The Well-Adjusted Sibling- Part 1

The last time Selah was at the Children’s Hospital, she was pulling on every single cord connected to Beaudin’s cancer ridden body while the doctor told us that they had finally confirmed it was, in fact, leukemia. She was still nursing and we had been having a grandparent deliver her to the hospital a couple times a day so that we could try and keep that possibility alive. Turns out, nursing a baby while under the stress of your first born’s cancer diagnosis is impossible. My supply evaporated and just like that cancer stole something else.

After that day, she never came back to the hospital. Thank God, Meemaw lived with us and she was able to watch Selah anytime we had appointments. Additionally, we had dear friends pay for her to be enrolled in a full-time Montessori daycare. Selah was taken care of, mostly by others.

Overnight, we went from attachment parenting, with plans to breast feeding for another year to weaned and in full-time childcare. It’s hard to even write about. Seeing her now, I know that all is well that ends well, but how my heart aches with the trauma that we were all enduring in those first few weeks and months.

This is a season where my photo stream goes from photos like this, our first time at a restaurant after diagnosis:

To photos like the two below documenting how I called every pharmacy in Boulder County trying to track down the right needle size for Beaudin’s twice-daily blood thinner injections because the pre-filled needles that we had fulfilled at our local pharmacy were significantly bigger than the ones we had practiced with at the hospital. And they were causing him great pain. Tears. So many tears. In a month, Beaudin had gone from never having a needle in his body, not once, to being poked and prodded for a month straight to get a diagnosis, getting a power port implanted, and then needing twice daily injections into the fatty back side of his skinny little body for 12-weeks. What the fuck?

So, you can all imagine why it is hard for me to casually scroll back through photos of Selah as a toddler. Any cute pic is sandwiched between really tragic ones. I am left in a PTSD haze any time I think back to her being the absolute cutie- for which she was.

The memories of Selah’s toddlerhood are sandwiched between really horrific memories of Beaudin’s cancer. Like the pictures above when Beaudin had an anaphylactic reaction to his chemo and later that day we took Selah to a Mother’s Day event at church.

How did we hold both? I haven’t a clue. You just do what you have to do, I suppose.

For Selah, things quickly became normal and if you ask her now, at almost 5, she can’t recall a single day when leukemia wasn’t a part of things.

In January of 2021, all of Selah’s dreams came true when she got to go to her well-child visit. She answered every question from the doctor with a smile and a sweet, “I need some medicines.” Unprompted, she promised she wouldn’t cry if she got “a shots of chemo”.

Unfortunately for her, the doctor proclaimed her perfectly healthy and no shots were given.

We got in the car after the appointment and she was immediately pouty. “Did you like the doctor, Selah girl?”

“No mama, she’s forgets to give me the medicines and I’m still sick! I have the leukemias!”

This is what it looks like to grow-up with a big brother who gets all the shots, and all the medicines, and all the doctors appointments…and never shares any of it. Selah worked to right this inequity, telling me daily for years that she was sick and needed “the luplamins (supplements)” and “the chemos”. Her make-believe is always going to “lots of ‘pointaments”.

For her, Beaudin has had leukemia forever and she hasn’t a clue what that means except that Mom and Beau go to his doctor quite often and sometimes it’s for the day and other times it’s for a long time, like when “Phil-a-yell-fia” is involved. She knows Beau takes his “lupamins (supplements)” and “the chemos” and only once has she tried them for herself.

Her brain has been wired-up that this is all very, very normal and though I joke that she is the most well-adjusted of all of us, I wonder if it’s just that she simply does not remember a time before cancer.

The other posts from this series:

The (well?) adjusted sibling- Part 2

Read Part One here. Feeling pretty damn proud of myself right about now. Why, you ask. Oh, well I just stopped my freefall down the black hole of despair. Clawed my way right out. Closed the tab and opened a new one. You see, yesterday I wrote about Selah visiting the hospital and I was…

The Well-Adjusted Sibling- Part 3

Read Part One here, and then Part Two. Her eyes were wide as dinner plates when she realized what I was asking her. She was being invited to come along to Beau’s clinic visit, she was going to get to go to the hospital. “Yes, yes I want to come,” she said and immediately ran…

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