LisaG

LisaG
Writer & Stylist LisaG (Wearing Vintage Turban & Jumpsuit, Alexander McQueen Booties), Evolution Vintage Studio. Image by: Tamara Wickstrom

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Abort What You Think You Know


I read an on-line article today about a woman in the UK who chose to abort her son because she was told he had Down Syndrome and a host of other health problems. I would never judge anyone for terminating a pregnancy as I am Pro-Choice but I had immediate feelings of sorrow for her. I feel sorry for what she is missing and what she really has lost. She should have aborted her pre-conceived notions about Down Syndrome and what the "professionals" (who likely have no children with Down Syndrome or first hand knowledge) told her and her husband. I applaud her courage to share her story and images with the insensitive masses and open up to ridicule. I wonder what her reasoning was to come forward now during Down Syndrome awareness month and have to question the plug for the agency that helped her. The Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) who she will be soon running a marathon for.

Based on her carefully crafted language she and her husband seem like a loving pair who have done their best to rationalize their decision of terminating Oscar's (yes they named him) life before they had a chance to meet him. They claimed his heart condition boasted a 1% survival rate. Maybe this is what pushed her to the decision of termination in conjunction with her fear of having a "poorly child with Down Syndrome"? or it was their feat of judgement of him? or their lack of knowledge? I wouldn't want to speculate. She claims to have received support for her decision as opposed to being met with opposition in general. This was also a really sad part of her story and a reflection of how our society as a whole views Down Syndrome. She implies that people understand why she would terminate a baby with Down Syndrome and it is more accepted than aborting a "perfect" or "typical" baby.

My son isn't typical but he is perfect.
This being Down Syndrome awareness month I feel it is an excellent time to start a dialogue about professionals and how they deliver diagnosis and information to emotional, vulnerable, terrified parents and how this information and its delivery impact their decision's and lives.

In her article she notes that approximately 3 abortions a day in the UK take place because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis. I would love to know how many are based on FEAR of the unknown due to the inaccurate information provided by their health care professionals, who after all are just people too.

We blindly put our faith in these people as once we enter a health care facility it is as if we loose all common sense and revert to placing blind faith into the hands of our intelligent, over achieving peers who achieved a higher education than us and dedicated their lives to their profession for whatever reason. 
In the US physicians and physicians assistants take the traditional Hippocratic Oath, with one major cornerstone being "First do no harm". Is failing to provide accurate and/or current information to parents harmful? I will say YES! With 1 in 691 births in the USA one would assume that more attention would be paid by health care professionals to update their information on this not-so-rare chromosomal issue.

I can speak from experience the devastation that a poorly and thoughtlessly delivered diagnosis does to a mother. My son Blake was born with Down Syndrome in 2011 and we has no prior knowledge or even risk. Our ultrasound, like my daughters was clean with no physical "markers" for Down Syndrome, I was under the age of 35 and declined genetic testing and deemed it unnecessary as I would have had Blake no matter what testing revealed.  When he was born he came in a dramatic fashion and spent 6 days in the special care nursery with issues unrelated to Down Syndrome. The Doctor's suspected he had  Down Syndrome because of the shape of his eyes. This was the only physical characteristic seen at birth, no simian crease, no low set ears, neck issues, heart issues, etc.
They took his blood and told us we have to wait about two weeks. They (Doctors/Nurses) also gave us some cliche, bullshit, information about people with Down Syndrome. Reciting stereotypes and things you hear from random people. No congratulations or the excitement that I received when my daughter was born. Just solemn faces and lots of "doom and gloom". I was given generic resources to call but never anything REAL about people with Down Syndrome. A lot of "we don't know" and "Everyone is different" and all the things that could happen that would be considered negative, wrong or a struggle for us. I received NONE of "People with Down Syndrome live productive lives" "People with Down Syndrome are living into their 60's and beyond" "People with Down Syndrome have jobs, relationships, go to college and have happy lives".  You can imagine a hormonal, post-partum mothers terror as I am reaching to the only trusted people that are there, the ones who are supposed to be all powerful and knowledgeable, the Doctors and medical staff! When Blake's doctor did give me his final diagnosis I had brought Blake into the office at two weeks of age for his circumcision. When I politely asked the Doctor, "So... Did Blake's test come back"? His reply "Oh, you didn't get my voicemail?" I was in shock and said "Obviously not or I wouldn't be asking" and he replied" Oh yeah he has it" and promptly got up from his chair to go check the other room for foreskin removal prep. The doctor left me hysterically bawling my eyes out in my husbands arms.

