We knew you’d be called ‘Charlie’ from the moment we agreed on ‘Charlotte’ for you, but I couldn’t have imagined how well it would suit you.
You were a surprise addition to our family of five. Emily and Dylan were excited right away, although I have to admit that Dylan was hoping for a brother. It’s okay that I say that to you now, because I know that he wouldn’t swap you for all the Minecraft paraphernalia in the world – and that’s saying something. Susannah was only a baby herself, but she loved to cuddle my belly and sing you songs.
You were different from your brother and sisters from the very beginning.
They were all born in the morning, but you decided to join us at 8.14pm. You were the smallest, too, weighing in at a teeny tiny 7lb4oz, but you were pink and wrinkly and beautifully perfect in every way.
I can’t remember even a frisson of disappointment when I saw that we had another daughter, and in fact I can remember ‘Hello, little Princess’ being the first thing I said to you, over and over, as you lay warm and wet in my arms. Daddy was so proud and wanted to cuddle you but your temperature was a bit unsteady so we had to pop you in a warmer for a while. Don’t worry, though, we stayed right beside you the whole time.
Everyone was so excited when we made the calls – she’s a girl!
Welcome to the world, Charlotte Frances Russo. Your middle name is special – it’s my maternal Grandmother’s name, and you only missed out on meeting her by a few months. I know she would have loved you as much as we do. It’s also your maternal Grandmother’s name, but you’ll have plenty of time to get to know her for yourself.
We had so many plans for you then, little Charlie.
Most of all, we wished health and happiness for you all of your life. We planned for you and Susannah to share a bedroom and experience the bond that only comes from being sisters born so close together.
We pictured frilly pink bunk beds, matching tricycles and two little girls holding hands and giggling as you skipped. We saw Emily and Dylan pushing two laughing princesses on side-by-side swings at the park, urging each other to go higher, faster.
We envisaged sneaky midnight chats under the covers and getting into trouble together for drawing in Emily’s schoolbooks or losing Dylan’s Pokemon cards. We imagined six voices raised together in song when we made our traditional ‘family chorus happy birthday calls’.
Further down the track, I saw graduation gowns, wedding dresses and maternity wards – but that’s probably going a bit far.
Well, Charlie… you’ll be four soon, and we’ve not yet heard your voice in speech or in song, never seen you skipping along with your sister, and never told you off for drawing on anything.
We have seen you on the swings, though, and sharing a pink frilly bedroom (if not a bunk bed) with Susannah. We’ve heard your glorious giggles and told you off for biting us occasionally (does that count?).
You’ve eaten a couple of Dylan’s trading cards and pulled Emily’s hair more times than I can count, but they still adore you. Susannah loves to get into your bed and ‘read’ books with you – it’s not quite the two-way conversations we saw in our mind’s eye but it’s lovely nonetheless.
We don’t know what the future holds for you, baby girl, but I guess we don’t really know what the future holds for any of us, so why worry about what we can’t control?
I’d love it if you could walk and talk and do all the things on our wishlist, but I wouldn’t swap you for a girl who could if it meant you wouldn’t be Charlie any more. You’ve such a lovely soul, darling, and we see it every day.
For now, you are who you are, doing it your own way – everything your own way! – and health and happiness have been with you most of the time.
And really, what more could a mother want?
Are you happy with your current therapist?