Parenting with Multiple Sclerosis Part 2

Thank you so much for bearing with me and reading the second part. I know I’m cheating a little by splitting this into two posts, but I didn’t want to put any readers off by writing an essay! However, I felt that this was so important to include in my blog as it does play a factor in our lives as parents.

When I thought about writing these posts I sat down and discussed it with my husband who was fully supportive as he thinks there should be more awareness about the condition. As a starting point we decided to write down the positives and negatives about our situation and discovered that the positives far outweighed the negatives. I think when you’re in a situation where one of you has a condition that affects daily life it does make you sit back and take stock. It makes you think about things differently and realise what is really important in life.

Now I know that all parents have to work as a team and we are obviously no exception, but with my husband’s MS we maybe have to plan our team work a little bit more carefully. I have to say that sometimes this works distinctly to my advantage. For example, I hate food shopping, food shopping with a little one isn’t the easiest on your own and yes, we do go food shopping as a family, but if it’s a case of it’s easier for just one of us to go, it’s never me! As I have to be the one to stay at home with our little man! 

In lots of ways our teamwork has started to become an unspoken thing, last Saturday being a perfect example. I mentioned the stairs in the last post and how they are a problem for my husband, so he never carries our little man up or down the stairs. On Saturday we went to our son’s Water Babies class (there’ll be a future post about that but all I can say is: so far – brilliant!), we decided to carry him into the leisure centre so we didn’t have to mess around with bringing in the buggy etc. As our little man is getting heavier, my husband, who was feeling steady on his feet that day, said he’d carry him so I could take the much lighter bag, but then we spotted the steps down to the leisure centre – stone, wet (it had been a very rainy day) and lots of them – so, barely saying anything to each other, we swapped. I took our son, my husband took the bag and at the bottom of the steps we swapped back again.

Then there’s the household chores. Because of my husband’s unsteadiness and fatigue I do take on more of the physical care of our son – changing more nappies, bathing him, getting him dressed, doing most of the feeding (my husband still does some) etc. But then to counter balance this, my husband takes on more of the household chores – the dishes, washing the clothes, sterilising the bottles, making up the first bottle in the morning (as soon as our son is awake, before I’ve even realised that my husband has got out of bed, he’s back with a made up bottle for our little man), sorting out the dog. Of course I still do chores, especially the cleaning and tidying side of things, but the fact that my husband does all those other things really makes a huge difference. It’s real teamwork and consequently we get things done, together.

But, although it’s more difficult for my husband to take on most of our little man’s physical care, our little boy certainly isn’t lacking in emotional care from his dad. It gives me such joy to see the two of them playing together, or to hear my husband reading him a story. And then there are the cuddles, our little man loves his cuddles from his daddy and I love seeing him give my husband the biggest grin when he gets home from work at night. That’s the important stuff and my husband’s MS can’t put a restriction on any of that.

Another positive is the fact that my husband’s condition has made us talk so much as a couple. To be honest, we were always ones for talking things through anyway, but when someone in a partnership has a condition it is so important to talk about everything, even if the conversations are sometimes difficult. Plus the fact that my husband is so honest about what he feels he can and can’t physically do for our son is a good thing, after all he’s putting our little man’s safety first, which is vital. He’s also not making it awkward for me by pretending to be able to do something because he’s embarrassed about how it might look if he says he can’t. 

In many ways we don’t see my husband’s diagnosis as a negative. Yes, of course we’d both rather he didn’t have MS, but at the same time, it’s brought positives into our lives. We’re much more open as a couple and we really appreciate what we have. My husband is in an MS support group where he has met some lovely, positive, uplifting people and it’s been such a help to both of us that he has support from others with MS. 

We have always tried to be very positive about my husband’s MS, after all what other way is there to be? It could have been much, much worse. I still remember those dark days before his diagnosis, of tests and numerous hospital appointments, when my imagination was running wild with the endless possibilities of what could be wrong with him (it was then that I realised consulting Dr. Google is not reassuring at all). So, and this might sound like a strange thing to say, but the fact that his diagnosis was MS was actually a relief to us.

I know this won’t be the last time I mention MS and nor should it be, it’s important to be open about these things, but it certainly doesn’t dominate our lives – we have a little man currently asleep in his cot who does that! And every single day we feel so unbelievably blessed to have him.

Colette x

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