As exciting as it should be, having a baby also comes with a lot of uncertainty for new and expecting mothers.
But for those with a spouse in the military or who are serving the country themselves, finding a support system to help ease the transition can be especially difficult – especially for those stationed far away from friends and family.
Teaming up with PepsiCo, the New England Patriots Foundation offered that support Wednesday, hosting Operation Shower for 30 military moms at Gillette Stadium as part of the NFL's Salute to Service initiative.
"Operation Shower was founded to give military moms behind the scenes a day of joy and connection," said Amy Belle Isle, chief creative officer for Operation Shower.
"These events mean so much to us to be able to bring people together who might not otherwise have a baby shower because they don't live near their family and friends. Some of the women and wives are partners behind the scenes that don't always get recognized."
For the occasion, the Optum Field Lounge at Gillette Stadium was transformed for the "Ready To Pop" theme, complete with a catered lunch, raffles, contests with prizes, and other high-quality gifts for the mothers and babies donated by brands like Stella & Dot, Delta Children, PepsiCo, 4moms, and the Patriots Foundation.
Invited to the group baby shower were the spouses or partners of active duty or deployed members of local military bases, and Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft visited with each table.
Some, like Emily Whitehouse, are active duty military members themselves.
"It's been a wonderful experience. It's actually a little bit overwhelming because I wasn't expecting all this stuff," Whitehouse, a Marine, said. "We're getting a crib, we got a bouncer, a lot of clothes -- It's a lot and I'm really so happy and grateful for it."
Though based in New England with her husband Joseph, Whitehouse is not originally from here. At the event, her family met a handful of families in similar situations.
"Obviously, being in the military, I travel all over. This is not my hometown or home state, but wow, what the Patriots are doing today is really amazing and awesome," Whitehouse said.
"It's emotional. It's tough being in the military. You move around so much, you aren't close to your actual family for them to see your kid grow up. You have to rely on pictures, phone calls -- things like that. The challenge is hard, but it's worth it in the end."