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To 18-year-old James : a letter to my son on his 1st Birthday

To 18-year-old James,

On your first birthday, we asked our family and friends to place an item into a time capsule that you would open on your 18th Birthday. We hope these memories are something you will treasure and will give you some insight into the first year of your life. As your Mum and Dad, we decided to include this letter (along with some keepsakes from your big day) which describes our rollercoaster journey to becoming a family of three, as well as your fun personality, your unique behaviours and a few of your favourite things. ­We want to include the little things we probably won’t remember by the time you turn 18.

We mostly want you to know that you were wished for, wanted, prayed for and loved well before we met you. It took us almost 2 years (involving fertility treatment and a miscarriage) to fall pregnant with you, but you were worth every second and we would do it all again in a heartbeat. You arrived 10 weeks early at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, and you were born a fighter. You were determined (the doctor called you ‘organised’) right from the start…after just 24 hours you were breathing on your own and after just 5 weeks you were able to come home with us – a day we definitely will never forget. You were always ahead of time and seemed to know what was best for you.

Now as a one-year-old, you most definitely know what you want! Your personality is a mix of Dad and Mum – you’re very ‘chilled out’ like Dad and not much phases you, but you’re a go-getter like Mum and you like to keep busy. If you see something you want, you will go and get it. You have always been quite independent, but lately as you start to explore the world, you have liked having one of us nearby. We were told from day one that you have an ‘old soul’ and you appear to be taking everything on board. Your biggest quality which we love the most is your cheeky nature. We’re not just saying this as your parents, but you are the happiest baby we have ever met! You are ALWAYS smiling! You love to give out huge cheeky grins to anyone and everyone, and we are constantly being told by strangers what a happy baby you are. Let’s just say we never had to force a smile from you, and it was quite a rare moment when you cried!

You absolutely LOVE food. We started you on solids at 6 months old, and you knew exactly what to do the first time we put a spoon in your mouth! Now, as soon as we sit you in your high chair, you start bouncing up and down and flapping your arms about! If we aren’t quick enough with the food, you will scream at us to get a move on! You eat absolutely anything we put in front of you. And even when your mouth is full, you will try to shove more in! This of course means you are now quite chunky - you have rolls and chins and Mum absolutely loves them! Dad has called you Jabba the Hutt a few times (if you haven’t grown into a Star Wars nerd we would be hugely surprised – you had the characters in your nursery despite Mum’s protests and a storm trooper somehow made it into your first ever baby photos!)

You’ve never really been a great sleeper (for us). You slept in a bassinet beside our bed for 9 months (Mum couldn’t let you go!) and since then you’ve been in a cot in your own room. You loved being swaddled and it took a long time to break that habit. Mum used to spend hours trying to get you to sleep during the day and then you would only cat nap for 30 minutes! Now you are just unpredictable – some days you will put yourself to sleep and won’t wake for 2 hours, other days you will skip a nap completely. And some nights you still prefer to come into our bed (and we don’t complain!) But no matter what, when you go to Nanna’s you sleep without a problem!

You are a water baby. We will never forget your first bath in hospital at 23 days old– you absolutely loved it and only cried once we took you out! You have always loved bath time, and now you like swimming and water more than we ever thought possible! You are the kid at the party who will crawl over and find the only puddle and play with the mud. You like to sit on the edge of Nanna’s pool while we sing humpty dumpty and then launch yourself off the edge! You literally believe you could swim laps if we let you go! You have been to the beach a few times and love this also. Your newest favourite trick is flicking the straw of your drink bottle with your finger so it splashes you in the face, and then looking up at us proud as punch as if it’s the funniest thing you have ever seen. Every single time!

