Adam was a few hours old when we were told that they suspected he had downs syndrome. I’d had a very trouble free pregnancy and relatively normal birth (if there is such a thing). We rung family and friends announcing our proud new arrival and I had just dispatched my Husband Greg off home with a long list of things we’d forgotten to bring to the hospital.
Dr met Greg on the way out and asked if he could come and have a chat and led him back to my hospital bed. Unbeknown to me, Greg had had his suspicions as soon as Adam was born, but as the midwives and doctors hadn’t said anything he had put it to the back of his mind. Dr was very kind. He kissed Adam and told us what a beautiful baby we had. And then it felt like our world fell apart – momentarily. I cried and Greg picked Adam up and put him in my arms.
Before Adam, I would never have described myself as a ‘baby person’ (nor would anyone who knew me!). While I wanted a family I just saw pregnancy and the baby phase as a necessary something to get through. I’d joke that children leave home at 18 and then we’d get our life back. In those first few dark moments while we wondered what was going to happen my thoughts were ‘we’ll never get to go on holiday on our own ever again!’
Once we had managed to gather our thoughts we realised our responsibility to tell family and friends. Except it wasn’t that straight forward. We knew that the way we told them was very important so that when they had got over their initial shock, they would be positive about Adam. I knew that I couldn’t face anyone ‘coming to terms’ with Adam’s diagnosis in front of me. They had to know before I saw them, but I didn’t feel strong enough to ring anyone myself. Greg agreed to do the ringing round once again.
I can never thank our friends and family enough for how encouraging they were. One friend arrived at hospital and she was so gushing about Adam, I had to ask ‘You do know, don’t you?’ She turned to me and said ‘Yes, but he’s absolutely gorgeous’. We ended up with about 120 congratulations cards for Adam’s birth – I had no idea we knew that many people!
One question I’m often asked by people is ‘Do you wish you’d known?’, the answer is that I’m glad I didn’t. It’s not that we would have done anything about the pregnancy, it’s that all through being pregnant with my first child I would have been focussed on the down’s syndrome, and not the fact that I was about to become a mum. The thing that got me ‘over’ the diagnosis, was Adam himself – I had a little baby to care for and had to get on with it.
The ‘darkest’ day for me was at about 5 days old when Adam had to be re-admitted into hospital. I felt like a totally crap mother when they put him into an incubator as he was too cold and put a tube in to feed him as he’d lost a lot of weight. That was also the day that we found out that he had the rarer manifestation of downs ‘translocation’ of chromosome 21. The significance at the time was that this could be hereditary from either of us – luckily for us it was just one of those flukes of nature.
Three and a bit years on (and a little sister to contend with) I can’t imagine my little boy being anything other than the fantastic child he is. I feel truly blessed to have him as my son. Most days I veer between laughter as he dresses up in the clean laundry pile; pride as he signs & ‘chatters’ to me; despair as he pushes his sister over again (she’s just learning to sit); and then absolute exhaustion by the time the bath and bedtime routine is complete. I can’t imagine getting through a day without him, let alone ever having to be parted from him to go on that once wished for holiday!