Four-Eyed Adi

We somehow knew that one day, Adi would need to wear eyeglasses. My husband and I are both myopic. I started wearing glasses when I was in kindergarten; Aleks when he was in high school. Dominant genes. So hard to fight.

Some two years ago, a doctor friend told us to bring Adi to an ophthalmologist once he reached the age of 3. This was after learning that both Aleks and I are nearsighted. This kind doctor friend said it is for the best interest of Adi that we find out the soonest so an early intervention could be done. We took note of this. Unfortunately, one event after another took over the plan to bring our firstborn to an eye specialist. I had this on my to-do list for months. It took a little accident with Lara that resulted to a minor laceration near her eye to finally have us visit an ophtha.

While waiting for our turn to see the doctor, Aleks said that it might be good to have Adi’s eyes checked too, since we were already there. I agreed. After securing an LOA from our health card provider, the doctor’s secretary also had Adi’s info sheet on queue. Upon checking, the ophtha told us that Lara’s laceration was minor and shallow. Her eyeball didn’t experience trauma from the mishap. A topical ointment was prescribed for her. Thank God. Upon further checking, the ophtha said that Lara might have myopia too. She, however, instructed us to bring Lara back to her after 3 months. She wanted to make sure. Maybe Lara’s pupils did not fully dilate at the time of the check up, thus the initial diagnosis. She will check on our little girl again after 3 months. Whew.

In Adi’s case, the doctor was certain of his myopic condition. When she told us the vision grade, I didn’t want to believe it. Too high for a 4-year old! I held my breath. The doctor said the goal at this point is to provide quality vision, since Adi is young and needs all the help he can get to fully develop his faculties. Quality vision. Yes, I understand that. Because he is still very young, wearing eyeglasses is our best option. LASIK procedure is possible only when he reaches his 18th year (or when his eyeballs stop growing, the ophtha said). That’s still a long way to go.

It took me a while to process all this. (Still processing until now, I guess.) While there was strong suspicion about our kids having myopia too, I was in denial for a time. That night, I cried to my husband. I shared the fears and the worries I started having knowing that Adi has myopia too. The limitations he will begin to have because of poor vision. I know them too well. What of playing soccer or football or other rough sports? The possibility of being bullied because of being four-eyed. How his self-esteem will be affected with this weakness. One fear after the other. I was scared they will not stop.

My husband comforted me with the truth that God knew this beforehand. He is the Creator of our children. We somehow had an idea that this could be, but God knew this. He knew. And we have to trust that even in this, God is working His will in the lives of our children. He loves them the most. He does, doesn’t He?

When Adi finally got fitted with his first pair of eyeglasses last week, I made a mental note that this was big. Our boy was having a milestone. What’s more, I didn’t expect the ways that God showed us He cares for Adi. A loved one covered the fee for the expensive frame. The optical shop staff made special arrangements to accommodate our schedule and order. Family and friends showered us with encouragement and good cheer when Aleks posted a bespectacled Adi on Facebook. Two of our doctor friends echoed precious words of hope β€” they know of people who wore glasses during childhood that eventually had improved vision; more importantly, that we always have hope, hope eternal.

It was heartwarming to watch Adi the first time he wore his glasses. He was looking at everything with utmost fascination. He was looking at the wide screen TV sets turned on in an appliance store, observing every detail of what was shown. He would stop randomly in front of board ups, seemingly soaking in the letters and pictures. When we asked him how things were with his eyeglasses on, he would exclaim, “Everything is big!” Perhaps that’s his way of describing “clear” ☺️

Aleks said that he’s hoping that one of the things that wearing eyeglasses will teach Adi is compassion for others. He will not be this “perfect” little boy who has everything. He has weaknesses. And recognizing his own weaknesses and limitations will hopefully enable him to extend kindness and compassion to others. What a beautiful thing to pray for and look forward to.

So yes, after a couple of eye check-ups, we have confirmed that Adi has myopia. But God knew this way, way before. Even before Adi was formed in my womb. And He didn’t only know this; He’s got this.

Kuya Adi

When Aleks and I learned that we were pregnant for the second time, Adi was one of our top concerns. We tried to imagine how it would be for him. From having his parents’ attention and affections all to himself to suddenly having to share those with somebody else. We knew it would not be easy. And it wasn’t. Still isn’t at times.

We started praying about this as early as the beginning of our second pregnancy. We also read up and asked about other parents’ experiences of preparing a firstborn to welcome a sibling. Some of what we did included explaining to Adi that Mommy had a baby in her tummy and that the tummy would grow bigger and bigger. We also brought him with us during prenatal check-ups. (Mainly because we didn’t have anybody to babysit him most of the time. This turned out to be a heart prep step too.) He would hear the OB’s explanation of the pregnancy progress, and also listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Adi was also with us on all the ultrasound sessions, including the one where we found out we were having a girl! He saw the images of Lara growing in utero, and we tried to tell him that that was his sister on the monitor.

