Hospital and family life
November 22, 2019
Spending over 200 days in the hospital, the Mannings are working to get to the finish line. However living in the hospital can be jarring.
“We are coming up on seven months of being in the hospital,” Brittany said. “It’s been quite a roller coaster, sometimes we feel like we’re getting used to hospital life which is not fun to do you don’t want to get used to hospital life.”
“It’s not a very pleasant place,” Ben said. “You have to check in at the front desk, you take the elevator and you go find a room and it’s a very small space, and there are constantly people coming in and checking on her and giving her medicine or an X-ray or an echocardiogram and it just goes on it never ends. I don’t think Harper gets a lot of sleep as well.”
She’s not the only one.
“We found out real early that spending the night at the hospital is, it’s nearly impossible,” Ben said. “You’re not going to get any sleep. We have spent you know many nights there. But for the most part, you know, we’ll come home at night. We do have a three year old daughter at home as well. So we’ve tried to keep life for her as normal as possible.”
But one thing that did change was Brittany’s job status. Leaving her job of teaching and coaching at Vandeventer Middle School, she felt like it was the right decision to be there for her family.
“The decision to not teach was incredibly difficult just because I love coaching and teaching so much and the thought of waving that, I struggled with that,” Brittany said. “But then when you just look, Harper’s the most important thing and it made it pretty easy. So we decided for me to stay home. It’s been pretty good. I do miss the court but Harper is the most important and Payden.”
At Dallas Children’s Hospital, however, they have found a steady support system.
“[Brittany]’s met a lot of other moms, a lot of other families,” Ben said. “Sometimes you just meet people in the hospital organically, and we’ve been in probably I would say ten to 15 different rooms and you just meet people and you just talk and you know it’s it’s a not very fortunate situation but you have something in common and you just sit there and you talk with people and you know you find support that way.”
Trying to juggle that and their 3-year-old daughter, Payden, the Mannings work to be there for both daughters.
“Living in and out of the hospital is incredibly challenging because you want to be in both places at the same time,” Brittany said. “You want to be there with Harper, but you need to be here with Payden or we need to be. There’s so many places that we feel like we’re really stretched to be.”
“I think Payden our three year old daughter. She’s not 100 percent aware, aware of what’s going on,” Ben said. “She sort of understands that Harper is sick, and she definitely knows that she’s at the hospital. I think it’s tough on her. They’re very rare times that all three of us are together. Most of the time, I’m at work. And, you know, Brittany’s at the hospital, and she’s at school. It’s usually just I pick her up from school, take her home and Brittany’s still at the hospital, and so on the weekends, I go to the hospital, Brittany stays with Payden. Very rarely are we all three together.”
Despite her limited understanding of what is happening, Payden is growing into her role as a big sister.
“She does understand a little empathy like she wants to pray for Harper every night she understands that she’s sick and the few times that pain has been able to go and see Harper,” Ben said. “She loves to go see Harper and she likes to go to the hospital because she gets to see her and she hugs and kisses her and it’s really, really sweet. It’s been tough on Payden, but she’s handling it as well as I think is a three year old kid.”