FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – There are about to be a lot more bleary-eyed moms around here.
After soldiers based at Fort Campbell (search) returned from fighting in Afghanistan late last summer, many of their wives happily shared a secret: They were pregnant.
The births now of the "Afghani babies" — as the wives affectionally call them — about nine months after the soldiers temporarily came home is creating a mini baby boom on this base.
But conceiving babies after wars is as old as battle itself, this time many of the fathers aren't around to see their births because they had to turn around and serve in Iraq.
So many of the wives in the 3rd Brigade of the 20,000-plus strong 101st Airborne Division (search) are pregnant or with newborns that it feels at times like there's no one left to ask for help, said Krista Kalvaitis, 29.
"The people you would normally rely on are also pregnant, so you feel guilty" asking for assistance, said Kalvaitis, a soon-to-be mother of three.
Only the division's 3rd Brigade was deployed to Afghanistan, but the entire division left in February to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom (search) and is now in Northern Iraq.
No official numbers are kept, but in the few months the men were home before leaving for Iraq, an estimated 50 to 75 couples from the brigade were suddenly expecting, said Cherrieann Diaz, wife of the brigade's command sergeant major.
"It's just so amazing at how these ladies hold up. They are so strong," Diaz said.
In the brigade's third battalion, 23 babies have been born in recent days or the wives are expecting, and in just the 3rd Battalion's Alpha Company, at least 12 to 20 percent of the wives got pregnant shortly after the soldiers' return. A battalion ranges from between 300 to 1,000 soldiers, while a company ranges from about 60 to 190 soldiers.
One of those with a new bundle of joy is the company commander's wife, Alison Cox.
Cox, who gave birth last month to a girl, said the midnight feedings and other responsibilities alone are tough, but the hardest part is the men missing out on "sharing the good times. Sharing the exciting times. That's really it."
Cox said that when her husband, Clint, received e-mailed photos of their new daughter, Madaline, it "just tore him up."
"He said it was a figment of his imagination until he got the pictures and then that made it real for him, and he was really sad because he couldn't touch her. That was really hard on him," Cox said.
Lucintia Billy, who also gave birth last month, said she usually only sleeps from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., but also tries to take occasional naps.
She said taking care of the newborn baby isn't as hard as disciplining her two boys, ages 3 and 5, which her husband usually does. The couple has seven children.
"When I ask them to do something, they turn around and say they miss Dad. That's their way of getting out of it," Billy said. "Then they cry to me and it hurts me because it's like I miss him too, so I how do I comfort them? So I end up cleaning up whatever mess they made."
Billy said she asked her husband to pick out a name for their new daughter before he left, but he didn't.
"I said, if you don't come up with a name before you leave, we're going to come up with it on our own," Billy said.
She and the children came up with the name Aurelia Rosina Delia Sabone Billy.
"He just said, 'Oh my gosh, it's long," Billy said.
As the women look ahead to their husbands return, they jokingly wonder if there will be "Iraqi babies."
"The big joke is being they just got back [from Afghanistan] and everybody's pregnant, who's going to get pregnant the next time?" Kalvaitis asked.