Lindsey and Ben Brown have long dreamed of being parents, so the Alaska couple was devastated when Lindsey suffered a miscarriage while carrying their first child last April.
“We were both in a state of shock and disbelief,” Lindsey, 24, tells PEOPLE. “It was really hard.”
Shortly after, the pair learned that Ben, a 25-year-old soldier, would be deployed to Afghanistan for nine months —leaving Lindsey and Ben with more than a year before they could begin trying to have another baby.
As they coped with the realization that Ben would be leaving and their dream of being parents would be put on hold, something amazing happened in August: Lindsey learned she was pregnant.
“My first reaction was to scream with excitement! Thankfully [Ben] was at work, so he couldn’t hear me,” Lindsey tells PEOPLE.
“I knew right away I wanted to tell him in a big way, but wasn’t sure how. That’s when I contacted Melissa, the photographer, and told her the news. I wasn’t sure right away how I was going to do it, but I knew I wanted to get his reaction captured.”
The mom-to-be kept the news from Ben for three days after she took the pregnancy test. “It was so hard to keep it from him! It was the longest few days ever!” she says.
Lindsey and Melissa, of MJL AK Photography, decided that they would break the pregnancy news to Ben in a sweet photo shoot, with Melissa asking the couple to write on small dry erase boards three qualities they each love about each other. On her board, Lindsey wrote: “We are having a BABY!”
“He was speechless!” she says of Ben. “His jaw dropped and he kept looking down at the sign and then looking up at me. He had no idea! Then he just hugged me and kept saying, ‘Are you serious?!’ ”
Photos of the reveal showed Ben sporting a wide smile as he read the board. He appeared shocked before embracing Lindsey.
“I feel like it’s still setting in for both of us,” she says. We just feel really lucky and blessed that we get to be the parents of this baby.”
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Ben was home for just two weeks after the shoot, before heading out for duty. Lindsey, who was six weeks pregnant at the time, says the days “flew by.”
“They consisted mostly of us just spending as much time together as possible and the both of us packing since we decided it would be best for me to spend the deployment back at home in Pittsburgh,” she tells PEOPLE. “Two days before he left, I had an ultrasound and we got to see the baby’s heartbeat.
“It was really special, especially since the first pregnancy, we never got to experience that. We were both just anxious and excited, knowing that when we would be coming home our baby would be here shortly after.”
Ben has been able to FaceTime with Lindsey for nearly all of her prenatal appointments and the two learned that they’ll be having a little girl. Now, Lindsey says Ben is expected to come home a few weeks earlier than they initially planned, and he’ll be with Lindsey in the weeks leading up to her due date.
“I’m now 28 [weeks] so we are getting into the home stretch of him coming home!” she gushes to PEOPLE. “I can’t wait. It is going to be so awesome to have him back!”