At the time I discovered my pregnancy, I had just turned 42 although I felt I was 25 still, I had a 13 year old daughter from a previous marriage, a good well paid job, I was fit, running 25 miles a week and training for the Cardiff half marathon. I was in a relatively new relationship which I had realised was not for me after a weekend away to Cornwall.
Aiden was born on the living room wooden floor in an unplanned home birth! Fortunately a fabulous home birth midwife arrived in time to deliver him and saved his life. The midwives resuscitated Aiden for 40 minutes before he finally took his first breath. I remember the midwife saying it looked like “he might have Down Syndrome”, and I remember looking at my little purple baby still on the floor and saying “yes he does look like he has Down Syndrome and I don’t care just make my baby breathe”.
The day our beautiful daughter Amelia was born, our lives changed forever. We had tried to conceive for years, and after our second IVF cycle we welcomed our precious miracle into the world. She was loved unconditionally before she was born.
It took us almost one week to name our second daughter. We wanted to show the world that she is someone strong and beautiful; as much as her older sister was. And so, we named our little beauty, “Chiara.” Pronounced Kee-ah-ra, it means “light, clear.”
My husband Chris and I had been married for a couple of years and felt we were ready to start a family. It took a little time to fall pregnant but when we did it was like we were walking on air. We were finally going to be parents and my mind started racing thinking about what our future child would look like etc. We had always decided we wouldn’t find out the sex, we felt there weren’t many amazing surprises left anymore so this was definitely going to be our biggest yet.
Kitty is the youngest of our four children, who were 8, 6 & 4 when she came along. Hers had been a fairly stressful pregnancy for various reasons, but we avoided any screening tests and we hadn’t really considered the possibility that our 4th child would be any different to the older three.
In 2001 our beautiful baby daughter Emily was born. Having suffered several miscarriages and fearing I may never be able to have a baby I was ecstatic. After a couple of years, I really wanted another child, my husband John was reluctant but I won over and became pregnant! I was 39 and decided to pay privately for a nuchal test as knew my ‘risk’ of having a baby with a disability was increased, so was very relieved when they advised the ‘risk’ was reasonably low.
I’m Sarah, married to Chris and Mum to three little ones – Oscar, Alfie and Flo. I think for the most part we look like your average family of 5. Having danced for a living, I’ve since found my passion in writing. Chris, works in the city as a banker (promise he’s not a w#%*$r though) and loves rugby and cycling. Oscar our eldest, is an avid fan of Justin Fletcher and a whiz on the scooter. Alfie, partial to the odd biscuit or 10 adores Dinosaurs and Flo can be found most days, pushing her “bebee” (baby) around in her buggy or dancing to the Peppa Pig theme tune.
We declined the screening for Down syndrome when I was pregnant with our first child Maisie, feeling a little different as we were ushered away from the corridor which all the other pregnant Mums appeared to be headed down. I remember questioning then, why this focus on Down syndrome? Are their lives considered less worthy? When we became pregnant with our second child, our niece had been born with Down syndrome a few months before. We still declined screening as again we felt we would love our child whatever, and welcoming our beautiful niece into our family confirmed this even more. There were a number of complications in this pregnancy, which raised our anxieties, and looking back I think I was prepared in part for something unexpected…
My story is very unique, in the sense that River wasn’t diagnosed with Down syndrome until he was 6 months old. I often feel like by not getting a birth diagnosis, I kind of side stepped those initial first months of fear and sadness. It just never really came, not in an intense way.