Thursday, May 7, 2009

Keeping Your Sanity

One of the first things I do after I take the kids to school is sit down with my coffee and read my favorite blogs. This morning, I was inspired by the blog that Purple Flowers posted. It was about the importance of balancing serious and silly. I agree with her, balance is important. During the most difficult challenges in life, laughter can make all the difference.

As most of you already know, my daughter was born severely premature at 23 weeks gestation. I'll save you the math, that means she came into this world 17 weeks before she was due. There was no reason for it, it just happened. She was 11 inches long and weighed 14 ounces. I can't tell you how scared we were for her survival.

The hospital where she was born was not equipped to handle such a premature baby, so, hours after her birth, she was transported via ambulance to another hospital 30 miles away with a state of the art NICU. I was released the next day.

Over the following six months, our lives revolved around taking shifts at the hospital and trying to maintain some kind of normal home life for our son, who was six at the time. We lived in a constant state of tension, jumping every time the phone rang. The hospital was nearly an hour away, so that only added to the anxiety. Could we get there fast enough if there was an emergency?

The simplest things became monumentally difficult, as well. Doing the grocery shopping or the laundry were just plain exhausting. On top of that, we felt guilty a lot of the time. If we were at the hospital, we felt guilty that we weren't spending time with our son. If we were home, we felt guilty that we weren't at the hospital with our daughter. It was a never ending vicious cycle.

On the days that my husband and I were lucky enough to be at the hospital together, we would take breaks and go outside. There were grassy areas with benches around the entrances where we would sit and people watch. One day we found something funny about someone walking into the hospital and it got us laughing. We turned it into sort of a game and sat laughing our fool heads off for better than 30 minutes. To an outside observer, I suppose it would have looked like we weren't very caring parents to sit laughing and joking while our daughter was so desperately ill, but it made the situation bearable for us. In time, we did the same thing inside by joking about the doctors with the nurses and respiratory team. It helped us maintain our sanity and feel like we still had a glimpse of normal life for a few minutes of each day.

I'm happy to say that, today, my daughter is a normal, healthy nine year old. She knows how she started life and how much time she spent in the hospital, but of course she'll never remember any of it or know what we went through.

All that being said, I want to share a few things to make you laugh today. I haven't done that in a while. The first story is another example of humor during a difficult time, and the second one is just a short, funny incident.

The day of my brother in law's memorial service was, of course, sad for all of us. I don't think anyone said much all morning while we were getting ready to leave. I had given my son his dress pants and shirt and told him to find dress socks to wear. He found a pair in a color that went well with what he was wearing and never said any more about it.

On the way home, he was complaining about how uncomfortable the dress socks were and took his shoes off. He said he didn't think the socks had stretched like they were supposed to. I asked him what he meant by that and he said he thought all dress socks looked small but were supposed to stretch to fit your foot. Then he took off a sock and showed it to me. It was a toddler size. I don't know why it was still in his drawer, but it was. He's 16 and wears a size 11 shoe, but he managed to stretch these teeny tiny socks over his big feet. We laughed until we were in tears. I took a picture of the sock next to one of his tennis shoes when we got home.

Can you imagine how uncomfortable that was? It gave us a good laugh when we needed it.

This was just a comment a friend of ours made. He had stopped by one day just as Mr. Willoughby was getting home from work. It was in the summer time and he was used to seeing Mr. W in shorts and a t-shirt, not the clothes he normally wears to work. So while all of our neighbors were out in their yards enjoying a sunny day (and well within earshot) Mark yelled, "I can't remember the last time I saw you with pants on." I'm not sure what the neighbors thought he meant, but it was pretty funny.

Happy Thursday!


Purple Flowers said...

Your third story about the pants made me laugh hard, and I'm still smiling. Can you imagine what the neighbors must have thought? What a riot!
Also, your story about your son's sock? That poor guy; he must have been so uncomfortable, but it makes for a great story!:)

I'm glad you and your husband found a way to keep sane while your daughter was getting the care she needed. If you didn't crack a smile once in a while, you or your husband might have had a serious breakdown. What you went through had to be devastating. I am so glad she is now a happy 9 year old. That's a fun age for a kid and parent. God Bless her.

L.B. said...

I can't imagine the torture you must have gone through with your young baby. I'm so happy things turned out okay.

And as far as your stories, funny as always. I put my 5-year-old in size 3 panties recently, on accident of course. I was wondering why they were so tight. Poor girl suffered through that for an entire school day until she came home and couldn't take the pain :(

Nan and =^..^= said...

I just discovered you from Purple Flowers and am so glad I did. Your stories about the socks and pants made me laugh out loud, my kind of story! There's nothing like a little bit of humor to keep a smile on the inside even during tough times.
best wishes,
Nan over at shells and roses and furry and feathered friends...

Raoulysgirl said...

Humor definitely is the only thing that can get us through some difficult times. Thank you for sharing these stories with us! I am still giggling about your husband not wearing pants!!!!!!! LOL!!!!

thrasherswife said...

very cute, love that you actually gave us a visual of the sock and shoe! I needed a good laugh, thanks for sharing both of these!