A letter to Martha Grace || November 2018

To the most amazing Martha Grace,

You have no idea what you were going through this time 5 years ago. 5 years, it feels like another life. It doesn't feel like it happened to us. I know it was us, I know you are the baby who seemed to collect complications like they were going out of fashion. But mentally, I seem to have separated you from that baby.

The last time you had a procedure was March 2017, the last time you had open heart surgery was November 2016. It's now almost December 2018, this is the longest you've ever gone without needing surgery. It's also the 2nd Christmas we've had without the hurdle of surgery to survive before we can start getting into the festive spirit. I'll never take years like this for granted. I know very well that in Hospitals across the country, there are families who are praying their child recovers in time to spend Christmas at home. I also know very well there are families who have already accepted that their Christmas will be spent at their child's bedside.

We already know what role you've been given for your school's Christmas concert and I've already ordered your costume. You've been learning the songs at school and practising at home with Isabella. You've both yet to write your letters to Santa, but I know you want lots of LOL toys and a dolls house. We've been watching Christmas films and I've lost count of how many times we've watched the Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special. I've been making Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows as a treat in the evening and you all love them. As much as Mammi likes summer, it's the cosy nights together that keep me going through the winter.

I can remember watching strangers rushing around, catching buses along Southampton Row back in winter 2013. Jealous at the thought of them all heading home after a day at work, home to their families, being able to sleep in their own beds and knowing they were all rounding off work ready for the festive period. I tried my best to ignore Christmas. Those weeks were the worst weeks of my life, but I know that without them I probably wouldn't appreciate what we have now as much. I wouldn't appreciate you as much as we do.

It sounds like a cliche to call you a miracle, because to our family, that's what you are. At times it seemed like we were getting close to the end with you, then you'd always manage to turn it around. I say it all the time but if anyone would have told me in December 2013 that in 5 years time we'd be living a regular life with a 5-year-old daughter who doesn't shut up from the moment she wakes up until she falls asleep - I never would have believed them. We've had the most amazing year; we hit the 5th Birthday milestone we were once told you only had a 50-70% chance of making it to and we've also squeezed in our first holiday abroad.

So Thank you. For being such a feisty and determined warrior, for having a loving personality, for being the little girl that your Daddy and I dreamed you'd get to be.

I hope you have the most amazing Christmas and that 2019 is even better.

Mammi xxx

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