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Partners in Parenting

By Kim Haines
Lafayette, CO USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17, No. 2, March-April 2000 p. 67

My husband, Jon, is my soul mate, both the person I've known since junior high school, and the man I fell in love with and married. It's amazing to think back on how long we've known each other and to realize that our relationship has grown richer with each passing year. Becoming parents has deepened our love for each other more than I ever expected.

Our journey together took an eventful turn when I developed appendicitis in June of 1998. We had just finished throwing a huge thank-you party for all of our friends who gave us their wonderful help and support after the birth of our son in March. Like his sister before, our son had significant trouble learning to breastfeed, and we wanted to show our appreciation for all of the meals, toddler care, and emotional support our friends had showered upon us.

On the day after the party, Sunday, both my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Meghan, and I became ill. She had a high fever that wouldn't respond to medication and I thought I had a stomach bug. We went to the emergency room where Meghan was diagnosed with a simple virus and the doctor initially did not know what was wrong with me. Jon went back and forth between the waiting room and my examination room, bringing our three-month-old son, Brendan, when he wanted to nurse. However, my abdomen hurt terribly and I couldn't hold Brendan to nurse him. Fortunately, Jon figured out a way to hold Brendan above me to nurse. He did this every couple of hours for our frequently nursing baby!

After several hours, the doctor decided that I might have appendicitis and admitted me to the hospital. After spending hours in the emergency room, we decided the children might sleep best at home. As it turned out, it was hard on everybody to be separated. Brendan took a bottle of expressed breast milk when they returned home, but then refused to eat for the next six hours until Jon was able to bring him back to me. Meanwhile, Meghan woke up frequently, crying and missing me.

When they came back to the hospital Monday morning. Brendan nursed immediately, but Meghan was still too scared to see me in such a strange place with an IV in my arm. Jon patiently waited in the hallway with her until she was ready to come in and see me.

He demonstrated that same patience during my entire hospital stay. He was wonderfully supportive and accommodating of both our children and me. When I couldn't hold Brendan because he was too squirmy, Jon would take him out of the room and walk him to sleep in the sling.

The second night we asked the nursing staff if my family could stay with me in my room, and they agreed. The fact that my room was on the maternity floor probably helped us with that request. For the next three nights, Jon and our children stayed with me. Jon slept with Meghan on a foldout bed, and I slept with the Brendan in the hospital bed. When Meghan would wake up upset in the middle of the night, wanting only me, Jon brought her to me patiently.

On Tuesday, my doctor determined for certain that I had appendicitis and scheduled me for surgery that evening. While I was having surgery, Jon tried to get Meghan and Brendan to sleep by driving around, but to no avail. He spent an hour or two in an empty hospital room that had no adjoining neighbors. He danced around and walked the Brendan to sleep in the sling while Meghan cried because she wanted me. When the baby finally fell asleep, Jon was able to cuddle with our daughter, soothing and reassuring her that I would be okay. They were able to return to my hospital room just before I came out of the recovery room. Meghan held my hand, gave me a hug, and crawled into her bed to sleep.

Brendan had slept in bed with me the previous night, but after the surgery, I was too groggy, so Jon slept sitting in a chair, holding our baby in his arms. Whenever Brendan would wake up to eat, Jon put him on the bed with my arm cradled around him.

I spent another day and a half in the hospital recovering, and needed a few days at home before I felt capable of caring for our children on my own. Jon was there the whole time, giving all of us what we needed. Our friends chipped in again by bringing meals and toddler playmates during the day, so Jon also had help during this difficult time.

Many times during my illness and the days that followed, I expressed my gratitude to Jon for taking such good care of us and providing emotional support. He always seemed surprised, saying that he was just doing what was needed. I am so thankful that Jon and I are partners in this adventure we call parenting!

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