I’ve always worried about Drew the most. Until now.
Drew and Porter were born seven weeks early, and spent a couple of weeks in the NICU. A few days after they had both come home, Drew started looking even paler than usual. I wasn’t sure what was wrong– I just had that mother’s sense that he was in trouble. While I was on the way to the hospital with him, he stopped breathing. I drove as fast as I could, trying to reach back to his seat to push on his chest without wrecking the car.
When I got him to the NICU, he was turning blue. The nurses grabbed him from me and started working on him. Although one nurse tried to turn me around so I could not see what they were doing to him, I saw needles and tubes and blood flying around the table where he lay.
I heard them say that his oxygen saturation was at 40%.
I don’t remember much of the next two weeks. Drew stayed in the hospital. I had Finn and Porter at home. I was trying to nurse Porter and just keep Finn, who was two and a half, alive.
All the while, I was fixated on the memory of Drew’s bluish face, the tangle of medical staff working on him, and the very real possibility that if he survived, he’d have permanent problems as a result.
Bill visited Drew in the hospital every day– sometimes twice a day.
In contrast, I could barely stand to go. Each time I saw him in his tiny crib in the NICU, looking like a tadpole hooked up to tubes, I tried to pretend he was someone else’s baby. I worried that if I didn’t, I’d get too attached to him and then I’d lose him. Some days I didn’t go to the hospital at all. I’m ashamed to admit that now.
As it turned out, Drew had contracted meningitis. He came home after two weeks, and quickly improved. As he’s grown, he’s always been smaller, skinnier and paler than Porter, but he’s been perfectly healthy in every way. I’ve finally decided he just has the physique of the grandfather he was named for– my most active grandfather, who biked well into his seventies.
Recently I’ve found myself in an unfamiliar situation. I’ve been losing sleep worrying over Porter. As the kids have grown older, it’s apparent he’s the odd child out.
Bill and I are both high achievers. Finn appears to be heading along the same path. He has nice friends, he does well in school, he plays the drums and a variety of sports. He’s pretty wise for his age.
Drew is Bill in a tiny package. He may be pale and skinny, but he has more determination and attention to detail in his little toe than most people have in a whole body. He likes to set a goal and accomplish it. He also has a tight group of friends.
And then there’s Porter. Yesterday I wrote his teacher a note:
Dear Ms. S:
Bill and I are very worried about Porter. Please watch him for a couple of weeks and let us know whether there is cause for concern. I know that he is less mature than Drew is or than Finn was at this age. My specific areas of concern are:
– His tendency to act like a baby (baby talk, asking questions incessantly– mainly questions he already knows the answers to, acting like he is not able to do something he can do)
– Shyness (won’t look at people when he talks to them, puts on what I call “the chipmunk face” and acts like he’s dumb around strangers)
– Not very interested in making friends – gets along fine by himself, a loner
– Is able to read well, but has been “afraid” to read out loud recently, told us it was “scary” when he had to read out loud to you the other day
– Not able/willing to follow the rules when playing games, bails out and goes off to do his own thing
– When asked to do something he doesn’t want to do, or when in the middle of an activity he doesn’t like, complains of headache or stomacheache
– Has trouble focusing on one task
– Doesn’t smile in pictures, makes his “chipmunk face” like he’s embarrassed.
However, Porter is smart. He is a better reader than Drew. Additionally,
– He can entertain himself happily for hours
– He has a vivid imagination and spends a lot of time turning toys into inventions and creations
– Is very coordinated (bikes, rollerblades)
– Eats anything
I would appreciate your thoughts on anything we can do better at home to address any problems you see at school.
I have a child who eats anything, and who has never told me he is bored. Why am I so worked up?
Because I am frustrated. It’s hard to reduce a child into a list of characteristics on a sheet of paper. It is clear that Porter’s personality is very different from mine, or Bill’s, or his brothers’. I don’t exactly know how to handle him– and I’m his mother. I feel like a failure.
I worry about the fact that he doesn’t have close friends, and he doesn’t seem to miss them. Then I worry that I’m worrying too much– after all, he’s only seven.
I worry that he’s been shortchanged. Did I spend so much time fretting about Drew that I failed to pay enough attention to Porter?
My feelings toward him swing wildly during the day. One moment I’m enjoying snuggling with him. I love the fact that he still wants to hold my hand. Moments later, I’m irritated by his babytalk. I’m sure he’s capable of acting more mature, but I can’t make him that way.
For now, we’re watching him, and waiting to see what his teacher has to say.
And sending out prayers every hour.