Hope you like this, sorry it was so late getting on here.
Peter held Becky for a bit, until she stopped crying. He looked at Sharon and nodded toward Billy, with a questioning look on his face.
Sharon, understanding that Peter wanted to let Becky hold him, nodded slightly. She was going to see how he handled this.
Peter reached down and cupped Becky’s chin, gently raising it until she looked at him through tear filled eyes. “Would you like to snuggle with him?” he asked.
Becky just nodded.
“Wait right here.” he told her.
Sharon reached down and broke Billy’s seal just as Peter approached her.
Gently lifting Billy into his arms, Peter carried him over and lay him down on the mattress toward the closed side of the crib. Turning, looking at Becky, he made a motion with his index finger that told her he wanted her to come over there. As she approached the crib, he told her “OK, up you go.” as he picked her up under her arms, and laid her next to her brother, blocking any chance that Billy would fall out of the crib.
April had left the room and come back by then, with a bottle of juice. She handed the bottle to Peter.
Peter lifted Billy up, turning him on his side facing her, and laid his head on her shoulder. Becky moved a little bit to make him more comfortable as Peter handed her his bottle. Smiling, she brushed the nipple against his lips as she said “Here Bug-a-boo, here’s your ba-ba.” When he took the nipple and started nursing, she cooed “That’s a good baby.” rubbing his back. She kissed him on his finely stubbled head, telling him “I love you, baby brother. You get better, I wanna play with you, with your little people toys because I know you love them.” and started humming a soft tune.
Sharon had stood as soon as Billy left her lap. She didn’t know if Billy would fuss, but for Becky’s sake, she hoped not. She couldn’t help but smile as she watched her daughter being so gentle with him. “This is good for her.” she thought.
Peter moved away from the crib and whispered to Sharon “I need to take care of some things. I’ll be back to check on him in a little while.”.
She placed her hand on his shoulder and whispered “Thank you.” with a smile.
Rick, from behind, whispered “Yes, thank you very much.”.
“No problem.” he responded to both of them, “I’ll be back in a little while.” and left the room.
Sharon lay in a hospital bed. They had moved the crib against the wall, knowing that Billy most probably wouldn’t be far from Mommy for some time.
It had been some time since Becky had left with her grandma. Rick was sleeping now, they were nice enough to let him sleep on a cot in an unoccupied room. Sharon had practically had to beg him to try and get some sleep. Neither of them had had much sleep in the last few days, and they didn’t know what tonight would bring.
She lay on her side, gazing down on Billy laying against her, his mouth wrapped around her nipple. She couldn’t help smiling as he lay there sound asleep, still attached to her. She was thankful he had finally managed to fall asleep. April had removed his hospital gown so he could lay against her, skin to skin. Sharon had removed her shirt and put a hospital gown on, because it made it easier to breastfeed him and she could pull it aside so he could snuggle. Sharon had tried to rock him to sleep without success, but feeling Mommy’s soft warm skin did the trick.
Billy had only been asleep for an hour when he opened his eyes and looked at his mommy.
Sharon put a new bag of Pediasure in place and connected it to the tube leading to her nipple. April had explained that the Solumedrol would make Billy want to eat almost constantly. He lay nursing, watching her. As she stared into those big, beautiful brown eyes, she saw pure innocence, all that was good in this world. It struck her how different his eyes looked since she began babying him. There were no squints, no stress induced wrinkles, just clear and unadulterated wonder at his world.
As she was contemplating this she heard someone at the door. She couldn’t see who was there without breaking her gaze with this beautiful little boy, and she wasn’t willing to do that just yet. It was the first time he really looked at her since the medication was increased.
Peter’s voice sounded softly. “A friend of mine once told me ‘To look into the eyes of a newborn baby, one cannot deny the existence of God.’” as he moved into her peripheral vision. “He’s right you know.” he told her.
Still keeping the silent line of communication with her little boy, she answered with a simple “Yes.”.
After a moment of silence, she offered “You know, I guess the thing that bothers me most is, I had about four hours.”.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Four hours after I held my little boy for the first time in more than a year, he ended up in surgery. I wish that we’d had more time.” she explained.
“You’re holding him now.”.
“I know, and it’s wonderful.” she said with a smile. “But, if you’d seen his face when he first saw the Christmas tree, or especially when he opened the first toy, he was so excited to get the toddler toy.” she remembered aloud.
" I look at him now, and I see a beautiful little baby. It’s a wondrous thing to feel him so close, nursing. To know that he feels safe and loved means the world to me." she continued.
“But when I diapered him for the first time, oh how nervous I was, and he smiled at me and said “Uppy” looking every bit a toddler, but still I saw my Billy in his eyes, It was an incredible feeling. The joy, utter joy he showed at being able to snuggle as I picked him up and rocked him in my arms.” she said pausing, looking for the right words. “I guess I just wanted to make sure that he knew that I love him so much, whether he wanted a chemistry set, or a toddler toy, a cup or a ba-ba, it makes no difference to me. I wanted him to know that I would gladly change his poopy diaper if it made him feel better about who he is, and what he wanted.” she finished as a tear made it’s way down her cheek.
“Sharon, children know, we can’t hide our feelings from them. We may try, but they can feel what we feel. He knew then, and he knows now. A toddler won’t cling to a person that doesn’t accept them for who they are, did you ever notice that?” he asked her.
