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My Toddler’s Chronic Illness Took The Love Out Of My Marriage.

My Toddler’s Chronic Illness Took The Love Out Of My Marriage.

We Were College Sweethearts

My husband and I have been married for 15 years. We met when we were in secondary school and started dating in JC (Junior College). We had dated other people before that, but it wasn’t serious. He was my first real boyfriend. I fell head over heels for him, and I believed so did he.

My Son Was Diagnosed With An Autoimmune Disease so I Quit My Job

8 years ago, we had our first child. He is an angel. He’s so sweet and loving towards both of us, and our family felt complete having him around. However, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease when he was 4. It didn’t change that he was our most prized possession, but it did mean that one of us had to stay home to provide him with better care. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). Although I made this choice willingly, it was difficult to process because I was doing well in my career and would have been promoted if I did not quit my job. Let me be clear, though, that there is no resentment, just disappointments. 

I did all that I could do for my son, and I believe that it has positively impacted him because he’s much better socially and academically as well. Everything was going well, and my husband and I had a mutual appreciation for each other. I was grateful that he was working a 9-5 job, and when he came back, he would still help out slightly around the house. He was grateful that I was supporting our child and ensuring all home-related matters were handled. 

Everything Was Going Well, Until My Son Caught An Infection

On my son’s 6th birthday, he had to be hospitalised because he caught an infection. The day before, we had a small party with family and very close friends. I’m not sure if he caught it then. I trust that everyone we invited was sure of how critical it was not to come if they were sick, but maybe they were asymptomatic. Maybe my husband and I carried some virus around from work or the neighbourhood. Whatever it was, it happened, and we had to take action. 

Source: Unsplash

We brought him to the hospital and rushed him to the A&E immediately. My husband and I ran around the entire day, waiting for my son to be admitted. We then spent the rest of the day with him in his ward, praying everything would be okay. My husband and I headed back home when the visiting hours were over. On the cab ride back, I started sobbing uncontrollably. I finally had time to think about how I was feeling. I felt so many negative emotions: upset, frustration, hopelessness, and guilt. Despite not usually showing his feelings, my husband teared up and hugged me. It really sucked. I thought we were getting there, getting better, but this just felt like such a huge step back. 

My Husband And I Tried To Keep Things Normal, But It Didn’t Work 

Over the next few months, it was just visits back and forth to the hospital as our son still needed to be monitored. I would visit in the afternoon, come back and wait for my husband, then go again in the evening. It was draining but reassuring to know that while my son is in the hospital, he gets the care he needs. Back at home, my husband and I tried to keep our routine as before. I would cook dinner, and we would have some alone time before bed. However, for the past few months, things have felt different. It wasn’t a jarring difference, but there was a lack of emotional connection. This probably led to a lack of affection and intimacy.

My Son’s Hospitalisation Took A Big Toll On Me

It has been difficult for me to deal with my son’s hospitalisation, some self-blaming and a lack of intimacy with my husband. I love my son and husband so much. Since I didn’t have my son with me, I really wanted to seek support from my husband, but whenever I initiated sex, I was rejected. It slowly expanded to rejection of kisses, hugs and even holding hands. 

I was hurt. As a SAHM, I have limited social support and rely a lot on my family. When my husband hesitated to provide that for me, it destroyed my self-esteem and self-worth. Coupled with the stress of the hospitalisation, I started to binge eat to make myself feel better. As weeks passed, my weight gain started to show. This didn’t help with my self-esteem, nor the intimacy issues I was facing with my husband. The only thing that seemed somewhat positive was that my son was relieved that I wasn’t “too worried about him” since I wasn’t losing weight. 

Good News From The Hospital

About 2 weeks ago, my husband and I came home after the hospital visit. The hospital gave us some good news; my son is finally cleared of infections and is now low-risk, so he should be able to return home the following week. My husband and I were both excited and relieved. We spent the whole cab ride home holding hands and discussing the tough journey. After a few months, things felt normal-ish. My husband and I were talking, smiling, and just this feeling of love was in the air. 

Before we went to bed that night, I decided to initiate intimacy with him. I was hopeful that we would have a loving and fun time. However, my husband destroyed my hopes with a simple “Maybe not, I’m tired.”. Although I was quite used to it now, I felt his words crushing every part of my soul. I thought today would be different since things felt better now, but I guess not. I respected that he did not want sex with me, but I could not fathom why. Feeling defeated, I asked him if it was because I had gained weight and he had no longer found me attractive. 

Source: Unsplash

He Deeply Resented Me For What Happened TO My Son

There was a long pause. I knew the answer was yes, but I didn’t expect that it was more than my physical appearance. With malice in his voice, he explained that for months on end, he had felt disgusted with me. It wasn’t because I was fat. It was because he completely blamed me for what had happened to my son. He said that the blame completely fell on me for not being careful enough and causing our son to be infected. He resented that even though all I had to do was stay at home, I couldn’t even do that well. He made it clear that he blames me, and only me for all that has happened to our son – from his medical condition, overall poor health and current hospitalisation. 

I was dumbfounded. I never knew that he felt this way. I always thought that our son was a gift, and his medical condition was not something that we should blame each other for. I didn’t expect him to resent me for my duties as a SAHM because I gave up my own career and life to support the family in my own way. Yet, all that my husband was experiencing was resentment. I felt crushed and worthless. I don’t know what to do moving forward. I don’t know if I still want to be with him. I don’t know if I should go back into the workforce again. All I can think about is how my son would react if we were to spilt, as if life wasn’t already hard on him. 

All other mums with a sick child, how do you work things out with your partner? Please extend a helping hand to a helpless SAHM in need. I’m at a complete loss of what to do. 

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