Raising a Child With Needs and Your Marriage

Swenson (33)Having a baby changes your whole life. Time changes. The days are long. I used to say, “Cooper gets us up at the crack of dawn and doesn’t quit until he collapses at bedtime.”

Before we had Cooper, our marriage was very strong. We wanted a baby so badly and got pregnant easily. When you are pregnant, and even before, you picture what life with this baby is going to be like. My husband went to college on a baseball scholarship and I played sports as well so I pictured a super sporty kid. You never in your life believe that something could go wrong. And you can never know how you or your partner will react.

Before kids, I loved being outside. Hiking, running, camping. I loved reading. I loved getting dressed up and going out. I loved traveling. My husband loves to hunt and fish and do what he wants to do at the exact moment he wants too. Which I think is pretty normal. I had no problem at first giving it all up to be with my baby. Honestly, I still don’t. I LOVE my kids.

Having Cooper changed all that. As it does with every baby, you grow up. Life changes. The new normal is loving your baby. And I have always wanted that and been okay with that.

But having a child with needs adds another level onto it. And we very rarely get a break. Jamie and I have to be extra patient. We have to always be teaching. Always be encouraging Cooper. Always repeating words and working on language. We work on puzzles and jumping and pointing. We are always ‘on.’ And it has been difficult on our marriage. We both work full time and have busy lives. Add speech therapy, occupational therapy, daycare, doctors, etc. And disagreements on diagnoses.

And add in the differences in handling issues. I am a fixer. Jamie is laid back. I want answers. Jamie needs to process. I worry about every single aspect of Cooper’s life. Jamie lives in the now. He always says, ‘why worry about tomorrow? It won’t get you anywhere.’

Somewhere along the way I got angry with Jamie. Maybe it was resentment. I always think he should be doing more. More teaching. More flash cards. My temper got worse and my patience with him left. I had a son with needs I didn’t need a husband  with needs too. What I needed was a partner. I needed him to get opinions and search the internet and find resources. Order books and read blogs. Why was all of that on my shoulders. I wasn’t strong enough to do it all by myself.

I really wish I could say that raising Cooper has made our marriage stronger. And maybe in the long run it will. But I just don’t know right now. I am hopeful though.

We are so tired and worn down. We love each other very much and we are going to get through this. But right now, the days are long and the nights are short. And at the end of the day our perfect son isn’t who we thought he was going to be. And that’s a lot to take.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!


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