Down with Dad: Making up for lost time

New columnist David with wife Lynn and children Rory (8) and Eilidh
New columnist David with wife Lynn and children Rory (8) and Eilidh

Eilidh will be sitting on someone’s lap getting a cuddle when I go to pick her up from 
nursery.

She gives great cuddles and the nursery ladies know this.

My daughter is a massively popular kid at Wellside Kindergarten and all the other parents know her name.

Is this because of, or in spite of, the fact that she has Down’s Syndrome I 
wonder?

In fairness her anonymity is not helped by me. I started writing about our lives a few years back when Eilidh was younger as a way to help me understand and manage what were a tough few years.

Eilidh’s birth was a very hard time for my wife and I.

We weren’t prepared for the diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome which arrived 15 minutes after she did.

I mean it’s hard to be positive when even your 
paediatrician tells you that your daughter, your beautiful tiny daughter, is 
“nobody’s Plan A”.

A piece of your heart is crushed.

Everything we read warned of the risks ahead for Eilidh in both her health and social outlook.

Not to worry though, the leaflets proclaimed, her life expectancy is now 60, rather than the nine it would have been if she was born in 1900.

Good news then! Who talks about life expectancy of their child on their actual birth day?

Your heart is now fully smashed.

Our expectations framed by fear and worry (and if I’m going to be totally honest with you, regret and embarrassment ... “how could this happen to us?”) we took 
Eilidh home from hospital and tried to pick up the pieces.

We did pick up the 
pieces, of course we did, 
we had a beautiful daughter who needed us to be there for her more than anything. Her big brother, Rory (he is literally the best big 
brother in the world - 
fact!) helped us get it together.

From day one he loved her with no prejudice.

I would say he took her at face value but according to the Mail Online there is a cure for your abnormal face if you have DS ... Some days you just have to grin and bear it.

Writing about our experiences was a very cathartic process for me and I hope that I’ve helped others in the same position as we were five years ago.

It’s also very important that by sharing a bit of our lives that people are more aware and educated about Down’s Syndrome.

Anyway, back to the nursery. Eilidh spots me, jumps down, sprints forward shouting “Daddy” with an enormous smile on her face and embraces me in the biggest cuddle her arms can muster.

She saves the best cuddles for her Daddy and all my worries melt away, except the regret about how I reacted to her diagnosis and all the precious early days that were stolen from us.

Fear not though, we’re more than making up for lost time now.