Well doesn’t life get busy when a baby turns 6 months old? They properly interact with those around them and cause a lot of laughs, make noises you are sure mean something, play more, start to eat real food (a stage I absolutely love) and start to move. Frida has really made her mark on our family now and is so much fun to be with. She idolises her big sister and will bang the highchair for 'More Ada' at meal times to get her attention.
As the last few months with our fabulous Frida have whizzed by more 'quick wins' have come to mind and I’ve been listing them for a while waiting for the time to come to share them.
In the run up to March I have been preparing for the PADS21:21 2021 Challenge to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day and to raise important funds for Positive About Down Syndrome (PADS). On one of my training runs it occurred to me that I could share a 'quick win' each day; sharing fun tips and ideas to raise positive awareness about the joy of living with my girl who happens to have Down Syndrome and about the incredible community I am learning so much about, all the while building up a bank of quick posts for quick reference in the future.
Some are time savers, others are resources I have found useful and suggestions to think about which I have found have really made a difference. Some that I share are specific to having a baby with Down Syndrome (DS) as they address a few of the things that a baby with DS is more likely to experience than a typical child and some that will, I hope, bring comfort to anyone who is worried about their child's future.
So here goes.
Quick Win 1: #WDSD2021 Join a PADS Facebook group
My message here is simple - Join PADS as soon as you hear about it so long as you are in the UK. If you are elsewhere in the world find an alternative support group where people are positive, informative and supportive. Whether you have received a prenatal diagnosis or high chance result, or have just had a baby and discovered they have a little extra, or are a little further down the line, there is a group for you. A group for expectant mum's, for new parents, and for parents of pre-schoolers. Within those groups there is access to support, information, experts and additional groups covering everything you will ever need to know to give your child the best start and to have some fun whilst doing so.
Underpinning the groups is a fantastic charity called Down Syndrome UK which is working hard to address some of the more political and societal issues facing people with Down Syndrome.
My advice would be to just observe the goings on whilst you enjoy your newborn. Ask any questions you have about anything you are worried about, interested in or want to know and be amazed at how much knowledge there is at your finger tips. Definitely don’t panic yourself into thinking that you have to do everything at once and please don't compare yourself or your baby to others. They are groups where the highs are celebrated and the lows are shared. A warm welcome is provided along with a book called 'Nobody Told Me', an honest collection of real life experiences (some of which can be found on the website). Counselling is offered at a subsidised rate, as are yoga classes, Makaton and Early Development courses, as well as information about health, development and finances.
The way I dealt with any creeping overwhelming feeling was to list and bookmark things that I saw that I thought would be helpful and whilst being aware of them and following at a distance with interest, I could actually just park them for another day. It meant I knew where to find the information if anything were to crop up and I could relax safe in the knowledge there was information ready when I needed it.
A lot of the information I am going to share over the next few weeks has come from PADS or because of PADS. Joining the group and getting involved has honestly made our life with Frida all the richer and I cannot recommend looking them up highly enough. One quick request to join a group will win you access to so much information and a community where I hope you will feel loved and supported from the very beginning.
[Picture is a World Down Syndrome Day poster coloured in by our 4 year old, Ada].