When Hailey was born, I wallowed in my self-pity for awhile. There was an emotion though that surpassed that, it was fear. I worried I had disappointed everyone. My husband, my family, my friends and my boys. I was afraid I delivered something that they would resent. That they wouldn't love her. That I had let them down. I'm not sure why, but I was afraid that Down syndrome would affect the sibling relationship that I had dreamed about.
Once again, I was wrong with those initial feelings. The boys have worshiped this little girl since the first day they saw her. It was hard on them at first. They didn't get to see her for almost 2 weeks. It is hard on a 3 and 7 year old when they know their sister is somewhere and that she has been born, but she can't be seen by them. Darn cold and flu season! Once Hailey was a little stronger, the NICU nurses snuck the boys into her room. It was a Sunday evening and the hospital was empty. I'll never forget that look of love and fear in their eyes. They were so excited to see their sister, but scared because she was still in the hospital. We didn't tell the boys initially that Hailey had Down syndrome or that she had a heart defect. The Ds part...we didn't know how to deal with it ourselves or how to explain it to two small children. The heart defect and looming open heart surgery is a lot to worry about for adults, we couldn't burden them with that worry. Not yet. I will never forget our first picture together, the five of us, or our first night together at home.
I'm not sure what the boys truly understand about Down syndrome. They know she has an extra chromosome (but at their age, that is very abstract). They know it makes her learn a little slower. They will tell you that her therapy is "exercise" and they have both gone to plenty of them. They have helped at home with Hailey from day one. Their relationship is a typical brother-little sister relationship. They yell at her when she takes their ipods, writes on their homework, or steals their snack. They wrestle with her, but get upset when she doesn't give them a hug goodnight. She follows them around and wants to be with them and their friends all the time. You will frequently her her yell "E" or "Bay" and see her wiggle her way onto one of their laps and wrap her little arm around their neck. I fear the day anyone makes fun of Hailey...I'm afraid Ian will give them a strong left hook. Brayden will ask you not to use the "r-word" with his eyes full of tears.
Yes, the boys know that Hailey has Down syndrome, but that isn't important to them. She is their sister....they love her and she loves them. Their love for one another makes this mom's heart swell with so much pride. It is the best thing in the world!
|Look at all my babies!|
|I remember this moment like it was just yesterday|
|Ian was all about helping.|
|They all look like such babies!|
|They sometimes use her adoration to their advantage, making her help them with dishes.|
|She even loves being near them even if they aren't paying attention to her!|
|Ian and Hailey being sick together|
|Brayden loves her, but he's not sharing hot wings with her!|
|Can't fake this kind of happiness!|
|They even do "tea parties".|
|Hailey trying to help with homework (no, we caught the coin before she swallowed it!)|
|I'm sure they wouldn't like me sharing this impromptu dance party!|
|Helping Hailey at special olympics|