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As much as I loved Gracie – and oh, how I loved her – I longed for my old life back.

And then, out of the fug of those first few months came the glimmer of just what I’d given up so much for; that first gummy smile, the day she said ‘mumma’, meaning me rather than the door, window or any other inanimate object.

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I’ve got it all planned: just like my parents did when I was tiny, I’ll wait until she’s fast asleep on Christmas Eve, creep into her room and leave a bag bursting with presents beside her cot.

My heart giddy with excitement for the moment she wakes up and spots them – even if, at 16 months old, she’ll have little idea about Father Christmas or, indeed, any of the traditions that us new parents are so desperate to recreate.

He’d come and go, saying he loved us and wanted to be with us, but he clearly couldn’t cope with the situation.

It soon became clear that it was just too much for us as a couple. He was there when Gracie was born, but gone again just days later.

That first Christmas with Gracie was pretty much overlooked amid the stress of the previous few months.

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