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‘My Loves’

By Jess

A post about sharing news with the people you love.

This photo was taken a year ago and I shared it on Facebook and Instagram with the caption ‘My loves.’ It is Glenn and Ada at the last party we went to before lockdown. It reminded me of the importance of family and connection and in particular how good that made us feel when we told everyone about Frida having Down Syndrome.

We were up in Staffordshire visiting family and celebrating my brother in law’s engagement to his amazing girlfriend. Tom had invited the entire family to a surprise engagement party for Georgie and absolutely every single family member on my husband’s side was there. I am now so so grateful for this as it was the last time we saw everyone thanks to COVID. From Glenn’s side of the family Frida has only met her grandparents and only once. She’s still not met her aunts and uncle. It’s really tough on everyone. Thank goodness for video calling!!!

A few days before the party we had found out that Frida was a girl (I knew it!!!) and that she had Down Syndrome and we were keen to tell everyone that she was going to be joining us with a little extra.

I was definitely not nervous and I knew that everyone would be lovely and just as excited about me being pregnant with another girl as we were, but even so there was a sense of anticipation. I was also interested to see how Glenn would share the news with his brother and sister. He is not an over sharer like me and whilst I had had plenty of practice at telling people because I have a habit of speaking to anyone who listens, he hadn’t because he is the opposite. He was amazing. Obviously. They were amazing and had a couple of questions (which I love) but were mostly just ‘made up’ that we were having another girl and that she seemed healthy and feisty (she moved a lot even from the very early weeks!)

I’m glad I didn’t worry but I was not prepared for just how emotional it made everyone, in a good way, and just how loved, supported and respected we felt. I will remember some of those conversations forever. I welled up quite a few times and swelled with pride for the two families that our little girl was going to be joining and also for our little unit - the comments about how amazing Ada would be as her sister and Glenn and I would be as parents keep me going to this day.

We’d experienced the same level of support, love and positivity about our parenting prowess from my side of the family but because that came over time and over the course of several phone conversations rather than all in one go it didn’t have quite the same emotional impact that night did. It is one of the most treasured memories I have of my pregnancy and I’m glad we decided to tell everyone that way. I’m now, I’m light of the way 2020 turned out, absolutely over the moon that we got the opportunity to.

If you are worried about telling family or friends, I am not going to tell you ‘don’t be’ as you may have every reason to be. But what I would recommend is having read of stories of people who have Down Syndrome, families who have kids with Down Syndrome and be ready to share them with your family and friends. The Positive About Down Syndrome website is a good place to start! You might not feel able to get excited about the news at the time you share it, so let others provide that information for you. You may feel more at ease with the idea the more you find out just how wonderful, and to a great extent, typical, life is likely to be.

I remember sharing a few articles I had found and everyone was really grateful as it gave them something to read to help them with any fears or questions that they had.

One piece that stuck out the most is this lovely advice from the brilliant Hayley on her blog ‘Down Side Up’ and I sent it out to quite a few people in the weeks that followed.

We didn’t make an announcement. I decided to respond to people’s questions about how the pregnancy was going with something along the lines of ‘great, we are having a girl and she has Down Syndrome and we are so excited. We are having a few extra scans to make sure her heart and bowel are ok, but everything looks good so far.’ I accompanied it with the poem ‘Welcome to Holland’ because it summed up everything about how I felt about welcoming our little girl into our life.

For us, I think the key was us setting the tone. We were excited and not fearful (and I go back to my view that this is because I know people who have Down Syndrome) so everyone took our lead and was excited, too. We were obviously nervous about any health issues but were open and honest about this with everyone and we then had their love and support as we moved through the weeks and months of appointments and scans. From an early start, she had her tribe and her cheerleaders and now she is here, all she has done is won over more and more every time she encounters someone new. Even when they are behind a mask!

I’m lucky to have ‘my loves.’ I’m lucky to have the family and friends we have and I’m so very lucky to have Frida.

Welcome to Holland

For the record, Holland is turning out to be everything I hoped and more. Frida is an amazing baby and sister and her smiles can remedy anything! Even in lockdown we’ve made friends who are in Holland with us and already we celebrate everything our amazing babies do. I know that they will be there every step of the way with us and we can’t wait to meet them.