I have recently joined a Down Syndrome Bloggers Network group who have decided to link up together writing to a monthly prompt. In honour of the American members of the network and their national Thanksgiving holiday this week the first theme is “thankful”.
We are very blessed to have Faith in our lives and I am thankful for many things her arrival brought with it including the friendly community that have extended us an immediate warm welcome.
The Lincolnshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group had just started a new scheme around the time of her birth – Harrison’s Hampers – and we were one of its first recipients.
Here LDSSG trustee and secretary Emma Hall explains how the idea for the project was formed.
When I look back it was after that moment when the doctors and nurses gave us the conclusive news at two days old, that Harrison did have Down’s Syndrome. When they left the room we felt completely lost, alone and overwhelmed with questions that in our heads sounded silly but we needed answering.
After four months, by chance and social circles, we met Eileen and Pete who are parents to Niall, also with Down’s Syndrome. The relief we felt after chatting to them and airing our ‘silly questions’ was really encouraging. It was also through them that we then found out about the Lincolnshire Down’s Syndrome Support Group.
Since joining the LDSSG and hearing many other parents share their stories and maternity experiences, it became clear that the delivery of how our parents are first told about their babies’ diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome is very different!
It was then that Harrison’s Hampers came about. Myself and Terry had always wanted to do something to support Lincoln County Hospital after how well they cared for myself and Harrison after his birth and we realised that we could provide the medical staff with a hamper to give to other new parents, celebrating the birth of their baby and which could also signpost them to the LDSSG, when/if they felt ready to meet other families in a similar situation.
The name for the project was easy, our little boy is called Harrison and the teacher in me loves a bit of alliteration so Harrison’s Hampers it was!
We’re aiming to do away with negativity! It is a rollercoaster of emotions, being told your baby has a syndrome and depending on how this news is delivered to you can affect how you deal with it.
My biggest aim at present is to get the Harrison’s Hampers in to the Lincolnshire hospitals with maternity services, Lincoln County and Boston Pilgrim. I want the maternity units to be able to gift them to the new parents as and when the time is right during their stay as this would be more immediate and uplifting at a time when they may need it most.
However this also needs to be done sensitively and respectfully which I would like the medical staff to consider as it may need to be done differently every time!
When planning the contents of the hampers I wanted to make sure there was something for the whole family so there are items for the baby (clothing/toys), for siblings there is Hayley Goleniowska’s book I Love You Natty which is actually written by Hayley’s older daughter and the fun she has with her younger daughter Natty who has Down’s Syndrome. For the parents there are toiletries, the LDSSG leaflet which tells them all about what we do in our local community and how we support our families and a homemade card just to say congratulations which includes a picture of our little Harrison.
The latest addition to the hampers are beautiful, handmade, patchwork baby blankets which were kindly made and donated by volunteer organisation Project Linus UK.
My main aim was to keep all the business that supported the Harrison’s Hampers local, within Lincolnshire. Luckily I have found most local business and crafters really supportive and keen to be involved. I always include their business cards to advertise and support them in return. Some items are generously donated and some are heavily discounted without negotiation!
I am about to make my next 10 Harrison’s Hampers and I am on the lookout for even more ideas for content within lovely Lincolnshire, so do please get in touch if you know of a local business that could donate items or you think would like to be involved.
The hampers that have been given out have been extremely well received by the whole family. It’s great to be able to give something positive and informative at what can be an emotional time.
It’s also important to add that the LDSSG fund the Harrison’s Hampers as part of their fantastic ongoing commitment, right from the start, to all our members and their families across Lincolnshire.
Can you help Emma fill the next 10 Harrison’s Hampers? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, she’d be very thankful!