I didn’t discover this though. The nursery teachers showed me recently when I arrived early to pick him up. I know all the boring basics – his height, his weight, his shoe size, his sleep patterns – but I didn’t know that Psy made him laugh. A real deep belly laugh like I’ve never seen before.
I’ve been so focused on his health issues, I’ve been on nurse-mum autopilot, forgetting to have fun with him too. I’ve been so preoccupied looking for the risks and health implications in things to actually notice what he is enjoying, and how much. I’ve been missing out!
Harry’s health took a nose dive the moment I stopped breastfeeding and returned to work. He was around six months old. You can imagine the mum guilt despite doctors assuring me it was coincidental. His weight plummeted from the 50th percentile to the 2nd in a matter of months. He was permanently sluggish, congested. Just distant.
As we moved further and further towards his first birthday, there were no signs of those typical milestones – I mean at 12 months he wasn’t even bearing weight on his legs, let alone sitting up alone or looking to crawl.
Earlier this year, he was catching every sniffle, every virus at nursery, and struggling to shake them off without hospital intervention. It felt relentless.
But last month we finally got a diagnosis – auto immune neutropenia. Here comes the science part: This is where the body attacks its own neutrophils (essential white blood cells) by making an antibody to destroy them. Without the white cells, his immune system is shot and so he hasn’t been able to battle illnesses on his own. It’s just not been a fair fight.
The great news is that it is really common for little ones to grow out of this around their second birthday, so we are feeling positive. He’s already getting sick less frequently and physio has been helping him catch up on those missed milestone. As of this week, at 17 months, he took his first few steps. He’s our little super hero.
In spending so much time at the hospital this year, I know just how lucky we are. We’ve seen families facing some heartbreaking illnesses. Our stressful experience is a drop in the ocean in comparison. After Harry’s official diagnosis I left the hospital with a shot of renewed confidence and perspective. I’m going to make up for lost time. I need to treasure every second. I need to remember to start PLAYING more as well as playing nurse. I need to start taking note of the little man he is fast becoming. And clearly I need to start Korean rapping – Op, Op, Op, Op Oppa Gangnam Style!
After all laughter is the best medicine right?