Oh yeah he has it? Seriously? A diagnosis left on a voice mail? A diagnosis so thoughtlessly given to me with no compassion or care. He had very little answers for me and in a follow up frantic phone call I had more information than he did about Down Syndrome and the different types from a simple Google search.

I always wondered who the person was who received the news of Blake's extra chromosome on their voice mail. They probably felt sorry for whomever was supposed to receive it as I'm sure that message was not much better than the one we had live.

I wonder if this woman's decision would have changed if she would have had a chance to talk with me or another mother who is actually living with a son with Down Syndrome. Ultrasounds and Doctors can be wrong, remember mine that said Blake had ZERO markers and Down Syndrome was a non issue .... maybe the same was true about her child's "1% chance of survival"?

I also want to point out that Blake has been a treasure to his siblings, not something that takes time away from them. He can be the bratty little brother too like any other kid but by-and-large they all like playing together and including Blake. We have an age range in our house of 16,12,6,3 who all require attention from us. As parents you juggle and "make it work", having a child with Down Syndrome is not a detriment to your other children.

Blake is many things, a son, brother, nephew and grandson. He is now a student in an inclusive pre-school with peers and friends. He is an inspiration to me personally and impacts the lives of all of the people he comes in contact with. He is also a little stubborn contrarian who is self directed and knows what he wants. He is funny and loves to dance. He is a rough-and-tumble, sensory seeking boy. He is MY SON, perfectly imperfect.



I want to offer the mother a lifetime of compassionate condolence that she will need while forever missing the beautiful baby she didn't want to take the chance on. I'm sorry for her fear and her grief. I'm going to kiss my son now and celebrate that he is not a generic, 'typical' child. I will celebrate how exciting our lives are now as we just don't know what Blake will do or achieve next, just like our other kids. I will happily accept the extra work, sleepless nights, stress and worry that comes with the title of "Mother". I feel fortunate that life forced me into changing my perspective and gave me the opportunity to be a part of the Down Syndrome community.  She should have aborted the ideas and stereotypes she thought she knew, instead of Oscar.  Again, I respect a woman's right to choose, I just hope she had the accurate information when making her choice. If she truly did I think her decision may have been different.
My husband, Blake and I

I would love to be a resource for other mother's who are contemplating this decision and be available to share my experience. The Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC) organization's mission is "We believe that every parent should have access to non-directive information and support through antenatal testing and its consequences"
I would be open to providing the parents support so they gain access to ALL the information from a person directly dealing with someone who has Down Syndrome, not a chart, graph, or medical statistics and what "could" happen.  I would like toadd that there are MANY positive "consequences" to having a child with Down Syndrome. NO ONE KNOWS what a child will do or not do but the child. It is up to you to decide if you are willing to live with the "What if" based on tests ans stats alone or instead accept your child for all of his/her uniqueness and embrace your new reality.

I would be happy to consult with ANY mother at ANY time.

Image by: Tamara Wickstrom

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Karyotypical



The above image is of my sons Karyotype because of Down Syndrome Awareness month I want to explain what this means. A karyotype is the number and appearance of chromosomes in the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell. The term is also used for the complete set of chromosomes in a species, or an individual organism. Notice Blake's 21'st Chromosome? There is an extra copy, which is the marker for Trisomy21 or Down Syndrome.


Karyotypes describe the number of chromosomes, and what they look like under a light microscope. Attention is paid to their length, the position of the centromeres, banding pattern, any differences between the sex chromosomes, and any other physical characteristics. Thankfully with Down Syndrome More IS MORE and not less. Someone who has Down Syndrome is not 'less than' but from what I have learned in the last 3 years they are a whole lot more than anyone anticipates or can be prepared for. When you have a child with special needs they are constantly compared with what is 'typical' and many discussions about people with Down Syndrome are stereotypical. I called this post Karyotypical because my son's Karyotype is but one small picture of who he is.
My son Blake is MUCH more than his diagnosis. He is a little brother,  grandson, cousin, nephew and a friend. He is also a rough-n-tuble boy, curious, stubborn (a trait that is my personal belief to be due to his parents - not his chromosomes), fun, silly, funny and incredibly loving.

I am seriously excited to see what his likes and dislikes are as he grows and to hear his dreams and hopes.
He loves cleaning and helping around his classroom and house.

Everyday my life is enriched by this boy. I become a better person and mother because of him. He has made me slow down and enjoy life more, count my blessings and always see the silver lining that trust me is ALWAYS there for each of us,

I will be posting a lot more this month here and via other websites.

