A letter to my Bella on your 4th birthday

To My Darling Bella on your 4th birthday,

I cannot believe that you are 4 already, it seems like just yesterday that I was writing your 3rd birthday letter, how has it been a year already? And what a year it has been. There have been so many changes for you, my beautiful Bella.

You moved up to “big ballet”

Even though we have been going to ballet together since you were only just walking, this year was the year that you went up to big ballet. This meant no more multi coloured tutus each week, in big ballet you wear uniform and have your hair pulled back into a neat bun.

More than anything, the huge difference in big ballet is that Mummies are not allowed to stay and watch. You will have to understand, my darling girl, that this was quite a big deal for Mummy. It was the first time that I left you with anyone other that Daddy or my Auntie in your whole life. 

Then you started school

The day after you moved up to big ballet, you started school. For the 12 months leading up to this day, you nagged to go to school. Each time we dropped the boys off to school, you complained and stated that it was not fair and you wanted to go too. I had no concerns at all about you going to school. I mean, obviously, I was quietly devastated that my baby was leaving me and going to nursery, but it didn’t cross my mind that you would do anything other than skip happily in without looking back. 

Oh how wrong I was. 

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Well, she’s gone in to school. My beautiful Bella is officially a “big girl”. She was so excited this morning and couldn’t wait for school. We went in, found her peg, then I kissed her goodbye. “Where are you going?” she asked, looking of panicked . Uh oh. I knew I had to get out of there quickly. I didn’t think for a second up until that point that she would be upset, but suddenly it looked like a real possibility. “Mummy is going home then I’ll be back to pick you up later. Don’t forget to tell me everything that you do in school!”. It was my very best “breezy” voice. I left quickly and took Will in to his class. On the way out, I took a peep through the nursery classroom window, only to see her sitting on the teacher’s lap with her back to me, sobbing so much that her little shoulders were moving. She was then scooped up, cuddled and they took her to a different part of the room and disappeared from view. One of the members of staff caught my eye and mouthed to me not to worry. So I did what I had to and left. I know she’ll probably be fine. The teachers are all so lovely and I knows them all so well from when they taught Will, that it’s like leaving her with extended family really. She’s just wanted to go to school and talked about nothing else for such a long time, that I just wasn’t expecting her to cry. She’s so grow up in so many ways, that I forget how young she really is. Fingers crossed she comes out with a smile on her face 🤞🏻 #firstdayofschool #startingschool #mybiggirl #bella #bellaandbunny #growinguptooquickly #photoinfrontofadoor #backtoschoolphoto

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You got there in the end

It took a couple of heartbreaking weeks for you to settle into school. During those weeks I forced on my bravest of faces as I waved you goodbye, desperately holding back tears of my own as you cried as I left. In all of the talking and preparation we had done before you started school, it just hadn’t occurred to me that you thought that I was coming too. After all, we had been together your whole life until that point, why would your 3 year old mind assume that we wouldn’t be togetehr every minute forever?

As the months went on, it was lovely to see how much you loved your new school and ballet class and to see your confidence grow. You make me so proud.

As the year went on, you faced more of your fears

This is the year that you sat happily in the dentist without getting upset, in spite of the fact that you had spent the entire morning before the appointment insisting that you would not open your mouth and would “do statue-ing”. 

This was also the year that you faced your fear of “high five-ing” the enormous walking characters that you have always idolised from afar but been too terrified to meet up close. Well done Bella-rina. 

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Today is Bella's last day of "rising 3s" nursery. (Rising 3s is what Bella’s school call the class they start the day after their 3rd birthday, what do they call it where you are?). If you scroll through the pics, you can see her from the last day, today, going back to her first day of school back in January.⠀ 🌸 ⠀ It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. After almost a whole year of nagging to go to school like the boys and complaining every single day that she couldn’t she screamed the place down when she started school. Apparently she did want to go to school, she just wanted me to go too ⠀ 💔⠀ I suppose it was because I had never really left her before. I wasn’t working at all when she was born and now I work from home, so she’s always been with me. I guess it was always going to be hard when she was first separated from me. Did your little one get upset when you first left them in school or childcare? ⠀ 🌸⠀ Anyway, after a few weeks of screaming abdabs, including one episode where she actually lay on the floor and kicked (🤦🏻‍♀️) she settled in and now really loves school. Apparenty she was quite quiet in school for ages (which you will also find hard to believe if youvbe seen her latest IGTV video). It’s funny isn’t it? 🌸⠀ I spoke to her teacher this week and she said that her wicked little personality is really coming out now. It’s so lovely that she’s finding her feet. I wonder how she’ll be going back after the break?⠀ 🌸⠀ How were your little ones when they started school? How are they now?⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #firstdayofschool #lastdayofschool #mybabygirl #mybiggirl #growinguptooquickly #thismamalife #mummylife #mumlife #mummyblogger #pbloggeruk #seperationanxiety

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Around came September

By the time you went back to school for the new school year, you were so much more confident. No tears this time. Even though you moved up from rising 3s to “big nursery”, you stayed in the same room with the same teacher, so there was no real transition to worry about. You cannot imagine how much comfort I got from this. 

We began to worry

As we approached the end of the year, Daddy and I began to have some concerns. Some of your rituals, some of the things that upset you could be signs that you are on the Autism Spectrum. Everyone that meets you says “no way, she’s such a sociable little girl” and you are. They are right. Still, according to my extensive research (yes, Mummy has to know everything about everything when it. comes to her children), girls present so very differently to boys when it comes to ASD. So, we began the diagnosis process.

Do you have autism? Or am I just seeing it everywhere since Will was diagnosed? Only time and a medical health professional will tell. Either way, I know that investigating my concerns to make sure that we get you any help you might need, was the right move.

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Yesterday we had Bella's first consultant appointment to investigate the possibility of ASD. On the face of it, she shows no obvious signs of autism. She is so very different to her brother who has ASD, that whenever my husband suggested that she may also have ASD (usually during a meltdown), I dismissed it. ⠀ ⠀ Then I began reading. I discovered how girls with autism often exhibit such different symptoms to boys, how they mask any social difficulties and real symptoms do not become obvious until they are older. I read how these undiagnosed girls often feel depressed because they struggle to fit in and don't know why and the more I read the more I knew that we had to look into it.⠀ ⠀ So we had the first appointment and the best way to describe how I feel now – conflicted. Without a shadow of a doubt, looking into this is the right thing to do, but I feel already uneasy about the outcome.⠀ ⠀ The consultant said that for a diagnosis, they need both the obvious social difficulties and the ritualistic behaviours. While Bella has the second, she doesn't often demonstrate the first, so may come out of this without a diagnosis.⠀ ⠀ On the one hand that's great, that's what I wanted! To be told it's in my head and it's just me seeing autism everywhere because I'm surrounded by it. On the other hand, what if she needs the diagnosis and slips through the net because she is masking her symptoms? Like I said, I feel conflicted. ⠀ ⠀ The truth is, only hindsight will tell us if the results get is accurate, so we;'ll have to wait and see…..⠀ ⠀ Have you been through this process? In your experience, are girls with ASD different to boys with the same diagnosis?⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #autism #girlswithautism #autismdiagnosis #asdfamily #asdmum

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That brings us to December

December is the month of excitement and Christmas outfits and when you were in your first ever Christmas concert. You were the most beautiful angel that I have ever seen. 

And now, my darling girl, it is 29th December 2018 and your 4th birthday. I want you to know that you are the most vibrant, clever and wickedly funny little girl that any Mummy could hope for and you are beautiful, inside and out. 

Happy birthday beautiful Bella-rina.

Love from Mummy x

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