Building a family bond is one of the great joys of parenthood. So, when U.S. Army Sergeant Cody Schuler of Spanaway, Washington, had to leave behind his wife, Kirby, and their 11-month-old son, Kayden, while he deployed in Kuwait, it was a huge wrench.
"It was pretty tough," said Sergeant Schuler. "I've done deployments before, but we hadn't had a kid yet. So, this one was a little bit different. You know, when you have a child, it's harder for sure, especially when they're young. And it was always kind of in the back of my mind when I got home if he was gonna remember me or not."
"It was very hard," said Kirby. "Having a support system is very important in that case. Having my family and friends to lean on was a very big deal. But it was tough. It was new. It was something I never knew I was gonna have to do."
Sergeant Schuler stayed in touch with his son as best he could, but it wasn't ideal.
"Just doing like the video calls and stuff, he'd kind of look at the camera for a little bit, and then he'd kind of want to go off and, you know, go play or whatever because, you know, being a child and kind of having a short attention span anyway."
After 11 long months, Sergeant Schuler got his orders to head home. And, together with his wife, he decided to make a gift-wrapped return Kayden would hopefully never forget.
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