Two years ago tomorrow my Lion was born.
Two weeks early but not a moment too soon. Right from the outset he knew his own mind.
He was a fighter and a battler. A Lion by name and a Lion by nature.
His early days weren’t always easy. He battled infant reflux, feeding difficulties and a body that didn’t always behave the way he wanted it too. He slept in fifteen minute increments, waking rigid from pain more times than he woke in peace.
This time last year, we weren’t at home celebrating with balloons but sat in hospital.
The Lion was dehydrated, we simply couldn’t get enough fluids down him. He had an Endoscopy and PH study and a couple of months later was put on the waiting list for a feeding tube.
We were told he had ARFID (Avoidant and Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) and that it was likely that the battle to increase his food intake levels would last many years. We were prepared for the long haul.
But once again our Lion surprised us.
Slowly but surely he began to eat. He began to gain weight. And just over six months ago he was taken off the waiting list for a feeding tube.
It was as though a cloud was lifted. Not because of the lack of a tube, but because of the lack of worry. Because suddenly for the first time in 18 months, every calorie didn’t count. Because we weren’t looking over our shoulder ever hour of every day waiting for the next hospital admission. And because for the first time since he was born we dared to look forward.
Our holiday onboard the Disney Cruise Ship in September was a celebration of so many things, and gradually on that trip we started to relax, to believe, to hope.
The Lion adored the characters and watching him walk round the ship looking for his favourite characters is a sight I will never forget. His insistence that because a horse had been seen in the theatre on the first night, it lived in there and should be tracked down also gave us more than a few smiles.
That week he learnt to love water, to splash and to play. He covered himself with pens and even tried new foods.
Since then we’ve never looked back, the Lion has continued to beat all odds, showering us with love in the process… and splashing in every puddle he has found.
He’s a climber extraordinaire and loves nothing better than to give us all a fright by doing a victory dance in the middle of the dining room table or appearing on a window sill and shouting Tractor excitedly as he does so.
Most conversations involve him talking about his friends, animals and either tractors or diggers. No car journey is complete without a Tractor Hunt and we all know the best places to find them. The smile that spreads from ear to ear the moment he sees one makes the detour more than worthwhile.
He is his sister’s mini me, truly believing at times that he too is ten. He’s adopted her friends and they him.
When I look back now it’s hard to believe how far he has come. He has surpassed all our expectations and more. But more than anything each day he brings every one of us joy.
And I for one can’t wait to see what the next year brings.