I can’t quite believe that I am writing this, that you are now twelve and growing up so fast. These past twelve years have been such a rollercoaster for the two of us, so many highs and lows and yet you, my darling boy, have been the best thing to ever happen to us.
When I found out that I was pregnant with you, aged 23, so soon after losing our first baby, I was so nervous that the same would happen again. Despite having early scans and constant reassurance, those first twelve weeks felt like a lifetime. At the twelve week scan when we were told that you were growing strong and healthy, we finally allowed ourselves to relax. We were so wonderfully naïve back then and your pregnancy was the only one that I truly enjoyed.
At our twenty week scan we were told that you were a little boy and it was no surprise to me, I had known since day one. We immediately knew that your name would be Lewis and gave you the middle name Robert after your Dad, your Grandad and the generations before him.
I used to spend my days reading pregnancy magazines, going for a daily swim, eating turkey sandwiches stuffed with salt and vinegar crisps, wishing away the days until you would be here. We enjoyed countless shopping trips, relished in buying you the most gorgeous little outfits, preparing your room and imagining what you would be like. I loved those days, the anticipation, the expectation, the unknown adventure of what lay ahead.
Three days before your due date, on Friday the 16th April 2004, when I woke with niggling stomach pains I wasn’t sure whether to be alarmed or not. By lunch time, as I lay in the bath, the hot water easing the cramps, I asked myself if this could be it, that you might just be on your way. And by mid afternoon I was certain that you were coming, and we made our way to the hospital, giddy with excitement that the next time we returned home we would be a family of three.
You were in such a rush to arrive, the only time in your life that you have ever been in a hurry, and came screaming into the world at 16.06 weighing 6lb 5.5oz. And you were completely and utterly perfect. I will never forget the moment that they lifted you onto my chest and I looked into your eyes and knew that I would love you forever.
When you were just a few days old your Dad and I took you to the supermarket, keen to show you off and stock up on some more little outfits for you, and we beamed with pride as others admired you down every aisle we turned. As we were leaving an old woman approached us, admired you and stroked your little face, and she looked at us with an eery smile and she told us, “This little boy is special. He has a gift and will achieve great things. Mark my words!”. And we had smiled nervously until we had got into the car and there we mocked her, repeating her words in witch like voices as though we had been casting a magic spell, laughing ourselves stupid at the hilarity of it all. Little did we know how right she would be.
Because you are special, and not just in the way that all children are to their parents. You are special in ways that I could never put into words, in ways that are impossible to express, or even pinpoint exactly what it is that makes you so special. Throughout my battle with post natal depression, it was you who saved me, pulled me back from the brink every time with your soulful brown eyes and the way that you would nuzzle into my chest and remind me that you needed me, that I had to get better for you. Through our heart ache over losing Joseph it was you who kept me alive, who gave me a reason to live, a glimmer of hope that we would find a way to be happy amongst so much sadness. With every baby we lost, every battle we fought, there was always you, holding my hand, stroking my cheek, showering me with kisses, telling me that you loved me and always with that look in your eyes that told me, “Keep going”, “You can do this!”. And you pulled me through, time and time again.
When you were just four years old and your Dad and I split, it was just me and you and our lives were very different. And again, you were a pillar of strength to me through that time and you grew up very quickly. It was such a difficult time for both of us and yet during those days we made so many memories together just you and I. We enjoyed days out, holidays away, trips to the beach, out to eat, hours playing power rangers and transformers and watching WWE on repeat And I loved that time with you, however sad it was at times, and our relationship changed in a way that made us closer than I could ever have imagined. We were a team, you and I, “Me and you against the world!”, we used to say.
So when Gaz came along it was difficult for you at first, you needed constant reassurance that he wasn’t going to take your place or that I would love you any less. And yet in no time at all you allowed Gaz into your life, and ultimately into your heart. And the two of you were, and still are, so alike, and the bond you share is so special. I always say that it wasn’t Eva who made Gaz a Daddy, it was you.
With the arrival of a baby sister you were ecstatic, the proudest big brother that ever there was. You had waited for such a long time and yet here she was, and ours to keep. And I loved you even more for how much you loved her, the two of you became my whole world.
On our wedding day you stood beside Gaz at the end of the aisle and as I walked down there it was your eyes that I met first, the look of pure love and happiness on your face, the understanding that we were to become a family again, that finally we had found our happy ever after. Your reading at the wedding stole the show and I have never been as proud of you as I was right there and then, watching my baby boy on one of the happiest days of my life.
With the arrival of Megan and Harry you took it all in your stride. You adored your siblings and the only ever sadness was that you didn’t have Joseph here to share that with you. I feel your loss every single day, along with my own, and I wish more than anything that you had him here to grow up with. He would have loved you so much I’m sure, and you would have been the best of friends I have no doubt.
And yet here we are, and being eleven has been a difficult year for you, leaving primary school and starting high school, so many adjustments, new friendships and changes for us all. It was very hard for me too, to allow you the freedom to grow, to find a way to suppress my own worries and fears, and yet we found a way to adjust and in the same way that you have done your whole life, you sailed through the transition as though it was no big deal at all.
And now you are twelve and I still can’t believe where the years have gone. We have survived the worst of times and lived through the best of times. You have endured the loss of your brother, of family members and life as you know it. You have lived through a divorce, three marriages, four different homes, four schools, four new siblings, and I have no doubt that all of that has made you the person you are today. I know you hate me making a fuss, apparently its “not cool” but I am so, so very proud of you Lewis. You are so handsome, on the inside and out. You are funny, you are kind, smart, intuitive and a whole host of adjectives too many to mention. You have made my life so wonderful, through all of the heart ache there was always you. I am so honoured to be your Mum, so proud to watch you grow and so happy that you came into our lives.
Happy 12th birthday Lewis, to the most special little boy who first made me a mummy. xxx