Dear Riley, You are 29 months old. 29 months! It really isn’t that long, but it feels like a lifetime , like somehow you’ve always been here with us. I can’t remember what life was like without you in it. When i think back to the tiny 2lb 130z baby that came crashing in to my life 10 weeks early and then look at you now, it’s hard to believe you’re one and the same. You have been a fighter from day 1 and words will never express how incredibly proud i am of you. You have always been my baby, but recently something’s changed. Your baby-like tendencies have gone, in their place are ‘big boy’ ones and you’ve suddenly become quite the grown up overnight. You are still small for your age and nothing but skin and bones, but you have shot up in height and you look like a proper big boy. Perhaps it’s because mummy is dressing you that way, maybe it’s because you have more responsibilities now that you’re a big brother, whatever the reason, it’s magical to see.
One major development this month is that after 29months we have FINALLY said goodbye to the bottles! YES! You stopped drinking milk when you were 12 months old so have always had your juice in a bottle and have always had bottles through the night so we always knew that weaning you off of it was going to be a problem. You didn’t sit up or hold your own bottle until you were 18 months old so had never drank from a beaker/sippy cup prior to that and to be honest we were more concerned with getting you mobile rather than what you were drinking out of. For months we tried every single brand and style of beaker going and you refused them all, we tried going cold turkey on several occasions by only letting you have a bottle at bedtime but it led to you going all day without drinking which doctors advised us wasn’t safe so we reverted back to the bottle. Then last month, miraculously, i offered you a sippy cup and you drank from it for quite a while, so i hid the bottles and waited for you to notice they weren’t around or ask me for them. Only you didn’t, you drank from the sippy cup for the rest of the day. Even at bedtime, you would usually have had a bottle of juice and it would have been topped up by daddy or i throughout the night, but you didn’t ask for one and you laid quietly in your bed and drifted off to sleep. It’s quite incredible really and we haven’t looked back since. You are still slightly behind with your speech but compared to what it was a few months ago, you are doing brilliantly and coming out with new words every single day. You’re not talking in sentences very much but you are saying enough that i can have a conversation with you. You are the politest little boy i know and you say please and thank you to everything. You count to 10 as you have done for a while, but suddenly out of the blue a week or so ago, you counted backwards from 10 to 1, just like that. I couldn’t believe it. You’re naming colours and also recognising most simple shapes which i am so pleased about because we have really been working hard on this with you. You love reading and i often catch you with a book open babbling along to yourself. Of course it makes no sense to me, but you clearly know what you’re talking about and i adore seeing your little mind and imagination working. It’s even cuter when i find Harry sat next to you listening intently and hanging on every word you say. You’re a great story teller. You’ve also learnt some new nursery rhymes this month and although you can’t sing them the whole way through you always join in with the chorus and easy bits.
Speaking of Harry, something that has struck me this month is how incredibly affectionate you are with him. With anyone that’s close to you actually, but particularly with him. You’ve very protective of Harry and don’t like to hear him cry or see him upset, you always rush over to make sure he’s ok and comfort him. I am so proud of how much of a wonderful BIG brother you are and how you have accepted Harry into our family – you have never once shown an ounce of jealousy towards him and you constantly shower him with kisses and cuddles. You include him in everything and don’t like to leave him behind so if i call you for dinner or say that it’s bathtime you always respond with “Harry, mummy?” and make sure that he comes too. It’s incredibly sweet and warms my heart to see you that way with him, you are such a loving and kind hearted boy. I just know that the two of you are going to be the best of friends growing up and causing all sorts of mischief, which mummy is secretly looking forward to. You are quite the country boy Riley – my little adventurer who loves being outside and exploring the garden. You would be out there all of the time if mummy let you. We’re incredibly lucky to live next door to grandad’s farm and you get so excited going down there to play with the ride-on tractors and meet the animals. You’re a bit scared of the cows, they must seem pretty big to you, but you love playing with the new baby lambs, the chickens and Bracken, Grandad’s doggy. Although you can’t say Bracken so you call him ‘Dragon’. Personality wise, you are just such a little character and make me smile all day. You love to play the clown and you have the perfect audience as your little brother finds you absolutely hilarious. I do too of course, but it’s him you really like to impress. You have also become a bit of a brat, which is unsurprising really as everyone warned me the terrible twos would hit and boy have they!? You are such a diva sometimes and really drive me up the wall, but as much as i try and stay stern when telling you off, all too often you do something that makes me laugh and i fail miserably. The thing is Riley, you are very precious, there were times in NICU where i thought we would lose you so the fact that we didn’t makes you my miracle. I don’t like to be angry or annoyed with you because i love you so much but sometimes i have to say ‘certain’ things so you know right from wrong. It doesn’t make me love you any less but it does make you understand that your actions have consequences and though you may hate me at the time, it will only make you a better person.
This exact time last year Riley, i was having serious concerns about your health and development. I would never have given up on you, i want you to know that, i would have tried and done ANYTHING if i thought it would have helped and gone to the ends of the Earth for you, but at that particular moment in time i had resound myself to the fact that i was going to have a disabled child. At 18 months old you weren’t sitting up, you weren’t crawling, you weren’t walking, you weren’t talking, you weren’t really doing anything. There were suggestions of cerebral palsy, specialists kept passing it off as a ‘premature baby’ thing and all i can say is thank god i pushed for you to be referred to the physiotherapists and neonatal development team because look at you now. You’re doing all of these things and more, the turnaround in you is nothing short of a miracle. It may have taken months of physio, daily exercises, tears, tantrums and laughter but we got there, you got there. YOU! You can achieve anything you set your mind too Riley, you may be stubborn, feisty, hot-headed and a little tenacious at times, but you’re also determined and strong-willed with a heart of gold and a fighting spirit, those qualities alone will make you successful at anything and carry you through for years to come.
I love you more than anything in the world.
As ever Riley, stay happy, stay strong and stay healthy,
love from mummy xxx