I was asked to write a short piece about Amelie's birth and some thoughts for a wonderful charity called The Perfect Gift who provide gift baskets to new parents of children with Down Syndrome. They are commissioning a book capturing new parent's experiences of birth and children with Down Syndrome. This is mine.
My beautiful daughter Amelie Mia was born via emergency section in March 2017 after I’d gone in with concerns about reduced movement. I knew there was something not quite right. We went in the following day and after a long labour I had the section. I didn't get to hold her until we were in the recovery room. As soon as I held her, I knew she had Down Syndrome and asked the midwife if she thought something was wrong, she wasn't sure and asked if I wanted to speak to the doctor.
Two doctors came from paediatrics and told us Amelie had markers of Down Syndrome, but it wasn't officially confirmed until blood tests a few days later.
My husband broke down first, I was calm and matter of fact. I think I was just relieved to have my daughter safely in my arms, but the tidal wave came later but my instinct to protect her was fierce.
It was a massive shock to my husband and me. I was 37 when I had Amelie and with being over 35, I was offered a screening test, but I refused as it carried a risk of miscarriage and we would never consider termination.
It was my fault, I'm too old. How can I tell anyone? How could I walk down the street for everyone to see? What about my other two children? Health issues, her future, would she go to university or be able to have children?
Even though I loved Amelie with all of my heart from the second I saw her, I grieved. I grieved for a long time. I felt alone. My husband was distraught, and he had the same worries. We should have shared our thoughts but I suppose neither wanted to upset the other. We formed part of society that are uneducated and feared Down Syndrome knowing nothing about it. I didn't know.
I didn't know how extraordinary my daughter would be.
I didn't know how fuller my life would become.
I didn't know how lucky we were.
I didn't know.
I’m not going to say that I don't get emotional sometimes, because I do. I'm only human. I’m not going to say things have been easy as Amelie has undergone too much in her short life already, including heart surgery but it's part of who she is and we accept her wholeheartedly and I absolutely would not change a thing.
I’m not going to say that I don't worry about Amelie's future but I worry a little less now as I decided to take control and start a business for her, AmMia Handmade. Even though I find this therapeutic, it has opened the door to all the amazing Down Syndrome charities and families out there. We have made new friends, we've become educated. We are now educating others as part of our mission to normalise Down Syndrome.
I wish I had reached out sooner. I was never alone but I didn't know.
Even though our lives may have a few more appointments than my other two children, those appointments are for the benefit of our children.
Even though some milestones may take longer to reach, our babies work extremely hard to reach them and need just a little more time and patience.
Amelie is my world. She's strong willed, determined, caring, funny and bright. She's the light of my life, I just wish I knew.
So, congratulations new parents, embrace and love every second. Never feel alone and reach out anytime xx
We know now.
Amelie inspired me to write a little poem 'I'm Just Me' about Amelie.
My name is Amelie, no need to stare
Come and say hi, I know that you’re there
If you are lucky I may give you a smile
You may have to be patient as it can take a while
I love to touch, feel and explore
Down syndrome? I am so much more
I may look a little different but do you really see me?
If you can you’ll see I’m as happy as can be
Please accept me, I’m just like you
I’ve love to give, can you love me too?
I’m mummy’s princess, how lucky am I
I am her everything, she wants me to fly x