This is Harvey
As you will agree, that is possibly the cheekiest, most adorable smile anyone has ever seen. And coming from the mother of one of the most adorable little boys on the planet, that's saying something. Harvey is a smidgeon under 18 months old and his Mum and I were pregnant at the same time. Both of us having our 3rd babies, both having boys when all our friends around us were having girls.
He came into this world with a bit of drama, requiring open heart surgery at only a few days old, for a common but serious problem called aortic coarctation. But looking at that smiling face you'd never know it, because Harvey, courageous lion that he is, was so clever and recovered so well, that many of us almost forgot all about that little bit of drama. Because when a baby learns to smile like that - well what else do you remember besides that gorgeousness?
I liked watching him grow alongside the Possum, because it's lovely knowing that the joy that a special third baby was bringing us, was also bringing Harvey's gorgeous family. And when he got a bit of gastro over the new year period, I as a Mum and a doctor shrugged a little and smiled and assured his beautiful mum that he'd be OK, because sometimes viruses are nasty and hang around for a little bit, but kids bounce back.
And ok, maybe after a while you start being a bit more concerned, like maybe it is a superbug, and maybe as a last resort you'll need to take your baby to hospital and get a drip, which is horrible, and traumatic, but he will be OK. Look at that smile - how could it not? And even though I'm a doctor, and even though I am studying neurosurgery, it never once crossed my mind that that would be relevant to little Harvey.
Until the day that Harvey's Mum posted that she was at the hospital again. And it wasn't gastro. It was a tumour, and Harvey needed an operation on his brain. I heard the crack from here as one family's life and heart split in two and the unexpected lament sprung up in my own chest and trickled down my cheeks. Because sunshine should only ever be associated with bright and happy and warm things, and there was nothing happy and warm about this.
No little lion, no matter how courageous deserves to have to have surgery on his heart and his brain before his second birthday. And no family, not any type, but especially not one as loving and beautiful as Harvey's Mum and Dad and big sister and big brother deserve to go through this. Through surgery and chemo and radiotherapy and all sorts of other things that I know about and wish like hell I didn't.
But through it all Harvey and his Mum have had had more grace and more strength and more awesome courage than anyone I've met in my life. Their quiet stamina and strength and awe inspiring courage humble me and make me want to do great things so that I can learn how to help families like these - families touched by horrible diagnoses and scary prognoses and a steep learning curve of things that 8 years worth of medical education still have me wishing for a dictionary so that I can understand and explain.
I never do "shout outs" on this blog. I shy away from linking sad story after sad story, because that sort of grief can be addictive and infectious. But I wanted to tell you about Harvey because I care so much about this little boy, and also because his beautiful and clever Mum has started a blog. And mostly because this is not a sad blog - this is the story of a courageous little boy, who at hours old was already showing superhuman strength, and I hope that you will agree.