|Natty says she thinks everyone should have |
a really big brother to pick them up
when they fall in the mud.
Natty – ‘just’ one of my 4 wonderful sisters.
In some ways it is hard to put into words how I feel about Natty as I don’t think of her any differently to how I think of Mia or my other sisters – they are all ‘just’ my sisters, each one an individual. I don’t mean ‘just’ like I’m taking them for granted, but rightly or wrongly I don’t think of, or indeed treat Natty any differently because she has Down’s Syndrome.
My wife, Leah and I had visited Dad, Hayley and Mia only a few days before Natty was due and all appeared as expected. We had a lovely day out, visiting Father Christmas and had left Cornwall for home, unsuspecting about what was about to happen. Dad and I talk frequently but not every day, so when we had not heard from them for a few days we were not too concerned, but as it dragged on a little we made more calls and eventually got hold of Dad to be told the news that Natty had been born with health complications and that she had Down’s.
It’s fair to say that I am my father’s son, and the characteristics extend beyond a fondness for red wine and chocolate éclairs, so I also have the same ‘digest and deal with it’ attitude that he possesses. As a result I don’t recall being upset for Natty, but instead tried to offer help and support, but I don’t think you can ever really say the right thing at a time when people are trying to comprehend an unexpected situation... We offered to make the journey to Cornwall to be with our family, but as we were travelling down a couple of weeks later for Christmas it was decided that there was not much we could do to help. This meant that we did not know all the things that went on in those 1st few days of Natty’s life and Leah and I are reading these blogs with as much interest as you, so we can try to understand all that happened. Reading Hayley’s blog has made us understand why we felt a little in the dark about some of the events that took place around the time Natty was born. We now understand the shock and worry that took over.
So when we got to meet Natty for the 1st time, 3 weeks after she was born, I guess I had already come to terms with the news. When I saw and held her she seemed just like any other baby – albeit one that needed a little extra help feeding (which would certainly change!). This mindset has stayed and I still don’t think of Natty any differently to Mia. Leah and I do all the things that Big Bro & Sis should do, like chase her and Mia round the park (and get them muddy!), introduce her to good rock and roll music along with a nifty few dance moves, sneak her a few extra crisps as a snack before teatime and give a leg-and-a-wing until we can lift no more.
Natty has highlighted my awareness of disability and changed my perspective on some things – I find myself getting angry at even the thought of someone making fun of her, and many times I have played over in my head what I would say if I were to hear anyone with a derogatory comment. But I think it takes the situation to happen to you before you know how you will react, and I would like to think I would try to gently re-educated people with prejudices in a way they understand. But I guess it comes back to where I started with the opinion that Down’s does not make Natty different to you or I. Yes she needs to learn in a different way and yes it may take her a little longer than others to pick up some skills, but she can, does and will continue to do nearly all of the things that you and I do – often without the fear which holds us back - and I’m truely grateful that she has people around her who work very hard to enable her to be ‘just another’ sister.