Overwhelmed and Pregnant Caregiver

by Brittany
(Ohio)

I have been caring for my 64 year old father who has severe or end stage COPD since the end of 2008 when my mother passed away. I was 20 years old.


My fiance was supportive and we decided to stay with my dad after we got married in 2009. In other words, my husband decided to move in with my father and I. This was after much discussion with my dad as I have an older brother and sister. He says he would rather live with me.

He is able to get around the house for the most part on his own depending on how he feels. Sometimes it's a struggle for him to even walk to the bathroom. He usually doesn't fix or get anything to eat on his own. Sometimes he will wait until I come home from work so I can get him something to eat. He often yells for help while we are asleep to turn his oxygen up, change a tank, somebody to just be there with him, or sometimes I think it's important and it's not. I finished college last year, but I now have a full time job where I was working only 3 days a week but now it's 4 days. I work with mentally ill clients. My husband works almost 80 hours a week between 2 jobs and is a police officer. Sometimes my husband doesn't get much sleep from what sleep he is allowed because he has to wake up.

We have also been planning to start a family and I am now 4 months pregnant. I have been really sick with migraines and 'morning sickness' all day. I stay in bed most of the time when I'm not working. I know dad is ill, but I wanted him to be able to see another grandchild and we also wanted a baby. He has been in the hospital several times and actually just came off life support 2 months ago for the first time.

After he came home this last time he couldn't even walk. My 2 older siblings said they would help me when he came home....we almost lost him. He comes home and they couldn't help at first. I had to call off work (they are both unemployed) and lift on my dad several times. I just found out I was pregnant, but there wasn't another option. Fortunately, he is back to normal now.

They both started to alternate days that I worked, but that didn't last long. My sister wouldn't show half the time and sometimes my brother wouldn't show. Most of the time they would leave when my husband came home from work, but he had to sleep for the next shift.

Off and on over the past couple years I go through short periods of depression and feeling overwhelmed. I have also had suicidal thoughts. Sometimes I get angry at the situation because I do not get much help from my siblings...but thankfully my sister-in-law is helping some now.

My dad and sister aren't even speaking at the moment. My husband and I cannot plan to go away for a night, sometimes not even locally because we are scared to leave him. I have been told that I live here so family should not even be asked to help (from another sibling.) They don't understand the toll it is taking on us and we do help with bills, groceries, medications, and any other expenses. That is another huge issue all in itself that I do not fully understand. Work is getting stressful for both of us, and I've been sick so far during my pregnancy. I started feeling better this past week and I hope it lasts for a while.

What am I supposed to do? I'm dealing with myself and caring for my dad. Soon I will also be caring for a newborn. How long can I keep this up during my pregnancy and then after the baby arrives with little or no help? I plan on keeping my job or finding a new one. There is so much going on and I'm only 23... I have given up part of my life but I wouldn't have it any other way. Dad apologizes all the time for things but it is how it is.

I love him with all my heart and fortunately it hasn't caused a strain between my husband and I. I just don't know how long I can keep this up without having a serious breakdown and I'm scared to what will happen after the baby is born. Will he be his normal self, or will he need more care, or worse? I need to find a happy medium and begin taking more care of myself.

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Thank you for sharing
by: Anonymous

Hello, I am going through a similar time in life and want to thank you for sharing. It's helpful to know others are in a similar position. I am 26.

My husband and I are about to move his bedridden mother into our home. I was planning on getting pregnant this year but am not sure what to do now. I don't have any help to offer you but I wish you all the best and want you to know you're not alone.

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Listen to Yourself
by: Anonymous

I feel for you. You're so young to be in such a position. But you know what to do, just listen to what you said in your story.

You said, "I have given up part of my life but I wouldn't have it any other way".
Most of us want to be help our parents, we just don't know how to maintain a balance in giving to them and giving to our own life.

And then you had the answer. You said, "I need to find a happy medium and begin taking more care of myself."

And that's the key. A happy medium. Nobody gets it all, but everyone can get something. Sometimes we don't realize that we feel like Wonder Woman doing everything for everybody and it's a little hard to give up that position of control.

Accept or encourage or seek any outside assistance. Don't worry about what other people think. You know that you are doing the best you can for your father. Now do the best you can for yourself. As they say in the airplane, PUT YOUR OXYGEN MASK ON FIRST! otherwise you won't be able to help anyone.

The new baby is really going to wear you out. Start now with a new attitude and bring yourself up to the top of the list. That's not selfish. That's self-preservation.

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