Here at Gugu Guru we are all about celebrating all types of families, so when we came across the blog Coraline and Us, we knew we wanted to have Liz, the mama behind the blog, come and share her story. Liz started her blog upon the birth of her adorable little Coraline, when it was “discovered unexpectedly within hours, that she has Down’s Syndrome and two holes in the heart. We did not know anything about Down’s Syndrome when she was born. This blog is about our journey of growth.” Read on for more about Liz, Coraline, and Kevin and stay tuned for more blog posts from Liz on helpful baby products, toys, and more for babies with Down’s Syndrome. You can find Liz on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.
My greatest love is to travel, both for work and personally. I also love open water swimming, the sea, nature, stickers, writing, letter writing, slush puppies, romantic movies, watching TV in a rug, hiking, airports, Oprah Winfrey and the game Boggle. I live in London, have a wonderful family with Australian and Dutch roots and a best friend who makes me roar with laughter. This is why it’s so funny that I have not been on a plane in nine months. But the journey I am on since Coraline was born last August is more vivid than any I could have imagined.
I met my partner Kevin on Tinder three and a half years ago, when I had just turned 39 years old. The best friend I mentioned chose him on my Tinder whilst we were watching an ice hockey match, amidst slush puppies and hot dogs. Kevin and I met up in central London and sat on some steps outside a wine bar. He ordered a glass of Madeira and showed me a video of himself doing the ice bucket challenge. I said to my younger brother after our first date, “I’ve met the man I’m going to marry”. We are in fact getting married in two months’ time!
Kevin adores snowboarding, he equally adores funny videos of animals. He has the most incredible energy and warmth and ability to support and love me before I even ask. He leaves me notes in the morning. He is his own composed and confident man. He was a chef for 17 years and is passionate about nutrition. My friend loves to laugh, “freezer meals they said,” after Coraline was born and he was cooking us restaurant style fayre. He is the ball of energy at a social gathering. A friend recently said, “you don’t realise the feeling you’re looking for when you’re looking for a partner”. He said, “it’s like you met your heart and soul.” We have this feeling for Coraline too.
We moved in together a couple of years after we met, and we tried for a baby just after I turned 41. Coraline was born before I turned 42 (the age I am now). Within hours of her birth she was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome and all I remember in my mind’s eye is myself in a hospital room (where we stayed for a week) at sea, with a steady beat of tears for the first 24 hours. Wide eyed talking to anyone from the hospital who came to our room, tears spilling from my eyes. Not so Kevin. Kevin rang our families and said, “we have had a baby daughter and she is beautiful. She most likely has Down’s Syndrome and two holes in the heart. All I want to hear is Congratulations”. He set the tone there and then. Since then we have met many amazing people, my tears have turned to deep joy, and my pen has been flowing, eager to write about all that has swirled around us.
I just knew I had to write after she was born to share what we learned, and began doing so when Coraline was two days old in that hospital room. I was first writing for friends on an Instagram account, but their comments inspired me to set up a blog.
“Liz you’re making me smile on a daily basis at the moment with your insights.”
“I get up in the morning and your posts are the first thing I check. They are emotive and inspiring.”
“I look forward to each of your postings. They are wonderful to read. Coraline has led you to your calling in life! You should be writing. This is the beginning of your first book!”
So, the blog is about Down’s Syndrome and what we are learning, but in fact it’s about much more. It’s really about life philosophies and learnings we have picked up along the way and about celebrating living from the heart. The universality of taking the path of love, over the path of fear. I think that’s what makes our blog unique and, in fact, of resonance to everyone.
I worked at the British Council, the U.K.’s Cultural Relations organisation, for 14 years. At the heart of all the international programmes I worked on was broadening horizons and changing perspectives.
I wanted to write as I knew we were going to learn so much and I wanted to share this with others, because the reason I felt so at sea when Coraline was born was because I knew nothing. My aim is that friends of mine will feel familiar if they meet a person with Down’s Syndrome, or if there’s a child with Down’s Syndrome in their son or daughter’s class at school. My goal is to expand my blog to raise awareness and celebrate Coraline.