Band of Brothers
By Nicola Sheldon
We have been blessed with three beautiful boys, they are 7, 4 and 16 months. Our 4 year old had a difficult birth where he experienced a grade 3 HIE event and as a result has some fairly complex medical needs.
He has good days and bad days, and I’m not sure I could describe any of them as easy for us as a family. There is however plenty of love and joy on our household.
Something I find particularly bittersweet is observing the relationship between our boys. Our eldest was 3 when he became a big brother. He was really looking forward to it, he had big ideas about the games they would play together and the toys he wanted to share with him.
Becoming a sibling to a disabled brother was not something anyone had prepared him for and there was clearly a sense of loss for him as he understood how his brother was different to his peers and how their relationship was different.
He still loved him with a ferocity that made my heart glow. As time went on he started to want to learn how to care for his young brother. They might not be able to play easily together but he could help feed him, or cuddle him when he was sad or feeling rough.
He worried about him when he was sick, sitting close and holding his hand so he knew he wasn’t alone. Always wanting him to come with us wherever we were going. Noticing when his head dropped and picking it up for him, or shouting for help when he was vomiting and struggling, telling other adults what to do.
He knew when I asked for a muslin to catch the sick I needed help and would quickly pass me one directly into my hand. He knew to sit quietly and out of the way when the paramedics would flood into the house to take him to hospital.
He also knew that he loved rough and tumble, and would throw him around like none of us dared, never hurting him and eliciting the biggest rolls of laughter!
He now shares his YouTube videos with him, or jumps up to restart the ever streaming paw patrol, because that’s ‘his job’.
He protects him from the attentions from his younger brother, stopping his tube from being pulled, or from being jumped on.
When our youngest was born I’m not sure I’d ever seen two prouder big brothers than my boys. They both had clear ideas about what they expected of their new sibling!
I’m not sure they expected this little bundle of energy who wants to be everywhere they are, centre of their attention, doing whatever they are doing. All hands and feet in ears, noses, and faces. Stealing their toys, their seats. Jumping on their laps, slapping their heads in excitement!
At just 16 months old he already recognises his older brother’s routine. He attempts to push the syringe at meal time, he will turn on his water pump, he will gently wipe his face after he has vomited. He will bring his shoes and splints when it is time to go out, pulling at his straps on his chair asking me to get him out for a cuddle.
He doesn’t realise it yet but already he is a young carer at just over a year old.
It hurts me to know the weight of the worry they will carry on their shoulders as siblings and young carers, but I am so very very proud when I see how caring and thoughtful they are.
I look forward to watching them grow up together, something tells me they will be close, a tight little band of brothers looking out for each other. And that gives me great comfort to know that even after mum and dad are gone they will still have each other, whatever happens.