Dear One-Year-Old Max

Max, it’s your birthday! You may not be able to read this right now but I hope in years to come you will and you will realise how utterly loved you are.

A year ago today, on Mothers’ Day, I was in a delivery room at Birmingham Women’s Hospital with your dad, a fabulous midwife and various other health professionals buzzing in and out of the room. Although you were a little early, we were desperate to meet you. We didn’t know how well you’d be when you were born, but you surprised us all by not only being born very quickly, but also breathing completely by yourself.

Things took a turn for the worst and the next three weeks were a rollercoaster of ups and downs as your little lung collapsed twice, you yo-yoed between intensive care and high dependency, you were looked after by phenomenal people, no one quite knew what was wrong with you and then all of a sudden there was a hospital transfer to the Children’s and you were taken down to surgery to close the hole in your diaphragm which was the cause of all the problems.

At every step of the way, and every day since, you amazed me with your utter strength. You were 4lb 13, had the skinniest legs I’ve ever seen, you were so tiny and fragile. And yet you showed you were a force to be reckoned with – from your repeated attempts to pull your own ventilator out to your absolute refusal to lie with your legs tucked into the little comfy nest the staff would lovingly create for you – instead you wanted one leg draped over the nest at all times.

We took you home a week post surgery, a phenomenally quick turnaround. And then of course you were admitted to our local hospital where your allergic condition was diagnosed. Eventually your hollow features filled out a little, you gained weight, you thrived, you became the beautiful blond boy turning one today.

And I can’t explain in words how incredible I think you are. There are people in this life who think they have a raw deal, who whinge and whine at every opportunity, who think ‘why me?’ and then there’s you – this tiny being who’s had to fight to be able to eat anything at all, to be able to breathe freely, to catch up with his peers. And yet you have the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.

I’m not pretending you’ve been an easy baby this past year! Your sleep has been somewhat erratic for the last four months or so, and sometimes you just scream and scream for something as silly as me leaving the room! But my god have you excelled in certain areas. The list of foods you can eat is so substantial the dietician was shocked when she saw them. Your latest x-ray caused the surgeon to remark what a wonderful job he’d done operating on you. And no one who looks at you would ever suspect how much you have panicked us and the healthcare world at times!

The way you look at and interact with Alexandra makes me so happy. When you were tiny you would turn your head to look the instant she made a noise – and now you are desperate to join in all the games she plays. You have learned to toughen up thanks to the rough treatment you sometimes receive at her hands, but I have also seen the two of you in fits of giggles so many times, I have seen you beam from ear to ear at the sight of her and I have witnessed so many cuddles and so much love between the pair of you. I hope you always adore her as much as you do now.

I never realised that you can miss something you don’t have yet until I missed you so fiercely in that time when you weren’t going to be a possibility. Throughout my pregnancy with you, I kept positive because I had to believe that you had fought the odds to even get to week 1 of that pregnancy – so maybe you were meant to be. A lot of odds were stacked against you but you have not only defied them, you have defeated every obstacle in your way and you have shown the world how tough you are. How ironic that the name we picked for you, Max, means ‘the greatest’.

I said when you were born that there had been a Max shaped hole in my heart and you’d come along to fill it. Baby boy, you have made my heart so happy.

Mommy x

1st Birthday Party

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Last Monday, we held Alexandra’s first birthday party in our garden. We decided to host it at home which meant a lot of hard work (mainly for Dylan!) to get the garden ready in time but I’m really glad we did in the end – especially as we had lovely weather for it!

Among her presents, Alex had got a trampoline, sand pit, ball pool and inflatable skittles game for her birthday which we put outside along with some picnic blankets and the paddling pool to keep everyone entertained. Food wise we offered up the typical party buffet with sandwiches, crisps, pizza, samosas plus a fruit platter and chocolates and biscuits plus the all important cake!

As we’d gone for a teddy bears picnic theme, the cake was a bear (Oscar cake from Sainsbury’s), we put teddies outside and the little guests bought some too. For the party bags, each child had a Barny bear snack plus a little tiny teddy bear (bought in packs of eight from eBay) plus some cake in a little white paper bag bought from HobbyCraft. We’d also found some teddy bear bunting from Amazon which did the trick alongside some white, pink and purple balloons for decoration.

All in all, everyone seemed to have a great time and we had a fab turnout of family and friends to celebrate Alex’s big day!

Harriet and Alexandra x

One Year Old!

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Yesterday we celebrated Alexandra’s birthday so we are now the proud parents of a lovely one year old! As ever, here’s a post about what she’s been learning this month and where she’s at with everything. I swear I do these differently each month, sometimes as a list, sometimes as big paragraphs. Let’s go for sections each time:

Eating:
The most important thing! Since we started weaning her six months ago, she’s been a pro at trying different foods and we still haven’t found anything she point blank refuses to eat. She has three meals a day and sometimes snacks but doesn’t have a regular snack time. We dropped down to one bottle a day around 11 months and then last week we finished a box of formula (and I’d never intended for her to have formula or a bottle past one) so dropped the last bottle. It was weird seeing her drink the last one! It’s so tied in with ‘baby-hood’ that it feels like a bit of a landmark moment. She hasn’t been bothered whatsoever about this, if she wants milk in future I will give cow’s milk in a cup but she drinks so much water and has plenty of diary in her diet so I haven’t tried to force her to have any!

Playing:
She’s had lots of new toys for her birthday which she is loving! Including lots of toys for the garden such as a trampoline, sand pit, inflatable skittles, ball pool (which also comes inside) and a pop up tent. She’s also had lots of interactive ones like talking teddies, a tea set, activity table and some incredibly cute cuddly toys too! Alex absolutely loves playing with balloons! And her favourite non-toy toys are the radiator caps still, any cupboard she can get to and – bizarrely – coat hangers (she still hasn’t offered to do the ironing though?)

Routine:
Napping has got SO much better in the last month. She’s now going down in her cot upstairs rather than down in the lounge with me which is meaning she’s generally doing two one-hour naps a day. This has helped me with planning my days so much more! And has made her much less grumpy in the day. So generally she’s up about 8, breakfast around 9, nap around 10, lunch about 12/1, maybe another nap in the afternoon at some point, sometimes if she’s super tired a third shorter nap about 5, dinner about half 6, bed at half 8.

Talking:
She only says mama to me and dada to Dylan so we’re pretty convinced she knows what they mean. She’s also getting there with nana and a couple of times she’s said baba to her little cousin. Other ‘words’ like yeah and no happen at random times so I’m not counting them yet!

Walking:
Alex is still slightly unsteady on her feet when she’s standing but she’s doing it all the time now and is good at pulling herself up (sometime going from sitting to standing without holding on to something) and lowering herself down. She keeps taking one or two steps. I think as with the sitting and crawling, one day it will all just click into place and she’ll be off! She’ll now walk along if you hold both her hands, which she’d never do before. She’d just start bouncing if you tried to get her to do it.

Misc:
Still only two teeth, she had her first trip to the dentist last week and was very intrigued by everything in there!
She’s discovered pointing so spends most of her day either doing this, clapping or waving.
Swings are still the best thing in the world!
At last weigh-in she was 20lb 15 putting her on the 75th centile which she’s been following for months now, so all fine there.

I think that covers most of the main things!

Harriet and Alexandra x