15 years ago, on this day, I was meant to bring home a baby.
That baby - JL - had been born 13 weeks earlier, after a long and often painful battle to try and stop labour. He was not expected to survive, my small, fragile blonde haired, blue eyed son. Having survived - he was never expected to thrive.
He had 2 strokes in the first 10 days of life. He survived N.E.C. and had so many bradycardia attacks and tachycardia attacks that even the doctors were admitting fear and concern. Every day, walking into the Mercy hospital neonatal intensive care was a trauma. Graduating to nursery 4, then 5, then 6 were all HUGE milestones. Every gram of weight gained was a day closer to home.
We were told to not 'expect much'. Bernie and I loved our tiny son who was so ridiculously small that we clothed him in cabbage patch doll clothes.
I remember so much about that time and about how painful it was. From driving like a maniac into the hospital in case he had died overnight, to coming home and sitting, rocking his pram, crying because I was not allowed to hold him (too small, too fragile). I could not breast feed him as my breasts were bigger than his head and the effort of feeding him made him lose weight. Express milk all the way!
Today I flounced into his room to wake him up - "Happy Birthday!" I shouted quietly. "15 years today if you had been born on time!"
From with in the warmth of his bed, he raised his head and smiled at me. "I was."
From being expected to be brain damaged, small, and all things not quite right, he is now taller than me, beautiful to look at with a physique Adonis would be proud of, smart as a whip, talented, popular - in short - everything a mother could hope for.
Yet I still see the little JL. The fragile, wide eyed boy who looked at me in grief as a lumbar puncture needle was shoved into his small 6 week old spine. I know every trauma he has gone through has made him stronger. He has not needed to hang on to any of it. He has survived, thrived, grown beyond and he shows no signs of the life, the struggle, he led to get here.
An example to me, to us all. Sometimes I forget what he has achieved. I forget that it was the Energy that I use that helped save him, kept him alive, clothed him in love. It is easy to just look at the boy and dream of the man he will be.
But today I will see the man he is becoming and I will remember the boy that he was. The boy who fought, with no recrimination, no questions, to survive - and I will be.