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A letter to Charlie and all the 2020 babies

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2020 has been a lot—especially for those with small children. For Mum of three Erinn Pages, it’s been all about helping her newborn son Charlie settle into the world.

Dear Charlie,

Happy first birthday, baby boy!

While you won’t remember the first year of your life, 2020 is a time no one else will forget.

But to tell your story, I need to go back to the beginning. Because you, my boy, were born resilient. After I was isolated in a birthing suite in France with a bout of Influenza and skyrocketing blood pressure, you finally arrived with a ‘true knot’ in your umbilical cord. Although my C-section stitches struggled through the relentless coughing, you thankfully survived by taking the sunroof exit.

And we celebrated.

You were literally covered in our family’s French kisses as we carried you down the aisle at our wedding, but as we flew home from the crisp winter air of France to the smoky summer skies of Canberra, another level of strength would be required.

Bushfires surrounded our city and we sheltered inside, taping up windows and doors to protect your new little lungs from one of the world’s poorest air qualities. Then finally, once the orange haze cleared, we could start the maternity leave I always wanted but never got to have with your older brothers—one filled with mother’s group coffees, swimming lessons and music classes.

And we could breathe.

But this didn’t happen. Instead, the year threw another curveball and the world was sent into hiding by a pandemic. Homeschooling literally put my back out while I breastfed and held you to sleep, attempting to play teacher to your older brothers at the same time. Though while we had our heads in screens to keep in touch with life outside our homes, we were also able to witness, listen and educate ourselves on one of the largest global movements in history—Black Lives Matter.

And there was hope for the human race to start being kind to one another again.

Remember little man, we need love in this world for the tragic moments life can bring. And 2020 kept bringing those.

While the borders to our family in Queensland were still closed (as they are again), we were sent into personal heartache. My mum, your grandma, was diagnosed with advanced stage three breast cancer (not long after your other grandmother in France just recovered from hers). I cannot tell you how long it will be before you see either of them again, little one.

But even in one of the darkest of years, you are the little being that brought us life.

While none of our family have held you since you were four months old; we will always be grateful for technology and the ability to share your happiness and milestones through our phones and screens. We watched you pull yourself up at the front door, looking out to the world in awe, practising a royal hand wave to no one in particular. Yet I couldn’t help but grieve for the lost time of family and friends holding you while you were small.

But even in our bubble, you kept us moving through the long days and months. From your giggles and heart-warming smiles in days of sorrow; to your cuddles and love of music in a time we needed to shake off anxiety; to growing and mastering all of your firsts in a year the world otherwise stood still, you guided us through with the truest form of resilience there could be.

To you and all our children growing up in 2020, we will keep pushing through, for you.

Love, Mummy.

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