About Down's Syndrome : Coraline

Young Coraline was featured in the December 2019, Christmas issue of Prima magazine. We got to chat with her mum Liz, to talk about the photo shoot, baby classes, holidays, and much more.

How old is Coraline?

Two years and three months old

Tell us a little bit about Coraline’s life…

She’s surrounded by a force of love! She also has the most awesome paediatrician, obstetrician, and professionals she sees for therapies. Coraline is our only child and we live in a sweet little cottage-style house in Surrey.

Coraline began sleeping through the night at five weeks old, and rolling at 11 weeks old. She loves to eat as her dad used to be a chef, so she has things like whole baked celeriacs (not all at once). A month before she turned one, she was a flower girl at our July 2018 wedding, after which she accompanied us to the South of France on honeymoon and spent days in the sea breeze.

At one year and three months old, she had open heart surgery as she had A.V.S.D. (discovered at birth, as was the fact she has Down’s syndrome). Then, with her cardiologist’s go ahead, we set off for Australia for six weeks on New Year’s Eve 2018, to meet lots of family there. We had a little stop in Kuala Lumpur, on the way home where we celebrated Chinese New Year. We’d been dreaming of this trip since she was born, but had to wait until after her surgery, which went really well. We were so grateful to be in such expert, caring hands at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital for that. This year we’ve kept up the travels, and our day-to-day has been meeting up with family and friends and going to baby groups.

What does Coraline like doing?

Coraline loves going next door to hang out with our neighbours Margaret and Dave. Our neighbour Margaret and Coraline have been spending time together since Coraline was a few weeks old. It began as a couple of hours and now it’s a day or a couple of days a week, simply because they love it! This is a relationship to behold. Margaret is so proud that Coraline is in the December issue of Prima magazine, that she said she’s been showing the magazine to everyone and thinks that everyone on the high street where we live must have seen it! Coraline’s Nana is our unofficial press officer for the magazine in Ireland, where she lives, doing the same!

Coraline loves her toys. She is inquisitive about everything really, picking things up and shaking them, and pulling things down from the sofa. She’s also beginning to pull herself up the past couple of months which is brilliant to see. She loves crawling on us, her xylophone, mirrors, looking at books and crawling through tunnels.

What is Coraline’s favourite thing to eat?

Seafood! Her dad used to work with fish. She loves trout, plaice, salmon, octopus, prawns and such! I could list all the fish there are here.

Does Coraline enjoy going to any baby groups?

She loved the local baby sensory group, toddler groups, and children’s centre groups until this summer. I would try to take her to one thing a day. We also go to Get on Down’s each Wednesday morning, where there are loads of great toys and great fun, chat, words of wisdom and cake with other parents and children with Down’s syndrome.

In September 2019 she began mainstream preschool two half days a week, which is wonderful for her. She also goes to ‘Digbies’ (developing individual growth by imaginative play, education and speech) run by the charity P.S.D.S. on a Monday. I am doing some training to be a volunteer for the organisation Home-Start (as we had volunteers who I’ll always remember through them, when Coraline was younger, before her operation) and so Coraline goes to a great childminder on a Wednesday when I do that. So, life has really blossomed with new experiences for her and more independence. She’s ready for it though, and we are keeping an eye that she is happy with the change!

What’s Coraline’s favourite book?

When we went to Australia my cousin gave us a red book with sparkly letters of the alphabet in it on each page. She can spend ages peering through this book. We often take it in the car so she can look at it on journeys!

What was the Prima shoot like?

Really good fun and really welcoming. And of course, very exciting. We felt really special. I loved getting my makeup done and them choosing a dress for me and Coraline. The team were so interested and welcoming to us. It was great to see the other families in our feature there too, and Kevin, my husband, chatted to them more as I was more preoccupied with the photos. My younger brother came along too.

Nicky Johnston was amazing; such a fun energy and he had all the time in the world for us. He made us laugh. The privilege of the moment was not lost on us, as he is such a well-known, talented photographer! We will treasure these photos so much and feel very lucky to have been recommended by the Down’s Syndrome Association for the piece.

Did Coraline enjoy being photographed?

She loved it at the beginning. Sitting on the red carpet bouncing up and down. But then by the end of it I think it got a bit too much for her trying to sit still! She just loves crawling around. She loved how friendly everyone was and how interested everyone was in her. Nicky was brilliant too, gesturing to her to make it fun for her, all the while taking her pictures.

What is Coraline hoping for this Christmas?

I think fun times with her two cousins who adore her and build her dens and sing with her, and the rest of the family. She loves being around people, especially when they read with her and play with her. And great food of course. She’ll definitely be hoping for great food!

Find out more: Coraline and Us Blog , Facebook and Instagram

Photo credits: Nicky Johnston / Prima Magazine


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