After Miss A things were really rough. I can think of a lot of reasons why things were so hard at that time. Looking back, I think the biggest thing was that the adjustment from 0 kids to 1 kid is truly the hardest. But the fact that it was the holidays and I was experiencing major difficulty with nursing in addition to an intense recovery after a terrible delivery and I went back to teaching 3 weeks post-partum all contributed to the hard transition with our first baby.
When de-Man was born, things were better with our adjustment aside from the fact that we came home from the hospital and promptly got the stomach flu. It was really a doozy, to the point that I couldn't get out of bed to pick up de-Man when he needed to eat. This is the point when the husband would've stepped in, except he was in worse shape than I was. The husband has Crohn's disease, and what may be a normal stomach flu for you and me turns into a serious condition for him without a lot of effort. He developed pleurisy during the whole ordeal and took a while to recover. In the mean time de-Man had jaundice so I was lugging him back and forth to the hospital and the doctor's office for blood tests and appointments. My first couple of weeks with two kids is not an experience I'd wish on anyone.
Three weeks before the muffin was born, the husband was admitted to the ICU for several days. Again, what seemed to be the stomach flu at the beginning turned into something much worse. I'd go to the hospital to see him and nurses would look at me with confusion, trying to direct me to a different area of the hospital, and then with pity as they realized that my husband was indeed in the ICU narrowly avoiding septic shock and I was indeed very pregnant. When he was released from the hospital, we felt grateful to have each other with a fresh reminder of how fragile life is. I also felt optimistic- thinking we were getting our big post-baby test out of the way ahead of time so we could just enjoy our new arrival without any of the stresses we experienced the first two times.
So enjoy we did for 11 blissful days. The husband would take Miss A to preschool a few times a week. de-Man would follow him around all day. I was feeling pretty good and began doing things around the house more quickly than I had the first two times. On that first husband-less day, I sat on the couch and had a great conversation with one of my best friends, my sister-in-law. She had called to see how I was holding up that day, and we chatted about the transition and my new bundle of sweetness and how she was holding up with 9-month-old twins. While we were talking, my cell phone rang. I knew our conversation was winding down, and when I saw it was my brother I didn't feel a rush to answer but decided to call him back when I was through with my current conversation. As I was saying good-bye to my sister-in-law, I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Even now the dread and tension comes back as I recall the events of that day.
I picked up my cell phone and dialed my youngest brother (I have two younger brothers, you see). He answered quickly, asked how I was, and then cut to the chase. "Dad had a stroke yesterday." Yesterday? Why was I finding out about this a day later? And how bad was it? And I'm still sitting on my couch in sweatpants with a newborn dozing on the nest I'd made with my legs criss-crossed because I have a baby who's 12 days old, so what am I supposed to do right now? I'm sure my brother heard a lot of questions, and I don't remember a lot of the answers.
A lot of the answers didn't come for days, some for weeks. But I knew that day that everything had changed. I knew that my plans about getting the hard stuff out of the way before the muffin were naive. In fact, that hard time before the baby? Well, we were just getting warmed up.
In an effort to remember what I've been through taking care of my dad post-stroke and share the growth and beauty that came along the way, I will be journaling this experience as part of Bee a Little Better. I hope you'll stick with me as I record this experience. If it doesn't interest you, come back tomorrow for something different.