A few updates:
I had my third echo, ultrasound, and OB-GYN appointment today. Everything is great. Daniel doesn’t have to have another echo before he is born, which means things are progressing as expected. No news is good news, and I am extremely thankful he remains at “standard risk.” I am also not dilated or effaced any more than last week. All around great news!
The kids got here today! I am over-the-moon happy. I missed them so bad, and it was worse knowing that they missed me. An odd thing has happened: I have been so worried about Hannah because of her seizures and hair obsession, but I never really thought David would have as hard a time with me gone. He is SUPER close to my mom, and I figured that he would bear up well under the pressure considering he is older, more mature, and so bonded with Lala.
Ironically, the opposite has happened. Hannah is so young that she doesn’t understand why I am gone. All she knows is mommy is gone and she misses me, but that is it. She has no idea why I am gone, and she is able to deal with the not knowing better than David. David, unfortunately, knows.
I did something stupid a few months ago. I underestimated my son. After our first round of appointments in Houston at the beginning of April, I *tried* to tell David what was going on.
Here is what happened: David was very concerned that Brian, Lala, and I were in Houston randomly on a Wednesday. I thought it was better to tell David what was going on with me and his little brother. By this time, he understood that I had a baby in my tummy, and we prayed for his baby brother every night. By this time, we had named him Daniel, so David was talking to Daniel all the time throughout the day. Daniel was already a part of our family. I thought I would start telling David bits and pieces of the story. From my experience as a teacher, I know that it can take kids a million times to hear something for them to finally *get* it. I figured that is how it would be with David.
You have to remember…David is THREE. He knows nothing about the body, about how the body works, about organs and blood and blood vessels. I had no idea how I was going to explain to him about Daniel, much less about Daniel’s heart condition. I didn’t, quite honestly, understand Daniel’s heart condition very well myself. Here is how the conversation went:
David: Mommy, why did you go to Houston yesterday?
Me: Well, David, we went to Houston for doctor appointments. The doctors looked at Daniel in mommy’s tummy.
Me: Did you know that everyone has a heart inside their chest? It is right here (at this point I pointed to where his would be). Your heart beating is how your blood gets to your body. Daniel has a piece of his heart missing.
David: (eyes wide, worried) Mommy, is Daniel going to die?
Me: (realizing this has taken a very dark turn, wholly unprepared for this question) The doctors in Houston are going to have to do an operation on Daniel after he is born. They are going to do everything they can to make him better so he can come home.
David: (still very worried) Is Daniel going to be really sick?
Me: (YIKES) Yes, he will be for a while. Mommy will be in Houston with him when he is born. The doctors are going to take really good care of Daniel so that we can bring him home.
Yeah…So that is the train wreck of my first conversation with David about Daniel. I was wholly unprepared for David to immediately understand the seriousness of Daniel’s diagnosis. I figured he would say, “Okay” and keep playing. Instead, the heaviness has weighed on him.
Last weekend before I left for Houston, I told David why I was leaving. I said, “Mommy has to go to Houston so that I can be near the doctors in case Daniel is born.” This week, however, David has been acting out more than usual, according to my mom. He has been extremely worried about me being in “Houston” and not at home. Every time I talked to him on the phone, he would tear up and want to go back to his house, thinking I was there.
When he and I were reunited today, I asked him, “David, do you know why mommy has to stay in Houston?” David said, “Because Daniel has a piece of his heart missing, and you have to stay here in case he is born because he has to get an operation.” Stunned, I asked my mom if she had talked with him about it, thinking she had said this to him and he was repeating. According to her, they haven’t talked about it.
With David, all the heavy stuff comes out when I am rocking him to sleep. I think he keeps himself so busy and wound up playing all day that he doesn’t have time to talk about anything. But when he is being rocked to sleep, he can’t distract himself, and all the big stuff starts coming out.
Tonight when I was rocking David to sleep, David asked me, “Mommy, are you always at the hospital when you are in Houston?” I responded with, “No, I just had appointments today. Usually I am here at the R.V. or at Uncle John and Aunt Christi’s house.” David said, “So you aren’t always in the hospital?” I said, “No, I only was this afternoon.” He seemed very relieved at my answer.
After this brief conversation, I realized why David might have been more affected this week. Elmer, my uncle, has been in the hospital since last week. He has been dealing with some serious health woes, and the kids have been up to visit him with my mom. I think David thought I was in the hospital like Elmer is. Elmer is really sick with open wounds and just had surgery today. David must be thinking that, not only is Daniel in danger, but mommy is too.
On Tuesday when my mom took David and Hannah to visit Elmer, something pretty amazing happened. They visited for about an hour and then said their goodbyes and then this is happened:
David, as my mom is guiding him and Hannah to the door to leave: Let’s say a prayer for Elmer.
Lala: That’s a great idea, David!
Pam: Okay, David, go ahead and say it.
All of you who know David know he is very shy. When Pam suggested this, he went to hide behind my mom’s legs. But, he did go ahead and say a prayer without any more prodding.
David, while hiding behind my mom’s legs: Dear Jesus, please help Elmer to get well. Amen.
Afterwards, Pam called me. She couldn’t believe that no one else had thought to say a prayer during the visit. It took David, a three year old, to suggest it. Then for him to overcome his shyness and lead the adults in prayer: brave and touching.
I now understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” in Matthew 18:2-4.
He knows who Jesus is. He knows we pray to Jesus. He trusts Jesus. Of course he would pray for Elmer to Jesus. He did so without doubt.
At night when we say our prayers, it is a real time investment. David has to pray for every single person he knows, and then he usually tells Jesus about his day. I am in awe of the complete trust and intimacy he feels with his savior.
I am going to try to remember his example in the upcoming weeks. I am going to try to have faith like a little child.