A month to be aware of

#Blogtober17 – Day Four: Date

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October 2017 is a very significant month which has lots of claims to fame.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Stoptober and Black History Month, it contains The Big Draw, World Space Week, Wool Week, National Knitting Week, British Egg Week, National Curry Week, Chocolate Week, Baby Loss Awareness Week, International Day of the Girl Child and International Babywearing Week, Apple Day and Halloween, to name but a few.

And not forgetting, most importantly, Daddy and Mummy Malpi’s birthdays and anniversary.

But, notwithstanding the significant number associated with my impending age celebration date, October 2017 is also important to us as it is Down Syndrome Awareness Month in the US.

In the UK Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week is held in March, encompassing the date of the 21st of the 3rd month as people with Down’s Syndrome (or Trisomy 21) have three copies of chromosome 21 but why wouldn’t we want to join in with our international community and dedicate a whole month to raising awareness, to “celebrate people with Down syndrome and make people aware of their abilities and accomplishments”?

 

 

Faith may have only been born just under nine months ago but she’s already achieved so much.  She’s been able to breastfeed which we were told was unlikely, she has the most adorable chuckle, she attracts compliments wherever we go and has been signed up by specialist talent agency Zebedee Management, gives great cuddles, blows a fabulous raspberry, has lovely babble-y chats and she’s getting more and more mobile as she’s so determined to start exploring the world just like her big brother and sister.

And she’s certainly won the hearts of mummy, daddy, big brother and big sister.

I don’t want to consider what a world without my Faith would be like and I give thanks that, for the most part, we live in a country where people are kind and think that helping others should be the willing default option.  When you give love you receive it in return and, if our as yet short introduction to the Down’s Syndrome community is representative, there’s a lot of love to go round.

October has always been my favourite month with birthdays, Halloween and an anniversary to celebrate and now it has a special relevance for my miniest mini too.

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The privilege of baby cuddles

#Blogtober17 – Day Two: Babies

At one of the minis many weekend daytime soirees another mum who had stolen Faith for a cuddle spoke of the privilege of holding a baby.

Obviously as the mum of the baby she was holding at the time I was definitely in agreement but she’s right in general too, isn’t she?

The newborn stage is so fleeting and so precious.  A small bundle of newness that knows little of the darker side of life and that simply wants to absorb and radiate love.  You are cradling a whole life in your hands, embracing an innocence that the future’s potential is stored within.

And for many people there are only a short few years in your life where you have regular opportunity to hold someone at such a special time.

I wish we had been told how meaningful it is when we were younger instead of how having children when young might ruin your life.  I wish that being a mother and looking after the potential of the future was held in much more esteem than it currently seems to be in our society because being blessed by my minis has made my life.

And when, as a teen and university student you are given dire warnings about ensuring against unwanted pregnancy, it might be pertinent to mention that it can actually be difficult to get pregnant too, especially as you grow older.

We’re educated towards being able to take a place in the world of work (which is obviously quite useful) but we seem to forget that there are more important roles to prepare ourselves for too.

So, whenever I’m having a long day, I’ll try to remind myself that the years are short and feel privileged to have full arms and to be able to hold on to those hours and my babies for a little bit longer.

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F is for Faith (…and fuchsia)

IMG_9579Every mother knows that her own children are gorgeous but it’s always nice to hear it confirmed by other people too.

And it was lovely to hear that a photo I shared of Faith on @TheMiniMalpi Twitter account caught the attention of the artist behind Bertie Bear Button Art and Crafts.

Designing and hand making personalised artwork with buttons, Sarah from Kirton Lindsey in North Lincolnshire, offered to send Faith her own individually designed initial art frame and, as you can see, she was very pleased with the finished piece.

The idea appealed to me for several reasons – I love words and letters, button is a term of endearment I often use for all three of my minis and it’s always lovely to have something personalised and individual appropriate to your unique child.

And the frame lived up to those expectations too.  The natural wooden frame can be freestanding or hung on a wall and came very securely padded in a mailing box surviving two deliveries in our case as a neighbour was kind enough to receive it for us when we missed the postman.

The mix of buttons sizes, shapes and shades is lovely and I like the 3D dimension to the nature of the craft.  I think most parents would love the heart button but, as Faith is currently waiting for a heart operation, it has extra significance to us and I like its prominent placing.  There is a bow button, flowers and the butterfly would definitely currently be a winner with Faith’s older sister.

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The frames currently come in either pink or blue.  I’m quite a fan of using other colours too and Sarah says this is something she’d consider in the future although it’s understandable why those two colours are the mainstays in her button stash.  Plus when I was trying to think of a colour that begins with f as well I just came up with fuchsia anyway!

I’m sure it will make a lovely feature to her bedroom wall for years to come.

As well as initials, Sarah’s designs also include a family tree, ballerina, heart, the words home and love and an apple perfect for a teacher thank you present.  Find out more at Bertie Bear Button Art.

If you’d like a unique letter button frame made for your mini one or would like to buy any of her artworks as a gift then Sarah is offering The Mini Malpi readers 25% off their order.   Use the code THEMINIMALPI25 in her Etsy store at to claim your discount.  And we’d love to see your photos of your little one with their own art piece too so don’t forget to tweet us @TheMiniMalpi.

Doing the Sling Swing

At the same time you’re battling a postpartum body the reason for it is quite possibly preventing you doing anything about it.

And even if you’re quite rightly proud of your tiger stripes a little injection of exercise endorphins wouldn’t go amiss.

