Monday, May 17, 2010

Date night

Saturday night. Dave and I are headed to a little Cuban restaurant we love. We pass by a packed outdoor cafe. "We ate there once, didn't we?" I ask.

"Yeah," says Dave. "It was right before Max was born. I hate that place."


"It brings back bad memories."


"Honey, that was a beautiful time before Max was born," I tell him.

"Yes, but then we ended up in hell," Dave says. "It was catastrophic."

Dave hardly ever talks about the period when Max was born. So when I hear him say things like this, they take me by surprise. And they pain me. Dave is the most cheerful, easygoing guy I've ever met, and it still hurts to think back to how shattered he was during Max's two weeks in the NICU. I wasn't sure I'd ever see happy-go-lucky Dave again.

We drive in silence for a minute. Then Dave says,

"If I had known Max would turn out the way he did, I wouldn't have been so upset back then."

And we're quiet again. And we're headed to the little Cuban restaurant. And I know we're both thinking about how lucky we are.

Photo/M Bob


  1. Whenever my husband admits to any pain about Charlie, it gets me. I worry he didn't process it properly at the time or something.

  2. This is a nice glimpse into a man's grieving -- I think it's important, too, to share it and thank you for that. Men deal with grief so differently -- I guess we all do, really, but it's good to see how couples cope --

  3. I just can't imagine all of that ICU/stress/fear over days or weeks...never had to deal with any of that. I admire anyone who has been able to get through all that and maintain perspective and equilibrium. What toughness and bravery! I can't say with any assurance how I'd handle that kind of situation--we all like to picture ourselves being capable and stoic, but I'd probably be the sobbing, trembling puddle of goo in the corner...

  4. Love your blog!!! I can so relate to this post. We found out that our son Josh would be born with Down Syndrome & a serious heart defect (requiring open heart surgery) when I was about 19 weeks pregnant. My husband & I grieved for the remainder of my pregnancy. I have never seen my otherwise optimistic hubby so depressed. Often crying for the son that he thought that he had lost. Today, he & my son are best pals. We cannot believe how lucky we are to be his parents, cannot imagine life without him. We often say, "If we had only known Joshua then, we would have never wasted so much time crying!"

  5. Yes, Ellen, I have seen that same thing with Carl. He can't even go past the hospital Faith was born in without dropping a few choice words, aimed right at the front door!

  6. Oh, my husband has a hard time with it too. He still refers to the day G was born as "The best day and the worst day"... I always argue about the 'worst day' part. I can't see it that way.

  7. All these comments ring so true. I look back at the pictures of when we brought our T-man home and I get so sad for those people (us) in the picture. They didn't know what they would go through. But we have persevered and things are vastly better (albeit extremely challenging) than we could have envisioned. Like we have all said, it's a process. Thanks for a great post! Your husband sounds like such a sweetheart.

  8. I have heard my husband say something very similiar and it gets me everytime. His pespective is just the balance I need at times.

  9. This was a beautiful post.

    Jeremy and I don't discuss those days very often, but it was just as hard on him as it was on me-- harder, maybe, because he had to leave for training when Connor was still in the ICU and we weren't able to live together as a family again until Connor was six months old. So he had to hear about all of the medical issues and near-misses Connor was having over the phone, and while I was with my family through it all, he was alone. I think it's a testiment to what an amazing man he is that he weathered it the way he did; I would have been a wreck.

    We're lucky to have them, aren't we Ellen?


  10. I too love to hear the male perspective. It always seems so much more pragmatic. Love this post.

  11. My husband spent 8 days by Noah's soley by Noah's side before I could be released by the hospital to join him. Noah spent a total of 17 days in the NICU. I tell everyone that it is complete hell on earth. Being told there were no chances of survival, to be coached to take him off breathing machines and to withhold feedings to slowly let him go because he'd have no quality of life, yet we kept fighting with this little hope we had in our hearts. I worry more about Noah's future than my husband does. He seems confident that Noah will be just fine with lots of time. I remember seeing him cry several times in the NICU, but he hasn't cried since, whereas I seem to often if not weekly. Mine comes from fear for Noah's life, what he'll be able to accomplish or what he may never be able to. The pain of wondering about what if's... what if he had been born sooner, what if I had done something differently - would the cards have turned different for us.

  12. Our son spent 77 days in the NICU, 52 of those days on a vent.. his twin died at 12 days old.. My husband took it really hard and battled with depression on and off since that time.. it caused us to split up last year when he became too unstable to keep our son in the same house with him.. he is still refusing treatment and still breaks down a lot.. i hope he will find the strength to pull himself out of it soon...

  13. Isn't that so true! The times that were so horrible lead us to the amazing children we have today. I wouldn't wish those times on anyone, but MAN how I love where we are today. :)

  14. I think dads sometimes get forgotten about in this whole special needs world. Mr Taz has always been my rock, but sometimes I worry that he hasn't dealt fully with the situation we're in. Great blog as always!

  15. OMG for whatever reason, that comment totally struck me and made me tear up. I never really thought about it that way, but I suppose I feel the same way. And it's a good feeling.

  16. Marissa's first seizure was at 12:34 on Valentine's Day.


    Anyway, we do have pain. We have processed it as best as we can. As fathers, we like to fix things, and with many of our kids, we can't. We can't even "fix" our wives in regards to the special issues our kids face! It's kind of an issue, psychologically.

  17. I think my husband has a harder time sometimes. He is a Dr. and has seen and dealt with many things. Having your own child go through things and actually understanding the words the dr.s say. It brings him down because Dads are the providers and the fixers and sometimes you have to accept what you have. My daughter gave me the biggest hug and I felt like I was hugging heaven. She is so pure, innocent, sweet and happy. I have a lot to learn from her.

  18. Great post! We just process things in different ways. It is interesting to hear your husband's perspective on things. You are both blessed to have 2 amazing kids!

  19. I know how he feels. Mango spent 3 months in the NICU after he was born at 29 weeks. It was a miserable, hellish period of life that I want to wipe from my memory and never revisit. I have pictures of my son while he was in there, and they're hard to look at, because once you do, you remember all the pain and struggle. I threw out the 'Baby Memory' books I'd bought - all the momentos - it was pure hell and I don't want to go back. I like to pretend it never happened.

  20. These are such touching comments. Men really do grieve in different ways than we do.

    Marissa's dad: I know what you mean about that fix-it mentality and the latent anger. I guess it is a guy thing, though I know at times over the years I've felt angry about what happened.

    Sammie: I'm sorry for all the additional angst you've been through. I wish your husband the strength to pull through.

    Word to Noah's mom: It's the hardest when our kids are very young, because the what-ifs are very much on your mind. For me, focusing on Max and what I could do for him really helped me get past the grief.

    Jerri: I have those awful NICU memories as well, but I refuse to get upset about that time before Max was born. It really was a special time, and I just refuse to retrospectively make it a sad time.

    And Jess, Peanut's mom, Billie, YES: We are so lucky to have our kids. A-men.

  21. Wow. His words are very powerful. And he's so right...if we had known then what it would be like now, it wouldn't have been so dark. But then we wouldn't be so strong, would we?


Thanks for sharing!

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