Haribo, today you are one and the last ever little Dove to celebrate a first birthday. You have no idea what day it is, no clue what all of these cards and presents are for, and no way of knowing that my heart is breaking just a little that you are growing up so fast.
You, my beautiful little boy, were never part of our plans. After Megan’s arrival, and the subsequent weeks of hell that followed, we decided that our family was most definitely DONE. And although in my heart I didn’t feel complete, I attributed that to missing Joseph and so we agreed. No more babies. And that was that.
After weeks of discussions, research and horror stories, Gaz decided that the snip was not for him and told me, “Go back on the pill. It’s just as effective”. And so I did.
In the Autumn of 2014, after a recommendation by my best friend, I went to see a psychic. I was, and still am, hugely sceptical about things like that but curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to see what she had to say. So it was a huge shock when she told me that I was pregnant, with a little boy, and that Joseph had sent him for me. I sat there, covered in goosebumps, thinking it couldn’t possibly be true.
But imagine if it was??
And so it turns out that actually, the pill isn’t 100% effective after all and that when something is meant to be it will defy all of the odds and find a way. And when I found out that I was most definitely pregnant and that you were indeed a little boy, after the shock and the panic had subsided, I was absolutely positive that Joseph had sent you for us and that excited and terrified me in equal measures.
I was SO scared of losing you. More so as this seemed like such a miracle, a last bid baby who had taken fate into his own hands. It was months before we told anyone and even then just those closest to us, and eventually we realised that we would have to tell Lewis.
“What’s the one thing you have always wanted?” I asked him one night as he came home from school.
“An X-box one??” he instantly replied.
“Nooo,”I said, “Something you have always asked for?”
“Are we going to Disneyland??” he exclaimed, his little face lighting up with excitement.
“NO!” I told him, beginning to get frustrated. This was not going quite as I had imagined. “Think about it, you have your sisters……”
“Oh”, he said, clearly not as excited as he was about Disneyland, “A brother??”
We nodded, big smiles on our faces, waiting for it to sink in.
Five minutes later.
“Are you pregnant AGAIN?!!!”
And as the weeks went by and it slowly began to sink in we tried to prepare the children for your arrival while inside I remained an emotional wreck. Every time I imagined holding a blue bundle in my arms I would be in floods of tears. When I tried to imagine your little face, so like your big brothers, I would be in hysterics.
Your pregnancy was tough. Mentally and physically. I spent my days in hospital on the day unit, strapped to a monitor watching your heart rate rise and fall, having scans and seeing consultants and counting down the days until you would be strong enough to be born healthy and well. Twice I landed myself in A&E, firstly with a torn oesophagus from gastroenteritis and my blood thinned from the clexane, and secondly with a broken coccyx after I fell the entire height of the stairs holding Megan in my arms. I spent the last few weeks lay on the couch, hobbling round on crutches and panicking that all of these things were a sign that you were not meant to be.
And then, just four days after your big sisters first birthday, on the 27th of May at 3.45am, you were finally here. Our Harrison Joseph. And just like your namesake you had a full head of dark hair and you were so beautiful and so utterly perfect.
Your birth was traumatic and when you were finally returned to my arms it was only for a few hours before you developed breathing difficulties and you were rushed away to neo natal. The next time that we saw you, you were in ICU wired up to breathing apparatus, tubes and wires and my heart broke in two.
Leaving the hospital without you was so hard, more so as I remembered how eight years earlier I had done exactly the same thing. Every day I would make the drive up there at the crack of dawn to be with you, to sit and watch you through the glass of your incubator with just my finger poking through to stroke your tiny little arms and legs. Every time a machine beeped or an alarm rang I felt like my heart would jump out of my chest and I silently prayed, to a God I didn’t even believe in, that this would all be okay.
The day you came off your CPAP was such a major step forward. Going to the hospital that day and seeing your beautiful little face without that awful mask was just the boost we needed and as you grew stronger every day I realised that with your very own guardian angel by your side you would be just fine. And two weeks later you made it home. Safe and well.
And from day one you have been the most chilled out and relaxed little boy and an absolute dream to have. You never cried unless you were hungry or needed a nappy change and when you were tired you would simply put your thumb in your mouth and go straight to sleep without a moments fuss.
You laughed, gurgled and smiled and yet mainly just in private, afterall, you ARE a Dove baby, and you slotted into the chaos that is our lives just perfectly.
And for the first nine months, I’ll be honest, you didn’t really DO a lot at all. You didn’t sit, crawl or walk and infact, there were occasions when I used to joke that you were the most boring baby of all time. And then all of a sudden, in the space of two weeks, you sat, crawled and pulled yourself up as if over night you decided that you’d had enough of sitting around looking gormless, and the world was your oyster! And today, on your first birthday, you took your first steps and looked so utterly ecstatic to be standing by yourself that you fell down in disbelief. It wont be long until you are off and as much as we joked at you just lying there, I am so glad that you stayed a baby for so long.
So here we are, a year later, and there are still days when I have to pinch myself that you are really ours to keep. When I find myself saying, “My sons” or signing a card and adding your name at the bottom, it still feels like a dream. The girls idolise you in a way that I never really imagined that they would, and Lewis, although he denies it, loves how we tell him how alike you are and how you will grow up to be just as handsome as he is.
And you healed my heart, in a way that I never even knew was possible. The little boy I have been longing to hold, the baby brother for Lewis, Joseph, Eva and Megan that I never even dared imagine that they would have, and that little piece of our jigsaw that I never even realised was missing. And you are so like your brothers, just as I knew that you would be, but yet when I look at you I can see all four of your brothers and sisters staring back at me.
I’m so glad that you were the last little Dove, that your big brother knew that your mummy wasn’t done yet and that we needed another little boy to love. When people comment on your angelic appearance or tell me that you have a look in your eyes like you have been here before, I tell them that they are absolutely right. You are truly Heaven sent. And if I didn’t believe in miracles before, then you, Harrison Joseph, are living proof of them.
Happy 1st birthday Harry – the very last one year old – Dove.