The first year after Mitchell’s birth disappeared in a blur of feeds, nappy changes and broken sleep. We found ourselves in a daily routine and comfortable with the normality of family life. He seemed to be growing as expected and meeting all the developmental milestones listed in the little red book they gave us when we left the hospital. He was a happy, smiley baby and brought us a great deal of joy. I still remember him sucking contentedly on his milk bottle, lying in his cot until he would reach the very last drop. Then all of a sudden he would throw the empty bottle like a javelin out of the cot and it would crash onto the tiles below – crash!
Time went by and we celebrated his first birthday with a family party. Friends and relatives from around the town joined us to mark this very special occasion. A new sandpit, in the shape of a clam shell, had been installed out back into which Mitchell plonked his chubby body. Moving his little fingers around in the clean, cool sand he discovered that eating this yellow stuff was not particularly tasty! Eww…but home made chocolate birthday cake with candles was much more to his liking.
When Mitchell was about 15 months old, he suddenly got very sick. He began to vomit and have nasty runny nappies and was generally very unhappy. Of course Anthony and I were very concerned and not really knowing about these things took him to see a doctor. We were told to give him a course of antibiotics and monitor his recovery. After the second course of medication it had been established that Mitchell was ill because of gecko poo! What, I hear you ask? Gecko poo? It seems that one of the hazards of living in this tropical climate is that small, white, energetic geckos climb over everything in your house; and in our particular case they had managed to climb over all of Mitchell’s baby feeding bottles that were left to dry in our kitchen. He had then ingested some of the bacteria which they carry and that had made him sick. Two weeks of sickness and two rounds of antibiotics later – didn’t we feel terrible as parents for not knowing about such things!
Months passed and developmentally things seemed to be on track. He quickly changed from a helpless little baby into an energetic, inquisitive toddler and I soon lost any weight that I had been carrying from his birth, as I followed him round and round our little house for endless hours every day. The scoot became a crawl, the crawl turned into climbing up and holding on and eventually he learned to walk. I was worried about him falling and crashing onto the tiles but he seemed to innately sense how to go about this feat of nature. The first time he managed to walk from the lounge chair to Dad unaided was an amazing day. His independence had begun…