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My Son’s Thoughts on CHD

Friday, February 22, 2013

By Alissa Butterfass

Unsure what to write about today, I went to my oldest son’s room and asked if we could talk. Though I promised he was not in any trouble, my almost-seven-year-old still was none too pleased to be pulled away from his Legos. When he finally came to sit with me, I asked him about my heart condition – what did he think it meant? His answers were telling: “It means you can’t run too fast cause you’re old” and “You have to take Lactaid pills to eat ice cream.”

Hmmm… not quite. I certainly wasn’t expecting M. to fully understand what my heart condition was. But since I spend so much time worrying about how my condition impacts my children’s lives, it was a relief to hear that it is not even on M.’s mind.

While the two issues he noted are indeed problems of mine (thanks to my 40s and my lactose intolerance), the things I thought he might mention – my not being able to go up a lot of stairs, having a hard time climbing the rope maze at playgrounds, getting out of breath quickly, someone else being pregnant with his younger brother (i.e. surrogacy) and all my scars – either were not top of mind to him or else were not associated with my heart condition in his mind.

Granted, I am basing this on a five-minute conversation with a kid desperate for me to stop talking so he can return to his mini figures. But there was such a lack of concern and even interest in the discussion that it eased some of the guilt I often feel about being a mom with CHD and worrying that my kids aren’t getting the energy and endurance of a “normal” mother.

At some point I do want to have a more focused conversation with M. about my heart condition. I don’t know when that time will be. How old will M. be? Will we talk about it once and then forget it, or will it be something that is discussed periodically? I am not sure.

I do want to make sure he is comfortable asking any questions about it. If he eventually does begin to learn more about CHD, if he wants to understand it better, if he has any concerns or if he is scared about my future, I hope he will know that I am always open to listen and discuss.

In the meantime, if in his mind the worst part of having a mom with CHD means she has to take some medicine before she can dig into a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream, that’s not so bad.


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