‘People were waiting to adopt my baby – and it hit me how precious she was’

I didn’t ask for extra chromosomes when I placed my order.

"Regular amount of chromosomes, please," I quietly requested.

But then came the news my order was definitely in production and, get this – I was being given extra chromosomes, for free.

I was mad, confused as to why I had been chosen for this totally unexpected, unrequested upgrade.

But I decided receiving my order in a few months time was better than getting nothing at all.

And then it arrived.

Our sweet Gwendolyn entered our lives in December last year – and she had Down’s Syndrome.

They were right – the upgrade was so worth it.

Extra cute, extra special, extra joy and extra chromosome.

I met Josh in January 2016, and things moved pretty quickly.

After getting married the following year, we knew we wanted a baby so started trying right away.

But things weren’t really going to plan and after a year, we still had no luck -so we turned to IVF.

Then came another blow.

Our first attempt hadn’t worked, but we were so desperate for this baby – we knew we had to try again.

There was a lot of love and determination for it to happen.

Eventually, our dreams came true and we were told I was pregnant in April last year.

We were totally overjoyed – overwhelmed almost.

For the next week, I took around five or six pregnancy tests a day – just to prove to myself it was real.

It seemed too good to be true.

But with the joy, came worries that somehow the baby would be harmed.

Would they survive? Is everything going OK? Will the next scan go well?

You ask yourself a lot of questions.

Despite our natural fretting, the next 11 weeks were magical.

We were excited to meet this little person who was all ours.

We never imagined our bundle of love would come packaged just a tiny bit different.

The devastation hit four days after the 11-week blood test.

I was at work and a call from the doctor sent me flying from my desk – I couldn’t even look or talk to my colleagues.

The pain was immediate.

Josh came home too, and we sat there in shared devastation at the news our baby would have a 95% chance of Down’s Syndrome.

Those first few days can only be described as a grieving process – we grieved for the baby we thought we’d have and the magical pregnancy we had been enjoying.

"This happens to other people. How can this happen to me?" were my honest feelings and thoughts at the time.

It was an unreal time, but one I am glad to have experienced.

After days of feeling hopelessly down, we started thinking back over the previous weeks, when we were giddy parents-to-be.

So we picked ourselves up and contacted our local Down’s Syndrome foundation – who were a huge support.

We were visited by people from the Down’s Syndrome community and met some amazing and inspiring individuals.

I started to immerse myself in groups – from Facebook pages for support to local groups of expectant mums with the same diagnosis as my baby.

While I was embracing this new path, I still found those next three months of pregnancy hard at times.

I was sometimes afraid to talk to people about my bump and open up about my baby – I was worried I’d get pitying looks or people wouldn’t be as excited for me as they would other mums.

But other than the ferocious love I already had for my baby, a glimmer of hope came in another, more unusual, form.

After the initial test, we were advised to go for a second, which would give a 100% accurate diagnosis.

Josh and I decided this was the best option.

We didn’t want people telling us there was ‘still a chance she would be fine’ and that ‘it might not be right’.

We wanted to know exactly who our precious daughter was and doing so really helped us fall back in love with my pregnancy again.

After the final test, which officially confirmed Gwendolyn had Down’s Syndrome, we were handed three leafelts.

‘Termination’, ‘Adoption’ and ‘Keeping your Baby’.

It was a lot to take in, but something struck us.

As we read the literature on adoption, we learned there was a huge waiting list for people wanting to adopt babies with Down’s Syndome.

People were actually waiting to adopt my baby – and it hit me how precious and valued these children really are.

The rest of the pregnancy was normal and we loved seeing her wriggle around on scans – we were desperate to meet her and hopelessly in love.

At 37 weeks, doctors said my placenta wasn’t functioning so well – another common effect of the extra chromosome.

We were told we’d be meeting our little girl that very same day and I got booked in for an immediate C-section.

The first sight of our little Gwendolyn was breathtaking – all 4lbs, 15 ounces, of her.

She was tiny, but perfect.

With her being a smaller and premature baby, we had to leave her in hospital for a week as nurses monitored her feeding before allowing us to take her home.

Staying away from her was so hard, we eventually began staying at her side in the night.

In the days we’d go to ‘baby school’, as we nicknamed it – where nurses and doctors told us how to feed her and care for any needs she may have.

When we finally took her home, it was magical.

We had the baby we’d dreamed of for so long.

The road to getting there hadn’t been what we expected, but we had our sweet Gwendolyn to show for it.

Today, Gwendolyn is a healthy and happy baby.

But we’ve been told she may need surgery at six months old to help with a heart canal defect.

Still, she doesn’t let it bother her – she loves her food and she’s so engaged and happy.

Looking back at my journey to this point, I think it was important to grieve after first receiving the news about Gwendolyn.

All feelings and emotions are valid and it’s a big shock to be told a huge event in your life isn’t going to plan.

But I was able to change my persepective.

Who is to say one child is more special than another because they’re good at maths or studying?

They are alive, they are happy, healthy and doing well – that’s what brings me joy now.

I look at Gwendolyn and see this unique little girl, and I love her even more.

She reminds me of all the wonderful things, in all sorts of wonderful ways, nature can create.

  • Jessica runs an Instagram blog on her journey of motherhood so far, called Our Sweet Gwendolyn

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