‘Nessie will never hear. She will never speak. She will always walk like a drunkard. Our next battle is to start to teach her to fight on her own. We will do everything we can to give her the courage to carry on being the funny, determined, sweet-natured and fierce little warrior she has become.’
These are the words of Nessie’s mother, which conclude an account of the joy and fear experienced by her when her baby was born at twenty-eight weeks in 2005. The little girl, Nessie, was intubated and placed in intensive care immediately. Her parents were told that she was ‘fighting for her life’, and that there was nothing that could be done beyond what was already being done for her. Then, following a severe brain haemorrhage, it was accepted that she was unlikely to survive, but that if she did recover she would probably be severely disabled.
Six months later, Nessie was allowed to be brought home, but even then it involved a 24-hour-a-day regime for the family, as the little girl needed full-time care and attention. Her siblings willingly helped their mother in this, having learned how to do so. But an important contribution to her improvement was the playful antics of the other children in front of their sister. There is a profoundly touching, but hilarious, account of how Nessie’s three siblings insisted on having her participate in the ‘toddlers race’ at their local school sports day, by half carrying and half dragging her along – but always in a loving and caring way. Although profoundly deaf, and suffering from cerebral palsy, Nessie continued to improve and her mother speaks of what Nessie ‘has given us as a family. We are unbreakable.’