I vividly recall the moment the doctor said my newborn had a genetic disorder. My husband literally rushed to my hospital bed, wrapped his strong arms around me, and told me everything would be fine. We didn’t know what we were getting into at that moment, but he was there holding me.
He held my hand months later as our baby with Down syndrome underwent open heart surgery. We sat together for hours waiting to hear the fate our of baby and our lives. He appeared to be handling things much better than I was—that is until the chest tube was removed. Then he showed me that some parts of this wasn’t easy for him either.
As our baby’s health improved, I delved into therapy to treat her delays. My husband was usually at work, but I tried to fill him in on what he missed. He held the reports and notes from the therapists and did his best to make sense of terms and recommendations. Some of them, he read thoroughly. Others, he skimmed through. He had a different attitude about the reports than I did. I looked at the reports to tell me about my daughter. My husband already knew our child; he didn’t need a therapist to tell him the important stuff.
As we navigated medical challenges together, my husband retrieved whatever life necessitated at the moment. He was quick to hand me medicines, nebulizer masks, oxygen tubing, syringes, diapers, or a phone to call for help. He gently but swiftly carried our daughter to our vehicle to seek medical treatment on more than one occasion. My husband held her iPad in an effort to distract her from an IV placement. After the chaos, he would pull me aside and ask if I was okay. He already knew the answer.
At times, my husband was physically out of reach when I needed him. As the medical issues became more frequent, there came a point when he needed to stay working while I cared for our child in the hospital. I dealt with the minute-to-minute stress of the hospital on my own. He had his own difficulties, trying to carry on with life as normal when it wasn’t. He held his phone a dozen times a day looking for the updates I would regularly send him. Nothing about that was easy for either of us.
In calm times, my husband straps our son’s helmet on before they ride their dirt bikes. He attaches worms to hooks and removes caught fish. He holds our daughter’s stuffed animals and places them in her bed as she dictates their locations before saying good night.
Most of what my husband does for our family isn’t the typical experience. There’s no greeting card that summarizes his journey as a father or recognizes the care he provides. It’s been different than most, but it’s been good.
My husband has held many things together for our family. Sometimes, it’s physical things, and sometimes it’s emotional. On Father’s Day, my children and I will hold him close and let him know how much we appreciate him.
Evana is a wife and mother of two children. Since becoming a parent, Evana has spent many hours driving to specialty appointments, praying beside a hospital bed, and learning about her children’s diagnoses. Evana is also a pediatric speech-language pathologist and serves children with autism, feeding disorders, and other developmental delays. You can connect with Evana on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog, A Special Purposed Life. You can also read her book, Badges of Motherhood: One Mother's Story about Family, Down syndrome, Hospitals, and Faith.