Rio James Fowler liked cuddles. A lot, in fact.
He needed few things to keep him with a big, wide grin from cheek to cheek. He loved to be fed, and then he loved to be cuddled. Other than that, his mum says, he would be a happy little kid.
With fair hair and big, bright eyes, Rio was the quintessential second-born with a soft nature, laid-back humour and an expressive face that adults couldn’t help but giggle at.
For the 17 months he spent on this earth, Rio loved to play with his sister, Remi, and be around his two parents Ryan and Karen.
"Rio was a pretty healthy baby," both Karen and Ryan tell Mamamia over the phone from their Sydney home.
"He did have a few complications - for example, he was born with a shorter leg, but no one could ever quite work out what was wrong with it.
"Our doctors knew some stuff about him... there were always a few question marks, but no one every thought anything was deadly or dangerous or anything like that," Karen says.
"Up until November last year, we thought we had a perfectly healthy baby boy."
On the third of November last year, Rio's elder sister Remi came home from Kinder with gastro. She is physically resilient, her dad says, so after a little vomit and a few hours, she was fine. Her little brother wasn't so lucky.
"He was a little bit off all day, and then he had a big projective vomit and we had never seen that before. That was the start of the downward path, we just didn't know it at the time," Ryan recalls.