You were born on a Monday morning and plucked out from the cosy confines of my uterus without warning. I worried that you were asleep at the time and it was a very sudden and alarming experience for you; you started screaming immediately (which was actually quite comforting to hear when I was on the operating table and anxious to know if you were OK). I’m sorry about that, though. Once you’d been checked over I was allowed to give you a cuddle whilst they put my organs back in place and sewed me up; and Dada had a cuddle too. I thought you were perfect even though you were screaming so loudly. I was a bit sick and shaking from the medicine but I did hold you as they wheeled us off, and then I held you all day and all night. The midwives kept asking me to put you down and get some sleep, but I didn’t want to – I felt full of energy and love, and just wanted to hold you and stare at you the whole night. Later I’d think back to that first night and wish I had put you in the crib for some sleep because it turned out you weren’t a fan of sleeping. It would be over a year before you stopped waking up several times a night.
Having two kids was tough at first; your brother was only two and I was found that recovering from a c section and taking care of you both was a challenge. Luckily Dada was here to help and did everything for us in those early days. Later when Dada was back at work and I was mostly healed, I’d take you out to the park or a soft play and feel outnumbered and a little overwhelmed. Luckily Nana was around a lot to help, and Dada and Granny and Grandad and Rosie and lots of people who love us.
You were born in October, the day after our wedding anniversary. I’ve always loved Autumn and you were just another reason to love this time of year. However it was quickly winter, and with Frank starting nursery you were both ill a lot during your first months of life. It seemed like there was hardly any respite between colds and coughs that winter. You were often unhappy as a baby and I used to put music on and wander about rocking you. It may have been colic, or the constant colds , but I do think you just didn’t like being a baby very much. From early on you watched your big brother and wanted to join him playing and walking and eating, and because of this you were quick to crawl and by nine months you’d taken your first steps. This is why I sometimes feel like your baby stage went by in a flash; you were a toddler so early, and I was so tired from waking with you in the night that your earliest months are a bit of a blur.
You are the second child but in no way are you less loved or wanted. You get a lot of hand-me-down clothes and toys, but you also benefit from the fact that me and Dada are a bit more experienced as parents than we were when your brother was born. Despite your hatred of sleep I found every stage was easier with you; breastfeeding, weaning, tantrums – I had learnt to trust my instincts, I’d picked up some tricks, and I wasn’t wandering blind through the wilderness of parenting as I did the first time round. Soon you were one and had become a lovely little boy; kind to everyone you met, happy, finally sleeping through the night and exploring the world. You were confident and loved other children, especially babies. The only time I ever had to tell you to be gentle was with your brother, who could be a bit too rough with you as well, and usually deserved it. When you were approaching one and a half years old we entered our first lockdown due to the Covid 19 pandemic, and suddenly I lost my support network and my ability to take you places. You weren’t allowed to see your family and we were at home a lot. But you didn’t seem to mind; you were resilient, and it brought you and your brother much closer together. Suddenly you began playing together, and by the time you were two you’d started ganging up on me a bit, thick as thieves. It was a tough time for everyone; I missed our family and our old way of life, and I was very anxious at times. But most of all I’m glad you were there; a welcome distraction and a cuddly ball of energy and light in an increasingly dark world.
Now you are three. A parenting cliché if there every was one but undeniably true – it has gone by in a blink of an eye. You attend nursery where you stride in confidently every time, as you did on your first day, without a backwards glance. You have lots of friends and make us laugh every day. You love climbing and anything physical, you like to sing and you are a phenomenal dancer. Your favourite colour is pink, and you like superheroes and dinosaurs and animals. Your favourite animal is a lion, and you have an impressive roar. You like cheese strings and raisins, and you want to be a werewolf for Halloween this year. You are so loved. Happy birthday Bill.