My pregnancy was really easy with no complications. India is my first child but my pregnancy was great. Barely any nausea and I sailed through it. She was born early at 36 weeks when my waters broke. We had numerous scans throughout my pregnancy, as well as we saw a fetal specialist at 12 and 20 weeks. Nothing abnormal was picked up. I think had I known, I would have stressed a lot about what were things going to be like. The fact that we only knew about our Down Syndrome diagnosis at birth, meant that there were no choices but to accept things. I think a lot of people fear the unknown. Whereas we didn’t have time to fear anything. This is what we were given and we had to deal with it from that day on.
The day India was born – about an hour afterward – I was still in the hospital delivery room after a natural delivery. It was at this time that the doctor who had delivered India had told us she had called the pediatrician and she was on her way. It was early hours of the morning. India was born at 3:40. Her breathing was very raspy so they had put her in an incubator, and we thought the pediatrician was coming to check on her breathing, we had no idea at this stage that our new baby had Down Syndrome. We sat waiting for her to arrive. Shortly after she arrived, she took India out of the incubator to examine her and very soon after that said there is no other way to tell us but the markers are all here for Down Syndrome.
We now know that my Gynae had suspected the baby had DS, and had called the pediatrician to confirm. We were in complete and utter shock. I didn’t say a word – I just looked at my husband who was standing over our baby next to the pediatrician and he nodded as he looked at me with tears in his eyes. My legs were still numb from the epidural so I just lay in the hospital bed looking at my husband with shock written all over my face. I was so exhausted from 36 hours after my water breaking to giving birth to hearing this news that I was numb with shock!
I felt dead.
My mind kept racing to the future, to what it would be like to have a child that potentially could never leave home so to speak. A child that would rely on me for everything. I didn’t know much about DS so I was scared and sad. I was in such shock when I heard the news. Shock that all the plans, aspirations and dreams that I had always had for my first child, were now not what I had envisaged.
I had to change my mindset and accept a new and different path. I kept thinking of the future and what it would be like to have a child so dependent on me for the rest of their life. I had to realize that firstly, that might not be the case and my child with DS could still live an independent life, and secondly, to stop looking into the future. To deal with the here and the now. This was advice that I kept receiving which really did help. Also, as I started researching DS I realized that the sky is the limit for these children and that gave me strength and hope!
The acceptance, love, support and encouragement from our friends and families. Without this, I can’t say how I would have coped!
Before India, I did not know anyone, No-one with Down Syndrome – it seemed like something worlds away from my world.
My way of dealing with and coping with things was to let everyone know from the get go. The outpouring of love and support is what gave me strength and courage to cope with things. It still does.
India had mild respiratory distress and was admitted to NICU the day she was born. She was on an oxygen nasal cannula for 3 and a half weeks until she came home. Luckily and we thank God every day, she doesn’t have any heart issues.
Her Dad was amazing and was a huge strength and support to me. His attitude from day 1 has been this is our beautiful baby and this is what God has given us – we will love and cherish her like any other child. Thankfully our relationship has not had any negative affects. If anything, this experience has made us stronger. He is such a support and strength to me as he has accepted things from the start and carried on as he would have if she didn’t have DS. If he hadn’t have been so accepting, I’m not sure I would have coped very well!
India is nearly 4 months old. There isn’t yet a day that I don’t think about the fact that she has DS but when I look at her I just see my beautiful child and my heart fills with love.
So far, life hasn’t changed much besides the fact that I know have a child. India is still a baby so she acts and behaves like any other 4 month old – eating, sleeping etc. I have no idea what the future holds but I’m trying to just take each day as it comes.
My name is Laura. I’m 37 years old and live in Johannesburg, South Africa. I’m a passionate cyclist who has competed in numerous endurance events and races throughout South Africa. I love the outdoors, exercising and playing and watching a wide variety of sport. Exercise is my stress relief and fuels my life! I particularly enjoy endurance sport and especially racing mountain bikes. I work fulltime as a Senior Manager at Deloitte with over 10 years’ experience in Management Consulting in the professional services Industry. You can find Laura on Instagram @lulubellelaura
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