Some days, I feel like a single parent. My fiancé is disabled. He can’t walk without a cane most days, if he holds baby for more than a few minutes, his arms give out. Often he can’t bend down to pick baby up if he is crying, or hold a bottle to feed him.
And for the record – no, I didn’t know what I was getting into. When I met my fiancé he was apparently healthy. Had some stomach troubles and his knees pained him sometimes, and yes he was young to have knee problems, but he had a rough-and-tumble childhood, and neither of us thought much of it.
We realized there was a real problem shortly before I got pregnant, but at first the problem was all in his legs. He had trouble walking, needed help standing. Fine, it was a problem, but we could work around it so he could still help with baby. We set up a kind of ‘baby station’ around his chair – everything he could possibly need to take care of baby, all right within his reach. Diapers, burp cloths, changing pad, wipes, bottles and bottle warmer. Heh.
After baby was born, I went back to work – well, found a temp job, actually, since the job I was supposed to return to belonged to a department that got cut from the company. He did well watching baby for a week. When the temp job was over, he collapsed and could barely get himself to the bathroom for most of a month. We’re told there is a group of disabilities like that – MS, fibro, CFS, and a half dozen other things. You can push yourself for a while, do more then you really should, mind over matter stuff. Then the disability pushes back, and it becomes matter-over-mind, and by-the-by you are too weak to stand up until your body is fully recovered. Or as fully recovered as it ever is.
So, yeah. A lot of the time, I’m on my own. I need to do everything, and sometimes take care of my fiancé as well.
But as much as I feel like a single parent sometimes, I’m not one. Because as little as he can do, he is still there for me. I have the constant emotional support that makes it so much easier to get through each day. If baby is taking a nap, I don’t need to wake him to run to the store, just leave him sleeping while my fiancé keeps an eye on him. He can’t hold baby and give him a bottle, but he can sit next to baby in the high chair and feed him carrots (when he can get into the kitchen, that is).
It’s hard, having a disabled partner. In some ways I think it is harder than being a single mother, because it is one more person I need to take care of, one my person I need to worry about. Because the doctors still can’t figure out what is wrong, and he could be slowing dying as I type this and we wouldn’t realize it. And god knows the emotional weight, the constant depression he fights from losing all the activities he loves, from not even being able to hold his child, from feeling useless, weighs on me too.
But I am grateful he is here, not just because I love him (though I do), not just because he is a good and wonderful man who is coping with an impossible situation in a way that awes me sometimes. But because I am not alone. I have someone to go to, always, for a hug, for reassurance, right next to me, or right in the next room. Because however much or little he can do, he does it. Because we are in this together, every step of the way.