We were told you were born with a virus that would affect you for the rest of your life. We were warned you would not grow up like your brothers, that the possibilities of your outcome were so wide that it was hard to speculate, but that there were things you may never do and milestones you may never reach. We left hospital when you were three weeks old with a tiny baby who had his whole life ahead of him, whatever that may mean.
You didn't grow, you didn't try and when we got readmitted to hospital you were still as tiny and weak as a newborn. Everything was going wrong, every certainty I had about the way I would parent you was being cruelly taken away from us and I struggled to remain positive when we had no idea what was going on.
We reached a turning point though, about 4 months in when you rolled for the very first time. I wasn't expecting it, I had learnt by then not to expect anything, but to take each day for what it was, to enjoy you exactly as you are and to find any progress so much more amazing than with the others. Suddenly you were growing and developing and thriving in ways we hadn't even hoped for and you were smiley and sweet and still perfect.
This time last year I had no idea you would be making an appearance in just a few short hours and today I feel like a different person and a different parent to the one I was then. Tomorrow you will wake up as a one year old, a beautiful, chunky, happy one year old. You are exceeding every expectation we ever had and whilst we know things could change, I am continuing to appreciate every day and every milestone for what it is - a wonder.
Today you are crawling, pulling yourself up to standing and even taking a few tentative steps as you grip on tight to furniture or fingers. You are babbling away, telling us all about your day, even if we don't understand quite what you have to say yet. Once you finally got the hang of food, you started eating well and now you love feeding yourself, especially if you can find food on the floor. You can clap and give us a hi 5, you can play and smile and laugh, you can blow kisses and you can entertain us all. Your brothers adore you and Dylan proclaims you his best friend every day. You love them right back, suddenly desperate to join in their games, to sit with them to watch tv, to share their snacks.
We had a big party at the weekend for you and Archie and tomorrow we are not up to much. Both the bloke and I have to work and Dylan is at school but it will be a special day regardless as it marks a year since you entered our world.
This year has taught me patience, how to accept that some things are beyond my control, how to make a bottle, that sometimes we have to practice baby led parenting, even if it goes against what we know. I have learned to juggle three under fours who all have such different and complex needs, I have met pretty much every pediatric member of staff at our local hospital and I have become an expert in a virus I had never heard of this time last year. I have learned that no matter how many babies you have, every moment is precious, every milestone is an amazing achievement and that with the right friends and family around you, nothing is too big to get through.
Tomorrow you are one and I owe most of this to you. Your beautiful smile with those two little bottom teeth will be what wakes me up in the morning and your cuddles will inevitably be the start of my day. You are perfect to us, you are thriving and you are a ray of sunshine in our everyday.
This has been a tough year and you are our miracle. Happy Birthday baby boy, Happy Birthday Finn. You are loved more than I ever knew you could be