A few days after Charlotte was born, Mike and I laid in bed; talking, crying, grieving...it seemed in those early days, this was our routine. During the day, we would put on a happy act for the older kids, and the minute they weren't around, one or both of us would break down again.
That night, I remember talking about our fears for Charlotte's future; in particular her relationship with her siblings. If you haven't met our oldest, Katherine, you need to know how incredibly maternal she is, and how she was over the moon excited for Charlotte's arrival. From the minute she found out we were going to have a baby (whom from the very beginning she wanted to name Lucy), to finding out it was a little girl (which of course was what she wanted), to coming to the hospital the day I had her and holding her for the first time.
During my pregnancy, Mike and I anticipated the "sister relationship" we would get to watch blossom. Mike has three sisters, and me three brothers. Neither of us has experienced the same-gender sibling closeness that we have heard about. In our minds, our girls were going to grow up best friends, sharing clothes, talking about boys, standing up in each others weddings, ....
A Down syndrome diagnosis can be a blow to a lot of hopes and dreams one has for their child. During those first few months, I grieved every single one of those hopes and dreams, even the one above.
Turns out, after only 15 months, I realize I don't have to grieve the loss of that dream. My girls are already great friends, and I imagine it only gets better from here. Charlotte's face lights up when Katherine walks in the room, and the excitement in Katherine's voice as she cheered when she saw Charlotte stand by herself for the first time last week was so incredibly sincere.
While dropping Will off at school this morning, a grandparent of another child pulled me aside to tell me how beautiful Charlotte is and how I was so blessed. She went on to tell me about her older brother, who had Down syndrome, and what an impact he had on her life, as well as her children's lives. Her brother was born in the 1940's, spent his childhood in an institution, lived his entire life (all 67 years!)with an unrepaired heart, and never saw the inside of a public school. She told me that she had become her brother's guardian later in life and what an enriching experience it was. She was teary as we talked, and she assured me that she was a better person because of her brother, and me and my children would be better people because of Charlotte.
I look forward to watching my girls' relationship grow. I no longer worry about it, I don't need to.
For those of you wondering about my forgotten middle child, he has a great relationship with Charlotte as well...that is another post though, so stay tuned!