My brown eyed boy, my blue eyed boy and my hazel eyed baby boy.
Have you ever heard that the eyes are the window to the soul? You begin to understand someone, who they are, by looking into their eyes.
I truly enjoy looking in to my children’s eyes and finding that connection, a special bond. Just one glance and they know what I am thinking; whether it is a glace of “I love you” or the glare that “you are in trouble”.
I can tell what they are thinking. You can see in Carter’s eyes that he is very contemplative, pondering anything that comes his way. Luke’s eyes are searching for fun and adventure.
Brayden’s vision capabilities are extremely limited. His optical nerve, the connection from the eye to the brain, is abnormal. The occipital lobe, the part of the brain makes sense of what the eye is seeing, is extremely abnormal. Imagine high school biology class, the brain has ripples and is wavy; Brayden’s occipital lobe completely smooth and small. We found that he may see something but very little. He prefers to “look” at motion from his peripheral view; straight on is too much for him to process. He will glance at reflective objects, like the back of CDs or shiny balloons.
Discovering that Brayden’s ability to see was extremely impaired was devastating for me. My biggest fear is not having a strong connection. I want him to know me and for me to know him.
Seeing is an enormous learning tool that was never given to Brayden. Seeing a parent smile, the baby can smile back. Seeing the parent coming to get them, the baby feels safe. Seeing an exciting toy, the baby may try to reach for it. Seeing the food coming, the baby can learn to open their mouth in preparation.
I tend to forget that Brayden is visually impaired (that is PC for blind), he has other medical concerns that require more attention. When coming in to his room in the morning, I try to remember to talk softly before I reach in to his crib. If he does not know that I am coming, he is startled and tends to get upset. I forget to mention at new doctor visits or hospital stays that he cannot see. His other problems are usually why we are there and the vision impairment is not at the top of the list. I forget that Brayden's lack of seeing is a large hurdle to his development and learning. He has to learn to compensate, as do we.
I stare into Brayden’s eyes, longing for that connection. I stare into his eyes wondering what is behind them, what he can see and understand. I stare, he stares. He stare is mostly vacant. I know that he is in there and we get small glimpses of him in his noises, cries and just nestling into our arms. We have to find ways to compensate for him not seeing, find ways to connect.