Today is Thomas and Mia’s third birthday.
Birthdays should be nothing more than a joyous celebration. With the twins though, life is far more complicated than that. Emotions of all flavours will be running high depending which moment you catch us trapped in.
Earlier this year Jo lost her mother. She’d spoken to her the night before her death. “I just need to sleep love”, and she did.
Nothing has been able to fill that void in Jo’s life. There is a heart shaped hole where her mother used to lie. Anyone other than her mum is simply the wrong shape or size to fill it.
Ann, Jo’s mum, almost died ten years earlier when her battle with cancer took her to the edge of life. She won that battle and Jo experienced her mother become witness to all the key stages in her adult life from marriage to motherhood.
Three years ago today, as you will all remember, Jo in her second stab at childbirth delivered our twins into this world a mere hundred and seven days prematurely. Their fragile lives hung in the balance from the very start. It began the hardest journey of our lives.
To cut a long and well documented story very short, both twins went on to win their battles with varying degrees of success.
Mia escaped almost unscathed to become a ferocious self sufficient dynamo. Thomas has some ongoing issues that we are dealing with.
For their parents, the experience of going to sleep every night not knowing if they would both be alive when we woke up had an ongoing transformational effect on our lives. I lost count of the times I prepared Thomas’ obituary, never ultimately requiring the painful words I’d written.
Ten years ago Jo ripped up her mums obituary when she too defied the doctors. Those extra years gained with her mum should but doesn’t ease the pain of her passing. There are experiences like the twins birthday that will never be shared with her mum. There won’t be a photograph, a memory, a shared reminiscence of today’s milestone with grandma. Yet for every memory we will never have, we have a dozen of moments that ought never to have had happened. the woman who beat the doctors with the twins who followed her in her footsteps. Priceless ever last one.
With the twins we have gained memories that we never thought we’d share. There is a feeling that they, particularly Thomas, have somehow through all the best the NHS had to throw at them, cheated death.
When the first draft of his life was produced, they somehow forgot to show it to Thomas. He simply improvised his way into our hearts.
This morning I held, as I often do, Thomas to my breast in skin to skin contact. I was overwhelmed, as I often am, with so many emotions that it would be impossible to distil them into text.
He’s a miracle but I’m an atheist.
Thomas’s life so far is measured in small victories but mostly in the dent he makes into the fabric of everyone who meets him. Meeting Thomas improves your life and before you know you are conscience of the fact, you are repeating the words “Hiya” incessantly and retrieving what ever object he is chucking at the time in a game without end. Try it, I have no reason to lie to you.
We wouldn’t change our life for the world. By that I really mean we wouldn’t change Thomas. The joy we have experienced from being lucky enough to bring him up and the new experiences he has taught us, make every day worth living. He’s not broken, damaged or faulty, he’s simply Thomas just like Mia is simply Mia in all her ragged glory. The same goes for the rest of us
Lilly (7) is a both the best and worst sister mia could hope to ever have, often in the same moment.
James (16) is a conscientious fine young man, who one day we hope, will acknowledge that the the twins actually do exist.
Jo (35) is the luckiest break Thomas will have. How many severely visually impaired children get to have a specialist in this field for their mother?
I (42) am just a dick who tries his best. Balancing insanity with bewilderment and confusion are my chief child rearing skills.
The rest of our ensemble is made up of warm hearted family and friends who help us stumble our way through life bringing up too many children in a house that is too small and on too many floors for Cerbral Palsy.
Our team though is now a player short. A specialist position that cannot be fixed in the transfer window. A Grandma
Jo’s mum Ann was not perfect. She always rang at the most inconvenient of times to share the most trivial of thoughts. Living through it, it was at times immensely irritating and frustrating. We’d swap anything today just to be irritated and frustrated one more time.
Today their will be cake and a toast, tears and sick but no sledgehammer.
To the Twins and to Ann x