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'He has become the strongest little man': Carla shares the challenging story behind this sweet photo

‘For him to get to the age of one and have this day of celebrations meant the world to us.’

EACH WEEK, A different Irish parent chats us through a family photo from Instagram and explains what was really going on outside the frame – from tantrums to toilet disasters.

Fancy taking part? Email amy@thejournal.ie with a few lines about yourself and your kids for a chance to feature.

unnamed (3) Source: Carla Macken

This week, Carla Macken (@allthingsmammy_) chatted us through a photo of her son Alex ahead of his first birthday.

Tell us a bit about this photo. What inspired you to take it?

This photo was taken a few days before Alex’s birthday. We had a friend over to do a cake smash which was so much fun. We wanted to make sure that we got lots of pictures and had a fun-filled day, and just to prove how far he has come this year. Alex has had very poor health from the start and he has become the strongest little man. We wanted to celebrate and and dress him up and just have lots of fun with the camera, all for him to look at when he’s older. 

What’s one thing that’s going on in this photo that you wouldn’t know from looking at it?

The one thing you wouldn’t know about this photo is that under his vest, Alex has a scar on his chest from having open heart surgery at just a tiny four days old. He has a heart condition called TGA (transposition of the great arteries) and he needed this surgery so he could breathe on his own. Alex recovered well after surgery, but then got septicaemia and also a blood clot in his heart. Just when things were looking good, something else would happen to him.

We never thought we would get him home to his family. He was on ventilators and on all sorts of antibiotics, but eventually, after two months, we got him home. We never looked back, thank God. He has had very bad reflux and colic, but really everything started to settle when he reached the nine-month mark. For him to get to the age of one and have this day of celebrations meant the world to us.

Did it take many attempts to get the right shot?

We took loads of photos on the day and I honestly had a job trying to pick one, but we had a window of about five seconds before he crawled off again. He was smiling and laughing and crawling off the cloth we had down – it was hilarious.

Do you have a family photo from Instagram with a great behind-the-scenes story? The day at the beach when the little one ingested a mouthful of sand – or the smiley photo taken just minutes after a tantrum? If so, we want to hear from you! Email amy@thejournal.ie with a few lines about yourself and your kids for a chance to feature in What You Don’t See Here.

More: ‘It takes 2.5 hours to get out the door’: Mum of triplets Elizabeth shares the prep behind this car seat snap>

More: ‘I want him to look back and know how proud we were’: Sarah shares the story behind this smiley snap of her son>

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