Summer Vacation, Tough Decisions

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Henry and his full-body Spica Cast have turned out to be a much greater adventure than I bargained for. Three weeks in, it occurred to me that when a baby breaks his femur bone, it’s a pretty big deal.

Up to that point, I was mostly focused on the practicals of getting us through, and on how much more time we had until this ordeal was over. It was about the hour by hour, and not about the weeks that lay ahead.

Henry is tolerating all of this remarkably well, and that is a blessing indeed. But life is at a uniquely slower pace and the challenge is to care for him while also caring for rest of the family. He is the priority of course, but everyone else is still there too.

From the onset, one tremendous consideration was how to handle our annual family vacation, the one that was looming on the horizon. Every year, we meet Paul’s cousin and his family in North Carolina for a fun and (more or less) relaxing week at the beach. For weeks before Henry’s accident, Paul and I had already been discussing how much fun our baby was going to have at the beach this summer, what a good time we would have with our little pre-toddler as he experienced the sand and waves. We mentioned it to each other at least twice a week, how we were counting down the days until our trip, and how wonderful it would be to have Henry there, with us, at this age.

And then, Spica Cast. One of our first questions, when the doctor asked if we had any, was whether our boy could go to the beach in this get-up. The doctor didn’t recommend it, especially a beach as far away as our destination. It could be done, he said, but it would be tough.

We went ahead with our plans, deciding that Henry was stuck in that cast whether he was at home or at the beach. Eight hours in the car couldn’t be any worse than eight hours laying in the front room. We would bring him as planned and see how much he could tolerate. Mostly, we figured, we’d take turns with him in the beach house.

A few weeks passed and life with a spica cast was more intense than we predicted. Pretty soon, Henry was slightly annoyed with the scene. The better his leg felt, the less he enjoyed the constant embrace of a full body cast. Soon, Paul and I wondered if lugging our child up the coast was the wisest option, or the most merciful.

Meanwhile, my dear sister offered to keep Henry. Suddenly, we had an opportunity to leave him in very capable and loving hands, someone who could offer him as much love and care as his mother. The decision seemed like a no-brainer – and yet, I couldn’t decide.

Going on a family vacation without our entire family just seemed wrong. But the more I thought about it (and prayed about it and asked the advice of trusted friends) the more sense it made to leave Henry. I was willing to bring Henry along just for the sake of saying he was there, on this vacation – even though he would be unable to be in the sand or in the water or pretty much anywhere but hanging out in the front room of the beach house.

I pushed through the guilt (what kind of mother would leave her infirmed child?) and left him in those loving, capable hands. I admitted I wasn’t a Superwoman, that I could use the break and it wasn’t like I was just dumping him with the first stranger to come along.

So off we went, and while we missed our baby terribly, it was one of the best decisions I could have made. Our vacation was wonderful, and it gave me some much needed rest and the energy I needed to come home and face three more weeks of Life with Spica. 1686″>



  1. Oh, Rachel, your poor little guy. Years ago, a family member broke a femur, and I remember being told that apparently it's the most painful thing one can experience next to childbirth (yes, that's what the doctor said!).

    And thanks for sharing your emotional journey here. I'm learning that sometimes there's no way to avoid mom-guilt; it's just a matter of choosing WHICH kind of guilt to feel. We have to pick our poison, so to speak.

    Glad you enjoyed the vacation! Hope the rest of the summer goes well.

  2. Monica S says:

    Glad you had a great vacation. Sounds like you made the right decision for you and your family.

  3. I'm sorry for your little Henry's fractured femur. Yipes. I'm glad you had some respite and a nice time at the beach. I like your honestly in sharing about mum guilt. So glad you had a nice time at the beach and Henry did with his auntie! Win-win. 😉