I have always admired mommas who seem to have it all together and can tackle anything that comes their way. Their strength in all situations, no matter how big or small, had me thinking if I, too, could be strong and ask myself, "How strong could I really be?" I mean, I was strong when I had all three of my boys via c-section and when I was faced with little obstacles here and there. However, I never knew exactly how strong I was until I was faced with a situation that required me to be nothing but strong--not only as a momma of three young boys but also as a wife.
March 30, 2017, and the two weeks following, showed me that I am stronger than I thought, because I had to be, I needed to be, and I had no other choice. The day started out great. It was a Friday during my spring break as a teacher from school. My husband had taken the week off as well and we had been spending the time together as a family and doing fun things around Columbus. We all got up, headed out to breakfast and then came home for a bit before we were going to my parents' house later in the day for dinner. After we got home, I left for a bit to run to the store to get some items for a dessert I was making for the evening. My husband and the boys stayed home so that I could make the shopping trip quick. When I returned from the store, my husband was sitting in the chair with a blanket on and said he had a really bad headache and was super sleepy. I told him that he should sit down and rest for a bit while the older two boys and I made the dessert. My husband went upstairs to get our 13 month old son up from nap and brought him down for snack. He put him in the highchair, grabbed himself a snack and headed to the living room. I was in the kitchen with the three boys. A few minutes later I heard a loud crash in the living room.
I ran into the living room and saw that my husband had fallen to the ground and was violently shaking on the floor. I immediately went into panic mode and started screaming his name. I turned around and saw our two older boys, who were 6 and 4 at the time, staring into the living room and crying. I looked at our oldest and said, "Bring me my phone and run to Miss Leslie's house to get her." My strong and resilient son got my phone, gave it to me and ran as fast as he could in his socks to get our neighbor, Miss Leslie. As I was on the phone with 911 and trying to make sure my husband would stay as safe as possible, I had to figure out how to keep my 13-month-old and 4-year-old as calm as possible. The next thing I knew, my neighbor and oldest son had returned. I looked at her and asked her to please take the boys with her and out of the house.
The next minutes were a blur. I remember staying on the phone with 911 and I remember somehow calling my parents as the paramedics were attending to my husband. I remember grabbing my husband's medication and taking them to the porch as we left. I remember spilling his pills all over the lawn and my parents arriving just in time so I could tell them to get the boys from our neighbor as we sped away in the ambulance to the hospital.
When we arrived at the hospital, my husband was whisked away while I was asked a million questions about what had happened and his medical history. I was then ushered into a small room while family members showed up and we sat there and waited to see what had happened. After some time, my husband was wheeled into the room fully alert and talking. He was scared but felt okay and had no recollection as to what had happened or how he got there. The doctors were able to determine that he had a small brain bleed that caused him to have a seizure. The brain bleed is believed to have been caused by the blood-thinning medication that he has to take because of his mechanical heart valve. They had to stop the blood thinners so that the bleed would not continue but also had to figure out how long he could be off of them without it effecting his heart valve.
On that day I had to muster up and find as much strength as I could. I had to decide what would be the best course of treatment for him and I had to decide how I was going to talk to our three boys and make sure they were okay and understand what happened to daddy. I had to decide how I was going to be the best wife and mom I could be in this crazy situation. After a night in the neuro-intensive care unit, he was able to move to a recovery area and wait for what the next step would be as the heart and neuro teams discussed options. It was very hard to wait and to realize that both teams had conflicting conclusions and that we were in a scary situation. We decided to have my husband transferred to OSU because that is where his heart doctor is and I knew we could find some comfort at a place that knew my husband's whole history. It was the right choice, too, as one of the options the first hospital suggested could have killed my husband.
After two weeks in the hospital overcoming a couple bumps and scares in the road, my husband was able to come home. In those two weeks I had to be his rock and our boys' rock. I needed to make our lives as normal as possible and make sure that the boys knew that their daddy was going to be okay. I had to reassure my husband that he was going to be okay and that the situation would get figured out, and it did. His blood-thinning levels are in a great range now and the brain bleed is gone. My husband doesn't remember much of his stay and doesn't even recall the first three days. He sometimes has a hard time remembering small things but has come away from this healthy and okay.
I would never want to wish a situation like this upon anyone, but I do want you to think to yourself that you are stronger than you think. I urge you to talk to your children about what should be done in an emergency situation, and, if you have been in an emergency situation, I urge you to talk to your children about it and praise their strength as well. I made sure to explain the best that I could to our boys about what had happened to daddy, that he is now okay, and that they were the strongest little boys I knew. I made sure to provide opportunities for them to talk and ask questions and that it was okay to cry. I made sure to let them know that we have so many people who love us and helped us through this all.
Almost a year later, our boys will talk about it every now and then. Sometimes our middleman will tell random people that his daddy had a brain bleed but he is okay now. It took me a while to not flinch or have my heart skip a beat any time I heard a loud noise when my husband was in another room. It took me a while to be strong in knowing that it will be okay when I'm not at home and my husband is home with just the boys. I know I have become stronger because of this situation. I know my husband, boys, and our family have become closer and grown stronger as a family because of what we faced. I know that I am stronger than what I thought and I know that you are, too. I also know that part of being strong is being vulnerable--that it is okay to cry in front of my boys, that it is okay to rely on family members and gain strength through their guidance and strength, and that it is okay to talk about what happened and not be fearful of the situation.
I hope that sharing this with you will help you understand how strong you truly are and that no matter how strong you think you are, you are stronger than you think.