The day the earth stood still

Two days later I am back at work doing my normal day job. Things are all fine and not too busy which I am grateful of as I am on my feet all day and still feeling nauseous all the time. I am going about my morning jobs when my boss calls me to the prep room as my husband has turned up to my work. This immediately puts me on edge as this is not a normal thing to happen. Why is he here and not at work? We go for a little walk outside and he tells me that he had just had a phone call from his head office telling him to go home as there is a likelihood that his whole team are being made redundant. This has come as a big shock with no warning or any hint that this was gong to happen. I can see that he is really upset and at a loss as to what to do. But he holds it together really well. Maybe he was just trying to make it so that I wouldn’t worry. Unfortunately this is a big deal as we had his flat for sale and with no job that meant we could not afford to buy anywhere. The thought of having a baby in a one bed flat was not ideal and what would we do if he was still unemployed when I went on maternity leave and our income fell to what the government pay for statutory maternity pay. This was just what we needed on top of everything else that was going on with the pregnancy and the baby. I tried my best to push it to the back of my mind and we hugged before he drove home to search for jobs on Indeed. I went back to work and tried to concentrate on the jobs in hand to keep my mind off things when my phone rang. It was the hospital. My heart sank I knew such a quick result could only mean one thing. When I answered it the nurse on the phone just said

“I’m afraid the results have come back and it confirms what we thought”.

All I could say was ok as I found a chair to sit on. I listened to her talking to me on the phone not really taking in what she was saying. The only thing I really heard was

“ I know you were wanting to continue with the pregnancy but if, with the confirmation, you have changed your mind we can sort a termination for you"

I snapped out of it at this point and said

“no I am still keeping this baby I just needed to know for sure so I can move on and get prepared for his arrival”.

I explained to her that I had an aunt with Downs Syndrome and that my family has done a lot of work with disabled people over the years so I was fully aware of what was to come. She was actually really reassuring from that point on and ran through everything that was going to happen next. She told me the consultant would be seeing me regularly for scans to check the baby’s growth and to look for some of the common problems that babies with Down’s syndrome can have. She also explained that I would be referred to another hospital to see an fetal cardiologist who would be monitoring my babies heart development as half of Babies with Downs syndrome have a hole in their heart. She told me to keep my 20 week scan appointment and that I would be seen then by my consultant rather than the usual ultrasonographer.

When she had finished talking to me she hung up and I broke down. I think the stress and emotions I had been keeping locked up behind that tiny bit of hope that the results were wrong all came out at that point. What were we going to do? I was kidding myself that I was prepared, I wasn’t. I wasn’t prepared to have a typical baby let alone one that was going to have special needs and possibly a whole array of health problems. One of my work colleagues found me sobbing in triage and went to get one of my other colleagues who happens to be my best friend. She hugged me and told me I should go home as I would not be able to work in this state. She went to get my boss who agreed to let me go home so I left. I don’t know how I didn’t have an accident on the way home as I was crying so much I could hardly see where I was driving. When I got home I found my husband on the sofa searching for jobs to apply for and seeing the state I was in he jumped up and hugged me asking what was wrong. I could just about get the words out that the results had come back between my sobs. We just stood there hugging, both crying not saying anything before he turned to me and said “you haven’t changed your mind have you, you still want to keep him” I nodded and he said “ok, what’s the next step”. I told him what the nurse had said and that the next scan would be at 20 weeks which was only four weeks away now. We both then took refuge on the sofa with tea and a duvet. Me trying to stop crying and then starting again after each few minutes when thoughts of what are we going to do? How are we going to cope? running through my head. After an hour or so he told me I should ring my mum. Of all the people I had to talk to she would be able to help. So I did. We spent about an hour on the phone. I don’t remember exactly some of the things she said but a few things stick in my mind and those few sentences helped me greatly and I started to calm down and started to accept what was happening.

It took me a good few days to reach that complete acceptance but I now believe that fate wanted me to have this baby and that I was glad I would be his mum and that I was going to do my best to help him grow and achieve. They say that when you find out something is not right with your baby you go through a grieving process that is the same as if you have lost a baby. It is the same as when you become pregnant you have all these ideas and can picture your child in your arms and all the wonderful things you two are going to do together. Then you find out something is wrong and its like that baby you imagined has gone and you grieve for your loss.

There are 5 stages of grief

I had already been through the first two.

Denial - oh it will be fine the results are wrong its only a small chance its correct, Anger- Why me, all I have ever wanted was to be a mum and now I’m going to have disabled child.

Bargaining wasn’t really something that could be done, you cant try and reason with a doctor to make it all better.

I was in the depression stage and I know now that it took me a good while to get through that. I would go to work like normal and just get through the day pretending everything was fine when inside I was a bit numb and would break down when I was home alone or when doing research on what to expect and reading things that would be difficult to hear. I did eventually accept the situation as did my husband although I think he got there before I did. I would spend every spare minute on the internet joining facebook groups and reading websites on early intervention and associated health problems until I found a facebook group called ‘the future of downs’. This group is a community of people around the world that share their children’s achievements and seek help from other members with problems related to Downs syndrome. I joined the group posted about my results at 7:30 in the morning and within an hour I had 157 comments. All from other members and all

They all reassured me that things would be fine. That although things may seem rock bottom at the moment they would get better. That when I had my baby in my arms I would forget the pain I was going though now, and that these children bring so much joy to all their lives and that every small achievement is to be cherished and celebrated. These comments were the turning point for me and I am eternally grateful to all those who posted comments you really helped me though this and I’m sure will continue to do so as Caleb grows.