Siblings

Siblings
Constance was born with a heart defect and had to have heart surgery when she was only 5 ½ months old. The operation resulted in two cardiac arrests and cerebral palsy—a reality that also affects Constance’s little brother, as their mother, Mélissa Class, explains.
Constance was born with a heart defect and had to have heart surgery when she was only 5 ½ months old. The operation resulted in two cardiac arrests and cerebral palsy—a reality that also affects Constance’s little brother, as their mother, Mélissa Class, explains.

Post-surgery tests revealed that Constance had cerebral palsy. Our daughter is now 3, but in terms of development, she’s at the same stage as a 4-to-6-month-old baby. She has epilepsy, can’t sit up, doesn’t crawl, and can’t speak. She doesn’t react to our presence so we’re not even sure she can see.

When Constance was a baby, we were surprised to find out that I was pregnant. My husband was thrilled, but I was a little nervous. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened.

Tom’s very protective of his sister.

Our son, Tom, is 2. Of course, he doesn’t understand why his sister is always lying down or sitting. But he’s always bringing her toys, giving her kisses, and playing with her even though she doesn’t react and sometimes hits him by accident.

Not long ago, Tom realized that whenever he sneezed, she’d smile. He went and sat next to her and sneezed over and over to make her laugh. I watch him with her. He’s very protective.

With us, things are good, except the odd time when Tom makes it clear he’s feeling neglected. If I’m busy taking care of Constance, for instance, he might drop his toys, cry, or have a meltdown so that I’ll pay attention to him. He also sulks when I get back home after a few days in the hospital with Constance, which happens pretty often. When I get in the door, he’ll rush over to see his sister, but it takes a couple of hours before he’ll talk to me.

At one point I noticed that Tom had fewer tantrums if I spent a couple of hours with him just one on one. That’s why I’ll sometimes get a sitter for Constance, to give us some quality time together. I can tell that it makes him feel better.

As much as I wish I could spend more time with Tom, I don’t see any alternatives. There’s only so much time. I actually had to quit my job so that I could take care of Constance. But these are the realities of our life, and we have to accept them.

 

Naitre et grandir.com

Source : Naître et grandir magazine, May–June 2017
Interview by Kenza Bennis

 

Photo : Maxim Morin