Have you ever heard about a hospital mom? You can’t find her in Wikipedia, but she exists too. She is also a busy overburden mom who spends a significant time in the hospital with her child. She will also put her child’s needs ahead of her own. Her schedule is full of therapy, doctor’s appointments, and yes long hospital stays. She will most likely also drive a minivan, but it is most likely a handicap van.
During Jacob’s hospital stay in April, I got to go to several of Sarah’s soccer practices and games, since they fell on my nights at home. Joakim jokingly called me the “soccer mom”. As he shared that with me, the term “hospital mom” also popped into my head.
Being a hospital mom requires certain skills. You need to be able to pack a hospital bag really fast, and you can be sure that you will always forget at least one or two things that you would have liked to have with you. You will learn to wear the same underwear and bra for days with grace, you will learn that the hospital antibacterial soap is ok to use in the shower when the alternative is none, you will be very creative about your hair-dos, if you haven’t been able to wash your hair for a while. You will learn that the best outfits are the ones you can wear laying in a bed all day, and at the same time look respectable in, since you will be constantly surrounded by doctors, nurses, and therapists.
You will learn to function on very little sleep. You will learn that uninterrupted sleep just doesn’t happen in the hospital. You will learn to be woken up at the most odd hours with a resident or intern leaning over your tiny bed, asking how your child’s night was. Neurologists and surgeons being the worst. You will learn to find your glasses, make sure your PJ covers your body, and immediately go into medical jargon – independently of sleep, coffee or knowledge on how the night actually was for your child (in the rare event that your child actually slept through the night). One of my favorite is to be woken up by an intern freaking out about Jacob seizing when they have been fiddling with him, and Jacob being unhappy about someone being all over his body while he is trying to sleep...
You will learn to live on “hospital time” where there is no schedule, where there is no day or night. You will learn that if someone tells you that your child is getting a bath in 30 minutes, it means in 2 hours or maybe even the next day. You feel as if you’re having the slowest day of your life with very little things accomplished, and at the same time be surprised that it is already dinner time again! You will realize that hospital time will make you very non-productive. You will learn that you have absolutely no clue about the weather or even what is going on outside your own hospital door.
You will learn to be an ultimate multi-tasker. You will learn to take work meetings from the hospital bed. You will learn to talk to the nurse at the same time as you’re texting someone, and at the same time planning out all the things you will have to do when you’re home for a few hours later that night. You will learn to make sure that there is always a plan for your child’s siblings.
You will be an ultimate fire fighter. You will learn to take emergencies and bad news in strides. You will learn how to deal with bad news, even really shitty, scary news. You will learn when and where you have outlets for your stress and grief. You will become a tough cookie.
You will learn to work with people of all sorts. You will learn that this has nothing to do with you, and that you have to let your ego go. This is all about your child, and to make sure your child receive the best care possible. In that situation, you realize that not everybody will love you. You learn that staying calm and advocating for your child is a much better strategy than lashing out at a doctor or nurse. It will make them avoid your room very quickly! Believe me, they have told me that flat out. Suddenly that call button is not working :- After all, they are humans too.
And you will learn what is truly important. You learn to celebrate the little successes as your child once again battles something that you have never even being closed to in your own life. You learn to not forget to say “I love you” to the people who are important to you. You learn to take the time to say “thank you” to friends and family who never ever gets tired of supporting you. You learn to take a moment for yourself, let it be on the yoga mat on the hospital floor late at night or spending some time out of the hospital with your other child(ren).
And you learn to appreciate that place called home. You learn to appreciate your own bed. You learn to appreciate a home cocked meal. You learn to appreciate simple chores around the house. And you learn to love going to bed knowing everybody is in their own beds at home, no empty bed rooms.
And Jacob is slowly feeling better. He only needed oxygen to breathe today! He is still on IV antibiotics 4 times a day. There are talks about going home possibly Monday. To add to the excitement, Jacob’s left arm was swollen today again. It was confirmed that he has no fracture, but they are taking a second x-ray to see if he has possibly an elbow sprain…more to follow tomorrow. As a hospital mom, there is never a dull moment!