US natural-born citizen + non-citizen spouse & 1 year travel outside US?

Hey all, I realize some version of this question gets asked constantly, but I'm hoping for some insight into the immigration implications for my spouse if we travel outside of the US for about a year. Here's the deal: I'm a US citizen by birth and my spouse has a green card via our marriage (with conditions removed). She's actually eligible for citizenship now, but we won't be able to apply + get a passport in time for travel.

My partner is pregnant, and we're considering going to her home country for the year—and giving birth there—starting sometime early spring. We'd both be maintaining our jobs in the US (I'm an academic who does research in her country, and she has remote work). We'd be maintaining our apartment (though we might sublet since we're in a very expensive city), car, health insurance, etc., and we would return to our lives here after a year. We'd like to spend time in her country because 1) her father is an OBGYN specializing in high-risk births, 2) I could do research in her country, and 3) we have no family nearby, and her family would be able to help with childcare for the first year. Plus, if we could sublet our place, we'd save considerable money since we have an apartment in her home city.

My questions:

  1. Should we file an I-131? Processing times are currently >11 months in our region, which would mean we'd only get approval after leaving.
  2. If we don't file an I-131 and stay < 365 days, what are the implications for her green card/naturalization? Would we just break "continuous residence?"
  3. Would returning before 6 months for ~2 weeks make a difference? I've seen different answers here.
  4. Is there any way to not break the continuous residence clock? Unfortunately, my university is not listed as an "American Institution of Research," which could allow her to preserve residence for naturalization purposes. I'm trying to see if we could get added, but I doubt it would happen quickly enough even if we're eligible.
  5. Could we apply for naturalization, travel, and just come back before 6 months is up (and then travel back to her country)? Or would that be deeply frowned upon?

What we absolutely don't want to do is endanger permanent residency. If we reset the continuous residence clock, we could potentially deal with it—my only concern there is that then we'll probably run into this problem again in the future unless we just stay put for a few years and get her citizenship.

Thanks for the help!

submitted by /u/chipdippered
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