Friday, 27 July 2012

Downs syndrome Awareness

2007, the special year my daughter and I was born

Since I can remember, I have always adored children and still do till today. After I  got married, my husband and I couldn't hide our delight when our first daughter joy was conceived. I was a master’s student at the time and I was really keen on carrying on with my studies as much as I could really. Luckily for me, my estimated due date was a month after my graduation. Midway through my studies, I was allocated a masters project that involved that researching on radioactive pesticides that is studying sorption of 24-d and carbaryl to determine the rate at which they can move easily within the soil and the effects this can have on the environment. 

The first thing that came to my mind was that radioactivity and pregnancy doesn't go together so I discussed with husband who advised me to discuss it with my project supervisor. Because I was over 3 month’s pregnant, it was agreed that I could continue with the research as the baby was past the first trimester. I continued with my lectures, modules and preparation for my research. Fast forward a few months later, I concluded my master’s programme in flying colours and I put to bed at the end of august. Prior to that I declined doing the test for spinal bifida and down’s syndrome offered to all pregnant women because of my theoretical knowledge of genetics as records have it that it rarely happened to women under 30. 

More so, I personally don’t believe in abortion so I felt that there really wasn't any need to test for these anomalies in order for the choice not to arise. Everything went very well with my pregnancy except towards my due date when I lost my mum and the shock was really too much to bear because she had travelled to Nigeria from Switzerland to visit my siblings and conclude my traditional marriage rites as I got married in the UK. At the time of mourning my mother's departure, I can remember my Pastor, Pastor Ibikunle of the redeemed christian church, Nottingham telling me that the mantle of responsibility has now shifted to me and at the time it sounded really confusing. Those were one of the positive words that I hold on to till today. 

Well, I was forced to go to the Queen’s medical centre to test because I had cried so much for a heavily pregnant person that my hubby was really concerned about my well- being. Well, I had to consider my unborn child’s well being as well so I decided to allow God take control of the situation. It was really hard then because I was even too heavy to travel to Nigeria for my mum’s burial. That was really hurting, that I couldn't pay my last respect to someone who invested so much love into me positively. 
Well, I was also closer to my due date so amidst my sorrow at the time, my husband and I decided to name our unborn child Joy because the bible says ''weeping may endure for the night but JOY comes in the morning''. 

Moreso, the name joy really just described how I felt towards my unborn baby as I couldn't wait to hold her in my arms. My siblings in Nigeria really handled things well because they sounded really strong over the phone so this encouraged me to move on as well. At this time, I had to focus more on my baby and I couldn't do much for my siblings in terms of even comforting them as the eldest sibling. 
Well, few days before my daughter was born I observed that she wasn't kicking as well compared to how she was through out my pregnancy and my motherly instinct set in that something might be wrong but being as optimistic as I am especially considering that everything was fine for nine months. I just went for walks and ate lots of curry to encourage natural induction but my due date came and my baby wasn't making any moves to come! 
My husband took me to the queen’s medical center where I was registered to deliver and the nurses said I wasn't in labour and the baby is not ready to come yet though she was due. So I had to go back home, after that day, every 24 hours just seems like the longest time of my life as I just couldn't sleep, that suspense as to what could be happening was so surreal.  Four days after that, our close family friend, professor Justine visited and she took me to hospital.

 I think my labour started at the time and I was admitted straight to the labour suite. This was my first experience so I really couldn't compare how I was feeling to any other. But I remember that my labour took forever and I had to be induced. With the epidural and all, I was already too tired to push and I remember the midwife threatening me in a funny way that if by morning I haven’t pushed (delivered), she will leave me on my own. I guess she was trying to motivate me to try harder to get my baby out but I couldn't stop crying at the thought that my mum should be there to comfort me because I had written a birth plan which had my mum and my hubby as my birth partner. 

My late mum worked as a trained midwife herself and as a child, I had witnessed two life births (that was in Nigeria). Maybe that explains why I just love Well, that morning of the 31st of August, I delivered my daughter naturally though via induction and I can remember just crying and crying as she popped out because of the relief that she was finally here. For me they were tears of joy when my hubby told me he could see her head as she came out. The process of giving birth is really magical I must say and it should be added to one of the wonders of the world!. 
I noticed that unlike my preconceived notions where everyone rejoices at the birth of a baby, the midwives immediately abandoned us, they left my baby on the weighing scale and went to get the doctors. My husband and I were just puzzled, we didn't understand what was going on. I had bought lots of gorgeous mothercare baby blankets that I expected that Joy will be wrapped up to keep her warm. Immediately, I began to experience societal perceptions towards difference of any kind because a  new born shouldn't be left for hours after delivery unattended. I was already too tired and all we could do was wait. 

Eventually, they came back and allowed me to cuddle her and I tried breastfeeding immediately. Wow, that was one of the things I couldn't wait to experience breastfeeding, how beautiful. My hubby was just taking photos and photos. Shortly after,our world kind of fell apart when a pediatrician come-in and she insisted that they have to take the Joy away immediately for testing. I thought to myself, that is that how giving birth should be because I thought she was here now and that’s all that mattered. I just wanted to go back home with my baby. In myself, I didn't even think that I had fully recovered from losing my beloved mum four weeks earlier. My husband being a very positive person was just smiling and encouraging me. 
We were then taken to another ward away from the labour suite and we had no idea what was happening to Joy and we were just there alone. At this point, we starting praying and praying because we just didn't understand what was going on. Then about five grim looking doctors entered the room. The look on their faces, I thought the baby had passed away. I was relieved when they told us that she was alive but she was in the neonatal ward. Wow, my sojourn into the world of medical terminologies started; previously I knew nothing/little about neonatal wards. My mum delivers babies in few minutes and their mothers take their babies them home. So my lessons in the school of life started. This really is quite different from any other sort of education because of the uncertainties but today I can say that it actually makes one stronger and well-grounded as a person.

The doctors went on and on about their findings and I can remember me just looking so shocked as if I was trapped in dream. Meanwhile, my husband was already on the floor crying and praying. I thought oh no, this is a bad dream, I need to wake up. Few minutes ago I was holding Joy in my arms and rejoicing and now doctors are here telling me within hours of her arrival that she has down’s syndrome (trisomy 21). 
couldn't correlate the beautiful baby I held in my arms with the manuals they presented to me. When I looked at Joy few minutes ago, I was already in love with her. Now I’m being told, she might not be able to use her fingers to hold on to things properly., she might be delayed in some ways, she might not walk or talk on time. I stared at them in disbelief but when they mentioned that someone from down’s syndrome association will be coming to talk to us. Then I started screaming lol (I realized that I’m not dreaming). 

I don’t know how people react to shock but words can’t even describe that feeling. All sorts of pictures started flashing on my mind, wheelchairs, mental retardation and all sorts.  I remembered that we’ve bought lots of things to celebrate Joy’s arrival. At that point, I perceived that things might not be the way they use to be. I tried to picture how Joy will be growing and I couldn't think properly. My husband prayed and prayed and I was just numb like someone that a huge star has fallen upon or someone in a trance…. It was harder because she’s been separated from us and we wanted was to hold her in our arms and cuddle her, all we wanted was JOY.

Here is my first picture with Joy in the labour suite of the queens medical center.

Please go the next post for a continuation.
Your comments will be appreciated:)

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joy is having her hair done here!

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