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.