My One In A Million Marvel
Despite her son’s Down’s syndrome, Kerry wouldn’t change a thing...
From the off, my fiancž, Damian, and I had talked about having kids Ð one day. We met in December 2008 in a salsa bar in Mexico City. He was Mexican and I was teaching English there.
After that, our feet didn’t touch the ground!
By December 2010, he had asked me to marry him.
Then, two months oné ÔI’M pregnant,’ I told Damian. He was as shocked as me! Once the news had sunk in, though, we were thrilled.
My pregnancy went well, apart from terrible morning sickness.
I was worried about how I’d feel at our wedding in April 2011, but luckily it was a perfect day.
My family even flew to Mexico from Ireland to see us say our vows.
Soon afterwards, we discovered we were expecting a boy.
ÔI wouldn’t have minded either way,’ I told Damian. ÔAS long as the baby’s happy and healthy.’ The scans indicated as much. And, in the July, we decided to move back to Ireland, so I could be near my family when our baby boy was born.
Then, early on 19 September, Damian took me to the Royal Victoria Hospital, as my contractions started.
My sister, Sara, now 23, came too.
By 6am, baby Hanaki – a Mexican name meaning ‘little river’ – had arrived, weighing 6lb.
He had a shock of red hair and was utterly beautiful.
‘He’s got a Mohican,’ Damian laughed, as he held him.
Sara held our boy next, then I got him into my arms. The love was instant. But the more I looked at Hanaki, the less I could see Damian or me in him.
He was just five minutes old, though. I was sure we’d see more of ourselves in him as he grew and developed. Then… ‘I think he has characteristics of Down’s syndrome,’ the midwife explained, gently.
I was stunned, her words completely floored me.
Shaking, I looked closer at my baby boy and my heart sank…
He did have a slightly flat face,
I looked closer at my baby boy and my heart sank
and his ears were a little low-set.
Shocked, I burst into tears as Damian and Sara comforted me. I felt completely numbé Weõd had no warning. Suddenly, our family picture looked very different.
How would we cope? How would our boy be affected?
ÔHEÕS our son and weõll love him regardless,õ Damian, 32, said. Ôweõll do our best by him.õ
Within hours, tests confirmed Hanaki had Downõs syndrome and a hole in his heart. It was one thing after another. Still reeling, I struggled to bond with my son. I could barely look at him. My maternal instincts just didnõt kick iné
Damian and my family were brilliant, though.
ÔHEÕS got the family button nose,õ my twin sister, Shelley, said. Ôand almond eyes like you.õ
Still, I didnõt feel maternal towards Hanaki.
Diagnosed with postnatal depression, I was prescribed medication and had therapy.
Finally, a few weeks later, I was feeling better and started to see what my family had seen in Hanaki all along.
ÔHEÕS a little ray of sunshine,õ Shelley always said. She was right. ÔHEÕS amazing,õ I told Damian. Ôand all ours,õ he said.
As Hanaki and I bonded, I started researching Downõs, wanted to know everything.
A content baby, our little lad slept well and was always smiling.
He struggled with feeding, though, as he didnõt have a strong suck.
I just felt so lucky to have him though.
By 6 months old, Hanaki was having physiotherapy and other help.
When doctors warned our boy may not walk or talk, I refused to listen to them.
Ôno-oneõs going to tell me what my baby canõt do,õ I insisted.
But I was flabbergasted by some peopleõs reactions to Hanakié
Once, in a clothes shop with him, an older woman came up.
Ôyou obviously didnõt know about the Downõs when you were pregnant, otherwise you would have aborted,õ she said.
I was absolutely horrified and spent the rest of the day in tears. How dare she? ÔITÕS ignorance,õ Damian said when I told him. Ôthey donõt know Hanaki like we do.õ He was righté Despite our not knowing how our little boy would progress, he played well and learnt to sit up.
And when his little sister, Marley, arrived in March 2013, Hanaki was besotted.
Six months later, on my birthday, Hanaki crawled for the first time.
Ôlook!õ I shouted to Damian, weeping with happiness. A week on, our remarkable boy started walking. And he’s come on leaps and bounds since then. He uses Makaton, a form of sign language, to communicate, and can say the odd word, but his understanding is impressive. In February 2014, Hanaki had open-heart surgery, and made a quick recovery. Those dark moments after his birth seem a distant memory. Yes, his diagnosis was a complete shock. But we strongly believe in putting a person or child first, before their condition. I’m ashamed to think I could barely look at him. But now, I wouldn’t change him for the world. Hanaki’s the light of my life.
I’m ashamed to think I could barely look at him
Me and Damian on our wedding day
HANAKI’S THE LIGHT OF MY LIFE