Teen Mums Mak­ing A Dif­fer­ence

Both Ash­leigh and Tay­lor were teenagers when they gave birth to ba­bies with Down’s syn­drome. Now they’re chal­leng­ing stereo­types

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS -

smile, I was so re­lieved. ‘So my baby will live?’ I asked. Down’s had its own chal­lenges... But hav­ing my baby was never go­ing to be easy. We’d cope, the two of us to­gether. I was of­fered a ter­mi­na­tion again and again, turned it down ev­ery time. ‘I'm call­ing him Ri­ley,’ I told Mum.

On 29 April 2015, Ri­ley was born.

He was the most per­fect thing I’d ever seen.

You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

Af­ter a week, we were dis­charged from hospi­tal, went back to Mum’s.

I love be­ing a mum my­self. It’s come nat­u­rally. And Ri­ley can win any­one round with his adorable smile! Now he’s 2, a cheeky scamp who’s into ev­ery­thing.

He can’t talk yet, but I’m teach­ing him sign lan­guage. We still have lots of hospi­tal ap­point­ments, but I don’t feel judged any more. The doc­tors there know I’m a good mum. ‘You’re an in­spi­ra­tion,’ one told me re­cently. I don’t know about that.

I’m just the mum I al­ways vowed I’d be. Af­ter all, Ri­ley de­serves noth­ing less.

He can win any­one round with his adorable smile!

My boyfriend waited with the nurse while I took the preg­nancy test in the bath­room.

We were at the fam­ily plan­ning clinic, hav­ing a con­sul­ta­tion about a ter­mi­na­tion, and I needed to con­firm that I was ex­pect­ing. When the line came up pos­i­tive, I felt dev­as­tated. I was 15 and sit­ting ex­ams. Chris was 17 and on a Brick­lay­ing ap­pren­tice­ship. A baby was not part of our plans. But see­ing that pos­i­tive preg­nancy test made me change my mind. ‘I want this baby, Chris,’ I said.

‘I do, too,’ he ad­mit­ted. My bump blos­somed as I was fin­ish­ing my ex­ams at school. Then, on 31 Au­gust 2010, I de­liv­ered a lit­tle girl, Casey. She ar­rived in si­lence and was rushed away. ‘We think she has Down’s syn­drome,’ a doc­tor said.

I broke down...

Our fire­cracker

Down’s syn­drome hadn’t been picked up on scans and

I knew noth­ing about the con­di­tion.

Chris’ mum Dorothy stepped in.

She went on­line and printed off loads of info.

I pored over it, read­ing about happy kids who live ful­fill­ing lives. My girl would, too.

Be­fore we left hospi­tal, we were handed some out­dated leaflets. Your baby may never walk or talk.

‘We’ll see about that,’ I said and threw them in the bin. Six years on, Casey is prov­ing me and Chris right.

She’s at main­stream school and is a fire­cracker, so in­de­pen­dent and de­ter­mined. If I try and help her with home­work, she pushes me away.

‘I’ll do it, Mummy,’ she says. Chris and I are now en­gaged. He’s train­ing to be­come a pro­fes­sional boxer.

I took a course in Psy­chol­ogy and will take a univer­sity ac­cess course next year.

Ev­ery­thing we do is based on what is best for Casey.

I wouldn’t change her for the world.

She taught me who

I wanted to be.

I read about happy kids who live ful­fill­ing lives

There was con­cern at my scan

I’m so proud to be Casey’s mum

Casey is fiercely in­de­pen­dent

Prac­tis­ing her box­ing with Dad

Tay­lor Smith, 23, Ed­in­burgh

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