Zumba-ing all the way through her pregnancy with her youngest son, Claire Witherington certainly wasn’t someone who’d be prepared to say goodbye to an adrenaline high after his arrival.

As she searched for an exercise option that her baby could join her at, Claire discovered Sling Swing dance and gentle movement classes for parents/carers with babies in slings and baby carriers and decided to start up some classes in Lincoln herself.

Photos: Hannah at Love with Light Photography

Claire invited me along to try one of her classes and, as a regular baby wearer and someone who also misses the Zumba and pilates classes I’d enjoyed until week 30 something of being pregnant with my eldest, I was really interested in trying it out.

But what really swung it for me was, not only was my baby not just welcome to come along but integral to the class, but my older two were also fully included in the group too – they would need to bring a teddy along with them to put in their own child-sized doll slings that were available to borrow so they could “dance like mummy!”.

How cute is that?!  I really want to go back and enjoy more classes for several reasons, not least to get some better photos of Luke and Willow wearing the slings and joining in because they loved it.  My strong lass even opted for “carrying twins” at one point fitting her doll and red teddy bear into the colourful, stripy sling.

And it’s not just mini sling swingers that can benefit from such loans: “I do have a number of slings available for parents to borrow and I am a trained baby wearing peer supporter so I can fit people safely,” says Claire.

“I used to worry that I wouldn’t have enough slings but, to be honest, most people have their own.

“It’s a shame in a way as I’d love to attract people who don’t usually use a sling!”

The nature of the group may prevent it from being high intensity but it’s emphasis on friendly fun, inclusivity and gentle fitness definitely gets my vote.  Starting with a few songs to engage your child with, then moving on to the exercise routines, the class finishes with some time to socialise with your fellow dancers.

IMG_5970“The focus of the class is the social and bonding elements rather than on fitness although you are obviously burning a few calories whilst doing it!” she says.

“It’s kind of ‘me time’ but without leaving the baby!”

Of course the person who gets to make the overall verdict is Faith.  And the fact she was sleeping contentedly within minutes of the start of the dancing tells me she’d be quite happy for me to put on my dancing shoes again in the future.

Claire currently runs two term-time classes: 
Mondays at 1.30pm at Yarborough Leisure Centre and Fridays at 10.45am at One NK Leisure Centre.

Find out more on Sling Swing’s Facebook page.

 

Loving a designer label

I hate labels.

I think they’re limiting and potentially misleading at best and downright insulting and dehumanising at worst.  They often lessen or exaggerate because they deal with a generic stereotype rather than a specific individual.

It’s one of the reasons we didn’t find out the gender of any of our children during pregnancy (although I mainly loved the idea of the surprise).

But each of my children has taught me to see the world anew in many different ways and Faith is no exception.  She may have saved the label “girl” to surprise us with postnatally but “Down’s Syndrome” and “heart AVSD” were ones that were given to her antenatally.

It made for a stressful pregnancy.  If you’ve ever attended the maternity unit at Lincoln County Hospital you may not have even noticed the Quiet Room that’s located in between the two waiting areas and I hope you haven’t found yourself in it at your 12-week scan trying to take in the all sorts of possibilities that certain indicators may or may not mean.

I’m glad we were able to find out in advance even if at first it was hard to see past the label of the diagnosis to go back to picturing an individual child and all the myriad of characteristics they may or may not embody as they grow.

And I’ve also come to accept that the label can be helpful.

It made sure there was a plan in place for her care from the moment she was born – we already can’t say thank you enough to the maternity and paediatric teams who have looked after Faith in her first seven weeks so I know we will always be in the debt of such caring, skilled and dedicated professionals as she grows.

And it also means we’ve been able to find a welcoming community of families who are travelling a similar path and who are dedicated to not only supporting each other but also to celebrating life and simply having fun in numerous and diverse ways.

At seven weeks old Faith is already a “girl”, a “little sister”, “daughter”, “granddaughter”, “niece”, a “baby with Down’s Syndrome”, a “third child” and “blonde” and some of her labels have already changed too – the ones inside her clothes now read “newborn” instead of “tiny baby” as her weight chart now reads “7lb 1oz” instead of 5lb 8oz”.

And she’s proving to be a strong lass so far so, whichever paths she chooses to follow as she grows, she’s sure to be rocking her “designer genes” as she chases after her brother and sister on the odd occasions they’re not colluding to go in three different directions at once just to really keep their mummy on her toes.

World Down Syndrome Day takes place on March 21st.

 

Sleep for the camera!

Faith had a newborn professional photo shoot recently and this is the gorgeous first preview shot of the session that we’ve been sent.

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Due to her early arrival, little stay in the hospital post birth and us adjusting to life with three following her homecoming, we didn’t have the chance to book a session in the time period normally suggested for newborns but Faith behaved impeccably on the day never taking too long to settle – something I’m sure she’ll make up for another time!

Rebecca of Milestones Photography was lovely both with Faith and also her older siblings despite, after initially joining in, them then deciding to quickly take apart her children’s play area next to her home studio.

I can’t wait to see the full set of photos!

Feeding Tube Awareness Week 2017

Did you know it is the seventh annual Feeding Tube Awareness Week this week (February 6th to 10th, 2017)?

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Created by the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation to increase awareness of feeding tubes and enteral feeding, we’re certainly more aware of the need for such intervention after Faith spent a week in Lincoln County Hospital’s Nocton Ward building up her strength before coming home.

Faith was lucky to leave the tube behind her at the hospital but many children and adults continue to be reliant on such help after they’re discharged – find out more at www.feedingtubeawarenessweek.org