SHARON & REUBEN
It wasn’t easy for me to fall pregnant and eventually after hormone stimulating injections to help with my cycle, I finally fell pregnant after 2 years. My husband Nick and I were of course thrilled and couldn’t quite believe it. I decided not to have any invasive tests, only the standard blood tests which did not highlight any particular concerns or risks.
I had a healthy and happy pregnancy and our son Reuben was born 2 weeks overdue by Caesarean Section. Unfortunately the surgeons cut through one of my veins and consequently there was some dramatic blood loss to be dealt with during the operation. Whilst this was going on Nick raised concerns that Reuben looked a little different and asked if there was any chance he could have Down Syndrome. Initially he was told no but a paediatrician was called who, after examining Reuben, informed Nick that, yes, it did appear that he had Down Syndrome.
Whilst I was in recovery Nick had to tell me this news, while holding Reuben in his arms. Soon after this the staff took Reuben to the special care baby unit, as he was experiencing some difficulties. That night was very hard, as they put me in a room on my own to have a blood transfusion, while Reuben was downstairs on a special ward in an incubator. I could hear the other babies crying and kept thinking how lucky all the other new mums were having their babies with them. In the meantime we were trying to make sense of what it meant to have a baby with Down Syndrome.
We had a couple of texts from people telling us how ‘sorry they were to hear the news’ and we had a midwife bringing us leaflets on 'living with Down Syndrome’. A paediatrician sat us down and told us about ‘mental retardation’ and lots of negatives to expect. He gave us no positive and it all felt very doom and gloom. A day or so later he needed to be moved to a specialist unit in UCLH as there were further complications. Suddenly it didn’t matter that our son had special needs, he was our little precious longed for baby and all that mattered was that he was well.
Reuben was stabilised and returned to the Royal Free Special Care Baby Unit for three weeks. The staff were unbelievably amazing and kind people. During those 3 weeks at the Royal Free, I wasn’t allowed to stay with him and coming home every day was pretty hard. After 3 weeks however we had learnt how to feed him by nasal tube.
When we brought him home he decided it wasn’t for him and yanked it out! That pretty much sums Reuben up. He is strong willed, maddeningly stubborn at times but deeply loving and caring. He makes friends so easily with his charm and cheekiness. His dance moves are awesome and he loves spelling and has an incredible memory for names.
He is a truly loving boy and has brought a whole new dimension to our lives which can be challenging at times but then equally rewarding. Through all the ups and downs of bringing up Reuben, we think we are absolutely privileged and blessed to have him in our lives.