It's a girl!

A U.S. Navy Sailor from Lakehurst delivered a beautiful baby girl the day before she was set to attend the pinning ceremony to the promotion of Petty Officer while being stationed at Navy Expeditionary Combat Command in Virginia Beach.

During her pregnancy, Petty Officer/Personal Specialist Chief Veronica Guadalupe Foley, a selected chief initiated with class 127, according to the U.S. Navy, went through training and workouts while preparing to move up in the ranks while expecting a child.

“I’ve always known I’ve wanted to make Chief,” Personnel Specialist Chief Veronica Guadalupe Foley said in a statement from the U.S. Navy. “But never did I imagine going through the season while being pregnant, much less delivering on the last day of training right before my pinning. The day I went into labor was a day of mixed emotions. I was nervous because my baby was coming out three weeks earlier than expected, I was excited to finally meet her, and I was saddened because I knew I would not be able to stand next to my class 127 brothers and sisters and be a part of the Pinning Ceremony with them."

Foley went through what's called 'Chief Season' by the Navy, where everyone involved goes "through six weeks of training or refreshers on Navy programs, history, traditions, heritage and various other programs that newly selected Chiefs are encouraged to participate in.  All of the tasks and requirements for the six weeks are then pulled together in a final performance test that consists of putting mental puzzles together and drawing from everything taught as a team final task to complete," Master Chief Reggie Buggs tells Townsquare Media News.

They also undergo a special kind of training in order to get pinned as Petty Officers.

"There is a course curriculum that includes information on basic military knowledge, proper wear of the new uniform of their new rank, customs and courtesies of the Chief Petty Officer.  They undergo a transformation from individual thinking to becoming a greater part of a team.  The pinning is the agreement that the new Chief meet the requirement for their new responsibility in regards to ledership," MC Buggs said.

Once they complete the course, they are pinned on what's called 'Chief Petty Officer Final Night'.

"Chief Petty Officer Final Night is when all selected Chiefs participate in team building exercises to demonstrate their abilities to take everything they learned in their six weeks of training and complete a final task that is deemed “Acceptance.”  It is used to prove that they were paying attention and continually building upon the knowledge given so they could complete a final task as a team and not an individual," MC Buggs said.

But, when it came to welcoming a new member to her family, Foley was filled with happiness.

“I could not however take away from the pure joy I felt when I saw her for the first time,” Foley said. “Terrifying? Yes. Worth all the madness involved in getting a child into the world? Most definitely. I felt her kicks, watched her grow and sacrificed my own comfort in order to bring her into the world. Now that she, Fiona Margaret Mary Foley, was here, I couldn’t keep my eyes off her, I just wanted to stare and study every feature of hers and memorize the details.”

Months of taking care of herself and her child while being pregnant was a mission she fully accepted and embraced with all her being, saying she also felt a great sense of accomplishment.

“I had successfully undergone the season despite the challenge that was my pregnancy,” Foley said. “When I got told that I had made chief, that I’d gotten selected, the first thing I said to myself and those around me was: ‘Don't let this distract you,’ I would not let my pregnancy define me. I refused to be limited as much as possible, and I knew I definitely wanted this. So, I pushed myself. Within my pregnancy limitations of course. I know I didn't cut corners. I definitely did everything that I absolutely could. Anyone could see that my heart was in it, the passion was there, and that I loved it. That's what it's really all about.”

During the pandemic, social distancing was in force and groups were limited to 10 people, and Foley said most physical training sessions were over zoom.

"It was actually explained to me that if I had to go through a season while being pregnant, this one was the one, because of COVID-19 and the extensive safety precautions in place," Foley said.

Foley explains that the training challenges were addressed by her superiors who made her feel comfortable along the way.

“Being aware of her situation, we made sure not to put any unnecessary stress on her or the baby,” U.S. Navy Logistics Specialist Senior Chief Joel G. Williams, Chief Petty Officer initiation season leader, said in a statement. “While making sure we abided by the guidelines provided by medical, her training remained exactly the same as any of the other Chief Selects. To help her though she’d be allowed to sit when she felt like she needed to, and more time was given to her to complete some of the tasks given.”

Foley also felt the love and support from her own family as well along the way.

“As soon as I found out that I had picked up Chief, that night, the kids were still awake and my husband had told them, ‘Hey, you know, mom did it. Things are going to be a little different and we need to be there for her to help her through this.’ my husband is like where I could actually like break down and be like, okay, I can breathe," Foley said. "So, with my family to kind of help me, and still have fun and partake with me I had them do some of the things with me. My oldest for example, would wake up with me on my physical training mornings, and we would go work out or walk and he would do some singing and memorizations with me.”

Her pregnancy did not allow her to be present on the actual day of her "Chief Pinning" so she got a virtual presentation with an in-person assist from her family.

“It was really, really something to see,” Foley said. “I walked out of my front door and straight out looking on the lawn I just saw Khakis, and anchors, and people out there. Master Chiefs, Senior Chiefs, and chiefs all on my front yard. I heard Senior Chief Joel Williams say, ‘Attention to the Chief’s Creed,’ and then all Chiefs present snapping to attention as the creed was read. I saw my husband and my mom walk up with my anchors and I couldn't believe what was happening. And then Legalman Chief Serena Williams, my sponsor, came up with my cover. I will cherish this moment forever.”

You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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