It was exactly 9 years ago that I had bought and wrapped all the Christmas presents, sent all the cards and was expectantly wrapping a babygrow that said 'I'm the Little Sister' and a T shirt that said 'I'm the Big Sister'. The girls were going to exchange gifts after the baby was born. I had it all planned.... or so I thought.
|Happy Blogaversary Downs Side Up|
And at the same time of year comes the blogaversary of Downs Side Up which turned 4 this week, started a few weeks after Natty began school. What began as a place to share resources and support groups we had found with other parents, and a place to give hope with photos of Natty's journey, quickly became so very much more.
This week Downs Side Up was treated to it's MILLIONth page view. It's not much to some big professional blogs, but
it was a very special milestone for us, a symbol of the global family we are privileged to be a part of.
|ONE MILLIONth view of Downs Side Up this week|
The journey of blogging has taken us all by surprise. In those 4 years it has been an organic process, I have followed where the blog and it's readers have wanted me to go. It's turned into a full time, unpaid job. I've lost sleep, smiled the biggest smiles, learnt so very much, and met incredible families and advocates. We've published a book for children and written a set of conversation cards for new parents. Our words have found their way into journals, magazines, columns and national papers, and the homes of the most important; families.
|With late actor, speaker and friend Peter Cranham|
I've learnt the true meaning of trolling, and of jealousies and discovered evil that goes beyond my wildest nightmares, needing police back-up.
Conversely, I've discovered humanity and hope. I've learnt about team work and collaboration. I've leant how very precious all our differences are and how we all benefit from true inclusion. I've lost hope at times, I've cried buckets and suffered burn-out. But I've learnt to offload professionally. I have been inspired by so many. We have all grown.
|Natty meets Dr Hilary Jones on ITV Daybreak in '11|
I've eaten Battenberg cake on the Queen's lawn and drank champagne in Cameron's lounge. I've learnt how to do live TV or radio with 30 seconds notice and not faint with fear. I've kissed The Edge, Lorraine Kelly, Dr Hilary, Dr Ranj, Anton du Bec...
Natty has modelled for Sainsbury's, Jojo Maman, Frugi, Eden Project and this month Good Housekeeping. There have been humbling awards: BiBs, MADs and the Health Service Journal. I've made real friends, forever friends and gained the support of parents and advocates further down this path we tread.
|Angelic Natty in the Christmas edition of Good Housekeeping Magazine in the UK|
We have a long, long way to go until whose with a learning disability are considered as equal, are included fully, are respected and supported, listened to and appreciated. It will take more than another million views of my little blog. But I think I might be in it for the long haul.
And happy blogaversary Downs Side Up, which just goes to prove that you should never make too many plans in life, for the best things happen when you let life lead you.
Thank you ALL for being there.