My name is Alison and I am married with two gorgeous children. My journey into becoming a parent was not an easy one; taking ten years of heartache, longing and many tears before our first little miracle girl, M, was born, six weeks prematurely, in 2009. She is a miracle for many reasons…not least the time it took to conceive her, but also for the fact she survived a nightmare pregnancy ending with me being very seriously ill, close to death and being admitted to Intensive Care for a week. Many people prayed, including people I’d never met. The doctors were amazing and excelled themselves, I recovered, gave birth and we both live to tell the tale! As I recovered, with a new born baby to adore and focus all my attention on so my dream became a reality. As my baby girl grew so did the desire to give her a brother or sister. This time I fell pregnant fairly quickly and my ultimate dream was finally being fulfilled. I would have a family to call my own. Joy turned to despair however, when at an early routine scan, problems with the baby were detected. I was told the baby would be unlikely to survive the pregnancy and that if, by any remote chance it did, then it would probably have some kind of syndrome such as Turner’s, Edward’s or Down’s. My world fell apart in an instant. My husband and I tried to come to terms with this devastating diagnosis. That our longed for brother or sister to M would die. We clung to each other and to our faith in God. Abortion was not an option for us, though it was quickly offered. Yet it is one thing to have principles, and another to actually have to stand on them. In my darkest moments following that diagnosis, I almost envied women who could take that option. I wanted to run. I wanted it all to be over. Quickly. We made it clear we would not abort our unborn child but at the same time we were very, very scared of what we were facing. As the pregnancy progressed so the prognosis improved. Weekly scans showed an improving situation and no sign of the various heart defects that were predicted. By the third trimester, the baby was growing well. This was one determined little girl! As the end of the pregnancy approached, we began to believe that our baby was completely healthy. No problems whatsoever. The doctors earlier prognosis had proved to be wrong. I began to once more live the dream, albeit in my mind, as my pregnant body was in no mood for dreaming!
Hazel was born in September 2011. We were overjoyed, but our joy was short lived. Within an hour of her birth it was clear that something was amiss. Our fears from earlier in the pregnancy loomed large in the recovery suite. Though no one actually confirmed it, we knew. Our beautiful little girl had Down’s Syndrome. What should have been a time of joy and happiness as we bonded with our new addition became a dark, tear strewn place of despair. We tried once again to come to terms with this news. Veering between feelings of love for this helpless little human life, trying to keep warm in her incubator and feelings of utter grief and despair. Grief for the child we thought we would have. Why did our baby have to have Down’s Syndrome? This must be a mistake. God had got it wrong. He didn’t mean for us to have a child with disabilities. Surely. That was not part of the dream. Yet that first night, as she lay next to me in her incubator, I fell head over heels in love and a new dream began. When I woke the next day it was more like a nightmare as Hazel was taken from me, very seriously ill and sent to another hospital 40 miles away. It was many weeks of travelling each day to be at her bedside before she was finally allowed home. Now…five years later our lives have changed beyond all recognition. One emotion overrides it all. Joy. Joy in the most unexpected places and all because of a little girl with Down’s Syndrome and her big sister.