We Needed Her As Much As She Needed Us
We don't let anyone but family babysit our children—it's just our own personal preference. And as a military family, that's hard, because sometimes we are REALLY far away from our relatives.
So, when we realized our newborn son, Jackson, was going to be at the hospital for an extended stay, it was a no-brainer that we would be with him at all times. We knew the nurses wouldn't be able to drop everything and come running to soothe him at the slightest whimper, but we could.
And, we did, together, at first. Me on the plastic couch, and my husband on the crappy recliner, we stayed, ready to jump up at the slightest sound of movement. We were just beginning to understand how medically fragile he was, and leaving him for any length of time scared us.
But, that wasn't sustainable for our sanity and not fair to someone else in our life: our sweet, 2-year-old daughter. She needed her parents because her world was being flipped upside down, too. All of a sudden, she was living at her grandparents, rarely seeing her parents, and feeling forgotten. In the midst of Jackson's medical problems, we let her slip by us.
At her age, she couldn't exactly express the complex emotions she was feeling. She became whiny and clingy, and we had to figure it out on our own—she needed us. It was time to come up with a new arrangement.
We began taking 24-hour shifts at the hospital. My husband would stay overnight, and I would come relieve him the next day around 5 p.m. when my shift began. It was exactly what we needed. It took us away from the doctors and the beeping and the stress and worry of feeling helpless as he laid in his crib. It also gave us time with our daughter, and she loved every minute. We tried to do something with her every day, whether that was taking her to the park, to a movie, or simply building the tallest tower with her sparkly pink Legos.
She needed quality time with us so she knew she wasn't forgotten.
And we needed it, too—to temporarily take us back in time to a place where all that mattered was making our little girl smile. That smile is sometimes the only thing that brings us back from the brink.