In 2014 little John Metaxiotis spent 165 days in hospital before finally being able to go home with his parents.
John was born prematurely at only 26 weeks weeks old but now six years on and having started prep, his mother Paula Metaxiotis says he is “such a character”.
“He absolutely loves music, he’s such a funny boy! He likes to play tricks on me, he hides in the cupboard and I go looking for him and he goes ‘boo!’. He picks up his little guitar and saxophone and plays with those,” says Ms Metaxiotis, admiring how far her son has come.
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Getting to where young vibrant John is today has not been an easy feat, having pushed through many challenges within his six years thus far.
“It’s been endless appointments with doctors, just to keep track on how he’s going. He’s doing good surprisingly. I must admit we had a few bouts of pneumonia when he was little because of his lung issues but we’ve got through them. He’s a little fighter, he keeps going,” she says.
John is no doubt, a miracle baby.
It took Paula and Con Metaxiotis 15 IVF attempts before lucky number 16 brought them their beautiful boy.
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The complications that came with having a premature baby helped the couple come across a newfound strength.
“We’ve become stronger…It gives you a lot more drive and determination to make a better human being. Even though he had a difficult time, we still want to instil in him how to be a good human being,” says Ms Metaxiotis.
Reflecting on her time from pregnancy until now, her advice to parents who may be going through something similar is one of persistence.
“You have to have patience and determination. If you need the assistance, the assistance is out there. You have to fight with them. And keep going, you’re doing it for the better person that they’re going to be. Take a little break for yourself every now and then, lord knows how many times I’ve had to regroup,” she says encouragingly.
Despite the difficulties, Ms Metaxiotis would not change their experience for the world.
“I couldn’t imagine life without him. It’s a breath of fresh air because you laugh, you cry, you hug. And the things that make it special, like spontaneously he’ll come up to me and go ‘I love you mummy, you’re my best friend’ and it’s those moments that melt your heart,” she says.
Ms Metaxiotis is no stranger to the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, acknowledging that John’s life is forever changed by the help of medical and educational professionals that have had a part in nurturing him.
“I want to thank everyone that’s helped him get to where he is today. The hospitals, the nurses, the doctors the surgeons, the teachers, the physiotherapist, the speech pathologist, all of them, because it’s been a big effort. They’ve been a godsend. Without them, who knows if we’d be here.”