You’re turning three next week. I don’t know how this has happened. The minutes have felt so, so very slow, yet the years have passed in a blur and somehow you’ve been here for almost one thousand and ninety five days. That’s a lot of days. But in your lifetime it’s a single step.
You’re first day was filled with uncertainty. There was magic in the date. But there was distance in the actions. You left us and went to start your first battle. When we got to see you there was plastic in between us and we couldn’t touch you. How do we attach to you, how to we start to create the bond that we need to hold us tightly together as a family? We couldn’t even sit beside you both at the same time, there was distance and nothing we could do about it.
When we did hold you it was fraught with emotion, heavy with sadness and tentative with fear that you wouldn’t manage it. And then you were all we had. So we clung to you. And we filled six months with reading and holding and breathing and hiding.
I can feel the tightness in my chest that would start every time you stopped breathing. I can see your colour start to change and now, even though you’re bigger and stronger than ever, you go blue around the lips every morning in winter and my chest tightens a little. We would rub your little chest to tell you to breathe. Wiggle your CPAP in the hopes that it’ll annoy you enough to take a breath. Then we would move over and let the team help you. And then we would do it all again in the afternoon. When I check you now, in the middle of the night I stand there and just listen to you breathe. Steady, snuffly, little tight snores, and my shoulders lower a little knowing you’ll do that all night and all day and all night again.
The other day you ate a poached egg, toast, doughnut, toasted sandwich, yoghurt, potato chips, bread, meat, roast vegetables, broccoli, mashed potato, cake, cream, and more yoghurt, and I can vividly recall the day we had to slow your feeds down because you couldn’t manage 160mls going into your little tummy over an hour, so we slowed it to 90minutes and committed more of our day to feeding you and helping you grow. Now you drink 150ml of milk in approximately 90 seconds and I hold my breath and watch you hoping you don’t explode. Because how can it possibly be so different now?
You’ve had three surgical procedures, and although they were small on a surgical scale they were so very important and we are hoping will be still working towards helping you see all that there is in this beautiful world (and keeping your guts in your belly, that’s also good).
We rocked you to sleep for 18 months. We sat by you for another 12 months. And maybe now you are starting to slowly learn how to fall asleep on your own. I move between irrational rage at having to spend hours in the dark with you waiting for you to fall the F@$# to sleep, and calm warmth sitting with my hand on your head knowing we are your safe place.
You started with small squeaks behind the plastic, as we changed prongs, or shifted your position. I would live for these sounds. They sounded like “life” to me; they were the sounds of you fighting. These sounds became letters dada and baba, and finally that amazing day when its mama!! Then on my 30th birthday you said “I want to cuddle mummy” and it was simply remarkable to hear you link them all together and tell us what you needed. Now we sit and listen to you as you explain the way that the “firetruck drives to the emergency and waits for Moose to come because he’s ALWAYS late and then we put out the fire and go back to the station for a cup of tea”.
You are equal parts utterly magical and completely infuriating.
But when you fold your little body into mine, with your head on my shoulder and your arm around my neck, I would take angry, tired, no nap, hungry, irrational, screaming, raging Oliver all day, everyday knowing that you forever felt safe in our arms. (But can we have giggling, kind, soft, warm Oliver most of the time please, thank you).
Happy Birthday to all the three year olds out there, you are all little warm beads of light on these rainy nights.