Here we are, the day you turn 13, my darling Ella.

I’m proud beyond words, and whilst I know you know your story, I don’t really think you understand how significant it is. To see you, growing, maturing, becoming more like the Ella we hoped you’d become one day.

Not the tiny, one pound 12 oz little scrap of a thing in the incubator, unable to breathe, suck or swallow. Not the little thing who decided that 25 weeks was just the perfect time to arrive, feet first and change mummy and daddy’s lives instantly and forever. Not quite how we’d planned our parenthood journey, Ella!

We were thrown into a world we didn’t know, belong to, or wanted to be any part of. A world in special care where you lose hours, days and seasons. When the highlight of our day was holding you or changing your nappy, or allowing my expressed breast milk to be tube fed into your tiny little tummy. Where we’d wait for blood tests, temperature checks and weight gains with bated breath. Where we’d catch the eye of other parents of preemies, where words were often never needed, but a knowing, a bond for life – all whispering words of support and encouragement. Where we didn’t want to leave you, late at night, watching happy couples whisk their newborns home, with delight in their eyes and the bobbing of balloons, leaving a heavy trail of sadness in our hearts. You should have still been in my tummy Ella.

When your hole in the heart closed with medication, when you reached 2 pounds we exhaled and a friend bought you your first dress! When weigh day was a celebration, every ounce gained a step in the right direction.

And when you spiked a temperature and the concern on medics faces made us realise that we took one day, sometimes one hour at a time.  When we’d call special care before going to bed, to be met with heavy sighs and sleepless nights for us. When I’d express milk every 3 hours, hoping with all hope, that one day, you’d be strong enough to feed and meet that demand.

Every milestone you’ve made has been a great achievement. Coming home at a whopping 5 pound 12oz, avoiding infection, getting off oxygen, gaining head control, weaning, sitting control, crawling, walking, speech, potty training, nursery, school and then high school. Every milestone somehow feels more significant, more of an achievement somehow.

Look at you, turning into a woman. Full of smiles, uncertain but growing in confidence. Your sensitive, caring nature makes you the dearest of friends and you will defend those friendships with only the passion a teenager knows! Against all things pink, glittery or sparkly, vocal against sexism and cruelty to animals, we know your voice will be heard. Your love for your family and our 2 dogs is a joy to watch my gorgeous girl.

With your amazing mop of curly hair and almost as tall as me, stay grounded my darling, stay firm in your opinions and beliefs, they’re what makes you, you. Celebrate it, own it, be proud of it. You’re amazingly special and we want to shout it from the rooftops!

Love you with all our hearts, so glad our little Ella was a fighter all those years ago and that you chose us as your parents.

Have a great day my sweetheart, my Ella Bella.

Welcome to teenager-dom. Please enunciate those words, stop mumbling, look me in the eye when you’re talking – and don’t slam that door!

Lots of love, mummy xx

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