It is said that the relationship between a husband and wife transforms after having kids. The focus changes from each other to the little ones pining for attention. Romantic evenings are replaced with sleepless nights. Last minute get-a-ways turn into months of planning for a Disney vacation. A peaceful movie together turns into play, pause, play, pause as we attempt to get some semblance of privacy. By no means am I saying these things are bad. They are just different. I would never give up the family I have today. They are my world.
To some extent, I was prepared for this type of transformation. Obviously, Livy has brought an entirely new perspective into the equation. That I was not prepared for. But as most things in life that are unexpected, one learns to adapt. In our case, we attempt to view the situation in a positive fashion by sharing our experiences with others in order to bring light to a side of life often kept in the dark. There are many cliches to describe our situation, making lemonade out of lemons, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, you must have been chosen for it because you would be able to handle it and the list goes on.
In the end, I am able to handle it because I have a true partner for life. Allison and I were each endowed with certain gifts that have allowed us to succeed together as a team. She shoulders the majority of work for Livy’s care because she is a stay at home mom. In our society, stay-at-home moms seldom get the credit they deserve. Now add taking care of a disabled child to that. A few months after Livy was born and we flew her to Boston Children’s Hospital, it was Allison that stayed up North and was with Livy every day in the hospital. I flew up on the weekends but only dealt with a portion of what Allison dealt with; the endless parade of doctors, nurses, medications and foreign medical terms. She was a new mom with twins who was supposed to be relishing in the birth of her girls, not deciding what treatment to try next for something we new nothing about. She lived two different lives; getting to know Hailey as a newborn when she left the hospital and not knowing if she would ever be able know Olivia.
Thinking back to the morning the girls were born, I had never been more proud of Allison. She didn’t have a C-section so she essentially gave birth twice within an hour. A feat the male gender will never fully understand but can only watch in awe. But I have to say, as each day passes, I become more and more proud of her. Has she changed because of the last six years, absolutely. We both have. There is no way to go through such incredible emotional trauma and not have a piece of you torn away. Despite that, the mother she has become far surpasses anything I could have ever expected. She constantly puts our children and their needs before her own. With the little free time she has during the week, she volunteers in Hailey’s school so she can interact and get to know all the kids and teachers or she visits and helps take care of her adorableÂ six month old nephew.
We say that Hailey is growing into an amazing little girl because she is witness to a sister who has tremendous challenges. But what is also true is that Allison has transformed into what I consider a “Hero Moma.” When asked, heroes don’t think that what they have done is anything spectacular. Some people run into burning buildings or jump into icy water to save others. But these Hero Moms sacrifice every day. The life of a disabled child has many ups and downs which require an abundance of flexibility and the relinquishing of control. One minute, things are great and life appears normal. But in an instant, life can take an unexpected turn. A small fever often sets off a series of events starting with increased seizures and then a trip to the doctor’s office which in the past has concluded with a visit to the ER and a hospital stay. Olivia is non verbal so we are constantly guessing if something is wrong when she does not appear to be her happy, smiling self. Allison has to endure most of this each and every day. She brings Livy to school, picks her up and takes her to numerous doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions. Many days in the past, she has received phone calls that Livy is not having a good day and she has to drop whatever she is doing to go get her.
This type of life creates a tremendous amount of stress. It is the kind that never goes away but hides in the background ready and waiting to rear its ugly head. Despite all of it, Allison finds a way to bring sunshine and laughter into our lives. She is more a realist now than a dreamer and she keeps us grounded to what is truly important. She is constantly reminding me to appreciate each and every day because we never know when our lives will once again be thrown into chaos.
Thirteen years have now passed since we were married on September 13, 1998. In the scope of what we have experienced over the last nearly seven years, thirteen years ago seems like a lifetime. We were so young and had no idea what real responsibility was. We have learned much along the way. What strikes me the most is that Allison and I are now bound by a much higher calling. A choice that was not ours to make but a challenge we have accepted and will give everything we have to ensure Livy is loved and cared for. We are uncertain what our future holds as are most. But with Olivia, that future seems a little harder to foretell. What I do know is that I am married to my best friend. She is always honest with me even when I don’t want to hear it. I admire her for whom she has become and for all that she does for our family. She is beautiful both inside and out and is always thinking of others. I know that as long as I have my partner by my side, we can make it through the worst of times and always enjoy the best of times that much more.
Happy Anniversary Allison!
I love you!