I Love You Natty: A Sibling's Uplifting Introduction to Down's Syndrome

Young girl from Cornwall publishes a heartfelt book to help other children welcome a new sibling with Down's syndrome

Seven and a half years ago I sat at my computer and typed 'Down's Syndrome' into the Amazon book search facility.

One little girl, aged two, lay in bed asleep upstairs. Another, aged a few days lay in an incubator in neonatal intensive care.

I wanted a positive, realistic book that would explain to our eldest why her baby sister could not come straight home, why Mummy and Daddy were shedding tears, why she had been christened wearing nothing but a nappy right there in the hospital the week before, why she would need heart surgery one day and how, hopefully (Hope is her middle name as it happens) they would have just as much fun and do all the same things together as any other sisters would with time and support. 

I wanted a book to carry the other adults in the family forward too, lift us from our place of desperation and worry, something that would tell us it was all going to be OK.

I found plenty of useful factual books, a smattering of outdated offerings, inspiring novels and biographies for adults and a lovely tale for kids with illustrations that we still reach for now, but the bright cheery snapshot of the life of a modern family that I needed to see as much as Mia, stuck in my mind and I guess it later became to basis for my blog Downs Side Up.

Then a couple of years ago I began finding little notes and poems, drawings and declarations of love lying around the house. This is Mia's way of letting us know what she is thinking, and we often leave similar treasures for her to find too. Some that she wrote for Natty were so precious that I kept them, and there in an instant one evening, I realised they formed the basis of a book.

She wrote, " I Love you Natty, you are the best sister in the world and so precious to me. You are so important to me and if you weren't in this world my life just wouldn't be the same."

We asked Mia questions to fill in the gaps, added our family snapshots alongside Mia's drawings and the book began to take shape. 

A dear former colleague who creates college brochures offered to create a document that we could use as a template to print on demand via Amazon. Nearly a year later, a lots of hard work and creativity, she showed me what she had produced. Our tears were a sure sign that the book had exceeded our wildest dreams and was sure to touch the hearts of others.

Mia checks the book proofs
A title tweak and some online bullying caused more stress than could be imagined, and then the realisation that the book was too elaborate to fit the standard print on demand template and to create each one as they were ordered was looking like it would cost over £12 each. 

Options? Options? 
It was a little late to find a publisher, we were ready to go and I was adamant that the book should cost no more than £5.99 to make it affordable to as many families as possible. The only obvious solution was to bite the bullet and print them in bulk ourselves, house them at home and ship by hand.

So now we are proud to announce the launch of Mia's ground-breaking and beautiful sibling support book I Love You Natty: A Sibling's Uplifting Introduction to Down's Syndrome

It's been endorsed by eight leading UK charities, including Mencap, Makaton, Portage and the Down's Syndrome Association, who have tipped it as the perfect introduction to Trisomy 21 as the condition is also known.

The book is available on Amazon, priced £5.99 + P&P  or can be ordered in to any branch of Waterstones with their Click and Collect service.   

ISBN 978-0-9929251-0-9

For bulk orders, or to speak to the authors, contact downssideup@gmail.com 

Since its launch we have been rushed off our feet, they are literally selling like hotcakes, so much so that I've only just found the time to blog about it! Our hope is to be able to cover costs and then give some away to charities and Health Visitors and so on.

The art of photobombing the 'books ready to post' shot

Already they have found their way into neo-natal units, libraries and schools and the home of at least one adoptive family and have been shipped to America and Australia and everywhere in between. That makes all the hard work worthwhile.

We hope you like our little book of love too...

I Love You Natty: A Sibling's Introduction to Down's Syndrome

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