As the two blue lines appeared across the pregnancy test, a huge smile swept across my face.
‘I’m pregnant,’ I squealed to my hubby, Cody, 33.
We already had two sons together, Easton, three, and Hudson, one, and longed to give our little boys a sister.
But this pregnancy was different. I felt so sick, and just four weeks in, I was exhausted. I assumed I was just tired as I was expecting and having to chase after two young sons, but at eight weeks, I decided to book an early scan.
As we waited for our baby to appear on the screen, the sonographer’s face dropped.
‘You’re having twins,’ she cried.
And they were identical. I couldn’t believe the news, and grasped Cody’s hand a little tighter. The extra morning sickness and tiredness now made sense – as there were two babies!
But our happiness was short-lived.
‘I’ll need to get some specialists to look at the scans though as something isn’t right with their hearts,’ the sonographer explained.
With six different specialists coming in and out, they all concluded that the twins had serious heart defects. But they seemed more concerned over whether they had Down syndrome, as they seemed to show signs for that too.
‘I think we should do some genetic testing to find out more, we’re so sorry about this,’ the specialist explained.
‘An abortion might be the best option,’ one continued.
I was speechless. I felt so angry hearing those words. I wasn’t about to end my babies’ lives. A genetic test wouldn’t make any difference to the love we felt for our twins, so we refused it.
As the weeks passed, we steadily processed the news. All we could do was wait.
‘So what if they have Down syndrome, it’s the heart condition we need to worry about,’ Cody said.
But the questions from doctors continued.
‘We strongly advise that you have the genetic test to check if they have Down syndrome,’ one said. ‘There’s a 50 per cent chance.’
‘It doesn’t matter to us, we are keeping them regardless,’ I snapped.
We were challenged six times about having an abortion, but our answer was always the same.
‘Absolutely not,’ I told them firmly.
Finding out we were expecting two little girls, we were so excited. But we kept being met with messages of condolence.
‘We’re so sorry to hear about the twins,’ people said.
It was heartbreaking that so many people saw it as such an awful condition.
‘We’re excited, we can’t wait to meet them,’ we’d reply, brushing off their negative comments.
The pregnancy was emotionally draining, and despite being told to have a C-section, in February 2018, we were thrilled when we got the natural birth we longed for.
The girls were diagnosed with Down syndrome immediately and we were told they would have health complications throughout their lives.
It was assumed that we were grieving but our beautiful girls were breathing, moving and their hearts were beating – we felt no sadness or grief. We were lucky and so in love with everything about them – including their extra chromosomes.
We decided on the names Charlotte and Annette.
They weren’t quite strong enough to breastfeed, so during long nights of pumping sessions, I read books on Down syndrome to try and learn as much as possible.
But I was increasingly saddened to find myself slammed into chapter upon negative chapter of advice regarding grieving, social and family tolls and every probable medical complication under the sun.
Charlotte underwent open heart surgery six months after she was born, but fortunately Annette was born with no heart defect.
Now, although they are both smaller than they should be and developing slightly slower, they are no different from any other two-year-olds in many other ways.
Our girls teeter around, taking their own steps, giggling and exploring our living room. They love to play with their big brothers, Easton, now six, and Hudson, four, and they love their fluffy dog, Max.
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They have begun the typical sister squabbles over toys and sippy cups, yet they snuggle up together in their shared crib each night in complete love.
Witnessing this bond between all of my children as they learn and grow, is my favourite part of being their mum.
Sadly, we’ve become aware of the negative stigma towards Down syndrome. The stories of mourning and grief far outnumber parental accounts of delight and happiness.
We hope to direct expectant parents away from false preconceptions, and towards what we have found to fill us with so much joy.
The odds of having identical twins with Down syndrome is one in a million, so they are our miracle bubs. The crazy love we have for our girls surpasses any emotional strain resulting from their medical needs. I would still undoubtedly choose my children just as they are. ●