The following words are written by Natalia's Godmother, my former language teacher boss, close friend and a lady for whom I have great respect. When Natty was born she had a no-nonsense attitude of, 'that is that, and that is God's will. We will all be here to help you.' Help she has, for although she is a busy lady, she has always believed in our abilities to do the best for Natty, and she is always there in a crisis, dropping everything to help out with an emergency hospital stay if Bob is away. On the occasion of Natty's Christening party, I will always recall her saying to me, 'None of us really knows how strong we can be, until we are forced to be strong.' Wise words indeed.
|Natty in the arms of her Godmother.|
"I will never forget the day Natalia was born.
Hayley and Robert asked me to go to their house and stay with Mia as Hayley was about to go into labour. It was going to be a home birth, so someone had to look after Mia, then aged 3.
I spent the evening sleeping in Mia's room. Come 7 O'clock in the morning, Hayley was still in labour, so I decided to take Mia home with me.
We played all day and waited for news. It was late in coming and I was getting increasingly anxious. When Robert finally phoned he said that Hayley was fine, the baby had been born, but that she had Downs...
The rest is the inspiring story of anxiety, uncertainty, fear, hard work, trust, faith and finally intense love and care for human life and dignity that the readers of this blog have come to know and admire. I have witnessed closely the degree of self-education Hayley and Robert have had to undertake in order to nurture Natalia in the best possible way.
Recently, after I had not seen Natalia for quite some time, I spent an afternoon with her - baby sitting basically, while Hayley took Mia out for the afternoon. We played, did art work, read books and watched films. It struck me afterwards that I was completely unaware I was dealing with a 'special needs' child. I had forgotten about her disability completely.
She was reading school books intended for her age, knew which videos she wanted to watch, knew how to operate the computer to play them, expressed her likes and dislikes, and in short was a child like any other, albeit one who was in some ways a couple of years younger than her chronological age.
She related to me and accepted me but would not hesitate to exert her will. I believe this is because Hayley and Bob, whilst providing for her physical and educational needs in every way, actually treat her in the same way as her sister around the house. They did not lower their standards in terms of discipline and social etiquette. She was delivering what had been expected of her. I was struck by this. It affected me greatly. "