December 26, 2010

Freaking Out About The Past

As I mentioned earlier this month, we are in the process of burning our home videos to DVD. My daughter, A, has been loving them. She asks all the time to watch "videos", as she calls them. I think she loves them because they are movies starring people she loves. Most of the videos burned right now are of my son, D, when he was a baby through todderhood. I think she gets a kick out of watching her big brother as a baby.

Today I put on a video of D's third birthday party. A was about 10 months old at the party, a non-crawling infant. Heck, she wasn't barely sitting up unassisted at the party; some footage shows me setting her up in a tripod position on the floor (sitting with her hands out for support). As soon as she saw herself on the video, she started hysterically crying and insisted I turn it off and put a new DVD in.

Why? I think she is scared of images of herself at that age. She was born with a bilateral cleft lip, and she had surgery to correct the cleft at 7 months. At 10 months old, her scars from the surgery were still pretty fresh and raw. Come to think of it, she doesn't like even photographs of herself at this age--or earlier. If she sees a picture of herself with the unrepaired cleft lip she also freaks out.

I understand why the images scare her---although I thought she was gorgeous even with the cleft, a young child would not understand. And she certainly can't comprehend that she is that same baby. She looks totally different now---the scarring is so minimal that you have to look really closely to even tell she had a cleft lip. She doesn't freak about about old pictures of her with the tracheostomy and feeding tube, probably because she got them removed less than 6 months ago and can still remember them in her body. The cleft lip? She has no recall. It must upset her to think that was her.

I will not force her to watch those videos or look at the pictures. I don't want her to be upset. I know one day she will even look back on photos of herself with the trach and be astounded that that was her. She older she gets, the farther away she gets from the medically fragile baby she had been. She is growing up to be a tough, resiliant, determined, smart, and beautiful little girl.

And that is how I want her to think about herself.


  1. It's interesting, isn't it? I remember one time we pulled out the video footage of the kids when they were born, and Shira started freaking out when she saw all of the tubes and stuff that she was hooked up to. I guess they're more sensitive to those images than we realized.

  2. I think her response is totally understandable and, as usual, you will handle it with grace and tenderness. There's no reason to force the issue now on her, I'm sure she'll have a wholy different prespective on it when she's an adult herself and looking back. I'm glad that you will have the photographic/video archives ready for her when she's ready.


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