Jessica

When I gave birth to Jessica in April 2017 we never imagined she would be anything less than perfect, so to hear the midwives say they wanted a paediatric consultant to check her over as they had noticed a couple of things that concerned them came as a shock. The consultant came & said he wanted to run some tests & take bloods to check for, amongst other things, Down syndrome, when he said that I looked at Jessica laying asleep in my arms & for the 1st time noticed her beautiful almond shaped eyes & right then I knew the tests would show my baby had Down syndrome. In that moment my heart broke, I had, as a lot of people do, a preconceived idea of what DS was & I wasn't sure how we would cope.

Looking back & speaking to other parents we were extremely lucky with how we were told the news, never once did we hear the words "I'm sorry" Our consultant came to see us the next day & showed us the markers the midwives had spotted, her eyes, the single crease on her palm among others, he also told us that although Jessica would be slightly delayed in her development there was no reason to believe she wouldn't live a full & happy life, go to college, live independently & even get married. I did question why it wasn't picked up during pregnancy by no one could explain other than her markers were physical rather than medical, we were reassured that if she had any major medical issues e.g. heart defects they would have been picked up, we had to wait 6 weeks to see a cardiologist to confirm this, which he did, although Jessica has a small hole in her heart they are confident it will close on its own as she grows.

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So here we are a year later & although life isn't what we had imagined it would be it is no where near as bad as I thought it might be in those 1st few hours & days after diagnosis & I believe Jessica is her own type of perfect! Yes she is behind her peers, she has struggled with her weight gain resulting in her having an NG tube fitted & I have lost count of the number of hospital appointments we have had, but she has a smile that can brighten up the darkest days. The professionals can tell you all the possible medical issues & treatments that may be needed in future, what they couldn't tell us is how much joy Jessica brings to the lives of everyone who knows her, the bond she has with her big sister, what a determined & cheeky personality she would develop or how proud we would feel to be her parents. 

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My advice to any new parents would be to take each day as it comes, try not to look to far to the future & give yourself time to get your heads round things, also it's ok to mourn the baby you thought you were having! There are plenty of support groups out there, including on line which really help you to know you're not alone & any feelings you are going through is perfectly normal. Most of all, remember a baby with DS has the same wants & needs as a baby without DS.

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