Thursday, July 15, 2010

Keeping it All Together

It is a well known fact that, on average, 50% of marriages these days end in divorce. That is a HUGE number, I think. It is, however, a little known fact that 85-90% of marriages involving the raising of a child with special needs end in divorce. 85-90%! That statistic is staggering! We've been told in the past related to surviving infertility and making it through difficult/lengthy adoption processes – “this will make or break your marriage.” We’ve survived both-quite gracefully I might add! I guess I never gave much thought to it with regards to raising our children.

People ask us all the time how we do it. We don’t really ever have a good answer. It is life – our life – that we chose – we just do it. We don’t really know anything different. I can see, though (hindsight is always 20/20), that it HAS changed our marriage. I can’t say that it has damaged it, ruined it, made it unhealthy or unhappy; it has just made it.........different. I realized recently that the last time Kevin and I spent any time alone together was on our flight to New Orleans on October 31, 2009, to adopt M. Yes, it is true – that was the last time! This is due in part to the needs of our children (having one hospitalized for 10 straight weeks didn’t help), in part to lack of finances, in part to being just plain too exhausted, and in part the difficulty of arranging care for a child with multiple medical needs. It’s not that I don’t trust people; it’s that people don’t get how significant M’s needs are. They look at her and see that she’s cute, she’s chubby, she smiles, she sleeps, she eats, she poops, typical baby, right? They don’t understand that she could have a shunt failure at any moment, that she could be exposed to an illness that a “healthy” child could fight off but would land her in the hospital, that pulling her arm or leg the wrong way to dress her or lift her up could pop it out of it’s socket because her joints are so loose or cause her great pain because her muscles are tight. They don’t understand that losing a couple drops of her medication could mean that she spirals into a pattern of seizures that we can’t get controlled, or that her vision impairment makes changes to her environment much scarier than for sighted children. It is exhausting to try and “prove” to others that she has significant needs; that they can’t “blow off” what I’m saying as me being an overprotective mother or a worry wart.

It is not that we don’t love each other, that we don’t enjoy each other’s company, it’s just that “we” has taken on a whole new meaning. I don’t really like to use the word “sacrifice”. That insinuates that I feel we’re missing out on something and I really don’t feel that way. We don’t vacation, we don’t eat out, we don’t buy new clothes, we don’t drive new cars and I’m okay with all of that. I don’t need any of those things. What I NEED is for my family to be happy and as healthy as possible. M’s new medication has really brought her out of herself. She interacts, is smiling and is laughing. Those moments make the hours I spend on the phone fighting for coverage for equipment and medications all worthwhile. Just last night I said to Kevin, “I honestly don’t care how things end up as long as she is able to find happiness in her own way.” That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop fighting for her or looking for treatments to improve her life and health. It just means that there is nothing more important than happiness and joy.

I realize that goes for me and Kevin, too. Without our health, happiness and mental stability, we are not going to be able to continue to give 100% to our family. We are obviously still struggling a bit to find the balance. That said, we are….get this….going on a date!! Yup – I made the decision last week that one night out alone together would be a very good investment. I can’t give you any details because it’s a surprise for my darling husband, but I have no doubt it will be a great evening!


Karla Kahler said...

Yippee! Our small city has a church that provides care each Friday night for special needs kids and their siblings so that their parents can have a few hours alone. They have trained staff, including nurses, to care for the SN kiddos and the siblings get to play with other kids who understand about sharing their parents. You might look and ask around to see if there is anything like this where you guys live.

Jes said...

You guys are just great!! I wish everyone could view things the way you do ... there would be so many less disatisfied people!!

Enjoy your date, can't wait to hear more!