When Kingsley was diagnosed, after the panic and shock subsided a little bit, one of the first things that ran through my mind (and I'm sure most moms who have been in my shoes) was: How is this going to change things for Rachel and Cordelia?? For me, it was a given that I was going to have Kingsley, but I know that many/most others take a moment to consider this and factor it into their decision. I've even heard of some OB's using it to push their agenda with comments about how any siblings' lives are going to be sub-par with a brother/sister with a disability. It seems to be a valid concern.
When I was pregnant with Cordelia, I felt overwhelming guilt about having a second child and potentially ruining our happy little love triangle by bringing in this other kid. Less time for Rachel. Less attention for Rachel. And obviously I would always harbour secret favouritism for my first child, right, because there's no way I could love the second the way I loved the first. The whole thing was a bad idea, clearly. Then Cordelia was born. If you have more than one child, you know how this story ends. I think pregnancy hormones really do make you stupid ;)
My heart could explode at the thought of this moment.
I was certain that there would be no downside to having a third. Boy, girl, no matter.
I hadn't factored in the big bad SB, though.
I want to say that it has only been a positive thing for the girls, but honestly that would be a lie. Looking back, I feel badly about those last four months of my pregnancy and the changes that Cordelia went through while I was so absorbed in my own thoughts. She was younger than Kingsley is now when we found out, still such a baby. The pregnancy part was so unkind.
But it ends.
And your heart explodes just a little bit more.
The girls still don't care about the SB stuff. They still don't fully understand it, but they've never been sad about it or felt badly for Kingsley. His equipment doesn't scare them, they think his therapists are great, they don't complain about me spending time with him. Up until Cordelia's recent string of doctor's appointments (GP, dentist, eye doctor), they were not remotely interested in the constant appointments he attended either, but now Cordelia insists that she should go too, in case there are stickers or flashy toothbrushes. ;)
The first hospital stay when he was born was hard on Rachel. A couple of weeks after he came home, I found her in tears. She didn't want me to take Kingsley to the hospital the next day for his appointment because she didn't want us to leave her again. It took her a while to trust that visits to the hospital did not mean staying there.
The second hospital stay in November was hard on Cordelia. For Rachel, the combination of school and Cor's afternoon nap meant that her days were fairly routine. For Cordelia, she was shuffled every morning between homes and grandparents, she saw me leave every morning, she just had chaos. On the 6th day, she begged me to stay home and just snuggle with her, just begged. I hate to say it, but we've got enough experience with this now that by the third hospital stay we had it all figured out and both girls nearly outshined their rockstar brother with their adaptability.
That is honestly the extent of the negative impact this diagnosis has had on my other kids, full stop. At three and five years old, they are unphased by so much and I'm immensely proud of them for that. At playgroups and playdates with other kids with various diagnoses, they don't blink - wheels, walkers, tubes, scars, they see past it. They're so proud of their brother and have no problem talking about him to other people, the same way they'd talk about each other, just so matter-of-fact about it all. It's not a new normal, it's a normal normal.
So, when they tell you that this SB diagnosis is going to have a big impact on your other children.
You can tell them...
You sure hope so.
Because the alternative is
Never getting to see how.