My husband died suddenly when my son was 5 years old. I sat him down the next day to explain to him that daddy had died. I had to do it in a calm, almost practical tone because I didn’t want him to cry. I felt that he was too young for his heart to be broken that way. He took it all in calmly.
Then he said to me, “Mommy, I want a new heart, this one hurts.”
I learned that day how much physical effort it takes to stop oneself from crying.
“Please don’t talk about babies, unless it’s to say that you’re having one.”
My eight year old daughter, Sian, told me with tears in her eyes. She had longed for a baby in the family for years. At Christmas whenever I asked her what she wanted she would answer immediately with: “A baby!”
I explained to her that as much as I too would love to have a baby, it wasn’t really possible as I was in the middle of my medical degree, did she want anything else?
“No mum, please don’t waste your money on stuff I don’t need—I really just want a baby!”
This little girl never asks for anything. She is so easygoing and has never acted spoiled.
Finally I finished my studies and found the right time to have a baby…. At 16 weeks pregnant I couldn’t wait to give Sian the good news. I knew she would be delighted and her reaction made everything even more wonderful. A new baby in the family—how blessed we felt!
She talked non-stop about all the things she would teach her sister. She couldn’t wait to hold her hand while she learned to walk. She talked about the books she would teach her to read.
Sadly, a few weeks later we found out the baby had a complex cardiac defect (hypoplastic left heart syndrome). We were hopeful but tried not to have any expectations. Finally the day came to meet our gorgeous new addition. Sian came to the birth. She even videoed it. She was amazing support and the most loving big sister imaginable.
Hours after the birth I woke up to find Sian wasn’t beside me. I wandered down the corridor to discover she was already in NICU, at the bedside of her new little sister, Lamees. She was devoted. She read to her for hours, sang to her, stroked her head and rubbed her tiny feet. She knew nothing was guaranteed so she loved her with all her heart.
Image Credit: Aria Nichols
Finally, Lamees went in for her first heart surgery. It is a very difficult procedure, with a high mortality rate. Lamees managed well. For four days she appeared to be recovering perfectly—then sadly at the age of 23 days her heart grew weaker and stopped beating.
For seven months we have grieved the loss of our little Lamees. Some days more difficult than others, the nights especially hard. We have coped with the loss and stayed strong, getting closer as a family; more loving, more supportive, more open with our feelings.
I would love to see Sian happy again, she has so much love in her heart for a younger sibling, but the timing isn’t great right now. My career needs to come first for a while.
So now whenever I mention a friend with a new baby or show her a cute video on Facebook, I see the same pained look in her eyes and I’m reminded how much she is still hurting inside.
I hope it’s not too long before I get to see her excited little face again. I want to be able to talk about babies without making her sad.