I’ve been wanting to write something for a while now about my other son… The one who doesn’t have Leukaemia. His name is Harrison and he’s 2 and a half years old.
He made quite the entrance into the world, he was 15 days late and then arrived in 27mins.
He has an infectious personality.
He’s a live wire, with a wicked sense of humour, even at his young age.
As a baby he never stopped smiling…and from the moment he arrived he was our cheeky little monkey. Our Harryboo.
He’s smart he can count to 20, he knows all his colours and has an ever growing vocabulary.
He loves to jump, run and bounce on the bed. This includes singing and doing the actions to “5 little monkeys”. He loves to sing and he is a fantastic dancer.
His latest moves include copying dance moves from music videos on the TV.
He’s a daddy’s boy…only daddy can do most things including reading him endless stories and morning cuddles.
He is a creature of habit. He would listen to Baby Shark on repeat if we’d let him.
And every night he likes to read the same book. His book repertoire includes The Gruffalo, Stickman, How do dinosaurs eat their food? books about trains, Postman Bear and Fox’s socks.
For Christmas he asked for “Big Boy Lego” so he can be just like his big brother Bilbo.
He is kind and gentle and loves his big brother dearly.
And as the brother of a child with cancer, he is suffering too. His new normal means so much of our life centers around his big brother and we can’t always put Harrison’s needs first.
On the Monday Bilbo was diagnosed, Bilbo and I dropped H off at nursery like any other day.
I didn’t see him again until Wednesday. He didn’t see his brother again until Friday. And when he did it was at the hospital in an unfamiliar environment.
On Tuesday nanny, Grandma and Grandad all turned up. Mummy, Daddy and Bilbo were no where to be seen.
The first few weeks were brutal. Only now as I reflect I realise just how hard those early days and weeks were. We were so consumed with everything cancer related.
My little baby had barely had time to get used to mummy being home from New York and I was gone again and so was Bilbo.
Kids pick up on things, he could tell something wasn’t right.
I can’t thank my mum enough for moving into the spare room so that when we left at 6am before H was awake Nanny was there for cuddles and some familiarity.
What does he understand?
He knows Bilbo is poorly, he knows Bilbo has to have a lot of medicine. He knows he has to be careful of Bilbo’s hickman line.
Beyond that we don’t really know what he thinks or feels.
He sees it all…
He sees the tantrums, the tears, he sees the fighting with mummy over medicine, he sees the angry Bilbo, the shouty Bilbo. He sees the tired and poorly Bilbo. He sees the nurses visit our house. He comes to hospital visits and sees his brother and all the other poorly children. He sees the Bilbo who is sick and nauseous. He sees his mummy and daddy panic, worry, lose our temper…and he sees our tears.
It doesn’t matter how much you try to shield them, some of the cancer BS seeps through. Fuck You Cancer
Cancer doesn’t give you any respite on the parenting guilt, in fact in some ways the guilt only worsens. I’ve posted before about THE guilt, in those first few days it was already creeping in: Day 4: Reward Charts, Leaflets and Pooh.
We can’t be in two places at once. We can’t split ourselves in two. So we do what we always do as parents we try and make it work.
What does it mean to be the brother of someone with cancer?
It means you miss out. Harrison misses out on a lot. When we decided we wouldn’t leave the house for 2 days before Christmas to reduce the chances of getting sick. H was on lock down too.
When Uncle Gaggin got sick at Christmas and could only wave at us through the window on the day he returned to Germany – H had to wave from a window too.
Everything we have to miss, cancel or change for Bilbo – impacts H too.
Bilbo is inundated with prizes for being brave, presents from amazing charities, gifts from friends and family. There isn’t always something for H.
There is no prize for being the little boy who’s brother has cancer.
Bilbo’s room is bursting with lego…and the phrase we hear so often from H is… “Bilbo’s lego” “no that’s Bilbo’s…fill in the blank” and it is true.
Everything is for or about Bilbo.
For the last few weeks we’ve tried our hardest to make some of our time about H. We signed up to gymnastics on Sunday, it is pay as you go and free play. He LOVED it!
Despite him only wanting daddy to put him to bed i’ve now become the official tickle monster before bed. And as his speech develops I love our little chats and conversations.
Our other son…
When you have a baby and are lucky to fall pregnant again, during the pregnancy I often wondered “how will I love another human as much as my first”.
But you know what, you do you love them, just as much.
Because the love you have for your children is for every spark of THEIR personality, for every smile and time THEIR face lights up, for every milestone THEY reach in THEIR way, for every special moment you have with THEM.
Whilst this blog is often about Bilbo, we have another son and his name is Harrison and he’s blooming awesome!