A Brief History
After two long years of trying and a failed IVF cycle we were finally blessed with a beautiful baby boy in October 2011 (frozen embryo transfer with embryo left over from our first cycle). When we found out I was pregnant we made the decision very early on not to have the test for Down’s Syndrome as we weren’t prepared to risk a miscarriage by having the amniocentesis. If we’re to be honest we also didn’t really consider the fact that we may have a child with Down syndrome as we knew no-one who had and I didn’t fall into the older mum category.
Being Given the Diagnosis
Toby arrived two days before his due date and after a long first stage of labour, the established labour didn’t last long at all. Toby’s heart beat was very erratic and the midwife and the delivery team were becoming a bit anxious about the distress he was experiencing. We narrowly avoided forceps and ventouse and Toby was delivered naturally. We instantly fell in love with our little bundle of joy and I finally allowed myself to believe that we had the happy ending we’d dreamt of. Whilst really studying and taking in my gorgeous new arrival I said to my partner Chris ‘he looks a little bit like he has Down syndrome’. We quickly dismissed my silly comment and continued to marvel at our first born. My mum and dad came to see their grandson and my sister also turned up, all unexpectedly and before I’d had chance to make myself look photo worthy. Then 2 hours after Toby had been born, our midwife sat down with Toby in her arms and said to Chris and I that she would like to ask a paediatrician to look at Toby. She told us that he had many features associated with Down syndrome. She was such a lovely lady and we could tell that she felt so awkward saying it. My first reaction was to try to make her feel better and I told her that I had thought that too. Chris burst into tears but strangely I almost felt as though I’d known so I was fine with it. But then as the nurses came in to take blood samples from both of his heels to confirm this, and Toby laid sobbing his heart out in his cot, I felt suddenly quite detached from the situation. I was no longer looking at my baby but at a stranger in his place. Chris left the room to gather his thoughts and call his mum and still I held it together (looking back I had cut myself off from the situation). As we were moved to the maternity ward I found myself in a real panic. I was suddenly in floods of tears and asking if I was in a room of my own. The reality was finally sinking in. Chris made me see sense very soon after we had our diagnosis. He reminded me that this was our little boy and he needed us. He was so right and although the tears flowed for a good 24 hours whilst we stayed in hospital, I was happy to see familiar faces and had lots of reassurance from family that he would be every bit as loved as he would have been.
I wanted people to know straight away so as I text people to inform them of Toby’s arrival, I included the fact that he had Down syndrome in those messages. I received very mixed messages back, some congratulations, some sorry to hear that, but I could relate to all of the feelings as no-one said anything I’d not felt. When we got home our house looked more like a florists and the love and support we felt from everyone was so touching. A card that will always stay in my heart came from a governor at my school who I only really knew to say hello to. She has a son with additional needs and she wrote the most inspiring message. She also included the ‘Welcome to Holland’ poem and both Chris and I cried our eyes out as we read and related to the words in this poem. And it still means so much to us now. The world we have entered may not be the one we were planning but it’s an amazing world and for us, we wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m now back at work part-time, Toby started Reception Class in our local mainstream school in September 2016 and he is absolutely loving it. We have met the most amazing people on our journey and we love our life.
Laura Swales, 39, mummy to Toby Murdoch, 5 years old.