We had always planned on having two children and as life is never simple (we had struggled with recurrent miscarriages pre-Twinkle and time was also running away from us as I was hurtling towards the big four oh!), so there was no time for worrying (well maybe a little bit of worrying)!
Twinkle’s underlying condition would appear to be a random quirk in genetics (as yet undiagnosed) so her geneticist felt it was unlikely to have been inherited and we were more easily able to put the genetics issues out of our minds, however we were apprehensive about how our new family would ‘work’.
Would it be fair on Twinkle?
Would it be fair on a new little one?
Could we give them both enough time and attention?
We decided to wait until after Twinkle had had her heart patch surgery, so 9 days after her 3rd birthday her little brother (Noodle) arrived!
Aside from the surgery, I think the age gap worked well as it gave us that bit longer with Twinkle as an only child.
Gave us time to get our heads around being a family with additional needs, make sure we had the right support in place for Twinkle, concentrate on her appointments and therapies and get her settled a few afternoons a week in a lovely local nursery.
Twinkle is very accepting of people, developmentally she’s not reached the possessive about mummy stage, so we knew the little dude wouldn’t cause jealousy and, right enough, for the first few months she didn’t really register him except if he was squawking too loudly or distracting mummy from sorting her out some food (she LOVEs eating!).
As the Noodle has grown, he has ramped up our pace of life into the fast lane!
Twinkle’s development has always meandered sedately along, always forwards but at her own pace giving us time to get used to new things, however the little dude (now 16 months) seems to have hurtled full pelt the whole way!!!
Life is very different now and it’s refreshing for us all having a funny, happy, cheeky, adventurous and communicative little person in the house.
A little bittersweet when he began to reach and pass some of the developmental milestones that Twinkle has struggled to get to.
Lovely too of course that he is not having to struggle in the same way and, of course it’s hard to pinpoint directly as there are so many factors stimulating development, I really think having Noodle around has made a huge difference for Twinkle’s development too – he interacts with her constantly, at the same level as her, moves around in a similar way, plays with her or parallel to her - no matter how hard you try as a grown up to encourage play/movement/communication, there’s nothing that can match another little person learning the same things!
Noodle is still so young that we’ve not had to address the issue of his sister being different.
Being the second child it’s all he’s ever known, so it’s just the way things are.
My nieces and nephews are beginning to be more curious about Twinkle’s abilities so I know that it’s only a matter of time before we get to that stage with him too.
I guess I’ll just have to play it by ear but I’m starting to gather any hints and tips people are able to pass on.
He’s a little bookworm so I think stories will be a great help – any recommendations would also be most welcome!
I do hope we can nurture an accepting little person.
We are trying to be as inclusive a family as possible from the beginning. Doing things together as much as we can, including Twinkle in activities that we do as a family and including the wee dude in Twinkle’s activities and therapies.
Twinkle being that little bit older and attending nursery part of the week, gives me some valuable one on one time with Noodle too, where we can connect with other little people of his age and get as wide an experience as possible for him.
Twinkle will be starting school in September, so I hope I can continue to strike a good balance of one on one time with me, socialisation and time spent with his sister.
When he is older I think it will be very important to maintain contact with support groups like SWAN UK and SIBS (www.sibs.org.uk), allowing us to meet up with other families and, more importantly, for Noodle to meet other siblings in other families a bit like ours!