We recently had the honor of witnessing the birth of our grand-daughter. It was a long labor. I found the difference in perspective enlightening. Let me simply state, the view is drastically different from the receiving end of natural birth. In the final hours of my daughter’s labor, I definitely wanted to intercede. It was more difficult than I had remembered. I realized that it is all in your perspective.
The same perspective shift that I am experiencing as a spouse of someone reporting memory decline. As I, Dr. Cate, Dementia Coach, try to practice what I preach. As I try to be pro-active in assessment, in long-term planning, it surprises me how difficult it is as a spouse. Yes, I am embarrassed by that last statement. It is a world of difference when it is your husband. So far we have a neurologist’s decree of possibly Mild Cognitive Impairment. My training prods me to not settle. We will be seeking a more thorough assessment. But for now, we are enjoying each day. My husband has been overwhelmed with my pro-activity, unhappy with others’ knowing. And so it goes. A world of difference from a different perspective.
Research shows that caregivers who manage to sustain self, first reflect on past experience. In my tough times since my 20’s, I always have used the birth of my children as my touchstone. When things get difficult, I remember I labored three times with three amazing children as the result. Mike and I jointly labored through the grueling dissertation process, through the wind-on-the-nose Caribbean process. If we got through those successfully, we can get through this “near and present danger”.
My daughter says that every time she looked at me during labor, I was crying. They were tears of amazement and of love. Throughout her labor, she and her partner/spouse were incredibly engaged. It was a partnership to rival all. He was awake and responsive to her every need. I was moved to tears by their teamwork. This was so far from my personal birth experiences.
When my grand-daughter’s entrance to the world was seemingly imminent, twenty-three or so hours later, my daughter’s energy was low. my son-in-law’s role as coach became all that more vital even though he too had had no food, little hydration, no sleep. “You’ve got this,” was his repeated encouragement, just one more push, “Almost there.”
So in a recent tour of seminars and marketing with dear friends and eldercare peers, I too benefited from partnership. As I pro-actively checked into our affairs, I felt partnership as powerful as that of my daughter and son-in-law. Partnerships for the journey. The coaches for the coach.
No matter what is ahead of Mike and me; regardless of the assessment results; I will need the premier partners and coaches so evident in friends and colleagues. And as we look to sustain self, we reflect back on dissertation, miles traveled upwind . . . and I will know “We’ve got this!”