Mother makes shocking confession about Down's Syndrome son

8/3/17 Daily Mail

A mother has admitted she wished she had not given birth to her son after he was diagnosed with Down's syndrome at three weeks old.

Claire Farrington, from Crouch End, north London, said she was 'completely horrified' when doctors gave her the news after standard pregnancy screenings failed to detect there was anything wrong with son, Theo, in the womb.

'I immediately wished he hadn't survived, that we'd had a termination,' she said. The mother-of-one was so distraught she 'punched a wall'.

Today Claire, 40, looks back and is 'ashamed' of how she felt. Now she and partner Andrew Papadimitriou, 27, wouldn't change their son 'for the world'.

Theo, who was born four months premature, was three weeks old and still in hospital when he was diagnosed with Down's syndrome:

'I was completely horrified,' Claire admitted. 'I punched the wall. I was so angry this was happening to us. And when I prepared to break the news to our parents, I knew it would completely change their lives, too. 

'I had all these preconceptions about Down's syndrome and just didn't want this to have happened to me and Andrew.'  

She added: 'I am ashamed to say, at the time, I wished we'd had a termination. I could have discarded Theo, without getting to know him, which would have been such a mistake.'

Claire and Andrew had been dating for just a year when she fell pregnant in July 2015. At 20 weeks Claire underwent the standard NHS screenings for Down's syndrome – a blood test and an ultrasound – but nothing was detected. 

At just 29 weeks, Claire was admitted to hospital after a scan revealed the baby was in trouble.  

'[The doctor] said they would need to get my baby out of me really soon, because he was deprived of oxygen and he'd stopped growing,' she said. 

'I was shocked. I just wanted to grab my belly and run away. It seemed unbelievable to me. I was suddenly very frightened and felt robbed of everything I should have had. I'd just gone for a standard scan, without Andrew, and now I'd been told I'd need to give birth so early on.

She continued: 'I phoned Andrew sobbing, I was inconsolable. Andrew went very quiet and tried to be reassuring, but it was a lot for him to take in.

'We thought we had another 11 weeks to go. We'd planned to get everything ready, paint the nursery and get prepared, but suddenly we couldn't.'

Doctors told the couple an early labour would give their baby the best chance of survival. Three days later Theo was delivered by an emergency caesarean.

The tiny baby weighed just 2lb 2oz and was whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit at Whittington Hospital, Archway, north London. 

She said: 'I just wanted to hold him, like any other mum wants to cradle their newborn baby. It feels like your right. But I couldn't, and that broke my heart.' 

When Claire and Andrew finally met their son properly, he was covered in wires in an incubator. 'He looked like a vulnerable animal,' Claire said. 'I was just desperate to spend time with my boy.'

The couple were still coming to terms with the diagnosis when Theo was finally discharged from hospital in April last year, a week before his due date.  

The new mother threw herself into researching Down's syndrome, joining mother and baby groups and reading blogs by other parents in similar situations.  

She also started her own blog, called 'Mum on a Different Path,' to document her journey.   

Claire, who works in marketing, said she finally turned a corner while on a family holiday to Croatia in August last year. 

Turning point: Claire felt 'at peace' while on a family holiday to Croatia last August, pictured

'We were on a family holiday, trying to live like any other normal family and it was perfect,' she said.

'It was then that I felt a sense of peace with everything that had happened. Theo may have Down's syndrome, but he's an adorable, happy little lad.'

Claire said she wants others to be better educated about the condition. 

She said: 'I look back at the woman I was in the hospital and I feel pretty sorry for her. 

I was a woman who couldn't hold her newborn for five days and had no idea what was coming down the road.

'I want to tell all the mums who might have a similar journey to me that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

'It's still hard. I am still coming to terms with how much our lives have altered, but I wouldn't change Theo for the world now. His life isn't worth any less than a typical child's, he's perfect.'

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