Thursday, November 20, 2008

Prepping Peter

Before we received the diagnosis for Emma, we talked with Peter all the time about the new baby. He was very aware that there was a baby in my tummy and that it was growing bigger and when it got big enough it would come out so we could hold it. We had fun having him tell us all the time that he thought it was a sister. We didn't think twice about these things.

The day we left for the initial ultrasound appointment, Peter knew where we were going and he knew that when we got back we could tell him whether or not it was a sister. He was a bit taken aback when he saw me come home in tears and sobbing. But he timidly asked, "is it a sister?" I told him yes, but that she wasn't going to live. There was no more to that conversation.

While Tim and I talk about Emma a lot, the only time she really gets mentioned around the boys is when we're praying and she's included in the prayers. I know that Benjamin is still too little to understand, but I'm curious as to what's going on in Peter's mind.

When we've talked with Angel Watch, they've told us about the importance of being straight forward and using correct terms. They warned us about using phrases such as "she's sick" because then Peter might associate being sick (which happens to everyone) with death. However, I also don't want to push the whole situation on Peter too much. So we've approached it a few different times.

One time was in the car. We live near a store that does Mormon statues and they have a statue of Joseph and Hyrum Smith on display outside their store. We drove by one day and Peter called out, "Joseph Smith!" I complimented him on his correct identification and then he said, "he's dead." I told him that yes indeed, Joseph Smith was dead. Since we were already on the topic, I decided to ask Peter about Emma.

Me: Peter, did you know that Emma's going to die too?
Peter: No, I didn't.
Me: Well, she is. She's going to keep growing inside of Mommy, but when she's big enough to come out and does come out, she's not going to live very long. And then she's going to die.
Peter: I not like that.

His last words broke my heart. I couldn't continue the conversation from there. That was a few weeks ago.

When Angel Watch came this last time, they left us with a children's book called Lifetimes. Just this morning I read it to Peter for the first time. I don't think the book did much to clear up Peter's understanding or anything like that, but it did get us talking about dying afterwards. So again I brought up Emma.

Me: Did you know that baby Emma is going to die?
Peter: No.
Me: She is. Do you see how you have a nice big head? And Benjamin too? (Then Benjamin pointed out that I had a head too). And I have a nice big head too?
Peter: Yes.
Me: Well, baby Emma didn't get a nice big head. Her head's going to be too small to let her live once she's born. So she's going to keep growing inside of mommy, and then when she's born, she'll only live for a little bit and then she'll die.
Peter: And us too?
Me: No, we'll keep on living. But we'll get to see Emma before she dies and take pictures with her.
Peter: And put them up there (points to the wall behind us)?
Me: Yes, we'll put them up there.
Peter: Okay.

I don't think Peter quite grasps the whole idea of what's going on, but I also don't think it's a traumatizing concept to him, and I think that's what's most important. So I think if it's brought up again, yes, we'll talk to him about it. But if it's not brought up, we just might wait until after Emma dies to see how Peter's doing.


Dansie Family said...

that is heartbreaking! i hope he deals with it okay... bless your heart!

Kristen said...

I'm with Peter - I no like that too! I'm proud of you for talking with him about it - I know it is very difficult for you, but I know it will help Peter a lot!

Matt and Lecia said...

I've been doing very well controlling my emotions about Emma lately, but reading this definitely got to me. Even though Peter doesn't understand what's going on completely, I feel like he has a lot of love for his sister and already understands that she is a part of his family.

I love you so much, and I don't know anyone with more strength. Thank you for being the examples that you are.

Lynette and Brad said...

Once again I can tell what an awesome "mommy" you are. I know that Heavenly Father must really love you to send such valiant little spirits to you and Tim. You're still my hero -- you're handling everything so perfectly. I love you!!

Jennifer Rose said...

What courage to know how to share this with Peter. I love his innocence and kindness about Emma.

Andi said...

You're doing well to mention it calmly several times even if he doesn't really get it. This would also be an ideal time to tie in the eternal plan, as I'm sure you already have. We all lived with Heavenly Father before, and Emma gets to stay here on earth just a very short time before she goes back to live with Heavenly Father. The rest of us will stay here a long time, grow big and then get older and older, and then we all will go back to the same place as Emma. That way Peter gets used to the fact that (soon) Emma is with Heavenly Father but still part of your family.

gerald said...

I was visiting with a family last night that has several "special Needs" children. The mother asked how my family was, and I told her that things were going very well. I then talked about Emma and the special gifts the family has received. The mother has Parkinson's diesese and she is detereriating. The talk about death and peace and gifts and eternity was a very special time in that home. For some reason, I have more confidence in my calling, knowing the effect that Emma has in our lives. Hearing about Emma is hard, but it also makes makes this part of my life easier. I don't know if I can describe it adequately.

c hanson said...

Hey Tiffany,

I feel like I can relate with you talking to Peter. Brody was also too young to understand everything when losing Thomas.

Brody knows that he has a brother named Thomas and that he lives with Heavenly Father and Jesus. I've tried to go into more, but I've decided that that's enough for now.

I hope things are going as well as they can be and I'll keep you and your family in my prayers.


Eli said...

What a hard situation. No one so young should have to deal with the concept of death. I think you're walking him through it as best possible though. You're all in our prayers every night.