"They took us up to see him and a doctor said, 'Do you notice anything different about your son?'
John said 'Yes he's the image of his brothers!'
The consultant replied 'I'm afraid we have some bad news, I think your baby has Down's syndrome.'
I said 'Oh thank God, I thought you were going to say he was going to die.'"
A mining village is a very close knit community and I had more adopted aunties, uncles cousins than I care to remember, some turned out to be really important in my children's lives. My mum was a stay at home mum, I had a brother Paul and step siblings too. We didn't have much money and I can remember dragging a home made go cart to the woods with my siblings to collect wood for our fire. My childhood was hard, but good. I was extremely close to both sets of grand parents.. In my later childhood they became our sitters when out of necessity Mum had to return to work. I also remember the freedom we had to play outside in complete safety.
I still am the same today, the joke is, if it needs sewing or a button on, bin it.. I was however very sporty, being very good at cross country, running and football. I ran for the school and played for the football team. I still run today. I also enjoyed cookery. I had a best friend Jane all through school years. She is still a good friend.
I met John my husband to be at 17 whilst playing darts with my boyfriend. John was from the same village as me so I knew him by sight. He was 2 year older than I, but I liked him instantly and there was certainly chemistry. We were both Manchester United fans and we clicked straight away. We were engaged when I was 18, and married at 20.
We are very happy, and we are a partnership. Have had our ups and downs, but remain very together today.
We both wanted a big family and wanted children straight away.
We had some borrowed, and had four of our own. Kate is 30, Shane 28, Ashley 26, and our youngest Callum is 21.
|The joys of motherhood|
The nurses took him off me and were clearing his airway. They told John and I he was breathing but only just, and needed help so they took him away. I remember crying and praying, they told us they thought he had health problems. I was saying, I don't care if he has 10 heads, as long as he lives. I meant every word.
They took us up to see him and a doctor said, 'Do you notice anything different about your son?' John said 'Yes, he's the image of his brothers.'
The consultant replied 'I'm afraid we have some bad news, I think your baby has Downs syndrome.' I said 'Oh thank god! I thought you were going to say he was going to die.' That he lived was honestly all I cared about at that moment.
Callum was not to be beaten and by next day had gone from strength to strength. He was a greedy baby, tried and tried to feed him myself, but he required a special teat as he had a high steeple pallet. Once we got that sussed, he romped it.
|Ashley, Kate and Shane with baby Callum|
We took him home, I don't know how I was supposed to be feeling, but I can honestly say that I wasn't sad. My other kids were 9, 7 and 5. John and I told them they had a very special brother. We kept it simple and they didn't notice any difference. Kate at 9 was like a second mum. We all absolutely doted on him. We wouldn't honestly want him any different.
John didn't want to return to work (hes a miner) as are our older sons. He didn't want to leave Callum. Our son was a squashy big lump; a beautiful gorgeous baby.
Then came telling people! We had only told a select few. We received a lot of pitying looks, but the ones I cared about were fantastic.
Callum thrived, he smiled, he laughed, that special crinkly grin. Only mums of Downs syndrome babies get.
He crawled at 14 months, walked at 2. Potty trained at 4. Started mainstream nursery at 3.
|Shane and Callum|
|Callum and Kate|
When Callum was 5 my daughter nominated him for Noel Edmonds Christmas presents.
|Callum with Noel Edmunds|
M. What's been your experience with the education system?
|Callum and Tommie|
Callum continued at St Giles until he was 19, continuing through post 16. I have a lot to thank St Giles for. Callum has turned out to be a funny mature young man. Since Callum left post 16. He has been at North Notts college 3 days and at ROB recycling at a work placement 2 days. He loves his job.
He's no pushover either. He has a bad habit and if he doesn't like anything or anyone, he calls them nobs. One day when we were in the post office I asked for £70 out of Cals savings account. The clerk thought I said 20. Not enough for the DVD Callum wanted to buy. As I explained the amount he wanted she said Callum had asked for the amount at same time and she found him hard to understand. Callum heard this and looked at her and said really slow, loud and clear. 'I SAID 70! I can't understand you either!' As we walked away he said NOB. I had to apologize and tell him it was wrong. The shop erupted in laughter and we left.
Oh yes, they certainly are!
Kate is 29 and a mum. She is a SEN teacher. When Cal was born she was 9. She is a fantastic help to me. We live near one another and help each other out. She works i have my grandkids. I go out she has Callum. She shares my feisty don't take no crap nature. We infact are a good team as Kate knows the system.
Shane is 26. He is my soft son, he's also full of fun and Callum is his apprentice. He's so like him in his ways. Caring, daft and always there for me. He loves to take Callum to his home often saying mum you need a break, but I don't, I get bored alone. I'm so protective of Callum he tells me off. You deserve you and Dad time. I love my kids at home and my oven is always on.
Ash is also protecting Callum. He says he has to learn, that you can't win everything. Ash taught Callum to go down to the shop for paper and milk alone of a morning by following him discreetly.
I love and am so thankful for all of my children. I think my older kids are better people for us having Cal.
|Karen with hubby John.|
|Shane, Karen, Callum and Ashley|
Now however my husband and sons have been made redundant, as worked at Thoresby colliery. I am very bitter with the present government, hate what it has done to the mining industry, the working class and the disabled. It is absolutely deplorable and I honestly don't think they care, one little bit.
Callum also love WWE Wrestling and goes every time they tour. My husband and sons take him
My obsession and my time is the Pop Opera group IL Divo, I have met them many times. I absolutely love them, passionate about them so much so I go to see them when I can. I'm off to Amsterdam In October with my best friend. I think everyone needs a break to allow for their individuality and what better way to spend my time. The photo is me with my favourite Divo URS
|Karen and best friend Collean with IL Divo|
Jill Barrett, Claire Drabble , Julie Rolland being some of these mums. They all had sons that had Down’s syndrome, who are now lovely young men and friends of the family. Callum of course grew up knowing them socially. Social side is SO important, I can’t stress enough. Callum is confident, mature and outgoing, with social activities most nights.
I sometimes still see new parents but obviously not as many. When a baby is born, the mums of course don't want to focus that far ahead.
It was Bassetlaw area of Nottingham
|In love - Stephanie and Callum|
Callum also for past 4 years has had a girlfriend, Stephanie. Steph's mum Angela and I met when I was the contact parent at the hospital. Angela had Steph and I took Callum at just one year-old, into the hospital to talk to Angela and show her my son. We remained friends, and Steph and Callum's relationship blossomed. They love each other very much. We chaperone them on dates, every second Saturday.
So that's me and my family.
Karen, thank you for sharing you story.