Ever since my husband and I were trying to get pregnant we were already mentally preparing my son for another child. Every night when we say his bedtime prayers I tell him to ask god for a baby brother and sister… and eventually this he would do even without me prompting him.
When we found out that we were pregnant we let him in on it right away and made sure he was involved. We would bring him to OB appointments and Ultrasound appointments. When my belly grew he would kiss it and talk to her baby sister inside. He was as excited as we were for the forthcoming addition to our family.
When we found out that something might be wrong with our baby girl, we weren’t sure how we were going to tell him about it. We didn’t.
When Isabella finally came to the world and we had to stay in the hospital or within the hospital vicinity and had to leave him at home with friends we made sure that we would call him every night and tell him sweet little messages that “came” from her baby sister. And when we do need to drive home to pick up some things or when we would stay for a night, we made sure that we have little things for him that “came” from his sister, we also showed him pictures of her that we took. Friends from work (since my son goes to the school where I work) would tell me that he would tell everyone that she already has a sister. He even asked that I print some pictures for her so he can show it to his friends.
One time, while her sister was still in the NICU and we had to briefly come home to pick up some stuff and we gave him one of those little presents that supposedly came from Isabella he goes, “Nanay, can I talk to your belly cause I’m going to tell the baby thank you for my surprise.” My husband and I both told him that the baby was no longer in my belly and that she was still in the hospital because the doctors are still checking her. He then goes, “Then I’ll just tell God to go tell Isay thank you because God is holding her.” (It was creepy and touching at the same time.)
When it was time for us to finally bring Isabella home, he was happy. He even said, “Nanay, I can’t stop smiling.”, and I asked, “Why?”, and he said “Because my baby sister is coming home.”
The moment he saw her he adored her. He would kiss her head and play with her tiny feet. When she’s sleeping he would bother her, because he wanted to play with her. We would explain that she still is too small to play with and she needs to sleep a lot so she can grow. We also needed to tell him that her baby sister is not a toy. On her first night home we were surprised to see him up with us at 3 in the morning also checking on the baby… him and our dog Missy. Looks like the whole family was so eager to meet the new addition to our family.
Sometimes he cannot stop himself that he would pry the baby’s eyes open and tell her “Wake up baby girl!”. He just really really loves her.
He even came up with a nickname for her all by himself.. he calls her “Buboy", sometimes "Booobie”… or “Boobs” for short, now we all call her "Buboy", “Boobie” or “Boobs” for short. (No, he does not know what the word Boob means).
To prepare him that his baby sister has special needs, one time I told him “Eloi, our baby Isay is special.” He then goes, “Special like your students, or like Tatay’s students?” I go, ‘I think, like Tatay’s students.” He took a moment to think about it and then he replied, “Oh, that’s ok Nanay. That’s okay.”
He seems to not see that she is not like any other baby. It didn’t bother him that she has an NG tube and that she is tinier than most babies. He does not see the features of the syndrome.
I’m not quite sure if he really understands what I meant by “special”, but I guess we did good exposing him to the students that we work with. Who knows, maybe he does find her sister special, perhaps even extra special.
At that moment, he taught me something wonderful…. to try and see the world just as he does… to see things from the eyes of a child.
I teach students with mild to moderate disabilities, while my husband teaches students with moderate to severe disabilities.