TEMECULA, Calif. -- When a military wife found out she was pregnant, she knew it would be the best surprise for her husband to come home to -- so she took pains to hide the news until he returned to the U.S.
Natasha Daugherty, of Temecula, California, found out she was expecting her fourth child a week after her husband, Chris, was deployed with the U.S. Navy.
Instead of sharing the big news via email, Natasha wanted to save the reveal for when he got off the ship.
"It was kind of unexpected," she told KTLA. "We didn't think it was going to happen, and he was only home for a short time."
When Chris returned home after six months on assignment aboard the USS Carl Vinson on Friday, he was greeted in San Diego first by his kids, then Natasha -- who was hiding her pregnant belly behind a sign that read "Welcome home baby daddy."
The moment was captured on video, with a shocked Chris asking, "Is that real?"
Throughout the first two trimesters, Natasha strategically masked her midsection in family photos she shared with Chris.
"She was very good at hiding it, whether it was emojis or hiding behind somebody," Chris laughed.
At times, it was difficult to keep up the charade and conceal the life-changing news, especially when Chris' deployment was extended for a month as the USS Carl Vinson was ordered to make a show of force near the coast of North Korea.
"I got emotional about it and I was wondering, 'Should I tell him? Would I feel guilty if something happens and he doesn't know?'" Natasha recalled. "I went back and forth about it."
But she ended up holding out, and at eight months pregnant, Natasha finally got to share the secret. Chris said he was glad to find out the way he did.
"She said, 'Surprise!' and dropped the sign, and I was confused," Chris said. "And then I actually poked her belly because I wasn't sure if she was playing a trick on me or not. Clearly, she was not."
The baby is due in late August, and as family and friends were gathered for Chris' homecoming party, the couple shared one last bit of news: It's a girl.
Chris is expected to be home until January, so he'll be able to be there for her birth.