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
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...
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Before we left hospital, we were handed some outdated leaflets.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