Aged 38, after two rounds of IVF, it looked like my husband Josh and I were going to be parents!
Maybe I should surprise him when he gets home from work, I thought.
But, dialling his number, I couldn’t wait that long!
‘I think I’m pregnant!’ I exclaimed the moment Josh picked up.
‘Are you serious?!’ he gushed.
Walking on air, I felt like I was carrying the most precious gift known to mankind in my belly!
At each scan, our baby was growing perfectly.
Then, at our 11-week ultrasound, our doc did a blood test to check for genetic abnormalities.
Being over 35, it was routine procedure.
But I was elated – it meant we’d get to find out our child’s gender early!
At work a week on, my doctor phoned.
She said she’d email the results through, I thought, feeling an immediate sense of dread.
‘Have you seen the results via email yet?’ she asked.
‘No…’ I replied.
Without a pause, she said, ‘Your baby has Trisomy 21.’
Jumping up, I ran crying to my car and called Josh.
‘You need to come home,’ I sobbed.
There, we called the doctor back together.
‘It’s a baby girl,’ she told us.
Josh and I cried tears of joy. I’d really wanted a daughter, daughter, and for a brief moment, we were so happy.
Over the next few days, though, we had more tests and scans, and together Josh and I grieved for the child we thought we’d have.
Why us? I wondered, fighting back tears.
Then, after reaching out to our local Down syndrome foundation, we met a wonderful couple whose four-year-old son was born with the condition.
A delight, he ran around our backyard giggling, climbed up and down our deck, and munched on the chocolate chip cookies we had put out.
He’s just a kid, I realised.
And he was perfect.
Our baby girl might have some slight differences, but she was ours. And we’d love her fiercely because she was different.
Our negative reaction was due to ignorance.
So Josh and I decided to learn everything we could about Down syndrome.
By the time I went into labour a week before Christmas in 2018, we’d come full circle and were so excited.
When our sweet Gwendolyn was born and placed in my arms, the rush of love I felt was insurmountable.
Josh was so enamoured with our bub, and with being a dad, he said, ‘Let’s do that again, right now!’
After a moment, Gwen, who’d been diagnosed with a heart condition at my 20 week scan, was whisked away to the NICU.
But, just a week later, on Christmas Day, our beloved girl was strong enough to come home. It was magical.
When Gwen was two months old, Josh’s sister, Ali, gave her a special play mat that lit up and played music.
Lying on her tummy, Gwen began grooving her little body back and forth. She was dancing!
From that moment on, our sweet Gwennie was always rocking.
Nursing Gwen one night, I felt my love for her bubbling up so much, I had to write it down!
So, still cradling Gwen, I reached for my mobile and opened the notes app.
When I placed my order, I said, ‘Regular amount of chromosomes, please!’ They called me shortly after and said, ‘Great news, we went ahead and upgraded you to extra chromosomes for free! You’ll receive the extra chromosomes with your completed order in nine months,’ I wrote.
Glancing down at my sweet girl with her dusting of strawberry blonde hair, I went on to write my initial reaction to the news, then my complete turnaround.
I have now had my order for two months and am writing this review to let others know the upgrade to extra chromosomes is amazing! If offered, definitely take it!
Then, posting the ‘review’ on Facebook, along with an adorable pic of Gwen, I added, You can see the extra chromosome is so worth it – it is extra cute, extra special, and extra-ordinary! So much extra joy.
Within no time, my post had gone viral, receiving more than 380,000 likes!
Now aged nearly two, Gwen has conquered two heart surgeries.
She loves books and music, and taps her arm to let us know she wants to hear another song.
When her daddy chases her and pretends to be a tickle monster, she squeals with laughter and zooms away in her adorable bear crawl, her little bottom sticking up in the air.
Our baby girl is pure joy.
‘Since Gwen’s diagnosis, I feel like the Grinch,’ I said to Josh.
‘Why?’ he asked.
‘Because my heart has grown three sizes,’ I smiled.
For us, an upgraded chromosome equals upgraded love!
We are beyond lucky.
Our sweet Gwendolyn is the best thing that’s ever happened to us.
Follow Gwen on Instagram, @oursweetgwendolyn