This week was the beginning of Joseph’s journey into education and into the big wide world without us.
Having additional needs means that he is eligible to receive 15 government funded hours a week during term time, within a childcare setting.
When I was first told about the funding over 12 months ago from the portage service, I was very reluctant to put Joseph into child care so young.
Before having Joseph, I myself had worked as an early years child care practitioner for many years.
This only added to my worries as I am aware of some of the less than ideal situations/issues that go on within nursery settings.
With the level of care and medical intervention etc that he needs, I couldn’t fathom how it would be possible for him to be monitored as closely as he requires in such a setting.
Thankfully we learned of a special needs school and nursery not too far away that seemed like it could be a good fit.
With a nurse on site for added reassurance, a sensory room and hydrotherapy pool, it seemed absolutely perfect.
It was eventually agreed that Joseph would have a 1:1 with him during nursery hours, provided by the continuing care team that provide our respite package.
This was such a huge relief knowing that he would be closely monitored and supported by people that he knows and that know him so well.
I began to get excited then as I know what an inquisitive little boy he is and could imagine all the ways in which the experience would benefit him and help him to reach his full potential.
We fell in love with the place as soon as we visited for a tour, so I was over the moon when Joseph was offered a place.
For a few months leading up to his start date we spoke lots about nursery in preparation.
I was unsure how Joseph would react to being in such a busy environment without me around after spending over a year mostly at home with just me and his Dad.
Aside from his regular carers and a few therapy home visits/virtual sessions.
It had been a long time since he had seen other adults to interact with and even longer since he had been around any other children.
As I packed up what felt like half of the house on his first day (he certainly doesn’t travel light), I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness that the days of having him all to myself were now behind us and he was about to start this completely new chapter, separate from me.
I couldn’t help but feel like we hadn’t had enough time.
Although I am more than ready to gain some ‘me time’ and my own independence back, I secretly wished for one more day.
If this was the case though, parents would never let go.
There’s never enough time is there?
So off we went into the unknown and I reminded myself what a confident, brave, curious and resilient boy he has become and the anxiety eased.
As soon as we arrived, so many friendly faces keenly greeted us and I knew instantly that he would be right at home there.
Joseph has done 2 full days, straight in at the deep end, I didn’t want to give him chance to worry about me leaving by going in and out or alerting him to the fact that I was going, so I snuck out once he was settled.
I was so pleased to hear of how amazing he had done from the teachers and his carers.
They described what he had been up to and everything was completely true to his character, indicating that he felt comfortable and confident enough to explore.
When I think back to how tiny and fragile he was in his NICU incubator, unresponsive and wired up to machines, and us not even knowing if he would make it through each day.
I am unbelievably proud of every hurdle he has overcome in such a short time and I can’t wait to see the mountains he moves in the next 2 years.
My Mum used to say to me about parenting “blink and you’ll miss it” and I never truly understood until I had Joseph. They grow so fast.
My promise to him is that I will cherish every minute, hold him tight as often as I can and soak in every little bit of him, enjoying each stage as he develops and changes.
Now that the first week is out of the way, I’m very much looking forward to seeing how far his nursery journey takes him, watching him achieve and thrive.