The day after being given the Trisomy 18 news, we sat down with our daughter Isabella to talk to her about what was happening. She had spent the previous day surrounded by crying adults, and we didn't want her to be too scared by the whole thing. I had already called most of our immediate family members and looped them in one by one, but none of those difficult conversations could hold a candle to the task of trying to explain it all to Bella. I was misty through the whole thing, but here's what I tried to convey.
- Mommy and Daddy have been really sad since yesterday, but it's not because of you. You make us very happy.
- We're sad because the baby in Mommy's tummy is very sick.
- It's a different kind of sick than your cancer was. The doctors probably won't be able to make it better like they did when you were sick.
- The baby might be too sick to ever come home with us.
- We love you very much, and we want you to know that we're not sad because of you. We're just very worried about the baby.
I know. Trust me, it's even harder to say than it is to read. Bella, brave little munchkin that she is, gave me a big hug and seemed to understand most of what I had said.
Well, after yesterday's gender bender, we felt we needed to take a minute and talk with Bella again. She had grown accustomed to hearing us refer to the baby as Sophia, so tonight at bath time I told her the baby's new name. Again, she seemed to understand, but had some questions this time.
Bella: Daddy, is Aiden sick just like Sophia was sick?
Me: Yes. He's very sick, honey.
Bella: Why are the babies so sick?
Me: I... I don't know, kiddo.
Okay, so maybe she didn't quite understand after all. That's okay. Still, even without fully grasping what I was trying to say, she managed to cut right through the chatter and ask the question that I've been intentionally avoiding... Why?
I've tried not to ask why... I know I don't have the answer. I didn't have the answer tonight when Bella asked. I didn't have the answer last month when the doctor said, "there's something very wrong with this baby". I won't have the answer if we get to delivery day and have to watch our son struggle for his life.
Maybe I'll get an answer someday. If I do, I'll be sure to tell Bella. For now, though, I hope she'll forgive me if I just keep avoiding the question.