Today you are two and, although I am still very much in denial, no longer a baby at all.
Your birthday has, and perhaps always will, hit me the hardest, knowing that all of your firsts will also be our last, that every stage we say goodbye to will be the last I experience as a Mummy. You remind me so much of Lewis in that way, not only in your appearance and your demeanour, but in the emotions you instil in me. You take me back to a time when I was certain that all of his firsts would be our last, those bittersweet moments when I watched him grow, so scared that I would never again be lucky enough to ever have another baby in my arms. It was different with Eva and Megan, there was always something to keep me from crumbling into a broody, snotty mess each year, the promise of another newborn, the excitement of all of those firsts to come. But with you, the very last one year old, it suddenly feels so very final.
It seems like no time at all, and at the same time it feels like forever, since I first held you in my arms. You were so small, so poorly, so very precious, and I was so scared to let myself believe that you would be ours to keep. And yet finally the day came where we took you home, and rather than wish away the sleepless nights and dirty nappies, I promised myself to savour every single moment of those baby days, to keep you a baby for as long as possible. And I was so grateful that you took the longest out of all of your siblings to sit, to crawl, to walk. I am still so grateful that you have kept your baby face, that you still love to snuggle up against my chest, to hold out your arms to me and ask, “Cuddle?”. I still squeeze you into your little white babygros, still put you down each night in your cot, still allow you your bottle, and to heck with those who judge. I’m still not quite ready to let you grow, not just yet, not completely.
I’ve always been very honest about the fact that you were never a part of our plans. Megan was very much supposed to be the baby of the family and yet fate stepped in and twelve months, four days and two minutes later, along you came and turned our lives upside down all over again! And I have to admit, although I was over the moon to finally have another little boy, I was so scared of what it would be like, of whether it would hurt too much to watch you grow, so like your brothers, a constant reminder of all that we had lost. It was only after you were born, and in the two years we have known and loved you, that I realised how much I needed you, not to replace your big brother, but to give a little piece of him back to me, to see glimpses of him in you from time to time, to remind me that life goes on, that there is still so much to be thankful for and to look forward to.
And as with all great blessings, you have been an absolute delight. From day one you have been the easiest baby, the most chilled out toddler and now, as you hit the terrible twos, you do so with such a mischievous twinkle in your eye that it is very hard not to laugh, to not want to scoop you up in my arms and tickle you, right in that super ticklish spot in the crease of your thigh, and watch as you throw back your head and laugh, the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.
This year as Eva started pre-school and Megan increased her hours at nursery, we have, for the first time, had some time together just the two of us, and it has been lovely to share those days with you. Although you would happily sit and watch Twirlywoos on repeat or play Saga Mini games on the Ipad all day long, you also love to play in the garden, to sit on my knee and cuddle and admittedly, should I leave the room, to wreak havoc on the house. If you aren’t emptying cereal all over the floor, you are in and out of the fridge opening yoghurts, spilling milk, eating butter with your bare hands. If you aren’t clambering up and down the stairs you are teetering dangerously on the edge of the sofa, launching yourself off head first, shouting, “Ready, steady, go!” as you lie there, crumpled on the floor, and with a rub of your head off you go again, no awareness of danger or even pain!
Unlike your siblings, who have never really had a special toy, you have become surgically attached to your “Baa”, a grubby looking sheep who never leaves your side, who you take to bed, out in the car, to the supermarket, holding him by his ear and talking to him in whatever gibberish language it is that the two of you speak.
And you are so funny, even when you’re not trying to be, you have us in stitches with your little routines and the things you say. You are obsessed with princess dresses, with glitter and sparkles and dressing up. When the girls put on their clothes each morning you look at your boring old boy clothes, launch them at me with complete distain and you shout, “Me!! Dress!!”, while rummaging in the toy box for your princess crown and fairy wand.
You are equally obsessed with your willy, as I think all little boys your age are. You constantly remove your nappy, just to check it’s still there, and just the other day you told me, “Look!! Elephant!!” while holding on to your ‘trunk’ and making elephant noises as you paraded up and down. That’s one to remember on your eighteenth birthday for sure.
At the same time you can be massively hard work, and just like your sisters, extremely grumpy when you want to be! Some of your first words were, “No!”, “Get off!”, “Go away!”, “Stop it!”, and you have an uncanny ability to answer every single question with, “NOT!!”. When people come to the house, or a stranger tries to speak to you in your pram, you simply squeeze your eyes shut, as tightly as possible, curl into a tiny ball to make yourself ‘invisible’ for so long that, nine times out of ten, you end up falling asleep!
You are the most jealous out of the four of you, very protective of “Mine Mummy” and should I hold a friends baby or pay attention to another child, you appear by my side in a flash, crying to be picked up, clawing your way up my legs for prime position in my arms, nuzzling against my cheek to remind me that you are my baby.
And you are so clever, just yesterday you counted to twelve unaided, your vocabularly is amazing, not that anyone would know as you rarely speak in public places, and I know when I look into your eyes that you are taking it all in, that you know so much more than we give you credit for. You are sweet and kind and handsome, and you adore your big brother, your sisters, and most of all Oscar.
I have loved every moment of watching you grow, seeing you change from a baby into a little boy, witnessing your personality emerge in abundance. I have loved those moments just the two of us, the days with all six of us, the memories we have shared together, good and bad, the moments that make us a family. I can’t imagine what our lives would have been like without you in it, how painful it would have been to live my entire life knowing that Lewis never got his little brother, how desperately sad I would have felt to never hold a little blue bundle in my arms again. You have given me so much, given all of us so much, and on the days when things are hard it is your little face that makes me smile, it is seeing you there between your sisters, like two little book ends, or watching you and Lewis cheek to cheek, like a miniature mirror image. Those are the moments that make me happier than I ever thought possible.
I say this to you all of the time, but I truly believe that you are Heaven sent. You have healed my heart in a way that words can’t describe and completed our family in the most perfect way. I am so excited to see what the next year has in store, how life will be with a 2, 3, 4 and 12 year old and I know, when it comes to you four, that although it might not be easy, it will always be worth it.
Happy 2nd birthday Harrison Joseph, our little Haribo, the very last little Dove. xxxxx