The Ride of a Lifetime - Marriage and Children with Special Needs

I knew marriage was hard before getting married. My mom had always told me sometimes in marriage you will be in love and other times you will have to choose to stay with your husband. 

“The in love” feeling will not always be there, but it will come back you just have to hold on.

Don’t ever tell my mom I think that was the best advice she ever gave me, but honestly I believe it is the one thing I have carried close to my heart daily for the last fourteen years.

Two weeks before I walked down the aisle, Jacob was in ahead on collision. I remember, March 26, 1999 like it was yesterday, a call at 7:26 am woke me up as I answered a man asked for me. Assuming it was a creditor I lied and said I wasn’t home. He asked if he could leave a message for Autumn and said this is Randy from Sacred Heart Hospital. I started screaming what happened to Jacob.

Jacob was following a car which swerved off the road as it was being sideswiped by the blue El Camino that then slammed head on into Jacob’s car. Jacob’s car quickly started smoking the lady that was sideswiped grabbed her jacket dunked it in water and covered his face, as another bystander used 6 fire extinguishers to keep the flames down until they could get Jacob out of the car. The lady and another bystander whom we don’t know pulled Jacob out of his burning car.

At the hospital, we found out Jacob had a slight concussion, broken left collar bone, broken right arm, and received stiches in his knee and head.

We were able to thank two out of the three people that saved his life that day.

At this point my mom had recommended that we wait to marry, because we didn’t know the extent of his injuries, but I reminded her that if we were already married she would tell me I had to stick it out.  I had already made that decision to marry him and I was going through with it. I hadn’t taken the vow at church or in front of families and friends, but when I accepted that engagement ring I had already made up my mind I would respect and honor that decision for the rest of my life.

Our first five years of marriage was, at best, rocky.

We were determined to make it work. 

Communication of course was one of the hardest things between doctor’s appointments and two little ones, but we learned to use technology to communicate with one another.  A quick question through IM’s or email, or even the next day schedule.

Having two boys both with unique needs our marriage at times may have been put on the back burner. As our two boys, Austin and Yaakov, got older and the youngest’s needs were even more demanding we used our form of communication daily.  Honestly, I think that is what saved our marriage in the early days of Yaakov’s diagnoses.  For me it was our marriage lifeline.  I knew I could tell him something and when he had time he would respond.  Our child’s needs were being met, but somehow through our ongoing days of doctor’s appointment, meltdowns, therapy, school work, school, and IEPs we still found a way to connect.

Fourteen years today, and how is our marriage? For me I am in the “in love” stage.

Jacob supports me in every move I make as a mother, working at an elementary school, and with developing  All in Need, Family Support.

When I don’t feel that I am doing enough it is he who puts me back in perspective. It is him who reminds me where we have been and how far we have come. It is him who makes me tea in the evening because he knows  I love to have my nightly cup and it is him who talks to me in the morning when I cannot stand the sound of any voices in the morning. 

It is us who have come this far and it us who have become successful parents, but not just any parents; parents who have children with special needs.  It is us who put one another before each other, and it is us that will spend the rest of our lives together knowing someday our kids will move on and we will have the rest of our lives to spend together. We might as well keep those lines of communication open now, so in those coming years we can still understand and respect each other.

Tonight, when it is bed time we will be texting or IMing each other our updates on our lives while we sit in bed next to each other. Silly, I know we can talk now with little or no interruption, but old habits are hard to break and this habit isn’t so bad, right?

How have you kept your marriage alive while parenting a child with special needs?