Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Other Kids

I have just one final Awareness topic for SB Awareness month.

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


  1. I love this post! You are so right. There were times that were hard, but it makes our children so much more compassionate, understanding, and kind. Conner is so sweet to his sissy and really takes care of her. He is so protective too!

  2. Absolutely beautiful pics! Kids are wonderful, they just accept whatever comes there way, looks like your girls adore their little brother!
    I had been quite reluctant to have another baby, mainly afraid of how it would work with Caitlin being in hospital so often. But now, after reading your post, I am so broody! I'm sure there is nothing better than watching your children together :)

  3. And I thought your last post was a good one, Jill. I remember crying more for Paisley's changing world than even caring what a diagnosis of Spina Bifida could mean for Rodney and I. She is proud to show off his "boo-boo" on his back and talks about his shunt like everyone has one.
    How amazing for Rachel and Cordelia. They will accept every child as people not for their differences. As an elementary teacher, I can tell you not many young children have that compassion.

  4. Thank you so much for this post. I am currently on hospital bedrest waiting on our son with SB. We have two little girls at home. These thoughts have often be of concern to me. Thank you for the encouragement. You have a beautiful family.

  5. You do have a beautiful family. Great post :)

  6. Beautifully said.

    That photo of the girls and Kingsley when he was a teeny, tiny baby and they are thisclose to his face has ALWAYS been on of my favorites.

  7. I love, love, love this post! I often think about what if we had more children and would there be enough - love, time, attention, money, etc. You have done a wonderful job of reminding me that kids adapt far better than we give them credit for.

  8. oh my this was a perfect need to give it it's own link at the top of your page.
    just beautiful

  9. I won't lie, the last 5 years have been very difficult for Lucas. We spent 4 straight months in hospital when Sophie was born and we have been in and out since. But, we love her so much and you just do what you gotta do, just like you have done with your amazing children as well. I miss seeing them each week!

  10. beautifully said as always!!!!!!

  11. Oh, cripes. *sniff* Love you.

  12. That was beautiful! (I wrote a long response yesterday and blogspot wouldn't let me comment, so I'll try to remember what wonderful things I wrote!)

    As usual you took the words right out of my mouth!
    I completely remember those days before Nickolas was born, wondering how I could ever love another person as much as Katheryn, and wondering what was going to happen. Now, of course, we know how ridiculous that is!
    And with spina bifida thrown in the mix, it makes our kids stronger. It is not something that should be given such a negative impact!

  13. Beautiful pictures and beautiful words! I think sometimes all our hospital stays negatively affect L, but then she also says, "I know why I can't do .... it is because we are in hospital routine right now." We just keep trying to find ways to make it easier for her. Kids are amazing!

  14. Oh me oh my. Jill this was beautiful. Gosh now I'm crying. Blink blink blink. Beautiful post sweet friend. I just love it. You don't even know how sweet it is to us - mommies with our 1st baby having SB -to witness sibling love. I hope Jet has that someday.


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