The kids’ clothes had all been washed, folded and packed carefully away in their lime green shared suitcase. I had loaded a bag full of toys, beloved stuffed animals, and favorite spoons as well; the things kids have to have every day, but you don’t think about it until you’re taking inventory on what to send when they stay the night at grandma’s.
I pulled one more grocery brown bag out of the cabinet; just a few odds and ends. I meticulously arranged four cans of formula at the bottom of the bag. On top, I counted eight 500 mL feeding bags, and two extension tubes which connected the bags to Jack’s gastric feeding button. I also added a roll of medical tape, and some gauze, as well as a Foley catheter. My mom already had an extra button at her house, for emergencies.
Walking down the hall, I called for my mom to meet me in the foyer, and pulled out the catheter. “Okay, if he pulls out his button, you need to put some KY Jelly on the end of this, and put it into his stoma to keep the hole from closing.” My mom looked at me wearily.
“It won’t hurt him, we just want to prevent him from needing surgery to re-insert his button if the hole closes up,” I told her. Though, I knew if it happened, she’d be a wreck, just as I would be. So far, *knock on wood*, Jack hasn’t pulled out his button in the nine months he’s had it. Mom could handle the bags, and the feeding pump, and hooking him up, and cleaning everything, but all of that requires the button to stay put.
She walked back to the guest room to get the rest of her stuff, and I rocked back on my heels beside the bag of medical supplies. Medical supplies. My 10-month-old son was going to spend a few days with his grandparents, and to do that, he needed to have a bag of medical supplies accompany him. Ridiculous. I couldn’t control the tears as they fell from my eyes, still surprised at how annoyed and angry I was at the situation. Regardless of how amazing, happy and content Jack is, the extra obstacles to meet his needs that other kids don’t have continue to prevent me from being the carefree mom I was when his sister was that small.
After triple-checking to make sure anything they could possibly need or want was packed, I waved goodbye as my mom’s SUV rolled out of sight. I walked back into my suddenly very quiet and empty house– the first time I had been without my kids in over a year. Sinking into the couch, I felt myself beginning to panic. I had the sudden urge to call my mom and demand she turn around and bring the two people I cared most for in this world back, right then!
But, I just cried. I already missed them, and was out-of-my-mind with worry about my parents handling Jackson’s needs all by themselves without me to offer assistance or takeover. However, I was looking forward to a break. A glorious break where I wasn’t clocking the time between feeds and rinsing out extension tubes, and worrying if I have time to get his last feed in, on top of all of the care and attention that comes with a 3-year-old girl (FYI: SO MUCH!).
For three days, I did whatever I wanted. I tanned. I shopped. I worked out. I got a pedicure. My husband and I actually saw a movie in the theater (Kingsman– we loved it!). We had dinner together without having to rush, or worry if the toddler was dropping food on the floor, or if Jack was going to be cranky. We hung out together at night without having to stop for bath time, or for bedtime routines, or to put toys away. We drank beers together late and talked, not having to worry that one of us needed to stay sober.
It was wonderfully freeing and absolute agony all at once. I forgot how much easier it was, and how selfish you could be when there was only your spouse to think about.
I also realized how empty my life would be without them.
At the end of my mini vacation, I pulled into my parents’ driveway after the two hour trip, and saw all four of them waiting on the porch for me, my toddler so giddy with excitement, she couldn’t keep a single part of her body still. I opened my door, and heard her sweet voice, “MOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMY!” as she jumped into my arms for a hug.
It doesn’t get better than that.
Jack looked at me like he hadn’t seen me in years, and it felt amazing to have him back in my arms!
Bottom line: I need a little break every now and then, but it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are what make my life worth living. Oh, and my parents are completely capable of handling Jackson and anything he may need, and I need to stop being a worry-wart. Thanks, mom and dad, Justin and I more than enjoyed the alone time, and we love knowing they were in such good hands!