“No, I didn’t.” She answered softly.
Taking a deep breath, and letting it out, Peter started talking. “My brother was never comfortable around children, he had absolutely no patience for them. When we would get together for the holidays,” he told her and then paused for a moment. “Julius would always run to his grandparents, especially when he got to be two. He would hug them so tight, and not want to be put down unless he had to. But when my brother would pick him up, no amount of sweet talking or promises of presents or candy would keep Julius in his arms any longer than absolutely necessary. He would sit on Roger’s hip, but never would you see Julius put his arms around his neck. Rodger asked me why that was once. I told him the same thing I just told you, they know, you can’t fool them. He still didn’t get it, but I think you do.” he finished.
“You don’t think it was the cyst?” voicing her fear, her tears increasing.
“No. It doesn’t work that way.” he said, finally understanding and moving to sit on the bed with Billy between them. “The cyst couldn’t make him love you Sharon.” he said gently. “It would take something that was already there, and intensify it, or perhaps make the feeling disappear. You saw that, actually, his love for you was amplified to such a great proportion that he couldn’t stand to be touched by you and not be able to snuggle like a baby. Later, when he saw he could snuggle like a toddler, he didn’t want to be away from you, both made him cry.” he explained.
“The cyst made it impossible to ignore his desire to ‘be your baby’ again, it didn’t create it, and the best way you can know this is, after the surgery, you’re the only one that could comfort him in the MRI suite. Those feelings didn’t go away, nor did they lessen. With the dose of Solumedrol he’s on right now, he should be extremely fussy. He’s not, he feels that magic only mommies have, he knows Mommy loves him, and that calms the anxiety.” he told her, trying to help her understand.
Crying softly, she finally explained. “I’ve been so afraid…so afraid that the cyst was the reason…he wanted me.” she said through her tears. “To be honest, I…really hope…he keeps wanting to be babied…if he makes it through this. I just…want to be his mommy for a while.” she admitted, quietly sobbing.
“Hey.” he said placing his and on her shoulder. “Then I’ve got some good news for you.” he said with a smile. “You’ve seen how long it’s taken for him to go from being functionally a toddler, to a three month old, that’s where I put him at now. On average, it takes a lot longer for the brain to heal, then it does to become damaged. A stroke takes a second to happen, but months to overcome. It will be some time before he gets to where he started.” he explained.
“On top of that, children tend to adapt to their environment. You will have no choice but to baby him for some time, and he will become accustomed to that and resist moving forward.” he told her with a chuckle. “I’m confident when you’re both ready, he’ll progress.”
The relief Sharon felt at that was phenomenal! It was like having a city bus lifted off her chest. She knew it was irrational, but she couldn’t help it. She didn’t want to give up cuddling him, or nursing him for that matter. She had been so afraid that the surgery would ultimately eliminate his need to be her baby, and things would go back to where they were before all of this started. She couldn’t face loosing him again, not like that.
Taking a deep breath, she finally admitted something she was deeply ashamed of. “I…” she swallowed and tried again. “I am so ashamed, I was torn between hoping he would fully recover quickly, and…” unable to continue, she cried for almost a full minute.
Peter knew what she wanted to say. Tears stung his eyes and his voice was heavy as he finished it for her. “and hoping he would pass, having gotten what he wanted, without ever having to hurt like that again.” he said as tears worked their way toward his jawline.
Sharon could do nothing but nod. Billy released his hold on her breast and began to fuss at this point.
Peter picked up the pacifier and then took Billy in his lap. Offering Billy the binky, he rocked the baby to comfort him. He wanted to give her time to cry it out. Fortunately, Billy cooperated as he took the pacifier and closed his eyes, nursing.
“I understand.” he told her softly. “When Julius was really sick…he was in a lot of pain…I was torn between wanting just one more day to hold him, and…giving him medicine that would…forever end his pain. Thankfully, God made that decision for me.” he finished quietly.
“I’m so sorry.” Sharon whispered.
“It’s OK.” he said after taking a deep breath. “God gave him to me for a reason. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it hadn’t been for what happened. I wouldn’t have been so damn determined to do the best I could so that other parents wouldn’t have to go through that.” Looking down at Billy he told her smiling through his tears “This little boy and his mommy taught me that.”.
"I’ve been either extremely good or extremely lucky, I don’t know which sometimes. I’ve lost only three patients in twenty years, each one devastating. But when I was holding Billy, after taking him from Lucas, I was scared. For a second he wasn’t Billy, he was Julius. When I realized it, it scared the hell out of me. That’s why I reacted the way I did. I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I allowed myself to become emotionally involved, probably because he reminds me so much of Julius. The thought of losing him was terrifying. The thought of leaving him in the care of another doctor was equally terrifying. When I took a moment and left the room, I realized that I may lose him, but it wasn’t going to be because I didn’t try. "
Sharon smiled as she listened to Peter. She knew that he was sharing something very personal, something very painful. It mad her feel good that he felt comfortable doing that. He understood. He knew exactly how she had felt, enough so that he could finish her admission for her. “If you didn’t understand what it was to lose someone, you wouldn’t be so good at what you do, and I thank God in heaven your here taking care of my baby.” she told him earnestly.
“See what I mean?” he said with a smile, “He taught me how to care again,” nodding at Billy. “and you showed me why it’s important.”