Gia-Minh

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Gia-Minh is our third child. He has two older brothers; Khai-Minh (7) and Huu-Minh (5). When I was pregnant with my first child I (together with my husband) decided not to have any of the screenings (Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s Syndromes) as it would not have changed my decision on whether to continue my pregnancy or not. Although I was 34 when pregnant with Gia-Minh, there was no exception and all screenings were turned down except for the dating scan at 12 weeks and the anomaly scan at 20 weeks.

The whole of my pregnancy was without a hitch (just like all my previous pregnancies) until Gia-Minh decided to stop growing at around 32 weeks. But 1 day before I was booked for induction Gia-Minh decided to arrive naturally at 36weeks+5days, after just 3 hours in labour!!! Easiest birth of my life…and easiest baby compared to his brothers!! The midwives had a quick check (the usual check straight after birth) and he was handed back to me to be transferred to the maternity award as everything was fine.

48 hours after his birth the paediatrician came to do a final check before we were allowed home (as he was premature)… and only then… at THAT VERY MOMENT did she suspect signs of Down’s syndrome… She wasn’t too sure and didn’t say much to me, just asked me if I saw any difference between him and my other 2 sons (and of course I didn’t!!). She kept checking and saying he’s a bit floppy, but did not mention anything about DS. After a while she said she’ll go and call the consultant to cone and have a second opinion… THE BLOW came, HIT me in the face and LEFT me confused for a good 24 hours. Then slowly reality kicked in and that was it. What followed afterwards, all the emotions, check-ups, worries, the unknowns, unending appointments, etc. … I could’ve written a whole book about them, but fast forward to today @ 17 months, Gia-Minh is doing great. As I have mentioned before, he is by far the easiest baby of the three and I couldn’t have asked for more.

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Gia-Minh has a hearing impairment, transient leukaemia (GATA1-mutation), hypothyroidism (which are all linked to his DS). He has no heart problems and all of the above conditions are under control by wearing hearing aids and taking medications. It might sound a lot and to some it might look really hard work, but believe me… it’s not! As long as he is healthy, that’s the most important thing with any baby or child. Nothing compares to his unconditional love/hugs, his daily laughter, and every little achievement he’s made up to this day. He is super cheeky, adores his brothers and definitely knows how to wrap someone around his little finger. He loves music, likes tumble play and can’t stop making people fall in love with him. I know this sounds so CLICHÉ, but we are blessed to have Gia-Minh in our lives and I can’t stop telling people how much he has taught us already in those 17 months.

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My advice to expecting or new mums (and dads) are: 

• Make informed choices (especially to expectant mums).

• Get all the facts right (up-to-date facts, negatives and positives). 

• Be prepared for the worst to happen but know your chances (most conditions are treatable and our little ones are super stars when it comes to these treatments).

• DS is only a little part of your child, s/he is 50% mum and 50% dad, only 1 extra chromosome, don’t let this define your child.

• There are lots of support out there (DS groups locally, DS groups online, DSA, etc…so make sure you connect with them for support and advice, you’re not alone!!) 

• DIVERSITY and INCLUSIVITY are two words we need to work towards in today’s society for any child with additional needs.

• Learn from yesterday, Live today, Hope for tomorrow (what’s happened is in the past, make the most now, and try not to regret in the future).

• SHINE BRIGHT!!!

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