Chris and I celebrated 16 years of marriage this past August. We are a great team, our marriage has never been one that "needs work" it's just kind of unfolded along the journey. But despite how good things are for us and how deep our love is studies tell us 80% of marriages with medically fragile children end in divorce.
I remember 10 months ago sitting in a rocking chair in our room on the heart unit when our clinic nurse came in and pulled up a chair to talk. She tried the best she could to lay out what raising a child like Henry would be like. She gave a small list of things to do and not do, things to not worry about and things to worry about. Then she said "you guys need to take care of each other, this isn't going to be easy".
I brushed her off, don't be crazy she has no clue who we are and how strong our marriage is. She left the room with Chris' chair in front of mine. Seamus sleeping on his chest, Henry in my arms with so many lines. I looked him in the eyes and whispered "we can do this....right?" ~sigh~ little did we know what the next ten months would look like.
In sickness and in health.... never did it cross my mind that those vows would be because of the health of my child. We saw very fast when you have a child with complex needs your marriage all of a sudden takes a back seat and it takes deliberate focus to bring it back to priority. We need to remind our selves that our marriage is the glue that holds this family together.
It's no shock the added stresses, rigorous 24hr around the clock med schedule, saturation monitoring, are his lips blue, work of breathing, feeding pump rates, vomiting endless vomiting, tubes being pulled out, surgeries, transfers you get the idea...
When your child has significant medical needs you need a divide and conquer plan. For us this looked like Chris taking care of all the logistics and I take care of the babies. Chris does the night tube feeds while I pump. We survive on very little sleep but we are finding ways to connect during those middle of the night times. You can often find Chris snapping photo's with his cell phone of sleeping babies at 2am.
We have also found it's vital for us to have alone time and decompress. That looks different for both of us. For me it comes in the form of homeschool meetings and out for coffee.
For Chris is looks like grabbing one of our teens and going to a movie. We both come back feeling energized and ready to keep going. Every couple is different but for us we know how important it is to remember who we are. Most of all it's important to have GRACE and lots of it... The Frozen song "Fixer Upper'" says it perfect "you make bad choices if your mad, scared, or stressed" We refuse to be a statistic! This is part of God's perfect plan for our family and while in moments of fear it's easy to forget, God has had mercy on us and allowed us to have our bad days opposite of each other so we are there for one another.
It take continuous, vigilant effort but it is so worth it to beat those odds.