidi guided the men though games, a question and answer session and quizzes designed to improve their skills as parents.

"Dad's can nurture with the best of them," said Heidi.

Special Delivery is an ongoing touring program began seven years ago visiting military bases and communities worldwide and is open to Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve service members and their families.

"It has been an honor and privilege to see this event grow from its beginning seven years ago in Okinawa," said Harris, who was on the USO staff at the first event held there.