Remember Veda? She’s 1 now.
CAMP RED CLOUD – Readers of the Morning Calm may remember how a year ago a newlywed Soldier and his high school sweetheart arrived in Korea with a baby due prematurely and their household goods still in transit from the states.
They needed a crib, a car seat, baby clothes, almost everything.
The wives of Camp Red Cloud’s family readiness groups heard of the teen couple’s plight and rushed to the rescue. One of them, Cindy McQuarrie, even started a Facebook page devoted to an online baby shower for the newlyweds.
Things came together fast.
People donated clothes, wipes, diapers, a bassinet, playpen, bouncy seat, baby swing and lots of other helpful things.
Then, on Feb. 11, 2012, a Saturday, at the 121st Combat Support Hospital in Seoul, Veda Louise Fate Macaulay was born to Destinee Macaulay, then 18, and Pvt. Brian Macaulay, then 19, of the Second Infantry Division’s Company A, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion.
Macaulay, now 20 and from Morristown, Tenn., is a Private First Class and works as a division fire support specialist.
A lot’s happened since, and there’s plenty more expected in this year, the Macaulays said this week.
Veda turned 1-year-old last month.
When she joined her parents in the wide world at 4:32 a.m. that Saturday, she weighed eight pounds and was 19 inches long. She’s now 27 pounds, 29 inches.
She loves bananas, Sesame Street and Elmo, sleeps from seven at night till seven in the morning – when her parents can finally get her to drop off to sleep – and she delights in the time mom and dad spend with her.
“She’s a very happy, smiley baby,” said her mom, who’s now 19.
The Macaulays have been able to redistribute to others in the Warrior Country community many of the baby items they’d been given.
“It was really awesome because after we were done with them we were able to give them to other families that needed them that were, like, in the same position or similar to the one we were in,” she said.
And the open-hearted help they got from the FRGs in their time of need has had a big effect on them.
Destinee is now the Company A FRG leader, having volunteered after the previous leader and family moved to a new assignment.
“I knew how important and how much help it was for me to have that support,” said Destinee, “so I volunteered.”
“Without them,” Brian said of the FRG wives and Soldiers who helped them, “it would have been an extremely difficult process.
“What they did for us, that was amazing,” he said. “It was so great to know that total strangers are willing to offer to help me when I really need it.
“It’s definitely a vital element,” he said. “I mean, without the FRGs, it would seem like it would make time harder in Korea.”
Now that they’re on their feet, they’ve been able to savor every moment with their daughter.
“It’s been exciting but I’m also excited for it to continue going,” said Destinee. “I love watching her grow up, every small thing she does, I get so excited about.
“We learned how to brush our hair every day,” she said. “Little things like that you normally wouldn’t think twice about trying to do, when they do it for the first time you’re just so amazed.”
Young dad says the past year’s “definitely been a learning experience.”
“He was a little nervous at first,” Destinee said, “because he had never been around a baby before.
“But now he is the best dad I have ever seen. She is such a ‘daddy’s girl.’ When she hears the door opening, she runs to the door and she’s screaming ‘Dad’ all the way there.”
“Probably my favorite thing,” said Brian, “is she knows exactly who I am and she knows enough that she waits for me to get home.”
And there’s the deep bond he enjoys with his daughter.
“It’s just great to know that somebody – the child – she’s so small yet you have such a great bond with her,” he said.
“Some kids like to play on their own and do things,” said Brian. “She makes an effort to do things with me. She’ll be playing with toys when I come home, she wants me to play with toys with her. ‘It was fun to play by myself but now that dad’s home, I want him to play with me.’”
Even as they were enjoying bringing up their daughter, news came that, yes, Destinee is again expecting.
But this time they’re more than ready, girl or boy, either way.
“We kept a lot of Veda’s baby stuff, so we have lots of clothes already,” said Destinee.
“And when we bought a lot of baby stuff for Veda, we bought a lot of gender-neutral. A lot of green, for her crib set, her swings, her bouncy chair, was gender-neutral, so even if it’s a boy we still have all these things.”
Last month, the Macaulays flew to West Hamblen County, Tenn. rented the fire department hall, brought together family and friends there and surprised them with the news.
“The major reason I went on leave was to share that with them, because they missed out on Veda being born,” said Brian. “I wanted to be there to tell ‘em. I didn’t want to write ‘em a letter or make a phone call. Because it’s a really important thing in my family for babies and stuff. I would hate to have to tell them over the phone.”
And so the Macaulays made the big announcement.
And to underscore the point, a smiling Brian held up a T-shirt they’d had made for Veda, one they’ll have her wear once the second child joins the family.
He let everyone get a good look.
It’s white and in pink letters bears the legend: “Big Sister.”