Today, a week ago, we’d just arrived in Cape Town and we were excitedly anticipating meeting our son the next day and dreaming about our lives as a family of four. I’m still trying to make sense of everything that has happened, a part of me is numb and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my emotions have been all over the place in the last week. I’ve been angry, sad, confused but mostly I’ve been worried about the impact of last week’s events on Ava.
She was so excited when we told her she was getting a little brother, whom she was still convinced would be called Sister or Tristan (her cousin and her best friend’s names). I can’t get the image out of my head of Walter and I entering my parents house having just collected Baby K, she came cautiously round the corner holding my mom’s hand and the look of wonder and sheer delight on her little face when she say Baby K in the carrier will stay with me forever. She immediately started excitedly exclaiming that this was her baby brother and that he was so cute. She couldn’t wait for us to put the carrier down so she could get a better look at him, touch him and get to know him.
I remember her running to her room in my parents house and fetching the basked of toys, collected over the last few years of visits to Cape Town. Of her unpacking every toy and showing it to him, shaking the baby rattles and pressing the buttons on the musical toys for him to see. She wanted him to bath with her that night and wanted to help change his nappie, even running and fetching one of her own night time nappies for him to wear. And all she wanted desperately to do was have a chance to hold him.
But just a few hours later we were packing up his things and preparing to take him baby to our social worker. Ava was confused. She wanted to know where we were taking her baby brother and when he was coming back? She wanted to know why he couldn’t bath with her and why he was leaving.
It broke my heart to explain to her that he wasn’t her baby brother and that we were only looking after him for a little bit and he was going back to his mommy.
We had friends over for lunch on Sunday because I was desperate to get back to as normal a routine as possible as quickly as possible and Ava’s best friend, Tristan was there. It was a difficult lunch and I’m not sure if it was because she was sick or she was acting out her hurt, anger and confusion, but she spent most of the lunch pushing and smacking Tristan and at one point even scratching him in his face.
She has not mentioned one word about her baby brother since we left with Baby K but this evening, I was downloading the photo’s off my camera from last week and carelessly left the photo viewer open on my lap top and she was a photo of baby K. She immediately said that he was her baby, her baby brother and she wanted to know where he was.
I’m worried that the events of last week are having a bigger impact on her than we realize. Everyone tells me it was for such a short time that I should not worry about it, but it’s hard not to, just because she’s not saying anything or saying much about it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t had an effect on her, doesn’t mean she’s also not angry and confused by the turn of events.
I’m not sure if I’m overreacting but I can’t help wondering if perhaps a session with a play therapist, just for an assessment wouldn’t be a good idea? If they wouldn’t be able to tell us how affected she is by all of this, if at all, and give us some tools to help her cope with her feelings, should she be struggling.
This week has been tough. So very tough and I have a feeling we have a way to go before things return to normal.