A Father’s Day tribute

Liz blogs at Coraline and Us since the birth of her daughter Coraline ten months ago. Coraline has Down’s Syndrome and two holes in her heart. Through writing, Liz aims to share what her family is learning along the way and wisdom picked up from others and communicate the joy from her little family, partner Kevin and daughter Coraline. Here she writes a touching tribute to her fiancee Kevin who she will marry next month, for his first Father’s Day.
Coraline and her daddy

It’s such an incredible privilege to write about Kevin for BritMums. I am so eager to share all about this amazing man! Kevin, our “chauffage centrale”. Kevin, our beating heart.

I’ll begin at the beginning. Well the beginning in terms of when Coraline was born and we learned she had Down’s Syndrome within a couple of hours of her birth, and later that she had two holes in the heart which would require an operation. For myself there was one word: tears. Or maybe two: shock and tears. For Kevin there was an immediate outreaching energy which touched us all. He ran between the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (N.I.C.U.), where she was for 48 hours, and our room; he sat with Coraline there whilst I was recovering from the caesarean. He came back brimming with how gorgeous she was, and with photos of her taken and printed by the nurses.

“They’d like some colostrum for her,” he’d say and he liaised with the nurses to actually get this for her from me himself, as I couldn’t make it happen. He listened to me and he loved. The nurses brought him a bed to our room which they don’t usually do as they were so taken with him. He absorbed and watched and loved. He dashed home to make me healthy meals and brought them back (he is a trained chef). He stayed every night of the week we were in. 

Kevin rang our family and friends and said, “All I want to hear is Congratulations and how excited you are for us”. I mentioned that I, meanwhile, was in shock but he understood that too and just told me to feel my feelings and that they would pass. He was right. I fell in love with her holding her in the N.I.C.U. but that didn’t mean I didn’t still have tears all that week. 

That first week in hospital he contacted our friends in Australia who have a baby with Down Syndrome, and that was such a meaningful conversation for me. They told us to buy a book: Down’s Upside, a positive view of Down’s syndrome, by Eva Snoijink which is quite simply beautiful photographs of children with Down’s Syndrome and little paragraphs from their parents. This sits in our living room today and guests often leaf through it. I love this book.

In my deepest heart I credit Kevin for setting joy as our backdrop when Coraline was born. Joy is the furniture of our house. He was my role model in feeling what I knew I felt anyway but what was just obscured by a fear stemming from a lack of knowledge (which is why I write my blog). My old lifecoach used to say, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change”. It is all about how we look at our lives. He encourages me all the time in writing my blog about her as he wants us to share what we learn and how happy we are.

He takes it all in his stride and he is open to talking about everything; how we feel when we see other babies sitting up when, for Coraline, it will come later due to her lower muscle tone. And of course it’s so healthy and good just to chat through feelings about these things when they come up. Kevin simply loves Coraline with all his heart and is fearless around her. He only uses strong and positive language about her to her and to those we interact with and he is steadfast in his belief in her. We love other parent bloggers of children with Down Syndrome on Instagram who share their stories in an inspiring way, and we learn from them. We love websites like the Canadian Down Syndrome Society one as it’s so full of videos and great information. You begin to follow amazing people like the father and son team of John’s Crazy Socks. I ordered these for family and friends for Christmas.

One of the most striking things about Kevin is how emotionally in tune he is, and how easy that makes our relationship. If ever I say something I am not happy with something, he says, “O.K., I will take that on board”. On the flip side of that, he makes me laugh a lot. We make each other laugh a lot! He teaches me by example, about just going for things and just letting go of anything that doesn’t work out. He says that comes from 17 years working as a chef in the kitchen. He doesn’t work as a chef now but has decided to cater for 150 guests at our D.I.Y. wedding coming up in July. It also comes in handy for his line in baby purées, and cooking for us every night for that matter!

Kevin is certainly hands on! He chats to her from the moment he gets home. The first thing he’s thinking about is spending time with her and giving me a break. He thinks nothing of the two of them heading off on an adventure in the car for the day together. Sometimes at the weekend he will have Coraline for three hours, then I will have Coraline for three hours so we both get “me” time, and then we come back together. We each go out one night a week whilst the other stays home and puts Coraline to bed. We’ve always shared all this from the start. He’s wild too, and loud, and funny and sings and sings for her.

I am so I love with Coraline, him and our life together. I wrote all this with a smile. Happy Father’s Day Kevin!  And as you can see, it’s Happy Father’s Day Liz and Coraline too!

To learn more about Liz’s family and Down Syndrome journey, visit her blog .Coraline and Us Facebook and Instagram.

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