WATCHING their child sitting up for the first time on their own is a proud moment for any parent, but it was extra special for Kate and James Bottger.
When Charlotte sat up for the first time, it was a big milestone for the family.
The three-year-old suffers from cerebral palsy but the active little one does not let anything get in her way.
She was born 10 weeks prematurely by an emergency C-section and spent her first seven weeks in hospital.
Mum Kate said: “Doctors had to shock her heart when she was only 12 hours old to get the rhythm normal. James and I had only seen her quickly. She was tiny.”
After leaving hospital she and James didn’t notice anything was wrong with Charlotte’s development until she was nine months when it was clear something was not right.
Kate, a nurse at Gloucestershire Royal hospital, said: “She had an MRI scan and she was then diagnosed with cerebral palsy in all four limbs. As a parent it was devastating but in some ways it was a relief to know what was wrong with her. But it was not what you expect as a parent.”
The condition means Charlotte’s legs are very tight and she has to do daily exercise which helps enormously.
Kate, who is due to give birth to her second child in August, said: “She now does a commando crawl on her tummy and she has taken a couple of steps with her walking frame but she sometimes she struggle as her legs keep crossing over due to the tightness.
“She has to have a lot of physiotherapy which helps with her stiffness and movement. We went to a brain injury charity clinic where she had occupational therapy treatment. We noticed a really big improvement in her condition.
“She loves swimming, she has no fear. Last week, we went to Bluestone National Park for a short break where she did a lot of swimming.
“Charlotte and I enjoy baking and she loves anything to do with crafts. To see her sit up a few months ago on her own is a really big milestone for her. A few weeks ago she also learnt how to draw circles, this is all such a big achievement.”
The family, from Slimbridge, are now looking to raise £60,000 so Charlotte can have the selective dorsal rhizotomy operation in America.
It will cut the nerves at the bottom of her spine, which should release the tightness in Charlotte’s legs.
They are being supported by the Tree of Hope charity, which offers hope to the families of sick and disabled children in the country who need specialist medical surgery, treatment and therapy.
Kate said: “They do this operation in some hospitals in this country but it is done a lot more in America. If she has the surgery it will help release the tightness but it will encourage her other muscles to work as well. It will help her to walk without a frame.
“She will have to stay in hospital for a week and then she will have five weeks of physiotherapy in the outpatients department.
“This is not just about raising money, we also need people to come forward and suggest fundraising ideas.”
To donate visit Charlotte's Just Giving Page, www.justgiving.com/charlottes-angels
or to suggest a fundraising idea, email Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org.