This year is coming to a close, and part of me feels a sense of relief over that. It has been a very hard year. Tomorrow marks the start of the final month. And a year ago, I was just 20 weeks pregnant and desperate for 2016 to just hurry up and get here so I could meet my daughter.
And that was magical. I still sit here sometimes and I can’t believe I have two children; a little boy and a little girl now. And we are about to celebrate our first Christmas as a family of four. And that feels absolutely wonderful to imagine. I’ve been collecting presents and hiding them away, and the advent calendars are out for tomorrow morning. Though our house is still tree-less because we didn’t put it up this weekend just gone as we normally would as we didn’t have a day where all four of us were here. And all four of us have to be here for something like that.
I am already getting excited for those little Christmas traditions. I am looking forward to Christmas movies – and convincing Mark that it’s not too soon to watch them. I’m looking forward to Christmas books at bedtime. Watching festive cookery programmes with a glass of wine. The same ones I watch every year. Nigella. Nigel Slater. Jamie Oliver. I want to wear my Christmas jumpers, I want to wear red lipstick. I want to pull Mark towards me under the mistletoe that will hang in the archway in our living room. I want to play the special Christmas playlist that Mark and I made a couple of years ago. We called it Christmas Tay. Because we are sad. It’s okay – we know.
But mainly I just want to be thankful for my family. I want to sit back and watch them all laughing and smiling, rosy-cheeked in front of me, and be grateful for the biggest gift I’ve ever had. Them.
Daisy and Bill thankfully already have their Christmas pyjamas sorted. We have the Matalan Get Your Stripes set. And I’m sharing this – not because I have been paid, because I haven’t – but because 100% of the profits go to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital & Charity. And that is the hospital that helped us get our baby home. That was the one bit of hope we had when we were told the only option was for our daughter to have a tracheostomy. If she did, I wouldn’t be here right now writing this I don’t think, as our lives would have been very different. When the consultant turned to me and said: “She is fine with her NPA, she can go home.” And the next day. She came home.
Until this year, and bearing in mind I work within the charity sector, I don’t think I truly appreciated or understood the value that donations make to people’s lives. I have a past as a child born with a syndrome, a sequence and a cleft, and I’ve received so much support that I was too young to understand, let alone appreciate. But now, as a mother, I see the difference that hospitals and organisations can make to people’s lives. To our lives. To my baby’s life. To my life.
And so I thank you. Every time I see a family clad in these little stripy pyjamas, I thank you. Because that hospital does some amazing things because of the support of people like you.
You don’t know how much that means.