Eoin Farquharson is super excited for his upcoming fifth birthday.
Like most little boys his age, he has not stopped talking about the cake or the presents. But unlike most of his pals, the significance of Eoin reaching this birthday is extraordinary.
He is a miracle baby - conceived on the final attempt at IVF and then born breech in the back of a car with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, his parents feel particularly blessed to see their son celebrate his fifth birthday.
Terrifyingly, he was not breathing when he was born because he was being choked by the umbilical cord and because of his position at birth. He was whisked away to hospital and his heart began to beat.
To mark his fifth year in this world, his mum Denise decided to dedicate a year overcoming personal challenges to give thanks for Owen growing into a strong little boy and to show how he has helped turn her own life around.
The 42-year-old, from Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, has suffered from severe endometriosis since she was a teenager and was warned that the condition – which leaves her in crippling pain – would mean she would find it impossible to conceive a child naturally.
The condition, which is thought to affect as many as one in 10 women in the UK, results in cells like those found in the lining of the womb developing elsewhere in the body, building up and then breaking down and bleeding.
She admits she had almost given up all hope of having a child of her own:
“It’s a difficult condition to manage because one day I will be fine, and the next I will be doubled over in pain and not even able to walk. To look at me, most people would never even know that I was ill other than my tummy swelling up.
“I became really depressed when I was told I would not be able to have children. I wanted more than anything to be a mother and wondered what my goal in life would be if it wasn’t possible for me to have a family.
“When I fell pregnant at the third attempt we were incredibly happy, but terrified. I was scared to move: I wanted the baby so much and I was worried that something would happen. During my pregnancy was the only time I never experienced the pain of endometriosis because all of the blood supply was concentrated on helping the baby grow.”
Luckily, Owen's arrival, although dramatic, was a huge cause for celebration.
The endometriosis returned when Owen was about nine months old and the only treatment now available will be a hysterectomy. She says she will only consider surgery when her son is older and more able to do things for himself.
Denise refuses to be beaten by the condition and set out this year to show what can be achieved by a determination to overcome the pain. She has completed many fund-raising challenges with Darren and a close group of friends, raising money for the British Heart Foundation in memory of her brother who died at a young age, and the MS Society for a friend who was diagnosed with the condition in her 30s.
Her year of fund-raising and self-challenge will come to an end on September 24 when she takes on the River Ness 10K at the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running.
We wish her every luck with her challenge and hope Owen has a very happy birthday!