Jessica’s Story, by her mum, Melissa
I was 22 years old when Jessica came along. I was blissfully unaware of the doctors that kept coming in to look at her and check her over. I was just excited to have a beautiful little girl – my very own daughter! But then the doctor returned. He told me that he was really sorry, but my baby had Downs syndrome.
I’d never heard of it, but from the way they were talking, I thought they were telling me she was going to die. I was devastated. I was left on my own, with my baby, in a side room. My family were many miles away and Jessica’s dad wasn’t interested. I was scared and felt totally confused. And very alone.
Thankfully, though, my daughter was very healthy and we were discharged home soon after. So we got into the usual baby routine of feeding, sleeping and changing nappies. When Jessica was about 2 months old, I was introduced to a family who lived near me, and they told me about Nottinghamshire Downs Syndrome Support Group. I started going to their monthly meetings with Jessica, and from then on, my fears disappeared.
I saw that children and babies with Downs syndrome were just normal people! They might need a little more help to achieve things, but they all got there in the end, and had loads of fun in the process. Jess took a while to learn to speak, but once she got the hang of it, there was no stopping her. And the same has been true in every aspect of her life!
She is now 14 years old, and a real teenager! She is a total diva who loves making TikToks, watching YouTube videos, playing on her phone and hanging out with her friends. No one could ever say that Jess doesn’t know her mind. She does! And she is never afraid speak it and tell you what she thinks!
She loves to dance, eat and play sports! She enjoys hockey and plays for two football teams. But she is particularly good at swimming, and I love to watch her as she glides through the water, showing off all her different strokes! For me, who can’t swim at all, it’s amazing to see her so confident and happy in the water, and it makes me so proud.
Jess is popular among her friends and has a far better social life than me! Apart from some of the usual stresses teenagers have – and the attitude to go with it – she loves life. I wish the 22 year old me could have had a glimpse into the future, to see the sassy, fun person Jessica would become!
I could have spent those first months and years just enjoying her, instead of worrying! And I’d love to tell those doctors, who spoke to me as if Down syndrome was a life sentence, that life is good! Very good! Jessica is amazing, and that’s about all there is to it!