In honor of Father's Day, the "Ay, Mama!" daddies are sharing their stories. Today, my husband, Steve, talks about his struggles with Atia's ALL leukemia diagnosis and a lesson from the past that helped pull him through.
It's the weekend before Father's day and we are in Florida trying to enjoy a little weekend getaway with my family when Atia develops a temperature. We watch it rise from 99.8 to 100.8.Instead of trying to enjoy our last night on vacation, we are debating whether or not to take her to the emergency room (if she stays above 100.5 we're supposed to bring her in). We decide to wait and see how her fever progresses, knowing that if we go to the emergency room, there's a good probability that she'll be hospitalized for at least a week...
I have to say, fatherhood has been a bit harder than I expected. Before having Atia, my experience with children was minimal, to say the least; I only babysat once in my entire life and I never changed a diaper.
So, to have my daughter face a life threatening disease like ALL leukemia was unimaginable. Her diagnosis prompted difficult medical decisions and her hospital stays created stressful situations.
Balancing work and hospital visits was a challenge. My days consisted of visits in the mornings, 8 hour work days, then evening visits. I can honestly admit that I was exhausted.
I'm a contract consultant and I only get paid for the hours I work; therefore, I found myself caught between working enough hours to make ends meet and spending enough time with my child in case she didn't survive her illness.
To cope I would often refer to something my dad would say whenever I was stressed. He'd say "Steve, when things get tough just practice the three Cs - be cool, calm and collected" (as a regional sales manager, it's one of the things he used to say to his sales staff, especially when they were under immense pressure to meet sales goals).
He always gave incredible advice and I could have really used his support, strength and wisdom while I was dealing with the unknown of Atia's illness (my father passed away 2 years ago after a courageous 6 month battle with thyroid cancer).
These days, Atia is doing great except for an occasional issue here and there like the other night. I'm still exhausted but that has to do more with an 8-month old that STILL won't sleep through the night rather than Atia's condition.
I know as time goes on other obstacles will emerge, but I'll continue to keep my dad's "three Cs" in mind when the going gets tough. Happy Father's Day to all the hard working, dedicated fathers out there. It certainly can be a challenge some days.
In loving memory of my dad, Anatoly (Tony) Lutarewych who passed away June 26, 2008 and Laura's dad, Gregory (Greg) Bobek, who passed away suddenly on January 16, 2009 - only 6 months after my dad and 3 months before Atia's ALL diagnosis.