Meet a mum who supports the West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust's plan to build a children's respite centre and hospice. DAVID HIMELFIELD reports.
LOOKING after a baby can be a full-time job.
But for the mother of Jack Littlewood, who has a unique genetic condition, caring for her son can be a 24/7 ordeal.
Mother Amanda Littlewood believes a nearby respite centre would give her a well-earned rest and peace of mind.
Little Jack, from Oakes, has an extremely rare chromosome abnormality.
As a result 10-month-old Jack is unable to move, or sit up without assistance. He is virtually unable to communicate and cries much more than the average infant.
As Jack's condition is unique not knowing what could happen can be difficult for parents and family.
Full-time mother and carer Amanda, 28, said: "All we can be told is about the similarities. We don't know what the future holds for Jack.
"He's very under-developed. We have to work hard to get responses from Jack but when we do it's very rewarding.
"It's very unsettling looking after a child who cries all the time and doesn't give you anything back. He's on a lot of medication which gets me down having to give it to him.
"Jack isn't that bad at night but if he hasn't slept it can be difficult. He gets ill a lot because his immune system isn't that strong. But you get used to it."
Most babies with a similar condition called trisomy nine are born with weak hearts and seldom live longer than a few months. But Jack has little more than a minor heart murmur. Doctors have predicted he may have a normal lifespan. He could be able to walk and talk, to some degree, by the age of five.
Mrs Littlewood said: "But they can't promise that. He will have learning difficulties. It's not like when he's 15 we can let him go out in town alone."
Amanda receives home help from charities Home-Start and Crossroads for two days a week as well as help from family members. This enables Amanda to have some time to herself.
Amanda said: "It's fantastic. Crossroad come in for four hours and it's amazing what I can get done in four hours. But there's a lot of appointments to go to. He's on high calorie milk and you have to get everything from the chemist. I can't drive but I'm getting my driving lessons paid for."
With another son, two-year-old James, Amanda can find herself doing a relay of nappy changing, feeding and washing.
She said: "It's very hectic. I have to leave Jack to winge sometimes. If you haven't had enough sleep it can get you down. James loves Jack but he gets tired of it and he says: `Stop crying, Jack.'"
Amanda supports the West Yorkshire Forget Me Not Trust's plan to build a children's respite centre and hospice off Fell Greave Road, Brackenhall.
The trust will submit its plans to Kirklees Council on December 1.
Amanda says: "I'm a very protective mum. I don't want to leave him with anyone. At the moment I don't want to go away from Huddersfield for the night.
"But I'd be happy to leave him at a respite centre with well trained staff and know he will be fine.
"They'll know how to deal with a poorly child. He cries a lot and most people would panic.
"It's nice to look forward to something and have a break and have a house that's silent. It would be nice to talk to families in a similar situation and see how they deal with it."