What is a great achievement? What does it mean to you?
My youngest son, Mathew, achieved his junior open water PADI scuba diving qualification this week at just 12 years old. This is quite an achievement when you consider that he broke his collarbone a couple of weeks before his first pool session! He finally braved the murky waters of a local reservoir descending over 6 metres into its depth to explore the hidden wrecks and dodge the ‘scary, slimy fish’. This was, naturally, all captured on camera and duly shared on social media. He has received so many well-deserved congratulatory ‘likes’ and I am one proud, slightly smug mum!
Today, I received an email from one of the teachers at his older brother’s school sharing this, equally, amazing achievement:
“Tom cracked and separated an egg today!! With gloves of course. He said he had never even held an egg before. Wish I had a picture.”
To put this into context, Tom suffered a huge anaphylactic response to egg as a baby which left him unconscious in hospital. Tests revealed that he had a life-threatening allergy to all food products containing egg. Ten years on and Tom’s anxiety resulted in another hospital stay and a catastrophic mental breakdown. His fear of contamination led to obsessive checking of all food and raw hands from constantly scrubbing them to remove germs. Eating petrified him.
After many years of therapy and medication, Tom was finally able to undertake an ‘egg challenge’ this year. Five hours and one muffin later, he was overjoyed at the news that he could eat cake! He must still avoid raw and loosely cooked egg.
So, you can understand why I choked up when I received the message from school today. There were no photos to capture this moment, no social media posts and messages of congratulations but there is one proud, slightly emotional mum!
Both my boys have faced their fear and taken their own leap of faith into the unknown. Both equally deserving of huge congratulations and pride in these great achievements. Time to celebrate!
On December 10th of 2018 we were booked in to have our 20 week scan. I was 19 weeks and 4 days pregnant, and my husband and I were nervous but also excited to get a glimpse of our baby again, and hopefully find out if it was a boy or a girl. That night, we didn’t find out what the sex of our baby was, but we did find out that something was very wrong.
Our little baby, who turned out to be a boy, has hydrocephalus. That’s what a doctor explained to us the next day. His condition was severe and his chances of a bright future were little. His head was growing fast, and he definitely needed to be born prematurely to give him a chance at life.
We were very overwhelmed by all of this. We were scared of what might happen to our baby, yet also wanted to enjoy the seemingly happy kicking boy in my tummy. The weeks leading to the delivery were hard, but we pulled through, trying to make the most of it. We had scans every two weeks with a lovely doctor who spoke very lovingly to our baby whilst making the scans. We also kept seeing our wonderful midwife, who helped us process all our emotions and fears.
At a scan at 30 weeks we found out our baby’s head was getting to big. I was going to have to deliver soon. On March 6th (at 32 weeks) our beautiful son Judah was born. We spent 8 weeks in hospital with him where he had multiple MRI’s, surgery to get a Rickham Reservoir, and eventually surgery to get a VP shunt. Eventually he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, schizencephaly and septo optic dysplasia; which basically means that there’s a lot going on in his little brain. We were so scared to lose him, but our brave little man pulled through!
Our doctors have been very scared for Judah’s future & ability to make contact with others, but he’s doing surprisingly well. Currently 7 weeks after his due date, he’s smiling, babbling, nursing and growing like a baby is supposed to do. We are so very proud at him for developing so well, despite everything in his brain that hasn’t developed like it should. Even though the future is unsure, we are certain that he will keep surprising us all!
We had a hard time fighting for him to live. My advice for other parents would be to stay true to yourself and your own instincts. Focus on loving your baby as much as you can, that’s the one thing you can do for him. Enjoy all the good moments and celebrate every little victory. And believe in miracles!
My inspirational friend, Caroline, asked me to share a few words and thoughts as a ‘guest blogger’ for her Harry’s Hat Charity. He of the cobalt blue eyes, blonde curls and beaming smile fame – what a little heartbreaker!
As a mum of a 14 year old son with hidden disabilities, I wanted to share the ‘Welcome to Holland’ story with those of you who may have just arrived some place you weren’t expecting to visit or stay. Our journey was very different from Caroline’s family in that we thought we were heading for Italy with everyone else for 10 years and then we hit turbulence and had to divert to Holland.
My beautiful ‘baby’ suffered a catastrophic mental breakdown and was hospitalised at the age of 10. There followed years of tests: educational, psychiatric, neurological, physical and lots of medication and therapies and lots of battles for support for our son. He was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and Autism amongst others in the long list. He never returned to ‘mainstream education’.
So, we have waved goodbye to Italy and the travels we had planned with our family and have learnt to embrace Holland instead. It takes time to get to a place of acceptance so be patient and allow yourself the regrets before you begin to appreciate the tulips!
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