How will you celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Civil Chapeau Chic

Over the weekend fashionistas around the globe GASPED to see the gorgeous Amal Alamuddin in several looks during the days pre and post wedding to George Clooney in Italy. I could care less about the groom but had to give a digital round of applauds to today's civil ceremony suit by Stella McCartney and that gorgeous hat!

The look is perfection with the wide legged trouser and fabulous hat. It reminded me of two other brides who rocked a chic chapeau to their civil ceremonies.

Mick and Bianca Jagger Married in 1971 in a civil ceremony at the town hall in the French Mediterranean town of St Tropez.




John & Yoko Married in 1969 in Gibraltar, located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. I adore Yoko's casual look complete with sunnies and wide brimmed hat.



CHAPEAU CHIC!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Helen Rose: A Costume Legacy

Helen Rose Sketching 1957

I recently had the pleasure of acquiring a piece of fashion history who's designer is known as well as a few details about the lady who wore it. I rarely have the chance to obtain any sort of information on the designer or the woman who gave a garment it's first life but this time I was blessed to do so.

 Helen Rose born in Chicago on February 2, 1904.  She studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and first started to design costumes for nightclub shows.  After moving to Los Angeles in 1929 she designed costumes for Ice Follies and Fanchon and Marco (wiki). After a short stint at 20th Century Fox in the 40's  she was hired by MGM (Metro-Goldwyn Mayer) in 1943 where she spent the majority of her career dressing screen sirens of the MGM era including Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Stanwyck, Lana Turner, Lauren Bacall, Grace Kelly and a whole host of other beauties in addition to the lady who owned the gorgeous dress pictured above, on screen dancer Dee Trunell (Details on Dee's dress in tomorrows post as it becomes available for purchase via EVOLUTION VINTAGE). I read she was a master of chiffon and was famous for her beaded bodices and chiffon dresses. Mrs. Rose said in a 1981 interview with The  Los Angeles Times that she favored that material because of the way it moved and picked up light.

 Designing Women -1957



The designer with Grace Kelly and a costume sketch for The Swan 1956

Helen won two academy awards for costume design for  The Bad and the Beautiful in 1952 
 Lana Turner

and for I'll Cry Tomorrow in 1955 
Susan Hayward

and nominated eight additional times. She was widely known for designing wedding dresses for the women she dressed on screen.

Her two most famous brides:

Elizabeth Taylor (Marries Conrad 'Nicky' Hilton in 1950)
It was Elizabeth's first of her eight marriages. She was 18 with a 20" waist on that day.  Helen Rose had 15 people working full days for almost three months on the garment with its twenty five yards of shell-white satin embellished with bugle beads and seed pearls, trailed by a fifteen-yards of satin train. The dress was a "gift" from MGM to Elizabeth in exchange for press in much the same way fashion houses gift celebrities for the red carpet. This dress sold at auction in 2013 for a jaw dropping $188,000 and was created in 1950 for $1,500.



Grace Kelly (Marries Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956)

I had read it was a gift from MGM. likely for publicity for the studio. During the design process they were working together on what would be Grace's last film High Society. Rose said about Grace "She is a dream to work with...I showed her two sketches of the final design and she chose the one she wanted.  That was all there was to it."



Philadelphia museum of art.

For more details on this garment and Grace's Style pick up the book: Grace Kelly: Icon of Style to Royal Bride

To her Helen has 116 credits for Costume Design for film and 32 for Costume/Wardrobe Department. She went on from film to create her own collection under her label: Helen Rose. Rose’s label dates from 1958/9 – 1976, when she retired. She wrote her autobiography "Just Make Them Beautiful" a line that Louis B. Mayer was often quotes as saying to her and penned a second book called "The Glamorous World of Helen Rose". She left the world a little less colorful place on November 9,1985 at the age of 81 passing away in Palm Springs.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Time For A Group Hug


I always enjoy finding new "Compassion Fashion" companies. I am always looking for those that help the earth, children or various other causes. Group Hug Apparel is on a mission to help Sick Children and it was the compassion from a young Canadian man, Andrew who has started this amazing business. I am a born and raised Canadian from Ontario and also a mother of a young boy with Down Syndrome, imagine my delight to connect with this amazing company. With the support of his mother Karen, Group Hug Apparel  has helped Andrew realize his dream of helping others and making a difference. At age 22 he is making a huge impact in his community and far beyond. His apparel has a stick figure illustration created by Andrew and motivational logo that is universally applicable "BE STRONG, ROCK ON"


I had a chance to chat with Karen about Andrew and this amazing company.

