To some people’s surprise, we’ve chosen to make our sweet baby Kyle an important part of our family. I guess it could be easier to shield our girls from the truth a bit. Especially, when we thought we’d lose Kyle early on. But I’m so glad we haven’t kept the truth from them. They know about each pregnancy and each loss. And while they think my tummy is just a baby factory right now (“It’s ok, mommy, when Kyle goes to Heaven, your tummy will just give you a new baby.”), they also know a lot more about God than they did 12 months ago.
So, for those of you who have asked how the girls are handling things, or if they know what’s going on, and to those few of you in similar situations who have asked how to help your own small children understand something so deep, I hope this is a help to you.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to little ones so young about something so big. I’ll admit, they’ve been my shoulder to cry on more than the other way around. But they do understand as much as their minds can fathom what is happening inside my body and to their little brother.
We’ve chosen to avoid words like “he will fall asleep” – only because that could cause some major fear in the long run every time they fall asleep. We’ve decided to be as open and honest with them as we can. They know Kyle can’t live on earth the way God designed him. They know that God is the only one who can “fix” him, and that God could fix him here on earth if He wanted to, but that He will probably wait to fix him until he gets to Heaven. And that yes, Mommy and Daddy will be very sad about it, but we’ll also be happy knowing that he’s all better finally and happy in Heaven with Jesus.
We do use the words, “Kyle is really sick” – and this isn’t a sick we can fix with medicine or doctors. Even though they ask every week when we go if the doctor can make him better “this time”. Or every time they see me take my 8 different vitamins if it’s medicine for the baby to feel better. They know that nothing here on earth can fix Kyle. They so desperately want something to fix him. But they know that if he is healed, it had to be all God. And if God doesn’t heal him here, He will heal him in Heaven. But we keep telling them, as many times as they need to hear it, “Kyle is still really sick, but look at him – he’s still happy. He doesn’t feel sick at all! God is helping him be happy. Look at him all dancing around in there!” Which, as far as we can tell from his medical data, is totally true.
We include them in the decisions we make. We pray for him with them every night. We tell them why Mommy cries a lot, and sometimes, why we get upset with them over things that used to not bother us. And why, sometimes, their cards, and sweet hugs and kisses don’t always make us better. Because our sad is really big, only God can make it better. And He will. And He does. And they are watching it happen in front of their eyes.
We encourage as much interaction with their brother as they want. Without forcing it on them. So, yeah, they poke my belly button all the time “to make the baby laugh”. And they put my iPhone up to my tummy while they’re watching a video so “Baby Kyle can see it too. See? He likes Handy Manny. But we can’t turn on Tinkerbell. He wouldn’t like that one. It’s just for sisters. Not brothers.” They feel him kick. They love listening to his heartbeat during ultrasounds. And while they know he won’t be here much longer, they are truly enjoying every moment they can with him.
Is there a better way to help little ones understand? Probably. But this is just what we’re doing. (And I’ll happily take any other suggestions some of you may have out there who’ve been on this road before me!)
Something we did do this last week on vacation that I highly recommend to the way-too-many of you precious ladies in similar situations sitting on the other side of your computer screens…and those of you who might know someone in a similar situation and want to help….we built Baby Kyle bears. And from here, I’ll let the photos do the work of telling this sweet story.
(I am not an affiliate of Build a Bear Workshop. This post is purely based on the amazing experience we had at the Asheville Mall location. We are so thankful for the ladies who invested so much time into our girls and their bears.)