My first born child, how can I possibly express in words the difference he made to my life, the joy and love that he brought to me. I’m going to try, and I know I will probably sob my way through the writing of this post.

such a smiley little fellow

such a smiley little fellow

I had an uneventful pregnancy, (my only one without some kind of complication), and 3 was born early in the morning of Father’s Day 1990. (A bit of irony there as it took nearly 17 years for 3’s biological father to accept him.) My father considered this a gift to him, and crowed about the Maternity ward telling anyone that would listen about his amazing Grandson. They became very close, the two of them, and I was always feeling left out, when 3 smiled for the first time, it was at my Dad. Dad taught him his first tricks, like blowing raspberries to all and sundry. He loved this trick and for a while it was all he would do. We lived with my Dad for about 6 months and then ventured out into the world on our own.

It was around this time that my oldest brother had a car accident and became a quadriplegic. He had spent some time in rehabilitation and was looking to come home to live. He had recently separated from his first wife. He was in a very depressed state.

I wasn’t married, I was single and living in a big house with my baby who was about 12 months old, I decided he could come and live with us. My brother P, didn’t want to live with either of my parents, who had both remarried and P would have been an awkward addition to their households, where he was a sort of natural addition to ours.

I spent the next 15 months or so exhausted. Looking after both my son and a newly injured quad was no easy thing. For a start 3 was very active and intelligent and was into everything! Then there was setting up all P’s routines with home-care nurses and additional help around the house to cope with the extra washing, cleaning and sterilizing work. Everything changed for me and my little boy that year. I had to set an alarm to wake up every four hours to turn my brother in his bed, to avoid him getting bed sores. I had to be a pillar of strength for him, he thought his life was over and I had to talk him into living again.

I don’t know what I would have done without 3. He was such a special child. He has always been and always will be my greatest protector. I can remember countless times that gentle little boy would come and put his tiny arms around my neck, and say, “are you ok mummy?” He also gave me the focus I needed to stay aware and happy and not get sucked into depression. It would have been easy in those days, caring for my quad brother who talked about killing himself daily…

He also gave P something to laugh about. He, being a Virgo, was a little perfectionist and would always make sure P’s things were “square”. He would line up the things P was using from biggest to smallest, that kind of thing. He also learned to hop into the wheelchair when P wasn’t using it and became quite proficient at wheeling around the house. It was hysterical to watch this tiny kid pushing himself about in it.

P also had a tool with a pincher on the end, it was about 3 feet long and was designed to help P to pick things up that were out of his reach. In those days I would keep treats like lollies on top of the fridge. Guess who learned to use the pincher tool to get them down?

We lived with “Uncle P” until 3 was nearly 3 years old and he was enjoying his life again. He had begun to paint beautiful pictures, by weaving a paintbrush through his fingers. He is a very talented artist, (gets it from Magoo, who paints magnificently). He also began to play guitar again, with a slide, making it easier. Having limited use of his arms and hands made all the difference to my brother. He went on to marry again and his life is turning out ok.

Enter “F”, my other children’s father. He was 13 years older than me and remains today one of my best friends. He and I always had a great friendship, we just weren’t right together as a couple. He had already been married once, and had 4 truly wonderful children to his first wife. I became a step-mother to his 4 kids as a young mother myself. They were great kids, and I still remain friends with them today, especially the two girls, who are now in their late 20’s. I still have never met closer siblings. They are a truly close family and are each others best friends.

F was a typical Aussie bloke. Spent more time at the pub and the footy than at home with me and all the kids. (I guess this was the reason we split 3 babies, and 10 years later.)

How cute is he? 3 years old.

How cute is he? 3 years old.

3 was a typical big brother, taught the boys all the things he should, how to ride the one pedalled, no brakes bike. How to raid the fridge without mum finding out. How to drive me up the wall fighting over toy trucks in the sand pit, but at the same time was very responsible and protective of them. However I will never forget when I brought 5 home from the hospital. He had severe reflux and would scream constantly. He only ever slept for 10-20 minutes at a time and would awaken screaming, wanting to feed again to stop the pain from his refluxing tummy. He must have found some comfort in swallowing milk, as I became nothing but a feeding unit for about 8 months.

I was up at the clothes line one day hanging out nappies and heard 5 start screaming again, awakening from a 5 minute nap. 3 walked up to me as I sat on the ground, tears starting to pour out of my eyes. “Mummy, can I tell you something?”

“Sure honey, what is it?”

“Well you won’t get angry with me will you?”

“No, I don’t think so. What is it you want to tell me?”

“It’s just that, umm, I hate my new baby brother, all he does is cry. Can’t we just take him back to the hospital and get a new one?”

Just what I needed to hear. There was nothing wrong with his 4 year old logic. This one is not working out, can we replace him?

He always made me laugh when I thought I never would again. We made it through 5’s infancy. God knows how, but we did, I don’t think 3 ever really forgave 5 for it though…

He learned that year to do everything for himself. He learned to get his own breakfast, to tie his own shoes, to dress himself properly and to amuse himself. He was a funny little thing, very independent. I remember getting up one morning around 2am to pace the floor with 5. I found 3 sitting in the lounge room watching an old Dracula movie on TV, a lemonade in one hand and the biscuit barrel between his legs. He said he couldn’t sleep!

On his first day of school I eagerly anticipated getting him ready. 5 was older then and a much easier baby to deal with. I awoke that morning at 6am excited and wanting to go wake 3 up to begin getting him ready. There he was sitting at the table eating his breakfast. His entire uniform on, shoes and socks and everthing. He had made himself a sandwich and had wrapped it up ready for his lunch box!

He was only 5 years old, and was already showing me that he could cut me some slack. I felt so cheated. But I realized he had to learn to cope so much during those months with 5’s reflux, that he truly thought he was doing the right thing. I think he just didn’t want me fussing. He still hates it when I fuss over him…