Imagine walking into a hospital excited to experience the miracle of childbirth for the first time; only the same day your first child is born is the last day you’ll ever walk.
We’ve all heard scary stories about epidurals and neuraxial anesthesia-related paralysis. And if you’ve ever had or considered an epidural, you’ve been briefed on the risks — daunting stuff. For most of us, however, epidurals provide relief from the excruciating pain of labor, and we simply walk off the innocuous side-effect of numbness. Tragically, this was not Hope’s case; and for a young woman and new mom, for her husband, Adam, and their new family, the sudden shock of her paralysis would make or break them.
To better understand what comes next, let’s identify the four common family crises.
- Change: when faced with significant change, a family can go into crisis mode; even daily stressors piling up can cause family crisis requiring change.
- Out-of-the-blue crisis: someone dying, tragic accident, loss of a job, even winning the lottery
- Developmental crisis: family forced to adapt to developmental change (e.g., new baby, moving, career change)
- Structural crisis: a family, or a family member’s, resistance to developmental or out-of-the-blue crisis via blaming, cheating, substance abuse, divorce, etc.
At the time of Hope’s accident and baby Hannah’s birth, the Huff family was experiencing three of the four types of family crises: change, out-of-the-blue crisis, and developmental crisis. To say that’s a lot for a young couple with a newborn is an understatement. So, how did they get to the point where Hope and Adam have two adorable kids and Hope is a motivator of other mothers and daughters and mompreneur with little Hannah as her protege?
“Occasionally the negative thoughts will come at me but when they do, I’m more determined than ever to reach out to my Hannah along with more women, young and old, and share with them this truth, their true worth, that they, too, forget because of the weight and cares of this world, that they are Priceless…,” Hope says.
Inner strength, decision-making, spousal support
She admits it was a constant battle between despair and staying positive, losing her self-worth and discovering a newfound inner strength; and credits her children, Adam, and her personal faith as the greatest sources of support. A loving, sympathetic husband who supports instead of blames and edifies instead of infantalizes his wife coping with new limitations is just what Hope needed and needs.
“My husband always says he is my arms and legs and he really tries to be; without him and his support, none of this would be possible. We are a team and take the meaning of becoming one flesh to a whole new level. It’s always been easy for my husband to give because that is a part of his wonderful self, but receiving on my part has always been a different story. I’m slowly but surely learning to receive his help; it’s not always easy,” she says.
Open communication, empathetic listening, and support networks
Spouses that openly and successfully communicate, are empathetic listeners, and support each other, despite differences, have a better chance at growing stronger during a crisis. In addition to their marital cohesion, Hope and Adam have an extended support network. When Hope had her accident, she, Adam, and baby Hannah stayed with Hope’s parents, who were instrumental during that first period when the young nuclear family was overwhelmed. Whether it’s family, friends, church, or support group, not enough emphasis can be placed on the benefits such networks provide.
Day-to-day stress management
Once back home, the day-to-day reality of Hope’s paralysis and how that affects everything, from complicating shower and bathroom time to causing constant daily stress to nearly provoking Hope to give up on her dreams, set in. And the onus of managing those relentless stressors fell on the nuclear family.
For the Huff Family, Hope explains, “everything is about persistence, scheduling, and timing. Everything gets done, but it just takes longer to do it with our physical limitations. Our whole way of living is a teaching experience . . .”
Approximately five years later, their second child, Elisha Samuel, was born. And they were well-prepared for the “developmental crisis” of another new baby. Today, the Huff Family is closer than ever. The kids are home-schooled by Mum, love fishing with Dad and spending time outdoors; Hannah and Elisha Samuel get into it, as normal siblings do, but they can’t stand to be without each other for very long, either.
“Our family is very close. Our situation has made it such that we are always together, except for when we call a time out and then everyone goes to their own place in the house or outside for a while. My own time never seems to last long, though, before the kids are ready to find me again,” Hope says.
After banding together, fighting to stay positive, accepting the much needed help of an extended support network, and patiently working with one another on a daily basis, the Huff Family has managed to overcome an unfair share of crises. And now, they’re monopolizing Hope’s time like any other family does. Yep, the Huffs are all right!
Wishing Hannah a Happy Birthday — she’ll be nine years old next week! And a special thanks to Hope for sharing her family’s incredibly inspirational story! No doubt it will bring hope to others facing any of the four common family crises.