For Navy Seaman Chris Daugherty, finding adventures was never a problem. He sailed the seven seas as his role as a US serviceman, performing his sworn duty overseas. This means he was often away from his wife and children for a long time.
Just when you thought home would be the place he relaxed, you could never imagine the adventure that happened while he was away in 2016. It’s a story he would never forget.
1. Sail Away
Chris Daugherty was off on his first deployment at the beginning of 2016. This wasn’t the first or last time he would be away from his home and family, originally signing on for a 5-month tour but he banked on the chances that he wouldn’t be gone too long.
A short time after getting his sea legs, Chris received orders that his deployment would be extended. This was not the only hard pill this navy man had to swallow, he would eventually come home to another unexpected surprise.
2. On Tour
Being a military spouse is not an easy lifestyle – full of difficulty and sacrifice, known all too well by Chris and his fellow servicemen and women. Each deployment came with its own challenges both for Chris, Natasha, and their three children. Thankfully, insurance policies and support from the US armed services helped them.
As Petty Officer Chris Daugherty arrived at the port to set sail on the USS Vinson, his whole family came to see him off with tears in their eyes and smiles across their faces. His deployment would guarantee him being stationed in the Korean Peninsula working as a Navy cryptologic technician; meaning he spends his days deciphering codes and signals. Ironically, he would not pick up on the signals coming from his home.
3. The Long Road Ahead
Like the case with most military wives and army spouses, the pathos and pains of separation did not take long to hit Natasha. It only took a week for the feelings connected to the separation from one’s spouse started to arise. Natasha began to feel something changing inside her.
The changes were minor at the first but with each week it grew and grew. It became exceedingly difficult to conceal the growing secret. Having to be particularly secretive not to reveal her story to the people closest to her, her kids. She couldn’t risk her darling children saying something!
4. Chatty Children
With a trio of toddlers at home and her husband overseas, Natasha had a lot on her plate. The eldest was old enough to know to keep quiet about the changes at home. However, the younger ones proved to be to be more difficult!
Their four-year-old was especially hard to train to be as discreet as possible. Since communication with Chris and his family were constant Natasha started to feel her levels of worry rising with each passing exchange and that her little girl would let something slip – raising Chris’s alarms. She made sure to provide rules and policies when her daughter was talking to her daddy.
5. On Call
With no time on her hands, Natasha was constantly anxious whether or not to reveal her big secret to her husband thinking that he would inevitably realize. Just how will the implications of this secret affect Chris and the family? She had no idea.
Being halfway around the world from each other, Natasha knew that revealing the truth would just end up making Chris distracted on duty and risk affecting his performance. Her position was not made easier by the constant contact including emails, phone/video calls, and photos. Natasha was worried something would slip and Chris would take notice of the thing she was hiding.
6. Too Close for Comfort
The couple first laid eyes on each other while in the Navy, where Natasha was working as an IT systems technician. Chris was mesmerized and infatuated by the intelligent and beautiful Natasha with whom he shared so many interests. They tied the knot in 2011 and started their life together.
Looking back on all their good times together, Natasha could hardly bear the weight of keeping a secret of this nature from Chris and hated being dishonest. The young mother of 28 wanted to come clean and reveal the secret to her husband on multiple occasions but somehow stayed solid throughout Chris’ deployment.
7. Hiding It From Others
Natasha stated, “I emailed him and I told him to call me as soon as he gets a chance. But then I thought about it for a few minutes and I was like, ‘you know, this isn’t how I want to tell him – in an email.’”
Not only was she hiding the news from Chris, but also from his friends and family. However, it did not take long for a few of them to begin to catch on to what was happening. She was hardly invisible.
8. Rock Road
Trying to keep her head above water, Natasha was working two jobs and raising three kids all while Chris was deployed overseas, serving his country. Making it this far was no easy task but Natasha stayed afloat and determined not to break her silence.
The turbulent times made it hard for Natasha to keep silent, always feeling that she needed to say something to her husband, but she did not waver. There was only a week away from the reunion between her and Chris, and she was banking on it being a success.
9. Six Months Sail By
Half a year flew by as Chris called home to give the news to Natasha that he got a 30-day extension to his deployment due to North Korea’s ballistic missile testing. She didn’t see this coming and changed the entire process but she understood his commitment to the protection of the country.
As the tensions internationally rose so did Natasha’s anxiety. She felt she was at her breaking point and was desperate to reveal the truth to Chris. She miraculously held out for another month exhausting all her strength to keep the lid on the momentous news.
