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Oliver at the Feeding Clinic

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Here are some of my last posts about our time at the Feeding Clinic...

This is the day Jennifer, Oliver's favorite Child Life Specialist came to visit him and brought a friend with her (the puppet, I mean - the other sweet woman is another Child Life Specialist who was training).


Jennifer wanted to bring her puppet friend to allow Oliver to explore with medical things and ask questions.


This is the part where Jennifer shows Oliver about nasal feeding tubes (NJ tubes).


Bennett decided he wants to see what all the fuss was about, too.


Oliver listens to the puppet's heart.


Looking back at these pictures reminds me of how I felt during this time.  At first, I was so glad Oliver had this experience.  He needs more opportunities to understand all of the hospital/medical stuff going on around him.  But I remember that his behavior was not as behaved as these pictures tend to show.

In fact, within a few minutes of these pictures, Oliver began acting silly and seeming to not be interested at all in what Jennifer had brought to show him.  I could tell by the Child Life Specialists' faces that they weren't sure how to read Oliver.

I wanted so badly for Oliver to sit there and soak up the experience.  But instead, he acted unsure of himself, silly and a bit annoying.  Recalling what I had learned from Play Therapy, I tried to remind myself that this out of normal behavior was actually very normal.  I explained his weird behavior as anxiety, not misbehavior.

I could tell Oliver felt very uncomfortable with all of the medical supplies and a puppet.  Instead of soaking it up, he was shutting down emotionally.  And as it hit me what was going on with him, I vividly remember bursting into tears.  My heart broke for him in that moment.  Here was my little 3.5 year old who felt unsure and unsafe in an unfamiliar place, forced to be there because his little brother (not of his own will) demands so much medical attention.  My heart broke for Oliver.  This silly behavior was his only way of communicating to me, "Momma, I'm am scared and don't like any of this."  As a mother, it just felt so badly for him.

"How can I meet the needs of both of my sons?," I thought.  How can I give special attention and medical care to one son without causing the other son to be emotionally scarred by these experiences?"  I explained my thoughts and fears as I wiped my eyes and resigned that my heart was breaking for Oliver.

Jennifer, in her very confident Child Life Specialist way, reassured me they had no expectations for Oliver's behavior.  And then she reminded me that all children deal with these things in their own way.  Oliver's silly behavior was not wrong but rather his way of processing it all.  She reassured me that she had no expectations for Oliver's behavior and neither should I.

I chose to let go in that moment.  Oliver needed me to just accept his behavior and see it for nothing more than his way of coping.  I appreciated being reminded that grief does not have a "right" or "wrong" way to be experienced, even when you're three.  Maybe I was the one who learned more from the Child Life Staff and puppet, this time.

One Response to “Oliver at the Feeding Clinic”

  1. Wow, that's fascinating to me that Oliver would act that way as a response to being uncomfortable to the situation. Who knows? Maybe he did understand some of what was being explained to him, and he just hasn't shown it yet.

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