Someone advised us to get a gift for Adi to be given when he meets his new sibling for the first time. The gift would symbolize his brand new status as a Kuya. We liked that idea. Upon a friend’s advise, we requested family and friends who were visiting us at the hospital or at home to greet and give attention to Adi first before they dote on newborn Lara. The principle behind this is that the newborn has yet to appreciate the visitors’ attention, while the firstborn already has understanding and experience of being given attention. It would not help if the firstborn would be ignored (even for just a few minutes) because everybody was busy looking at the newborn. We deeply appreciate our family and friends who complied with this notice.

So yes, we did all these and some more. And yet Aleks and I know that it was still very challenging for Adi when Lara finally came.

The first time Adi saw Lara, she was in the bassinet in our hospital room. Adi was both curious and tentative. He kept on looking at her general direction even while playing around the room. When we brought Lara home, Adi was all smiles but we noticed his unease at times. Aleks asked him if he wanted to give Lara a welcome home gift. He responded by putting one of his newer cars in a box and gave it to Lara as soon as we got home. We saw genuine joy in Adi when Lara was brought home.

However, a couple of hours after coming home, Adi had a major meltdown. He was inconsolable for several minutes. He couldn’t really say why he was crying when we asked him. We just let him cry. Aleks and I knew that the dam that held all of Adi’s mixed emotions the past days had burst. While Aleks band I were in the hospital for labor and delivery, Adi had to be left to our family’s care. He made do with FaceTime with Daddy and Mommy on the mornings that he was with Tita B and Tita Nest, and Lolo Jun and Lola Gina. He tried to understand why Aleks and I didn’t come home with him the day he left the hospital after a visit. He tried to grasp the fact that his sister was already out. He managed his emotions with all the might a 2-year old toddler could muster. And so when his dam of emotions broke, we let him cry. I also cried (sobbed, even) with him.

Of course the adjustments transitioning to being a family of four continue. While Aleks and I try to manage a household with a newborn and a toddler, Adi is trying his best to enfold Lara into his world. And there have been a lot of instances that he surprises Aleks and me in amazing ways.

One of those times was when he altogether stopped comfort-latching after I talked to him about it. You see, when I went into labor, Adi wasn’t completely weaned yet. I tried several ways to wean him over the course of several months. Nothing made him wean completely. So I was sort of bracing myself for tandem-feeding once Lara arrived. In the hospital after delivery, the lactation consultant advised that I let Lara get exclusive access to my breastmilk for 2 whole weeks. This would allow her to get all the colostrum and important primary nutrients she needed as a newborn. After that, should Adi still want to latch, I could do tandem-feeding. And so when we got home and Adi hinted about latching, I talked to him about the two-week exclusive feeding that Lara needed. He was silent for a while and then said, “Okay.” After that, he never latched again. I would sense some envy when he would see Lara nursing, but Adi would distract himself by playing or going to his Daddy. Now, when Lara cries and I’m out of the room, he would go to me and say that Lara might need to feed because she’s crying. He gave way to Lara in terms of breastfeeding, and he did so completely.

Then there are times when I would remind him to keep the noise to a minimum when he’s playing and I’m putting Lara to sleep or Lara is already sleeping. One time, he was trying to play with his toy cars quietly while Lara was asleep. Once Lara started waking up, he went to her to check. When he was sure that she was finally awake, he ran to his toys and said, “Yehey! Pwede nang noisy!” I was laughing out loud. I imagined the self-control he employed while his sister was sleeping. And to finally be allowed to play without minding the sounds of his cars, what joy!

When Adi was just beginning to learn how to talk, Aleks and I started seeing that he is growing to be a sweet, thoughtful boy. That only became more and more evident with the coming of Lara. It’s a normal scenario in our house to see Adi pausing in the middle of playing or watching video to plant a kiss or two on Lara’s cheeks. He also likes saying, “Ang cute mo, Lara!” and “I want to check Lara.” He also has all sorts of plans for when Lara is already big. He’d say, “Kapag big na si Lara, punta kami sa airport tapos sakay kami sa airplane!” If asked where the two of them will go, he’d say, “Sa MRT!” Go figure πŸ˜…

Also worth mentioning is the many times that Adi would just sigh deeply and work on going back to sleep while Lara shatters the silence with her screaming cries, in the middle of the night or during nap times. I could sense the way Adi is managing his own mood. Although it’s exhausting to manage, I try my best to understand him and be patient with him when his own patience runs out and he gives in to tantrums. Syempre nauubusan din sya ng pasensya. In times of meltdowns and he’s becoming unreasonable, I remind myself that Adi is only 2 years old. While necessary corrections and discipline are done, I pray for wisdom to also grant him the space to be his toddler self. It’s unfair to ask too much from him when he’s already giving so much consideration to his sister, and also to us, his parents.

They say that one of the best gifts parents can give a child is a sibling. In our daily grind at home, I am beginning to understand the truth in this. Adi is being molded into a loving, patient, kind, caring, thoughtful person by having Lara around.

And when Aleks and I suspected earlier on that Adi would make a great Kuya, God has proven our suspicion right. The Lord, in His goodness, has gifted Lara with a loving and caring Kuya Adi. What grace! Thank You, Abba!

Photo taken by Aleks