LG: What inspired the signature "stick figure"?

K: Andrew loves playing the drums and creating stick figured characters playing instruments and such. When i saw this cute little figure, I thought friends and family would support Andrew if we put them on shirts and they took off.


K: What is your ultimate goal(s) with the apparel line?

K: We helped Andrew create this neat little apparel line because he wanted to save money for college. He just wanted to do what other teenagers did, work part time, hang with friends and have the opportunity to go to college. At first we did not know what to think about the idea but as soon as he mentioned it, we knew that we needed to work together as a family and with his abilities to make this happen even if it was simplified so he could achieve at his own pace and in his own way, with his ideas we modified the plan and made it work for not only him but our family. With health related issues with his Down syndrome, we have spent many days, weeks in hospital and we saw many families going through their own personal challenges. Andrew saw this as well and he mentioned how he would love to help sick kids one day. Well that one day happened sooner that we expected. Andrew has all of these wonderful ideas and sometimes i wonder how the heck can we pull them off but again we work together as a family to modify and this gives Andrew the opportunity to achieve in his how ways. I know if he is going to work hard at things than i have to as well. 
Andrew has helped so many from his sales and will continue to be part of our business plan. To date over $25,000 has been donated. This is coming from a young man with not only heart issues but from a young many with heart issues and a heart of gold at the same time.


LG: Andrew's future plans - what does he want to study in college?

K: Andrew graduated from St. Clair College's Life Skills Program this past June 2014.

LG:  What's next for Group Hug Apparel?

K: We have just started a new campaign "Helping Sick Children One T-Shirt At A Time". Proceeds from his shirt sales not only go back to sick children but it gives Andrew the opportunity to mail his designs to children in hospital or going through treatment one of his shirts that say "Be Strong Rock On" Andrew says that the shirts will keep them safe while they are sick. Its almost like Andrew is his own super hero providing a special cloak like shirt for sick children.
Andrew has also teamed up with some of our local business to collect NEW Teddy Bears that Andrew gives to Sick Children as well. Andrew has his Teddy Bear from when he was born and it travelled with him during his hospital stays and will again one day when he has to further stays. This bear is a comfort to him so he wants to provide that comfort and friend ship for others.

 LG:  What would you tell new parents with a pre or post natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome?

K: Personally i have enjoyed every moment with Andrew and what he has achieved with his life. We all have our own challenges and we all lead different lives, what was given to me i would not change it for the world. Andrew has taught me so much from the day he was born and continues to teach every day.

As a mother with a young son with Down Syndrome Andrew and Karen's message has obvious significance to myself and my family but it is also universally applicable. Not only am I personally inspired but it fills me with hope that my son Blake will find something in life he is passionate about and if we stay focused on his ABILITIES there are no limits. Thanks to Andrew, we can all adopt the mantra "Be Strong, Rock On" Life presents challenges to everyone and this is a great reminder to keep moving forward and staying strong. I think it's time everyone had the benefit of a group hug!



PURCHASE from Group Hug Apparel HERE
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Meet Andrew and Karen:
This short documentary is a MUST SEE & SHARE! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Great Greens

Varieties of the color green may differ in hue, chroma/saturation/intensity or lightness (or value, tone, or brightness), or in two or three of these qualities. Variations in value are also called tints and shades, a tint being a green or other hue mixed with white. In fashion this means infinite possibilities. 

Consider sassy shades of green for fall.

Pump up the volume on something plain with your Own version of Katy Perry's 2013 MTV GUCCI look.

2013 - GUCCI at the Grammy's in a shade of Seafoam

GUCCI Resort 2013

 Vintage Gown in a 'Spring Green' Color (SHOP)

Persain Green Vintage Dress with Attached Sash. (SHOP)

Katie's looks can be re-created with these two Fab Frocks by using a variety of Vintage or Contemporary Brooches for a temporary glamour enhancement, just strategically pin and go. For other uses brooch the subject here: THIS.  Don't want to pin the dress? Create a DIY Collar to pin Brooches or sew Vintage clip earring or other embellishments onto. 

Other GREAT GREENS:
Vintage Seafoam Grecian Goddess Gown, Complete with Bodice Embellishment. (SHOP)

A hint of mint  - This Vintage Mint Halter Dress is amazing. Rhinestone embellished chiffon (SHOP)
Minty Maxi (SHOP)