REAL LIFE

Pregnant mum’s touching message: ‘I hope my next baby has Down Syndrome’

'These children are here to show us life in a different light'

Natalie sees her son Archie, who was born with Down Syndrome as nothing but a blessing and would do it all over again.

Here, Natalie, 37, tells the story in her own words.

When my husband Wade and I met, we both knew we wanted children. Lots of children! And after having Lilly, now 12, Bella, 11, Olivia, nine, Harry, seven, and Sophie, three, I fell pregnant with our sixth child. We were thrilled!

At 13 weeks, we went for our first scan. ‘This is so exciting,’ I said to Wade, 37, as the baby’s image popped up on the monitor. But then the sonographer frowned and left the room.‘What’s going on?’ I asked.The sonographer returned with a colleague – and they dropped a bombshell.

‘I’m sorry, but looking at the ultrasound, combined with your blood test results, there’s a high risk of your baby having Down syndrome,’ she said. ‘It’s a one in 14 chance.’ Wade and I looked at each other in shock. We’d never contemplated that. And then we both said, ‘That’s okay.’ The sonographer looked at us in surprise. ‘Do you need some counselling before you come to a decision?’ ‘No, thank you,’ I said. ‘We’re keeping the baby,’ Wade added.

In the car, we wept for our baby, but it was good to know Wade and I were on the same page. Over the next two days, we had nine calls from our doctor and the hospital, urging us to seek help. But we’d already made up our minds. Naturally, we were in shock, but we googled ‘Down syndrome’ and came across so many positive stories. Of course, I had my bad times, too.

‘What will our child do with their life?’ I sobbed to Wade one day. ‘Anything they want to,’ he said,reassuring me. We told our children the news.

‘Our baby may have Down syndrome,’ I said. ‘That means they have a different ability.’ Then we showed them videos of children who had the condition on the computer screen. ‘They’re so beautiful,’ said Lilly.‘They are,’ agreed Bella. In fact, all the kids felt the same way.

The pregnancy progressed normally. At the 18-week scan, when the doctor let slip we were having a boy, we were both overjoyed! But one day, I was feeling teary when the Cyndi Lauper song, ‘True Colours’ came on the radio. I see your true colours, and that’s why I love you.My baby had his own colours – his own personality – and deserved to live, just as any other child did.

Our bub, Archie, was delivered by C-section. The minute I looked into his almond-shaped blue eyes, I felt a rush of love. And I instantly knew he had Down syndrome. So did Wade.

archie
We fell in love with Archie instantly

‘He doesn’t have Down syndrome,’ the midwife and doctors insisted. But I could see he had low tone in his body, and a gap between his big toe and the next one, which were both symptoms. He passed his Apgar test, showing he was healthy, but failed his hearing test. A blood test to see if he had Down syndrome would take two weeks to come through. Wade brought the kids to hospital to see the new baby. ‘He’s gorgeous!’ they cried, as they all took turns to hold him.

Archie breastfed fine, slept a lot, and brought such joy to the family. Two weeks later, we saw the paediatrician to get the blood test results. Afterwards, we returned to the car where the kids were waiting.‘Does Archie have Down syndrome?’ they asked.‘Yes, he does,’ I said. They cheered so loudly that everyone in the car park turned to see what was going on.

At 10 months, Archie crawled, at 15 months, he started cruising the furniture, and before two, he was walking. He even started talking, although because of his hearing problems, we all learned Auslan, so we could talk to him in sign language. Our tearaway Archie loves nothing more than throwing a ball around or playing rugby with his brother Harry.

archie
Archie is a tearaway! (Credit: Anchored in Time)

When Archie was two, I fell pregnant again. I had no fears about having another child with Down syndrome. In fact, it’s what I hoped for!

At 13 weeks, I took Olivia with me to my first ultrasound. ‘We’d love it to have Down syndrome,’ she told the sonographer. ‘Why do you say that?’ she asked, stunned. ‘Well, our brother does, and he’s just amazing,’ she replied. I was so proud of her.

Our bub will be delivered by C-section by 32 weeks, which is Christmas Day. We’ve been told that our baby has a one in 5000 chance of having Down syndrome. Either way, we’ll love our baby just the same.

I get annoyed when others say Archie has a disability. We don’t see it that way. We feel pure, unadulterated love from and for our little boy. There’s a big push in the world to terminate all babies with Down syndrome. We think that’s wrong. In fact we feel so strongly, we’ve applied to adopt a Down syndrome child after this baby is born.

These children are here to show us life in a different light – a world full of love. To us, we won the genetic lottery.

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