Naturally, our oldest has been more affected than our youngest during our journey. Although she is 26 months old, she understands so much and has dealt with everything in her own way. Before she knew anything about what was going on, she caught me crying. I did my best to contain myself, but one afternoon I let my mind get the best of me. At the time we knew very little about how difficult our journey would be or how it would end. She saw my tears and came up to me, wrapped her little arms around my neck and said, 'it will be okay mommy.' She kept repeating herself until she saw I stopped the waterworks.
Patrick first told her what was going on the day before the surgery. She was told that daddy had an owie on his tongue and that he would be going to the hospital so the doctors could fix it. After repeating this story three times, she had a general idea of what was going to happen. The night before the surgery, my older sister picked her up for a sleepover. It was a sad moment. Patrick was upset because that was the last time he would see her before the surgery. Her leaving meant no more last minute cuddles or snuggles or chances to say 'I love you.' It was quiet in the house.
The following morning she was brought back home to stay with my oldest sister and our youngest. As the days passed, we tried our best to keep the girls on their normal schedule, but of course a small change here and there was bound to happen. I think this coupled with me being gone so much was a bit more than she could handle. She started doing things out of the ordinary like spitting and hitting. She was far more whiney than ever before and craved my attention whether I was present or not. As the week went on the negative behaviors increased and it was very apparent that she needed me. It became very difficult for me. I felt very torn. I wanted to be at the hospital for Patrick as much as possible and I also wanted to be there for my girls. I know that neither of them will remember this journey, but being present and in the moment is something I really strive for.
The Friday Patrick was released from the hospital and we headed home my aunt was there with the girls. I called her to let her know of the plan as I wasn't expecting to be home so early. She was headed out the door to take the girls on a walk. It was perfect timing. I wasn't sure it was a good idea for the girls to be there when we first arrived. I didn't want our oldest to run and jump on daddy. I didn't want her to cling to me and me not be able to get Patrick settled. Soon after they returned and I took her to the living room to see her daddy. She was hesitant, kept her distance and was unsure. She didn't stay long.
Each day our oldest would get a little closer to her daddy. Each day she would talk to him a little more. As the days passed she became more comfortable and started to cuddle with him again. As she spent more time with us, and was able to get back on her schedule, the negative behaviors started to decrease.
Now, after weeks have passed if her daddy is not in the room she'll ask where he is. Before I can answer she'll ask, 'Is daddy at the hospital?' If I ask if she wants to go to her auntie's house to play with her cousin she replies, 'so you can take daddy to the doctor?' Her mind is a steel trap. She doesn't forget a thing. On any given day you'll find our oldest using the plastic rim of a net as a stethoscope. She'll listen to your heart and say, 'lub dub, lub dub.' She likes to take your temperature and listen to your lungs too. And the sweetest thing of all is when she asks her daddy if she can kiss his owies.