Having a child in the hospital is an emotional, anxiety-filled time for any parent.
When my daughter was born at only 24 weeks, she weighed less than 1.4 lbs and was considered a micro-preemie. As if her time in the NICU wasn’t difficult enough, my husband and I also had to deal with the challenges of raising another child at home, working, running a household and grieving the loss of our son, my daughter’s twin.
When I think back on that time, I ask myself, how did I NOT fall apart? How did our marriage not crumble under the pressure of having a child in the hospital and the loss of our son?!
My #1 answer would be that we never stopped communicating with each other.
Communication About Your Emotions
Just because your significant other (SO) isn’t expressing their emotions the same way as you, it doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling the same way inside. People deal with their emotions differently. You may want to talk things out and your SO may not want to discuss it all that much. It’s important to find the balance where both of you are comfortable expressing what you feel because it helps to know that your spouse is on this journey with you and you’re not alone.
Communication About Household Duties
Your household can’t stop running just because your child is in the hospital – especially if you have another one at home. Your mortgage still needs to be paid, you still have to take care of the yard, buy groceries and do laundry. If one person is shouldering all the responsibility for this, it’s eventually going to build up resentment and cause problems. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is fight over who was supposed to pick up dinner.
The best solution I found was delegation of duties. Divide up the responsibilities and plan out who will do what. Plan who will watch your child when you are at the hospital. Plan your meals for the week. Bottom line: plan as much as possible so you don’t have to worry about making decisions when you’re stressed and tired.
Take Time Off From The Hospital
On Saturdays, my husband and I would skip our hospital time and spend the day getting the house together for the week and having quality time with our older son. We needed that day together and our daughter had a nurse by her side at all times, so if anything happened, they could let us know right away.
We needed that time as a family and for our souls. We loved to take our son out to dinner or go somewhere fun with him. Doing something with him that didn’t have to do with the hospital helped us hold on to our sanity. Taking that time helped us be better parents for our daughter in the hospital and gave us some clarity. We were better people for each other and for our children.
It sounds cliche but my best advice would be to communicate and be strong for one another. As hard as it is to have a child in the hospital, standing together and staying united as a couple makes you feel like you can take on anything and ultimately ended up bringing my husband and I closer together.