I can normally make it about four hours.
One hour home. One hour to exercise. One hour for dinner. One hour to relax.
Then, I get nervous.
Every night, it is basically the same. From the time I leave the hospital to the time I want to call to check on Jackson, it’s about four hours. That doesn’t mean I call at the four hour mark every night, but sometime around that point the feeling starts creeping in. The feeling of worry and of doubt and of generally being sad. Of feeling like it isn’t fair and being anxious and hoping that everything is okay.
Zach and I are lucky enough to only live about an hour from the hospital. But, in an ICU, a lot can happen in an hour. A lot can change in the amount of time between leaving his bedside and getting home. And that’s why we worry.
Out of the one hundred plus days we have been in the hospital, my nightly call has only ever been truly worrisome a few. And of those few, all but one resolved itself before I made it to the hospital the next day. Issues with sedation, agitation, and sleep – all things that rip you apart inside to hear but aren’t life threatening and that you, somehow, grow accustomed to hearing. Things that don’t truly scare you as much as they simply hurt you because you want to make them better.
It’s what I imagine it must be like to leave your child with a babysitter or grandparent or daycare provider for the first time. You worry and you hurt and you try to stay busy, but the thought of how they’re doing and what they’re doing just continues to creep up. You want to be there, by their side, without fail.
And that’s okay.
But be it in the ICU or in your own home, you can’t. You can’t be by your child’s side at all times. That isn’t realistic and, honestly, it’s not fair.
They say you need to take time away form the hospital and it’s true. When I was first told this after he was born, I felt like they were telling me I needed to take time away from him and it made me angry. Why would I want to spend time away from my new baby? I wanted to be there, watching him sleep and grow and just truly become Jackson.
But that’s not it. They were telling me to that I need time away from the sterile air and the beeping machines. From the doctors and updates and changes. From the chaos and the stress and unending worry. I needed to take time for me.
Taking time for yourself, no matter the fashion or your personal circumstance, isn’t forgetting about your child. It’s about being better for your child, being clear minded, being you.
So that’s what I do. Every afternoon, I pack up my things and I take time away from the hospital. I exercise and cook dinner and simply relax. I take care of me.
And I can make it about four hours.