So... how are we going since my last update and Eleanor's arrival?
I have to say that the transition from 2 to 3 children hasn't been as arduous as we'd anticipated... although, as we see Eleanor's jaundice slowly wane, her feisty nature is gradually surfacing and reminding us of her older sister's determined personality - even at only 5 weeks of age! I've been re-familiarising myself with evening baby-settling pram walks around the block of late...
Lucy and Ned adore "baby Nora", and are often competing for cuddles or vying to be the chosen "dummy-replacer" - one usually more gently than the other... Thankfully, also, Eleanor is beautifully healthy, breastfeeding well and thriving.
Ned's been coping with the usual chemo routines well, as well as the unscheduled visits and extra interventions, but I do feel sorry for him so often. At only two years old, he deals with daily pain, nausea, loss of appetite, low energy and tiredness - and he's lost his hair again. And it's hard for us to not give him special treatment and skimp on discipline when we know how miserable he must be feeling, but yet we also realise that children need boundaries and we can't unfairly neglect household rules just because of his illness. He's a trooper though, and we are so proud of the way he's learned to bravely handle procedures, frequent trips to hospital, and all the constant medication doses.
I suppose, for us, the transition to 2 children and a baby hasn't been as life-altering because we're so used to being quarantined and housebound since Ned's diagnosis. So the lives led by newborn Lucy and newborn Ned - of daily outings, playgroups, library visits, cafes, weekend adventures, etc - are very different to newborn Eleanor's current life.
As I watch her grow, though, I still grieve for the health Ned once had, and worry about what her future holds (probably unnecessarily)... for Ned was once a healthy newborn who had also been given the all-clear and thumbs-up by the paediatrician at his baby checks, just like Eleanor. I worry about the chemical agents around the house (his medications), the effects of his "toxic" bodily fluids and whether he can kiss her or not, whether I should be laundering their clothes together or separately...
I guess, for me, it feels somewhat akin to when I used to do on-call work... and feeling like I could never relax during my shifts because of the potential of being called and what that entailed; however now, I feel "on-call" all the time - moreso than before leukaemia entered our lives. From the moment I wake, my mind's constantly buzzing with scheduled medications, doses, times, possible side effects, medication interactions (when and what he can/cannot eat, be in the sunshine, etc), regular temperature checks, other symptoms of low blood counts (bruising, anaemia, etc), hospital appointments, the likely knock-on effects of an emergency visit to hospital at that particular time, whether the plans of the day could be altered if needed and who I'd be able to call if we had to rush in, whether I can do school drop-off/pick-up and other errands with Ned (if he's not neutropaenic) or will I have to wait till someone can help, the next planned chemo rounds and what dates and planned events they'll interfere with... and above all, the constant guilt I feel about my children's mental health - whether I'm making myself available enough to each of them, amidst the chaos in my brain and of life. It feels almost like each day is an item on my checklist... and I feel relief when, at day's end, I can tick it off and go to bed. I know this is not an unfamiliar feeling to parents of small children, but it does feel much more intense for both of us now than ever before.
Fortunately, through all this, God has been faithful in providing us with everything we need, giving Ned a cheerful and tolerant personality, a good sense of humour and a winning smile, and some recent months of no major complications or setbacks. We are ever so grateful for the help we receive as a result of my parents' temporary return and Seth's parents' availability, as well as our ever-present support network of friends and church members. We thank God that Lucy was recently able to celebrate her 6th birthday with a group of her dear friends, and we continue to be abundantly grateful for darling Eleanor's arrival and the joy she's brought to our lives.