10. Torn Between Two
Desperately determined to keep everything under wraps until her husband returned home to hear the life-changing news, she was pressured to tell him as a precaution if anything happened to him he would never know.
“As soon as we started having trouble with North Korea, I became worried,” she would tell NBC. “He was telling me goodbye. At that point, I was extremely emotional. I wanted to tell him, I wanted to freak out,” said Natasha. “But I kept my calm and waited, just a little longer.”
11. Heading Home
Finally, the long journey was over half a year passed and Chris was homeward bound. The Navy man was finally on the voyage back to return trading in his uniform for the life of a family man.
The young children could barely contain their excitement knowing they would soon see their daddy again. However, Natasha was unsure how Chris would react to coming back to such a big surprise. Chris sailed east towards California not knowing it wasn’t only hugs and cheers that would greet him portside. He was guaranteed a surprise – that’s for sure!
12. A Warm Welcome
In late June the Daugherty family made the ride down to San Diego where Chris’ ship anchored. His smile went from ear to ear as his feet hit US soil and he spotted his family, safely standing on the pier.
Wearing matching sailor outfits his daughters and son rushed to embrace him and hug their dad. Natasha stayed far and let her kids greet their father. However, as Chris got closer to his beautiful wife he finally realized that the insurance plan they have might not be enough anymore…
13. The Big Reveal
After the heartwarming reunion with his kids, Chris went over to Natasha who was holding a rather large poster with a welcome message in front of her. Not really paying much attention to the smaller details, Chris just wanted to embrace his wife.
Just before he hugged her, she stepped back and dropped the poster, with the big reveal Chris was frozen in place for a few seconds only being able to say: “Is that real? Are you serious?”
14. The Truth Revealed
Natasha’s sign read “Welcome Home Baby Daddy”. Having three kids already, the sign made sense to Chris. What he didn’t realize was that the sign was actually hiding something far greater – and he would hedge his bets for what it was!
When Natasha dropped the homemade sign there was a message revealed spelled out on her shirt reading, “I am the present my daddy gave my mommy before he deployed,” it also revealed her 6-month pregnant body! Family and friends gathered and shared the momentous occasion with the family.
15. Hardest Part of it All
“I found out about a week after he left. I didn’t believe it,” 28-year-old Natasha, told ABC News. “I took the pregnancy test again to guarantee it and I was like, ‘oh no way.’” Being about eight weeks into her pregnancy at the time.
So overjoyed about her new bundle of joy and wanted to email Chris about it. Then she realized she preferred an alternative method messaging Chris, saying she missed the sound of his voice. She then decided to document her growing baby bump week by week so her husband did not miss out on anything.
16. Shocked Seaman
Chris was dumbfounded saying: “It was a pretty awesome confusion going on here… I was looking at her, then poked it because I was not sure if she was playing a trick on me.”
Once the initial surprise and adrenaline subsided a bit, the couple finally embraced and kissed. Natasha’s secret was finally off her chest and Chris could finally react to the news she had been hiding. A moment truly filled with so much emotion but what made it even more momentous. She banked on it being a success, but she never dreamt how perfect it was.
17. Circle of Trust
Natasha wanted to keep the secret protected within the people closest to her and Chris, fearing that news would get back to him before he got home ruining the momentous surprise. The more her stomach grew so did the chances of someone noticing and saying something, so she swore everyone to secrecy.
One of the selected secret keepers even came and recorded their touching family reunion and of course, it quickly made the rounds and went viral on social media with more than half a million clicks. No one – especially Chris! – could believe she was able to keep it from him for so long.
18. Secretive Strategy
Natasha lay down her plan with accurate provisions and policies to herself. Making Chris none the wiser to her changing body while he was stationed.
She would strategically place her youngest on her lap to hid her bulging belly. Even holding a beer in one picture and telling her kids white lies saying: “I had to tell my four-year-old I was getting fat. Otherwise, she would tell! Because she’s a blabbermouth, there was such a risk.” She excitedly said how and why she decided to break the news to Chris in such a way.
19. A Proud Papa
Turns out that Father’s Day was just around the same time as Chris’ arrival back home. He missed the annual festivities by just a few days but he couldn’t have asked for a better gift to mark his return home.