Your favourite toy has always been a ball. Initially, you loved spinning the balls on your plastic activity toys, and now you will happily chase a plastic ball around the house (while Dad sings ‘I am a baby, on a mission, woah’) You also like building blocks. We can put the noisiest, shiniest toys in front of you but you will choose to bang two wooden blocks together! You love looking in the mirror and being thrown in the air. At the moment you get bored very quickly and prefer to just practice standing against anything and everything in your sight…including the glass door, Mum’s legs or a pot plant! When you start to get grizzly or tired (or WE get tired of chasing you and saying ‘no James’!) we head out the front of the house and you watch the cars and trucks go past. This is one of your favourite things to do. Sometimes you sit on Dad’s knee in the front of his ute and pretend to drive.

Your best friends (apart from Mum & Dad of course!) are our dogs Minty (11yo) and Cooper (7yo). You laugh at them for no reason whatsoever! Minty in particular is very fond of you and will sit patiently by your side while you pat him, pull his ears and play with his collar. You are even willing to share your food with them, which clearly shows how much you love them! Your guilty smirk is always proof that you’ve snuck them some food off the side of your high chair! Your human best friends are your cousins Hayden, Brodie & Aria who you spend time with at Nanna’s. You also spend time with Flynn from Mum’s group, and especially love playing peek-a-boo with your cousin Ash.

You love to dance when music comes on, and your favourite song is ‘Hooked on a feeling’ (Blue Swede). Every time Dad puts it on, the ‘ooga chaka’ gets you! You immediately stop what you’re doing and your mouth drops open in amazement! Sometimes, the only thing that will keep you from grizzling when you’re tired or hungry is Mum and Dad singing ‘open, shut them’ (with the hand movements of course!) For some reason, this song calms you every time. Dad has always sung silly songs to you from very early on. He will add your name into old classics and commentate your every move through a tune, he’s actually pretty good at rhyming! Mum tries but she’s terrible at it! 

You have many nicknames, mainly Jimmy James (Doctor Chad called you this the first time we met him in NICU), Jim Jams, and Jamesy Boy (Hayden can take credit for this one). We recently started calling you Tornado James (or TJ) because you just don’t stop! Speaking of names…we called you James because it was strong and would never go out of style. We had also never met a person called James that we didn’t like. It certainly suits you! The name was Dad’s suggestion and was one of the only boys names we agreed on. If you were a girl, you would have been called Ruby or Harper.

You have some weird quirks and games which make us laugh constantly! You love making and creating new noises. Your favourite at the moment is either puckering your lips or making a strange raspy zombie noise with your throat… you tend to do both of these things while looking up towards the sky (kinda creepy!) Mum and Dad always glance sidewards at each other thinking ‘what the...’ when you do this! You also love rolling your tongue and have done that from quite a young age. When Mum says ‘no James’ and shakes her head, you give her a cheeky grin and continue to do what you’re not meant to be doing. Then you check to see if she’s looking. You could play this game all day. You like to pretend to brush Dad’s teeth in the shower, and then you rip the brush out and laugh. Again, you could do this all day! You can be deep in play mode (with your top lip poking out in concentration) but if you see a phone come out you will stop and pose for a photo – I swear sometimes you flutter your eyelashes at the camera!  

Each of these things make up who you are – our bubbly, cheeky and determined little boy who fills our hearts with so much pride. You are our dream come true. We wished so hard for you to be a part of our world, and some days we thought it would never happen. But then you came into our lives at full pace, and we knew this was how it was always meant to be. We truly believe you paved your own path and you are here for a reason – you are already touching the hearts of people every single day. It’s a strange thing for us to say that our baby is our hero, but you really have inspired us to be better. You have taught us to be patient and to trust the process…that someday, everything will make perfect sense. Your journey so far has been nothing short of amazing, and we can’t wait to see how your determination inspires others and shapes who you are. There is no doubt in our minds that we will have the same overwhelming feelings of pride on your 18th birthday as we do today on your 1st. We feel incredibly blessed that you chose us to be your family, and we love you more than we ever thought possible.

Happy 18th Birthday Jimmy

Mum and Dad xx

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