On Sunday, it will be Father’s Day in Australia so I thought it was time to get a man’s perspective on parenting a child with a terminal illness. So I asked my husband, Anthony, about his views on being Aidan’s dad.
How did you feel when you found out I was pregnant?
Excited. It was the next stage of our life and I thought it would be cool.
How did you feel when you found out Aidan was going to be born with medical problems?
I couldn’t really do anything about it. Sh*t happens. I thought, “Ok it is going to be a challenge but we had to make the best of the situation.”
People have premmie kids all the time and I believed in the health system. He wasn’t the first one and I thought he’d be alright even though I knew he’d have issues.
Did you have any emotion when you saw him?
When I saw him for the first time I cried. It was a relief he was alive. It didn’t matter that he was premmie, I saw past all of that. I only saw him as my kid.
How did you imagine parenting would be?
I thought I would do all the things I did with my dad – fishing, camping, going on holidays, going to the beach, carrying my child on my shoulders to get ice cream, the kids jumping into bed in the morning.
How has that changed?
Now we don’t go camping or on holidays. We don’t go fishing because Aidan doesn’t like water. We do what he wants to do, not what I thought we would do. You can’t share certain experiences with him because you know he’s not going to like it.
What is it like parenting a child with a terminal illness?
Mind numbing. You can’t commit to things because you never know what is going to happen. You’re always on standby.
The highs are real highs. When he gets excited about something you get more out of it. You forget about the `bad’ things for that moment. When they are bad….its a bit of a reality check.
How will you feel on Sunday when it is father’s day?
Fine, no different. It will be a quieter day than most dads because Aidan won’t be running in all excited and he won’t be waking up early. I have no expectations of him. I’m looking forward to it. It will be a lazy day because I get the day off – I won’t have to make meds or ‘play’ doctor.
Do you ever think about his fate?
Not really. I don’t think about him dying unless he’s really sick and the doctors tell us to worry. I trust in them. Until his doctors start freaking out, I won’t freak out. In saying that, I don’t like seeing him when he’s really sick.
Do you think it’s different for mums?
Yes, because they’re the mum. It’s their nature to worry more. I wouldn’t want to feel like you do when he’s sick. I’d rather one person be really worried than two.