Chris confessed – “I have three (kids) already now so a fourth will just add on to the excitement and craziness!” The current family members celebrated the upcoming addition as all the pressure of the time apart was lifted while looking forward to the future, and updating their army insurance policy However, their story would soon take on a life of its own and they would end up making the news – ensuring a crazy story indeed.
20. Lovely secret
Keeping this kind of information from your spouse is more than a mere challenge but Natasha stayed strong. Not wanting her husband to worry and feel bad about not being able to be there for her as an extra level of support and security.
One of the greatest difficulties was not telling him about all the fears and challenges she faced while expecting. However, she decided the risk was worth the reward. Even though Chris missed the lion’s share of the pregnancy he was still in for one more surprise.
21. The Final Reveal
Natasha kept the secret of her pregnancy from Chris but she still wanted them to share in finding out a piece of information together. The gender of their expected newborn was to be revealed at a celebration not long after Chris landed on shore.
At the party, the expecting couple ceremoniously popped a bundle of balloons revealing pink confetti meaning it was a girl! Making for a total of three girls and a boy – with Chris only having about two months to prepare for his newborn. He started by safeguarding the apartment again!
22. Two months to go
With only a small window before the momentous arrival, Chris wanted to spend some quality bonding time with his family. In addition, he stocked up on supplies and sprucing up the nursery like any good military dad.
The couple was able to spend some one-on-one time as well as family time with their three children before the fourth joined them. However, right before the due date, Chris got yet another letter of deployment. He nervously opened it – fearing this meant missing the birth of his child.
23. Not On Board Yet
Being in the military means you may be called away at any given moment. Chris hoped that this would not be the case in this instance especially since his wife was expecting to give birth to their fourth child and he had already missed most of the pregnancy.
To his luck, he would be deployed to the delivery room before shipping off again in early 2018 and could rest assured that would be there to welcome his new child into the world.
24. Six in Total
Chris was present through the whole laborious process of bringing their new child into the world in early September 2017. The couple welcomed their newborn, who was joining her 10-year-old brother, 4-year-old sister and 18-month-old sister.
Chris wrote a post online stating: “We love you so much! You have completed our family of six, Can’t wait to bring you home.” It only took a few seconds for the family to realize how they felt about this new addition to the family and what it meant as the whole picture came into focus.
25. Worth It
In the end, Chris was more than pleasantly surprised with the way his wife revealed the news in person rather than online. Natasha dealt with the full cover of emotions while keeping everything a surprise, but when it came down to it she was happy Chris was able to be involved when he arrived back.
She was also glad that she did not burden Chris with the knowledge that she was pregnant and he could not protect her, so he could focus on his mission at hand. They both shared the feeling they had while apart.
26. In their own words
Chris: “It was an awesome surprise to find out that way. Finding out in email or over the phone, that’s easy, but since she saved it, it was special.”
Natasha: “It was difficult but totally worth it in the end!”
Their story was widely covered and seen as she openly spoke about the next time Chris would ship out.
27. Any other Surprises
Just before Chris shipped out again the couple was interviewed by CBS :
“What surprises are you going to have next time?” correspondent Jamie Yuccas asked her. In response, Natasha laughed and responded with “nothing.”
Even though the surprise worked out perfectly or the pair, they felt once was enough. Their baby Anara Rose was only four months old when she had to say bye to her daddy as he was deployed again to protect her new home country.
28. On Tour again
As 2018 began Chris found himself on another four-month tour with the US Navy this time in the Western Pacific, taking him to Guam, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Natasha promised this time there would be no secrets or surprises.
Chris realized he was spending too much time away from the ones he loved and made a promise to himself to spend less time through electronics and more time in-person with his family. After finishing his latest deployment, Chris returned home to make good to his promise and to see if Natasha kept hers about not more surprises!
29. Naval Family
Once more in April 2018, Chris was reunited with his family and this time it was all as expected, with no surprises – just a good old-fashioned homecoming.
Time away from family is always hard for those serving. While the last homecoming didn’t make as big of a headline as the one before, his family was just as overjoyed to see him.
30. Marked in Memories
Not too long after gaining virality on social media, the video of Chris’ homecoming transported onto the mainstream news. Chris and Natasha went on a series of interviews and appearances, sources from across the country heard of the romantic endeavor, and came out with multiple articles about what took place.
Deployment schedules are a regular part of Chris’ life but he always comes back to be reunited with his family. Through all of this, the family can look forward to one day sharing this crazy story with Anara Rose once she is old enough to understand the global impact of her birthday!