One of the biggest myths about having a baby with Down syndrome, is that it only happens to older women. It’s understandable really, because it’s true that the chance is greater in women over the age of 35. However, the reality is that more women of a younger age give birth to babies with ds because more younger women give birth in general.
Its so important that these women feel supported and less alone, and not that they’re in the minority. It is so important that these women realise that they are not the only young women who have received this news and that it really isn’t going to be a dark shadow over the rest of their lives. Hearing your baby has Down syndrome is terrifying in the early days, but imagine for young women its elevated even further.
I really wanted to give you an example of an amazing young mum, and in my opinion I couldn’t have found a better one.
Chloe is 5 years old and incredible. She is a total sassy superstar and a joy to watch, I never tire of seeing her in my newsfeeds. She’s an Instagram star, Zebedee Management model, Nothing Down ambassador alongside our River and unsurprisingly has been known to go viral on social media. Along with all of this she speaks beautifully, is clearly really smart and funny, attends a dance school and is starting mainstream school this year where she will no doubt thrive. She is a brilliant advocate and a perfect example of Down syndrome meaning the exact opposite of what society assumes. I have followed Chloe for a while now, ever since I stumbled across a video of her signing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’. She is a few years older than River and has genuinely made our own journey a lot less scary.
So I wanted to share her with you, but not only because I think she is amazing, but also because her Mum Jade is too. Honestly, her belief in her daughter is so clear, her pride in her daughter evident and the support she gives her daughter is inspiring. It’s so important that young women in this situation see examples like Jade and understand that there life is going to be full of happiness. I really hope they continue to advocate way into the future as I know so many families will benefit from seeing Chloe grow up.
This is their from Jade herself………
I was 20 when Chloe was born. After finding out at 30 weeks pregnant that Chloe had a hole in her heart, I was then given a 50% chance of her having Down syndrome. It was a private scan that I had booked with left over Xmas money, because I wanted to see my little girl one last time before she was born. Little did I know that there would be a LOT more scans after that one.
When I was given the news of her heart condition and the chance of Down syndrome, it was all I could think about. I spent so many nights Googling ‘Down syndrome babies’ and studying the photo’s. I had refused an amnio to confirm a diagnosis, so I’d scour the internet looking for any similarities in my pregnancy to others pregnancies that have resulted in giving birth to a baby with Ds. I was hoping that I could find some evidence that my pregnancy was different, and clung onto the 50% chance that she wouldn’t be born with Ds.
It was weird though, because I just knew. I had this gut feeling, mothers instinct maybe, but I just knew she had Down syndrome.
My pregnancy was pretty typical up until that private scan, with nothing more than slight morning sickness. Then when Chloe was born at 39 weeks, again the birth was fairy straight forward apart from medical staff being available to take Chloe straight to ICU due to her heart condition. That moment she was born and when she was being examined, all I cared about and all I remember saying is “is she ok?, she’s not crying!”. All my fears of Down syndrome disappeared and I didn’t care less about it, I just wanted her to be ok. Her heart took priority over anything else, and all my thoughts and worries were for that. Luckily she was ok, but was so tired due to her heart that she didn’t have the energy to cry.
I now feel so ashamed about some of the things I thought and felt when I was coming to terms with Chloe having DS. I had some really horrible nights where all I did was cry. In just 5 years I’ve been through every possible emotion, and my views on certain things have changed quite a lot. I’m way more relaxed now and not consumed with fear for mine or Chloe’s future. Before she was born I actually knew very little about DS, I didn’t even really know the stereotypes! But I’ve learnt so much since having her, with the main lesson being that Down syndrome is not a box that everyone who has it fits into. Every single person is different and that is so clear from all the amazing children I have had the pleasure to meet.
A few months ago, if I had been asked what advice I would give to other young mums I would have said quite simply “don’t worry”. That has changed. My advice now is to worry, cry, panic, smile, laugh, be excited, be scared, and every other possible emotion that you might feel. Go through what you need to go through, whether that’s total acceptance and no worrying whatsoever, or the complete opposite. Ride the emotional rollercoaster, but just make sure you get off it. Make sure you have support ready and waiting for you, if and when you need it. Don’t be ashamed to feel what you’re feeling, and don’t be too scared to ask the questions you think are ridiculous. I guarantee that there will be plenty of other families before you who have wondered the same things and had the same fears. But know that your child will fill you with pride, Chloe does with me every single day. I can’t even pin point the things that I’m most proud of, because I’m just proud of her full stop.