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Proof Life Is Not a Hallmark Movie

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Having a kid in the hospital is nothing like on TV.

family arguing with child in hospital

Homeschool Mom: My daughter's recent stint in the hospital did not pull our family together and make it happier; it added stress financially and emotionally instead.

My kids are really beautiful and funny and smart and engaging and all those things that movie kids are. Two of them even have an awful genetic disease that adds some drama to their lives. So you'd think that my life would be like a Hallmark movie. Wouldn't you? Hmmmm? That my husband and I would be attractively rumpled in our hospital scenes while we wait for news from surgery about our child. We would sit quietly holding hands, holding each other up, and looking meaningfully into one another's tear-filled eyes. Cut ... No. That is not what real scenes from the hospital look like. I'll tell you what they look like. They look like hell, and they are.

A hospital stay with our child means sleepless nights, relentless worry, and a child that vacillates from bored to terrified to demanding to uncomfortable ... Believe me, as soon as they are able to sit up and function, kids do not want be confined to a 3' x 5' space. My husband and I barely saw each other because we have two other kids to care for, so we had to take turns shuttling back and forth trying to meet all the kids' needs. After days without adequate sleep, and trying to coordinate regular everyday duties and hospital duties, and figuring out insurance and child care help, and how to feed ourselves, and how to pay for astronomical hospital costs, we were not melting into each other's arms; we were yelling into each other's faces. That is the reality of sick kids.

The Journal of Marital and Family Studies has been trying to see how to best help couples like my husband and myself who have a chronically ill child. Divorce rates are much higher for couples with children who are ill. It is easy to understand when you take into consideration what you fight about in your own relationship. The most common arguments couples have are about money, how to raise kids, job division, power division. Add to those normal stressors a whole load of financial burden, emotional upheaval, difficult life-and-death decisions ... and I think you get the picture. You don't find too many Hallmark cards that read: "Sorry I bounced a lamp off your forehead last night when you made me repeat one more time what the doctors had said in the hour-long conversation I had to have with them while three kids brawled in the 3-foot office, because you decided to work late ..."

So, how do couples stay together? I don't think that anyone knows. We do it by sheer tenacity, because both of us realize that if we did divorce, we would never be free of making decisions about the kids' health, and we would be shouldering financial and emotional burdens probably well into their adulthood. So we do our best to say we're sorry, and respect and love each other. And we understand that this is not a Hallmark movie and we don't have a heartwarming soundtrack to go with our emotional upheavals, and our children's problems are not going away anytime soon. We have each other, and we are the only two people in the world who would surely give up everything for these little people God put into our hands. So maybe we can be a little heartwarming, but not while we are in the hospital.




4 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris December 4, 2009, 8:19 AM

My 2nd child was born with a birth defect and the love that we had for her and each other is what gets us through. I remember after her birth my mom telling me how lucky I was that my husband is so good with my daughter because a lot of men have trouble dealing with children w/issues. My husband was not only my rock but after all of my daughter surgeries (4 so far) he was the one who took care of her but I couldn’t handle the medical side of the post care. My daughter is now 10 and still has a few more surgery to go and I am blessed to know that my husband will be every step of the way. Life is not about how you get through the fun and easy stuff but how you handle the hard stuff.

Another mom December 4, 2009, 6:15 PM

Wow, that sounds awful. The potential stress on our relationship and disruption in our first child’s life is part of the reason we decided to end our second pregnancy, when the baby was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. I’ve seen firsthand the teenagers in the children’s hospital for the last time, when the CF has progressed and their family comes to say goodbye. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to watch your children experience this disease. I wish you lots of strength.

cheapviagra4394 August 30, 2010, 6:03 AM
cheapviagra7911 August 30, 2010, 8:59 AM

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