Sarah Roberts is a freelance writer and blogs at “Don’t Be Sorry” which she started to raise awareness about Down Syndrome after her eldest son was born with the condition. As well as promoting positive awareness about DS, Sarah spends a great deal of her time talking to new parents online whose babies have recently been diagnosed too. She gives talks to healthcare professionals about the impact that the language they use can have (because there really isn’t anything to be sorry about when delivering a diagnosis of Down Syndrome) and she’s also in the process of writing a book. Sarah lives in Woking, Surrey with her husband Chris and their three children, Oscar, Alfie and Flo.
When I fell pregnant with you, I had all these hopes and aspirations about what it’d be like to be a Mummy. In my naivety, I thought it’d be a walk in the park if I’m honest. I thought I’d know exactly what to do and I didn’t for a single second, ever expect to feel so completely out of my depth.
Five and a bit years ago you made your grand entrance into the world. A distant fuzzy memory now but when I allow myself to think back to the “us” then, there’s flashbacks of alarms screeching, monitors beeping, a rushed Caesarean section under general anaesthetic, to waking up and meeting you for the first time. There you were, completely unaware of the impact your arrival was about to have, cradled in your Daddy’s arms, peeping back at me through the bundles of towels you’d been wrapped in.
Your Daddy told me everything was ok. In fact he told me that everything was perfect. Except it wasn’t was it? 20 minutes after you were born we were told that you had Down Syndrome and right there and then, in the deathly silence of that hospital ward, it felt like my heart had been ripped out.
It took a while you see. For me to really love you. The real, all encompassing love I feel for you now. In those first few weeks and months I resented you. I hadn’t wanted different, I had wanted normal…. I’d always imagined I’d have the perfect baby.
What would having you in our lives mean for your Daddy and I now? Were we strong enough to be special needs parents? Did we even want to be? But here I am five and a bit years on and I wanted to write to say, I’m so, so sorry. Sorry that I didn’t give you a chance back then. I made an assumption about what our life would look like with you in it and how I saw you and my goodness I was so very, very wrong.
I didn’t see back then how with each milestone you achieved, albeit at a slightly slower pace to your peers, how much it would make my heart swell with pride each time. I didn’t see back then how you would bring our family even closer together, for at the centre of that family, is you. I didn’t see back then, that for however many imperfections there are in your Daddy and I’s relationship, the one thing that we both stand united together on, is you.
I also didn’t see back then the bond you’d have with your brother and sister. That’s right, (for the benefit of others reading this), I went on to have your siblings Alfie and Flo. They may be siblings by blood but they are your most adored and bestest of friends. I didn’t see any of it. The strong willed determined little boy you’d become; that you’d always make us laugh; the health related hurdles you’ve taken in your stride and overcome. And that even though you’ve been a man of few words up until this point, you’ve always made yourself understood… there has been no stopping you.
I had had an image in my mind of who Oscar would be… and the little man standing here today is more than I could have ever dreamed of. You’ve taught me so much. More than you’ll ever know. And now that I’m a Mummy of two more children, of Alfie and Flo – the two “typically developing” children and the ones that are supposed to have been the perfect babies I’d always imagined having – I realise that all three of you have brought me different challenges as a Mum and I now know there is no such thing as perfect. You’re all so imperfectly perfect to me.
And some days when I get you out of the bath Oscar and I wrap you in your towel, I look you in the eye and see the same baby I saw wrapped in his Daddy’s arms five and a bit years ago. It always brings a lump to my throat, because I wish I could go back and reassure myself back then, that right now, here today, we’re doing just fine.
Right Now I’m….
Watching – Call The Midwife
Reading – I never have the time to read but I have been meaning to read The Unmumsy Mum’s 1st book since it came out 3 years ago
Listening to – The Greatest Showman… Can’t get enough of the soundtrack
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